Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages
At a Glance: I loved this book – I love this series.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Hutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas.
When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.
Review: First let me say I am a huge fan of Mary Calmes – she is one of my go-to authors whenever I need to read a real good story – like this one! This is a best friends-to-lovers tale, but when the switch is flipped, it feels like a natural progression of their friendship, not a whiplash moment. Mary Calmes has created a community with this series, so her characters are friends and neighbors, and recur throughout the Mangrove books.“It was always beautiful in Mangrove. Even on gray, overcast days when it rained cats and dogs, even when the wind whipped through the trees and you could hear chimes ringing up and down the street, and even when nothing moved or stirred and it was simply a hot, sticky, humid mess, no one could look around and say the view wasn’t stunning.”
We meet Hutch Crowley for the first time in book one of this series, Blue Days, where he is so enamored of his small town he refuses to sell his house to developers. Hutch shows up again in book two, Quiet Nights, where he goes on a date with the MC, Coz. We learn from Book Two that he should value himself more, that he is rather self-deprecating and doesn’t realize the positive effect he has on others. Because of this, we have already met Hutch, we know he’s the blonde haired, blue eyed handsome town grocer. He’s confident to the world but has issues with self-worth; he is giving and generous and has an incredibly quick wit.
Mike Rojas is broken when he lands in Mangrove. Mike lost his wife, a woman he loved dearly, to cancer, and he leaves his life and job behind, gets in his car and eventually ends up in Mangrove.“Mike was stunning, drop-dead gorgeous, but that wasn’t what I noticed first – instead it was the pain etched on every part of his face.” It is Hutch’s generosity and care, giving Mike a job and place to live in his guesthouse, that allows Mike to heal and move forward with his life. This book catches Hutch and Mike two years after their first meeting, and they have become best friends, living in each other’s pockets. Mary Calmes hits us with the little things – the smallest of touches – to let us know how they already feel about each other. “’Okay.’ Mike grinned, his thumb sliding back and forth over the underside of my wrist.” References like this happen throughout the book as Hutch and Mike slowly reach that “aha” moment when they give in and reach for each other as more than friends. “He knew me so well, all those nights together, the endless conversations, the constant banter, and the complete, unconditional support. We’d been in the middle of our relationship before either of us even knew we’d begun.”
I loved this book – I love this series – and realize, this is a standalone story. A community is made up of a lot different personalities, and as such, each of these books stands alone. But, I can guarantee you, if you read this third installment in the series, you will probably go back and buy books one and two. Just sayin’.
You can buy Sultry Sunset here: