This is the second book in the Martini book series, but it is not necessary to read the first in order to enjoy this. It stands alone just fine.
Grace Chapman is in the middle of a somewhat contentious divorce and her young son Oliver has become the epitome of the problem child. His teacher at school, Vanessa Martini, has called Grace and arranged a parent-teacher conference.
Their first meeting is, thankfully, NOT instalove. Sure, they each think the other is attractive, but Grace feels that Vanessa is judging her because she can’t control Oliver, and Vanessa….seems to actually feel that way, when she finds out the kid is caught in the middle – just as she herself was, when her father left (cue the childhood trauma bell, as now the dad is completely out of her life, even though he still lives in the same town).
Vanessa and Grace wind up in the same place quite often, just by chance, and run into one another several times at martini’s, the bar owned by Vanessa’s cousin. Once out of the parent-teacher school vibe, they realize they are attracted to one another, but Vanessa is concerned about how it would look, ethics-wise, if she started seeing the mother of one of her students. Side note here, from someone who has lived in small towns off and on: even it’s just casual, everyone is going to know. That’s just the nature of small town life.
One day, while Grace is at work at the flower shop, Vanessa pops in and asks her out for real, and Grade’s crusty old boss approves, leaving Grace astonished.
The one issue I have with this is the same I have with most: communication. Grace’s issue with her ex husband’s insensitivity about Grace’s time and possible life could have been solved sooner. After he’s had discussions with both Grace and Vanessa, he does a complete 180 that would please whichever editor at Bold Strokes is in love with peoples’ heads snapping up or around. There’s never a point where Grace has a heart to heart with Oliver, which would have been worth at least a page or so.
They’re adults about getting really involved with one another – UHaul involved -which is a breath of fresh air. They decide to wait until the end of the school year, when Oliver will no longer be in Vanessa’s class.
There are some kisses, and there is some sex, but it’s not over the top graphic if that’s a metric you use to decide what to read.
A solid four of out five stars.
Publication date: December 14, 2021
Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.