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Once and Again

Once and Again - Lauren Dane My first introduction to Lauren Dane was with the Chase Brother series. I promptly fell in love with Shane and Matt Chase, the heroes of Taking Chase and Making Chase. I couldn't have been happier to discover Lauren was doing a spin-off series in which various citizens of small town Petal, Georgia will receive their happy-endings.

Once and Again is the reunion story of Lily Travis and Nathan Murphy. Nathan is the brother of Tate, the lucky girl who stole Matt Chase's heart. This shortish story focuses on Lily's return to Petal to care for her teenage brother in the wake of their parents' disastrous split, and their mother's increasing abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs. Nathan is no stranger to dysfunctional parents. I cannot complain about his understanding throughout the story.

What I can complain about is the lack of attention given to Lily and Nathan's romance. I'm not one to believe that a book should be full of sex-play and high sexual tension in order for it to be a good romance. But this is a Lauren Dane book! I was more than surprised at the lack of sparks flying in the first half, and the less-than-flaming encounters in the second half. With a small amount of tweaking, Once and Again could be classified as chick-lit. The ending didn't make me swoon with all that coming-to-claim-his-woman stuff.

What I did enjoy about the book was the closeness of family. Lily does what she needs to do because no one else will...and she won't give up on her brother. Lily's sister, Nancy, takes b!tch to a whole new level -- and still, there's something about Nancy I can't quite put my finger on. Something that makes me wonder of her past and if we'll learn more about her in future books. A woman who tries that hard to get people to hate her has a story. I also enjoyed the fact that Lily wasn't easy to forgive Nathan for what he'd done to her in college. When Nathan finally talks to her about the events seven years prior, he does she in a way that is believable. Numerous times throughout the story, Nathan is referred to as being an impatient alpha male. I saw none of that, and his lack of such a dominant personality trait is explained away as "giving her space." Which would've been fine if we were given an inkling as to how Nathan was feeling -- aside from being sexual deprived. I feel cheated. No matter how many times Lily or one of Nathan's sisters talked about what a good guy he is, I never got to really see it or get-to-know him. I didn't get to fall in love with him, and that's beyond disappointing!

My most favorite thing about Once and Again would be Lily's style! The girl rocks the vintage pin-up look! Funny, it was the first thing I noticed about the cover -- not the hot guy blended into the background. Come to think of it, that cover sums up the entire book.