If I could give half stars, this would totally be a 3.5 star book. I rounded down, though, instead of up because ultimately the feeling I'm left with is one of shrugged shoulders. When I rate books on GoodReads, I pretty much follow the suggestions of GR. So for me, three stars really means "I liked it." I just didn't "really like it" or "love it."
True to Barbara Samuel's style, her characters were deep, her setting was vivid, and the chemistry was genuine. This is why I love Barbara Samuel books. This book, however, the plot just fell a little flat for me.
The back story: Jessie Callahan and Luke Bernali had a passionate four year relationship when they were young and deeply in love. Luke descends into alcoholism, and Jessie (having dealt with an alcoholic mother all her life) decides she can't take it. So, fully aware that she's carrying Luke's child, Jessie leaves and never tells Luke she's pregnant.
The present day: Luke and Jessie are brought back together by chance when they are both working on setting up some sort of way for Navajo weavers to sell their art without having to go through third party galleries (and taking a big hit on profits). The whole plot line with the weavers and the galleries and the greedy Anglo gallery owners was pretty weak, and was really just a convenient storyline to get the hero and heroine in the same location where they are forced to spend time together. Of course, Luke sees his now 8 year-old daughter and instantly realizes she's his (this happens in the first scene of the book). Luke and Jessie, of course, have been pining for one another and unable to forget one another since she left, and they then must come to terms with all the past hurts, and have it out with one another before they can finally forgive and have their HEA.
Issues I had with the book: I don't often read the 'secret baby' theme in contemporary romances, and I think I don't for the very reason that I find it hard to forgive the heroine for keeping the child a secret from her father. And this book was no exception. I don't think Barbara Samuel gave enough
of a reason for Jessie to keep Luke's daughter a secret from him for 8 years. Ok, he was an alcoholic, but she never established that he was violent. He was drunk often, so maybe that's a good reason to leave the guy, but it's not a good enough reason to NEVER tell him that he has a child. And - Luke was never upset enough about this fact to make it realistic to me. The whole time he was just sort of like "Well I'm upset that I missed out on my daughter's childhood, but it's ok, it's all in the past, and I understand you were scared."
Anyway, that was the biggie, but also the entire story just seemed to mosey along at a very slow, but steady, pace. There was never any real moments of suspense, or sections of the book that were 'page-turners.' It was just very neatly written and very neatly wrapped up.
I will say, though, that the love scenes were really good. They were full of sensuality and emotion, and I'd even go so far as to say those were the best parts of this book.
All in all, enjoyable, but nothing terribly special.