No One Like You, by Kate Angell. Kensington. 304 pages. Trade paperback $9.95.
Lovers of contemporary romance will find many satisfactions in Ms. Angell’s latest addition to her Barefoot William series. The name is not that of a mythological beach bum, but a Gulf Coast Florida beach town pretty much owned by the Cates family. It’s time for spring training, and the Richmond Rogues major league baseball team has made its new home in Barefoot William, much to the pleasure of team captain Rylan Cates, a hometown hero.
Because Ryland has many leadership responsibilities during the eight week spring training season, he advertises for a personal assistant. Beth Avery, a newcomer fighting a losing streak in her personal life, wins the job – and much more.
Beth’s job is includes keeping Rylan on schedule, taking care of the house, preparing some meals, and – most importantly – taking care of his four dogs. Atlas, the huge Great Dane, is way more than a handful. The author builds this stubborn but loving creature into a complex personality. Strange as it may seem, Atlas is the third most important character in the book. His tail-wagging cohorts are also memorable creations.
Who are the other important characters? Clearly enough, the members of his two extended families: Rylan’s many tightly knit and mutually supportive Barefoot William relatives and his fellow Richmond Rogues. Ms. Angell’s readers have met many of them before.
This time out, comic relief is provided by the nuisance behavior of Halo Todd and his sidekick Landon Kane, two of the team’s star players. They hang around Rylan’s home uninvited, drop in for meals, and generally impose upon Rylan’s good nature. Beth’s patience is strained by the goofy presumption of this duo. However, she does manage to involve them in preparing for a big party, even while risking the payback they’ll expect. Halo and Land are immaturity raised to a higher power.
The heart of the story, of course, is the unwanted romance brewing and bubbling between Rylan and Beth. Their attraction to one another is powerful, yet neither is looking for intimacy or commitment. The timing just doesn’t seem right. Ryland has to concentrate on his extensive responsibilities as team captain; Beth needs to get her feet on the ground in her new surroundings and find the strength to overcome recent disappointments.
Living in the same house and working together so often, they become aware of each other’s strengths and virtues. Mutual respect and blazing sexual attraction are a powerful combination, yet each remains somewhat guarded as the fire builds. Where is this relationship going, besides the bedroom? A big question for both of them – and for the reader. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 20, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 21 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions.