Review: Win Me Over by Nicole Michaels (Hearts & Crafts #2)

Note: This ARC was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

Relationships scared her, the idea of devoting herself and her life to a man. That was terrifying. But this felt right, and in no way did she feel any less herself by hearing Bennett tell her she took good care of him. In fact, it felt wonderful. Empowering.

Callie Jo Daniels may no longer be the pageant girl she once was but she's happy whipping up the kind of pastry goodness that the people of Preston, Missouri keep coming back for. She's also one of three contributors to a popular lifestyle blog and the new coach of the Preston High's Pantherettes Dance Team. When she's asked by the school principal to help prepare the football team's head coach for an amateur dance competition, she quickly realizes that her soon-to-be partner isn't what she expected him to be. Bennett Clark is the kind of man that women fantasize about and it appears that her attraction isn't one-sided. As they practice their steps and turns, Callie and Bennett's flirtation escalates to something more, but when tragedy strikes their school, it'll take more than football plays and choreography to overcome it.

Win Me Over is the second novel in the Hearts & Crafts series from author Nicole Michaels, and after having read the first book, Start Me Up, which I loved, I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on this sequel. Here we have Callie Daniels, owner of Callie's Confections and coach for the high school dance team, and Bennett Clark, former NFL player and coach for the high school football team, joining forces in order to win a dance contest whose prize money Bennett plans on using to help his senior football players with their college tuition. They start off on the wrong foot but with both used to winning, they intend to give it their all. But amid the fun and flirting, Bennett's past is something that still weighs heavily on him, as does the feeling of responsibility he has toward all his players, both of which come to play in the story.

I loved Callie. She was this vibrant woman who enjoys being independent and successful but knows she can lean on her parents and three best friends if she needs to. She isn't afraid to give something a try, even when she knows the risks involved, and that includes becoming involved with Bennett, who is truly a good guy but is rather closed-off and far more hesitant. While there's a fair amount of flirting going on and they do try to keep things strictly platonic, you can feel the tension between them and I'm glad that it was more of a slow burn because you get to see their relationship grow. Everything is more or less lighthearted until an unexpected event occurs and a lot of what followed was heartbreaking. However, tragedy can lead to people coming together for the greater good instead of wallowing in self-pity and guilt and laying blame.

The third book in the series, Draw Me Close, is set for release in March 2016, but it's pretty clear that it'll be about the third member of the My Perfect Little Life blogging triumvirate, Lindsey Morales, a decorator, and Derek Walsh, an architect and best friend to Mike Everett, the lead male character from the first book, thanks to the confrontation that the two engage in here. This series may be about small town love stories but the two I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing so far are big on the romance and provide just enough steam to make me a satisfied bookaholic. Just like its predecessor, Win Me Over has a lot of heart and I finished the book with a smile on my face and already adding the next book to my to-be-read list. I'm highly recommending Nicole Michaels's latest gem of a book and give it five-plus stars. ♥

Release Date: 01 September 2015

Date Read: 01 September 2015

Learn more about Nicole Michaels here.

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