I first stumbled across Lucy Score when I was looking for a sexy mystery series to fill the void left when I broke up with Janet Evanovich. I found Riley Thorne and the Dead Guy Next Door, which is everything that the Stephanie Plum books could have been if Stephanie were less of a selfish, inconsiderate bitch.
Yeah, I said what I said.
Anyway, the point is that I found the Riley Thorne books and fell in love with them, and that lead me to Lucy’s back catalogue…and it was there that I fell in love with Lucy Score. Funny, sexy, grown-up love stories with well-drawn adult humans, amusingly quirky supporting characters and a completely coherent plot.
Lucy Score writes freaking UNICORNS, y’all.
Which is why I was so excited to get to this one.
Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon.
Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.
Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.
Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.
There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.
At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.
Naomi is waiting in the changing room for her wedding to start, a wedding that she knows is a mistake, but which she can’t seem to stop, when she gets a frantic text from her estranged sister. Tina is in trouble, and needs Naomi to come right away. And bring cash.
On the one hand, this seems like a terrible idea. On the other, her only other possible plan for the day includes marrying a man that she doesn’t want to marry, so off she goes. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, Tina steals her money and her car, and strands her in a small Virginia town, with the 10-year-old niece she didn’t know she had.
Knockemout, VA is a tiny town run by a couple of decent men, Nash and Knox Morgan. Knox is the owner of several businesses in town, a former lottery winner who invested his winnings back in the town that raised him, and Nash is a former teen delinquent turned rule-following sheriff. The brothers, like Naomi and Tina, are also estranged, for…reasons.
Knox and Naomi have scorching chemistry from the beginning, and I believed in their relationship. I’m a fan of a sunshine girl/grumpy guy trope, and this one has that in spades. But this could have been a fairly unremarkable, routine, workaday romance, in less talented hands. There’s a lot going on that is not directly tied to Knox and Naomi’s relationship. There are family dynamics to navigate. There is a 10-year-old spitfire to take care of. There are meddling best friends on both sides, who are very different and yet very similarly-dangerous men. And there is the specter of Tina, who has actually gotten herself in real trouble this time, trouble that could actually get someone killed (and almost does).
So, is it a romantic comedy? Eh. It’s romantic. It’s a comedy. But it’s also a family drama, and a decent thriller. It’s an example how romance novels can be elevated to something much more, in the hands of a skilled author.
Also, this is a book that gets nicknames right. Most of the time, nicknames in books are precious, and a little cringy. I don’t really like that, not usually, not at all. But the nicknames in this book flow naturally, and sound organic, like nicknames you would actually give your friends in real life. It’s a tiny detail, but it’s indicative of the care with which this book was written.
Now, let’s talk about that rating. I have read quite a few books in the last year that got a solid A from me. Daisy Jones and The Six. Project Hail Mary. Beach Read. Someday, Someday. Shadowed Steel. And yet none of these books managed to get an A+. And I dithered here. This book is different enough from Hail Mary or Daisy (the two best books I read last year) that it’s hard to compare them. And I don’t want to say that this book is BETTER than either of those two. But I will say this—it’s written with and full of more pure JOY. So, I give the book an A for the content and a + for the joy.
And if you are not reading Lucy Score, well…what are you waiting for?