Rating: 4 stars
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Nico Salerno left his small town of Hobie, Texas at age fifteen and has made a life for himself in San Francisco. He hasn’t talked to his family since he left, so Nico is stunned when he gets a call from a lawyer that his sister Adriana has died and left him custody of her four-month-old daughter, Pippa. Nico has no choice but to return to Hobie and sort out Adriana’s affairs and take care of Pippa until her local adoption goes through.
West Wilde is the town doctor and was close friends with Adriana. He has never really forgiven Nico for abandoning his family and his sister and he definitely resents that Nico has custody of Pippa, as West has grown very close to her. West doesn’t think that Nico is at all prepared to handle taking care of a baby, and even though West doesn’t want anything to do with the man, he can’t stay away, if only for Pippa’s sake.
Even as the men start out at odds, the sexual attraction between them is still strong. As Nico and West get to know each other better, they begin a friendship and a sexual relationship, but they both know it can never be more. Nico has a life, including his tattoo business, waiting for him back in San Francisco. Not to mention Nico figures Pippa’s prospective adoptive family is much more prepared to care for her than he is, as much as she is beginning to make a place in his heart. And West can’t quite get over his fear that Nico will run when things get tough. But Nico and West have fallen hard for each other and have the family they have always wanted right before them, if only they will take the chance on each other.
Facing West is the first book in Lucy Lennox’s Forever Wilde series. I actually read these out of order, starting with Felix and the Prince and going back to this one. While we do meet Felix at the very end of this first book, and Nico and West are mentioned briefly in the second book, these stories stand alone just fine at this point in the series. We meet many members of the vast Wilde family here, but at this point the only characters that really connect the books are West and Felix’s grandfathers. I’ll also note that this series takes place in the same world as Lennox’s Made Marion series, and Griffin from Grounding Griffin is Nico’s best friend, but again, this book stands alone even without having read the other series.
This is a sweet start to the series with two very likable men and a bit of an enemies to lovers vibe as they start off at odds. Nico is a little prickly and rough around the edges at first, especially when he returns to the small town and gets all kinds of looks for his appearance (tattoos, piercings), not to mention those who remember him as a teen. He is also out of his depth with Pippa and put off by West’s posturing about it all. But underneath we have a guy who is lonely, a bit vulnerable, and very sweet. For his part, West is still mourning Adriana’s death, and while he can be a little bit of a jerk at first, we can kind of see why. Basically, both of these men are good guys, likable, sexy together, and there is just enough bite and tension between them to keep things interesting.
There isn’t a ton that happens here, mostly the guys getting to know each other again as adults and falling for each other (and into each other’s beds). So this isn’t a story with a major plot; I think the characters are what carried it for me and you just have to be in the mood for sweet and sexy here for it to work, I think. I felt like the pacing was somewhat off, as we spend a lot of time with the guys hanging out and getting to know one another, and then the story resolves super quickly at the end. Given we are dealing with Nico’s business, a baby, the potential adoption, Adriana’s business, a mean bad guy who is bugging Nico, and the guys’ relationship itself, it felt like things come together in a rush after the slower pace of the rest of the story. There were a bunch of areas that needed more development than they got here.
I also felt like West’s anger at Nico for leaving town at 15 was way misplaced and it took me a bit to warm to him after that. He basically holds Nico responsible for somehow abandoning his mother and older sister and blames Nico for his sister’s hard life. It somehow never occurs to West that Nico was a child, and that most 15 year olds don’t leave home with no money and no place to go because they are selfish and don’t care about their families. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is the source of early conflict between the guys and then comes back around later in the book and it just seemed sort of misplaced blame to me.
Overall I enjoyed this story a lot though. Like I said, there isn’t a ton that happens here and the story is really driven by these two likable characters. I also enjoyed meeting more of the Wilde family and I am really looking forward to more books in the series. There is a lot of potential here and I can’t wait for more.