by Toni Linenberger, Blonde Betty
I have long been a fan of Carly Phillips. Her early works were light-hearted, well-written, and the perfect favorite candy of reading. More than once I stuck my well-loved copies in the hands of friends: read this, you’ll love it. Very seldom did those books come back with an “I’m sorry, just not to my taste.”
As much as I loved the early stuff, she really hit her stride when she created Serendipity; a small town in upstate New York. The first trilogy (Serendipity Series) dealt with all the intricacies of a group of people who’d grown up together and only in adulthood realized that things are not always what they seem. The three books follow the Baron brothers as they reconnect with each other and find their own HEA.
The second trilogy (Serendipity’s Finest) follows the three Marsden siblings. There are hints of Blue Bloods here as one of the siblings (Mike) is Police Chief (as was their father before), another (Sam) a Cop, and the third (Erin) the assistant DA.
Perfect Fling, second in the Serendipity’s Finest trilogy, is Erin’s story.
In the picturesque town of Serendipity, New York, three siblings have grown up in the shadow of their proud and respected police chief father. But what do love, fate, and fortune have in store for the next generation of Serendipity’s finest?
Assistant District Attorney, Erin Marsden, is Serendipity’s quintessential good girl. The only daughter of the ex-police chief, she has never made a misstep, content with her quiet, predictable life … or so she thinks. Until Cole Sanders returns to town with heated interest in his eyes and shadows in his past.
After seven years of deep under cover work in New York City, Cole returns to Serendipity to help his aging father and to find his moral compass once more. Not to get involved with wholesome Erin Marsden. Even as a rebellious teen, he knew a girl like Erin was off limits and that hasn’t changed. But neither one of them can resist their off-the-charts chemistry and a one night stand brings complications neither Erin nor Cole expected.
The Attraction … Off the Charts!
Then Erin’s current case plunges her into a killer’s crosshairs. With more at stake than anyone knows, Erin succumbs to Cole’s take-charge attitude. As a bodyguard, he’s the best. As a lover, he’s even better. But there’s more than the matter of Erin’s safety at stake. And Cole must forgive the sins of his past and prove to himself – and to Erin – that he’s capable of the love and the forever she – and their baby – desperately need.
Though Serendipity’s Finest are ostensibly about the Marsden siblings this is Cole’s book. As far as heroines go, Erin’s pretty bland. She’s well put together and nothing seems to faze her. While a surprise pregnancy throws her a bit, she quickly adapts to her new reality and begins rearranging her life accordingly. A stalker forces her to accept Cole’s daily presence in her life as her bodyguard and scares her, but otherwise she has a strong enough core and family support to keep moving forward on her chosen path.
Cole, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. Despite a successful career with the NYPD as an undercover officer, the years of being beaten down by his father when he was a kid still shape his outlook. He feels as if he doesn’t belong, will never amount to anything, and certainly doesn’t deserve the love and roots Serendipity provides.
Erin more than has her work cut out for her when it comes to the HEA. Cole is not one to change easily; though change is somewhat of a misnomer. In reality he only has to adjust his incorrect beliefs about himself. He really is the person that Erin sees and not the one his father molded.
I really liked that both characters weren’t in need of major changes or compromises to make their HEA work. Erin’s strong, well-defined character provides a foundation upon which Cole can build his own similar foundation and they can jointly build something lasting.
While you can certainly pick up the Serendipity series with this novel, I recommend starting at the beginning. Don’t overlook some of the novellas either; some are e-only. My favorite of the novellas was published earlier this summer in the anthology, Hot Summer Nights. Each book does stand alone, but the interconnections that are woven throughout the series only make each book stronger when read as a whole.