5 out of 5 Stars
*I was gifted a copy of Hide Your Heart by the author in exchange for an honest review.*
Bounty Bay native Lauren Taylor is happy to live a quiet life with her four-year-old son Drew, and her brother and his family close by. An abusive ex-husband and a former life in the spotlight keep Lauren from opening up to anyone. But all that will change if Nate Fraser has his way. Nate has purchased the house and land adjacent to Lauren’s, with plans to renovate and sell to someone who wants to turn the place into a celebrity retreat, bringing the paparazzi right back to Lauren’s front door.
Famed photojournalist and most eligible bachelor Nate Fraser never plans to stay in one place for very long. His life is one of travel and adventure. From his own childhood, Nate knows having a wife and child are out of the question with his lifestyle. His investment in the Bounty Bay property should provide a quick return, allowing him more freedom in the types of jobs he takes. He can’t let his attraction to his sexy neighbor and her loveable son put a kink in his plans.
When their attraction can no longer be denied, Nate and Lauren give in to temptation. Each of them knows better than to give their heart over to this temporary situation. But denying their love will only get them so far. Lauren will need to come out of her protective shell, while Nate needs to decide what he loves more: the freedom of traveling, or Lauren and Drew.
Tracey Alvarez has written another stellar contemporary romance in Hide Your Heart. The characters are deep and go through a lot of growth throughout the story. Even little Drew will squeeze your heart and hold on tightly. Although the situations aren’t necessarily relatable—wouldn’t we all like to be tall, gorgeous former fashion models?—their struggles are real. Lauren only wants to keep to herself and protect Drew, and Nate’s plan for his property threatens that. Even Nate himself, famous in his own right, is dangerous for Lauren to be around if she doesn’t want to be recognized.
Lauren is a strong woman; her past has seen to that. But she continues to grow and strengthen as her relationship with Nate progresses. Her initial reaction to him—fear to near passing out—is contrasted nicely with her trust in him later in the story when he grabs her ankle playfully and holds her down.
Nate knows what he wants out of life, and having a wife and kid don’t fit into that picture. His own relationship with his father is sprinkled throughout the story. We come to understand why Nate would never want to subject anyone else to that kind of life, but we also get to hear about the good times he remembers with his father. Comparing those times to Nate’s relationship with Drew will give you all the warm fuzzies.
I also appreciate the author’s descriptions of New Zealand. Even though I’ve never been there, I’m still able to picture the scenes as I read without feeling like I’m getting a geography lesson. The climate is worked right into the plot with rain storms facilitating the meeting between the main characters and necessitating their close proximity during the rest of the story.
Hide Your Heart is a must read for contemporary romance fans. Although it’s a standalone book, the secondary characters are nicely woven into the plot leaving you eager to read the next book. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Far North series.
You can find my five star review of Tracey Alvarez’s In Too Deep here.