Book Review: Love, Second Time Around by Penny Appleton

I came upon Love, Second Time Around completely by chance. I was on Twitter and I saw an author assistant I follow ask if anyone likes sweet romance. I said I do. She then told me she had one that needs a review and sent me a copy.

Before I get to my review, here’s a quick synopsis from the back of the book:

Maggie Stewart is a retired lawyer, working to preserve the heritage of her little English cottage in Summerfield village. Her children have grown and she’s content to ride horses in the countryside and enjoy her retirement.

Except she needs money for her renovations … and she’s lonely.

When she joins her old environmental team to go up against an oil company, Maggie finds herself working in opposition to a man she once loved from afar, many years ago.

Idaho ranch owner Greg Warren is rich and entitled, with a dark past that he hides behind a professional smile. But inside, he struggles with loneliness after the loss of his wife, and the rage of a wild daughter who won’t let him move on.

Love blooms as Maggie and Greg take a chance on a new start, but can they find a balance between their two worlds?

In this sweet romance, set between the English countryside and the mountains and farmland of Idaho, can Maggie and Greg find love second time around?

I have to admit that if I’d come across the book on the shelf, I would have passed it by because the couple on the front is older. Shame on me! That actually turned out to be one of the things I liked about the book. It was refreshing to see two people who are mature in their dealings on love, as opposed to the selfish 20- and 30-somethings that normally populate romance novels. The characters felt real and I could truly believe the heroine, Maggie, and the hero, Greg, have been meant for each other all along. I do have to admit that Greg’s sometimes misogynistic attitude that comes out toward the end turned me off of him a bit, but that is in keeping with the generation he belongs to, so I can give the author that. It is nice to see a flawed hero whose wound is something realistic, unlike a lot of the brooding heroes out there. Same goes for Maggie. I felt really bad for her once I learned her back story. And oh, could I relate to her financial woes!

Two actors immediately popped into my head for the main characters, that’s how well they were drawn. Richard Gere for Greg and Rosemary Dunsmore for Maggie.

By far my favorite part of the book was the settings, especially Maggie’s Square House cottage in England. I didn’t want to leave those parts because the writing was so vivid that I felt like I was living in rural England. (We all know that is a weakness of mine!) Even Greg’s Idaho ranch came to life for me, despite me not generally liking anything to do with the American West. This book is a great example of how setting can teach you something about the character, as their different home lives really serve to show just how far apart they are in what they are comfortable with. Understanding that really made me want to know if they could work past those differences to make their love happen.

I have to admit being a little in love with silver fox Greg. He’s my kind of man: rich and fond of the grand gestures. Yes, this book definitely fulfilled a fantasy for me. But beyond that, he’s kind and truly loving to his family – perhaps too indulgent with his bitchy daughter – and that’s the kind of man I want to end up with. I’ve always liked older men, and now that I’m staring down 40, perhaps this is the kind of man I’ll look for in the future.

This book is short – I read it in a matter of hours – but it has surprising depth for it’s length. It’s sweet, but in a romantic way, not in a religious or sickeningly trite way. It’s a beautiful, old-fashioned romance that will sweep you up and then gently put you down when it’s over. We need more books like that. This would be perfect for a Hallmark Channel movie adaptation. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series, and anything else Penny Appleton (the pen name of a mother-daughter duo) writes.

PS – This book is written in first person from Maggie’s POV, just like Been Searching for You is from Annabeth’s! Yay to more authors breaking the romance “rule” that the book has to be written in third person and be from both the hero and heroine’s POVs.

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