Review: Starting Back by Stephanie Rose
Note: An advance reader copy (ARC) was provided by the author.
Oh, Lordy, but how this book took hold of my heart from the first chapter and seemed hesitant to let go even after I was done reading the bonus epilogue! Starting Back is the newly published standalone contemporary romance from Stephanie Rose, and it's a companion novel to her previous book, An Unexpected Turn. That being said, you don't need to read the aforementioned title in order to fully appreciate this new one, BUT I do seriously recommend you check it out or add it to your to-be-read list because it was a rather great romance.
If you're new to the author's writing or have yet to peruse An Unexpected Turn, then Starting Back serves as your introduction to female main character Kristina Webber, a forty-two-year-old single mother with two daughters. After her divorce, her best friend encourages her to take a vacation with her, which is all well and good until her best friend gets sick. Not wanting the accommodations to go to waste, Kristina pushes through with the trip to Florida. It's there that she meets a gorgeous firefighter moonlighting as a bartender.
At forty, Leo Reyes isn't looking to settle down--whether it be in one place or with one woman. He's been a wanderer since he became an adult, with Florida being the longest he's ever stayed put somewhere. He's smitten with Kristina from the moment he notices her at the resort, and even though he knows nothing can come from being with her, they decide to spend as much time as possible while she's on vacation. When they part ways, both believe they'll never see the other again...until circumstances give them a chance at forever.
I adored the heck out of this book. Having Kristina and Leo in their 40s was a plus because who doesn't like reading stories about people in their age group? There wasn't any unnecessary drama in this romance, something I find myself becoming more and more thankful for the older I get. These two were at a point in their lives where change was something unavoidable--Kristina with her divorce and Leo with the move to be closer to his aunt and uncle and his cousin's family--but they flourished , both as individuals and as a couple.
There was a lot to appreciate about the journey Kristina and Leo went on, and it was a journey they shared with Kristina's daughters, fifteen-year-old Chloe and six-year-old Emma. I liked seeing the contrast in the two girls--how they were dealing with the divorce and their reception to the knowledge that their mom was with someone new. Stephanie Rose has penned a story that so many readers can relate to, what with it being about love, family, and home. And yes, a return visit to Kelly Lakes is a MUST! Starting Back garners five stars.
Release Date: 25 January 2023
Date Read: 15 January 2023
Learn more about Stephanie Rose.
Purchase Starting Back on Amazon.