How would you give a professional organizer an anti-vacation? Have her be housebound with the most disorganized person she has ever met. She is revolted and thinks he’s a slob. He is disgusted and thinks she’s uptight. But there is one thing on which both agree: the other is hot.
Paige Parker is a certified Professional Organizer. Everything in her life has a place and is in place. She is pleased to be single, living in a big city, and in charge of her flourishing business, Chaos Control. Everything is flawless, except… she hasn’t had a vacation in years. On the goading of her assistant, she books a room at the beach-side Copper Lantern Inn on Aurelia Island, a no-car island off the coast of North Carolina. It looks perfectly charming on the website and the best way to commemorate Happy Singles Day — she certainly doesn’t need a man to make her happy.
Lucas Croft is a single father in thrall to his four-year-old daughter and barely hanging on to his now-defunct, derelict inn. His wife and he had bought it together with such joy and hope for their future. And with her death, he can’t bear to relist it for guests. At the same time, bills have a tendency to come at regular intervals, and with managing his daughter and taking on odd jobs in carpentry, money is in short supply. Luckily, Lucas is blessed with a bossy, managing sister, who does what younger sisters do best: plague their brothers… and take care of them. Unbeknownst to him, she revives the listing for the B&B and books him a client.
Paige and Lucas are horrified when they meet. He is rude. She is sniffy. Neither wants anything to do with the other. And yet… there is that pesky attraction.
A no-strings affair is just what Paige wants out of her hot innkeeper. She is wary of getting into a relationship with Lucas because her past relationship went pear-shaped when she found her boss in bed with her fiancé. Lucas has still not recovered from his wife’s death. He is in no emotional shape to enter into a relationship, so he isn’t interested in anything more with Paige other than acting on their attraction to each other.
Walker has done a realistic job of portraying a grieving person and how grief catches you unawares at times and grips you in its talons. Lucas’ journey from recovering his heart from one person and then giving it into the safekeeping of another is a wonderful exploration of trust. While Paige has a similar journey, his is the harder path. Ultimately, it is your personality that affects how you feel your emotions and how you bear grief. Walker does a wonderful job revealing Paige and Lucas’ personalities through how they handle loss.
Paige and Lucas bond over Lucas’ daughter and nearly drowned puppies as much as each other. Happy Singles Day is a soft-focus story that Walker tells really well. It’s the kind of tale where readers can get really invested in the characters and find themselves cheering the protagonists on to their HEA.