Book Review: Falling for the Prodigal Son by Julia Gabriel

prodigal sonA sweet summer romance set on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay

A wealthy heir …

All Sterling Matthew wants is to get his family’s resort back on sound financial footing—and then leave sleepy St. Caroline for good. He expected the inn’s staff to resist the radical business changes he has to make. What he didn’t expect was to find skinny, gawky Lucy Wyndham all grown up.

A woman who’s pulled herself up by the bootstraps …

For years, Lucy wondered whether she’d ever catch another glimpse of the tall, quiet boy she’d crushed on at the Chesapeake Inn’s summer camp for disadvantaged kids. Now he’s her boss—and the attraction is just as strong. When Sterling informs her that the camp must be eliminated to improve the resort’s bottom line, Lucy embarks on an ambitious campaign to save it—even if the price is her job … and her heart.

And a teenage infatuation that’s all grown up.

Received from Netgalley in exchange for a review. Author site here  

Lucy Wyndham returns from holiday early when she hears her boss, surrogate father and mentor is terminally ill.  She has worked at the Chesapeake Inn for 5 years as Marketing Director, and has never seen the boy she lost her virginity to 15 years before when she was a gawky camp visitor.

Suddenly, Sterling is back and running the show, having been pulled back by his mother threatening to disinherit him if he doesn’t. Lucy hopes he doesn’t remember her, and at first it seems so – until an accidental use of her old nickname makes the truth slip out.

The hotel is in financial straits and Sterling insists on various changes – including shutting down the kids camp so that the land can be used more profitably. Lucy knows how much the camp helps disadvantaged kids, and how many people have become successful after having their lives turned around at the camp. The two are at loggerheads, and both decide to seduce the other into changing their minds. Despite the great sex, nothing changes, and Sterling fires Lucy, only to regret his decision!

This is a decent and enjoyable variation on a theme and I stayed up late into the evening finishing it. The sex is occasional, and fades to black before it gets too explicit. The secondary characters are few but more than one dimensional when they appear – a couple of them have the potential to be worked into their own story. Lucy’s home town in Virginia is described in appropriately appalling terms, and you get to feel sympathy for Sterling, who, despite being from a wealthy family, doesn’t fit in with the camp kids, and is brought up by the hotel staff rather than his workaholic parents, so had a very lonely childhood.

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