Carter Prescott and Auden Macarthur fell in love when they were students at Burlington U. Auden worked for Carter’s father’s printing shop, Imprescott Designs, and Carter had dreams of turning Imprescot into a huge success. But when his dad wasn’t on board with Carter’s vision, he knew there was no future for him with the family business and got a new position out of town. Carter hoped Auden would move with him and the two could start their lives together. But Auden didn’t share Carter’s dreams and things ended between them.
It’s been more than ten years since Auden and Carter broke up. Carter has become a successful executive in Montreal and Auden continues to work in Vermont at Imprescott. Carter doesn’t have any desire to return home until his father needs him to help out while he is out of town for a family emergency. Seeing each other again is hard for both Carter and Auden; time hasn’t healed the wounds between them as Carter is hurt Auden wouldn’t come with him, and Auden is hurt that Carter left. But they have no choice but to work together while Francis is out of town.
Things start rough as the past gets in the way, but soon Auden and Carter are working well together. Carter handles most of the business side, while Auden manages the antique press and the art design. Soon it becomes clear that the attraction between them never went away and, with a time limit on Carter’s trip to Vermont, the men decide to act on their intense chemistry. But as the days and weeks pass, it is clear that there is something between them besides just their incredible heat. The men are rediscovering the feelings they once had for each other. But Carter and Auden still live in different countries. Carter’s father still doesn’t want to listen to any of Carter’s ideas. And Auden still is not ready to take a risk on something new. Now that Carter and Auden have opened their hearts back to one another, they have to figure out if there is any way to rebuild what they had lost.
One of the things I like about following a shared world series is the chance to be introduced to new-to-me authors. Turnabout is part of the Vino and Veritas collection, a set of standalone stories that all feature the wine bar and book store, and part of the larger World of True North universe. Having enjoyed many of the books in the collection, I decided to give this installment by Laurel Greer a shot and I am really glad I did, as this is my favorite story so far.
Greer does a great job setting up the conflict between Auden and Carter in a way that makes both of them sympathetic and their concerns (and stubborn points) easy to understand. At first, Carter comes across as a bit of the big city guy looking to sell out the small town charm of the family business. He has worked hard to be the vice president of a big company and he doesn’t understand why his dad keeps his shop so small and outdated. But it is quickly apparent there is a lot more going on. Francis has made it clear that he will never accept Carter’s ideas, no matter how valid. He makes Carter feel small and like he will never be good enough, never have value. Auden is the son Francis wants and Carter can never do the right thing. Carter has also grown a lot over the years. While college Carter may have had stars in his eyes about the print shop, today’s Carter really listens to what his father wants and has put so much time and effort and energy into trying to help, only to be unappreciated and rebuffed. He left for Montreal because he saw no future for himself in Vermont, and he viewed Auden’s refusal to come as just another example of someone finding him not good enough. For his part, Auden loves the small shop and doesn’t want it to change. But it is more than that. His father walked out on him and his mom and she has constantly told him not to take chances or take risks, for fear of losing it all. Even opportunities that Auden would love, like designing his own stationary, fill him with fear because it is something new. So he is letting that stand in the way of having what he wants, both in terms of a career and with Carter.
The characters are so nicely developed that it makes it easy to root for both of them and to want to see them find a way to work it all out. Greer also gives the men great chemistry together. Even before Auden and Carter start acting on their attraction, the heat between them is just palpable. They are so clearly meant to be together, they just need to figure out a way to make it all work. Also, this story has all the hot Scot yumminess, between Auden’s sexy burr and the occasional kilt. He is the big, burly, gentle giant, soft spoken and sweet. And Carter is all energy and intensity and movement. Together, they just work so well and I was completely drawn in by their story.
There was a point midway through where I worried about how the story could carry on for another half a book. This one is fairly long and there is a lot of build as the men slowly fall back to each other. But I have to say, my fears ended up being unfounded as I was really engaged throughout the story. Greer gives their relationship enough depth that it can carry the story, as we watch the men fall back in love and sort out their issues. It is romantic and sexy and left me feeling kind of swoony when it was all over. So I really enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it. It is a great installment in this shared world, and works perfectly as a standalone for readers interested in a great second chance romance.