Title: Athica Lane (The Carpino Series #3)
Author: Brynne Asher @BrynneAsher
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 464 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Cam Montgomery is a single full time dad who knows his priorities: his kids, his job, his team, his side business. Dealing with his disaster of an ex-wife is bad enough, not to mention delinquent football players and a meddlesome mother. Cam doesn’t have the luxury of time for anything more, especially a relationship. Even if it is sassy-wiseass Paige Carpino, who can still be sweet, but at every turn knocks him on his ass with the unexpected.
That’s figuratively speaking of course. Paige might come in a small package, but she makes up for it in spirit. An energetic spit-fire who has some heat to her sauce, she’s dedicated to her new business ventures, her family and a select group of friends. She’s never put herself out there, but then again, there’s never been anyone worthy of putting herself out there for.
Until one day in a burger joint, an asshole practically enters her into a wet t-shirt contest with his drink. Who knew a wet t-shirt could be the beginning of your life. Or more importantly, that asshole would be your reason for being. But anything and all of the above can happen when you finally put yourself out there for a single-dad-ex-football-player-smarty-pants-hot-man. When you throw the Carpino’s, the Montgomery’s and an eighty-five year old bossy woman in the mix, it’s a recipe for…well…something big.
Warning: This book contains a hot dad, a sassy heroine, steamy parts and naughty words. If you’re under the age of 18, this author is frowning at you with her mama eyes telling you to walk away.
–The Carpinos get better and better: I’ve enjoyed the earlier books in the series and seeing that Paige was the heroine for this book certainly drew me in. The Carpinos are a slightly crazy but fun, loving family who step up and protect their own and nowhere does that shine through as well as it does here. Ms. Asher has managed to grow as an author which each book and I’m excited to see what she has in store for the Carpinos, because so far, I think each story has its own little spin and it’s own flavor that helps keep the interest alive.
If you’ve read my reviews, I need certain key scenes to be right on point for my enjoyment. I like to call them the Firsts – first meet, first kiss, and first love scene. Paige and Cam have a great first meet when he dumps a Dr. Pepper all over Paige. It sets up their antagonistic banter, and the action ramps up when they realize that Paige will be watching Cam’s kids after day camp for a week, since she’s filling in for her sister who’s in Hawaii. First kiss was sexy and and first love scene was…ok not what I was expecting considering what had just happened, but still brought good heat. The UST was good and it was easy to keep turning the page, even when alot of the tension came from Cam’s tendency toward alpha-hole.
–Cam drove me a bit mad: Cam’s a bit of a pushy a-hole at times, but I think I need that at times from the hero or heroine or there’s no conflict. Too perfect makes me crazier and Cam is far from perfect. His tendency toward caveman gave the story a bit of spark, moreso than if he was too easygoing. He had trust issues, and he’s not the type to flat out say I’m sorry. He could run roughshod over Paige, but she managed to give attitude back to him enough times, though I wouldn’t have minded if she’d done more.
I would have liked him even more and possibly raised my rating, if he had that big moment where he shares and give a great apology, doesn’t have to be a grovel but a truly soul-baring kind of moment makes up for alot. That said, he was never so alpha-hole that I couldn’t connect with him, and it is clear that he cares alot for Paige.
–Paige is still spunky: Paige Carpino is the youngest sister of Tony, the hero from the last book. She’s been sheltered her whole life but that hasn’t hindered her personality. Every member of her family tries to protect her and basically wrap her up in cotton batting, but Ms. Asher managed to convey that this protectiveness was born out of love, not because Paige was TSTL.
–The story’s stronger: This is what I want to focus on as the best part – I enjoyed the earlier books even when I thought the stories were a bit scattered, or lack tension. Athica Lane is Ms. Asher starting to hit her stride. I think it’s the most cohesive plot of the series, and the threat that emerges was real and organic to the plot and woven well into the narrative. I liked that while some parts of the story stuck to the stereotypical (Hi Bekki), the big climax does not and the “villain” isn’t just ev-ill for the sake of ev-ill. Also, the relationship conflict was so natural and when they inevitable happens, I loved that it made sense to these characters.
–Even with the moments that could drive me a bit nuts: As much as I liked that the villain was integrated well and drawn in an almost sympathetic manner, I have to point out that the stereotypical, and completely useless ex wife, wasn’t. It was an easy out storywise. Admittedly, I prefer when characters aren’t drawn in broad strokes for the sake of simplicity and Bekki was just a basic bitch. Also, the resolution to Cam’s bit of asshattery was a bit too easy and verged on too violent. His tendencies toward explosive reactions wouldn’t be cool in any type of real life situation. I didn’t agree with Rosa’s advice, because I think he should’ve worked a bit harder for Paige’s forgiveness.
I really enjoyed it. It’s the best of the series so far. It drove me a little crazy, but I think it’s that bit of bitter that made the sweet all the better. Paige and Cam ‘s romance was fun and I’d recommend it, especially if you’ve read the series so far or love KA-style books. The Carpinos are the type of family you don’t mind visiting a few times a year.
*An ARC was received for an honest review.
Click on the image below to purchase the previous books in this series: