New Release Review: The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump

1 The Sweetheart RulesThe Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump
Book #2 in Sweetheart Sisters
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Berkley

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Sweetheart Sisters are ready to give some old-school lessons in love…

Rescue Bay veterinarian Diana Tuttle is a great single mom, but she has a harder time taking care of herself. Having been burned in the past by her son’s noncommittal father, the last thing she wants is a man who isn’t in it for the long haul—until a foolish one-night stand from her past walks back into her life.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Mike Stark has never wanted to settle down. But when his ex-wife leaves their two small children on his doorstep, he is forced to become a family man in a hurry. His return to Rescue Bay, Florida and fatherhood isn’t easy, but reconnecting with Diana makes the challenge all the more worthwhile. Except becoming the long-term lover she has in mind may be one commitment too many…

Luckily, when Diana’s and Mike’s pasts begin to threaten their future, the Sweetheart Sisters have the perfect scheme to make this second chance last a lifetime.

Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A

The Sweetheart Rules was a very enjoyable read!  Even though I haven’t read the first book, The Sweetheart Bargain, I never felt lost or like I didn’t who someone was.  Everything was explained very well and the town and the characters were adorable.

Diana Tuttle is a single mother and the town veterinarian.  She had a summer relationship with Mike Stark, but didn’t think she would see him again after he left to go back to the Coast Guard.  Months later, she bumps into him while shopping and finds out that he has moved back to Rescue Bay and now has his two daughters in tow.  Mike is trying to learn how to be a father while Diana struggles with her son pulling away.  They both have their own complicated lives but there is still an attraction between them.  Can they establish something more permanent this time or will Mike run off again, leaving Diana’s broken heart in his wake?

I really enjoyed Mike’s character; it was fun to see a male character struggling with learning to be a parent.  His daughters were adorable and I loved the relationship he was eventually able to forge with them.  Jenny especially broke my heart because of how much responsible had been placed on her from a very young age.  I’m glad she was finally able to be a kid again with Mike.  I sympathized with Diana right off the bat, but I do admit to getting a little annoyed with her toward the end.  She seemed so tough and pulled together throughout the story, but I never truly got a sense of why she was so scared to confide in people.  I know she didn’t know her father and her mother could be distracted with her vet practice, but it still seems like she was there for her and took care of her even when Diana became pregnant as a teen.  I get that she had hard times, I really do, but something just didn’t work for me with her characterization all the time.  Also, her son Jackson just came of as a brat sometimes.  He was old enough not to be blind to everything his mother did for him, but he seemed much younger emotionally.  I am glad they were able to work everything out at the end though.

Mike and Diana’s relationship was very back and forth, but I enjoyed their banter.  They hurt each other pretty equally, but they also loved each other strongly.  They were good in each other’s lives and were able to make their own together.  The kids were never ignored and it was sweet to see each adult interacting with the other’s children.  Mike and Diana helped to bring the best out in each other and they pushed each other to conquer their insecurities.  Diana helped Mike to loosen up and to enjoy being with his kids, as well as letting past grievances go with his mother.  Mike helped Diana to see that she didn’t have to continue to suffer for past mistakes and that a burden is easier to carry when you let people in to help.  They had a lot of flirty banter and sweet moments were they were mentally and emotionally connecting.  I would say the heat level in this book was pretty mild. There were a few makeouts and “almost” scenes but only one scorching sex scene between Mike and Diana.

Since I haven’t read the first book, I’m not sure how much responsibility the Sweetheart Sisters had for hooking up that couple.  In The Sweetheart Rules, the Sisters were there and they did meddle a bit, but Diana and Mike found their way to each other pretty much on their own.  There was a little side plot with one of the Sisters, Greta, and an older gentleman, but it didn’t completely play out here.  I expect to see more of both of them in the next book.  Speaking of the next book, I think this one did a good job of setting up the next main character, Doctor Colton Harper, without giving away too much about him.

I found The Sweetheart Rules to be a sweetly satisfying read.  I enjoyed watching Mike and Diana find their way together and seeing them become a family.  The secondary characters were interesting as well and I have already ordered a copy of the first book, The Sweetheart Bargain, so I can learn more about the original couple.  Highly recommended to those looking for a cute romance with a solid HEA.

Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for providing an ARC copy of this book for review!

Best of CR

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. The Sweetheart Bargain
2. The Sweetheart Rules
3. The Sweetheart Secret (Expected publication: September 2nd 2014)

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