Review ~ Sweet Water – Laurie Lewis

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Love and money don’t mix when three college friends launch a fledgling business, and two impulsively elope. When Hudson Bauer hears the wedding news he leaves town, stealing the company’s first big contract and Olivia and Jeff’s dreams.

Olivia McAllister has spent eight years blaming Hudson for all her losses, including her anemic marriage to Jeff and a recent, tragic accident that leaves her body battered and her dreams of a family shattered.

Widowed, and in desperate straits, she is forced to accept Hudson’s offer to recuperate at his parents’ empty house on Oregon’s Cannon Beach, but her return to the place where the three friends once summered casts new light on her hasty marriage and on the enemy she once called friend.

When Hudson offers Olivia a job doing humanitarian work, something hopeful and familiar awakens in Olivia, giving rise to long-denied feelings for Hudson. Stuck between grief and the promise of new love, Olivia must make peace with her confusing past, and forgive the man she once hated, before Hudson walks away again, closing the door on their possibilities forever.

Sweet Water is an emotional second chance romance between former friends and business partners Olivia and Hudson. The story begins with a horrendous car accident that leaves Olivia a widow but not necessarily a grieving one. Her marriage to Jeff was not at all what it was cracked up to be and throughout the course of the novel we learn a lot about the dynamics between the trio when they were younger and getting their business off the ground. Hudson and Olivia had always had a thing for one another when they were younger but instead of simply going for it, SHE waited while HE planned. They couldn’t have known that outside forces were plotting against their burgeoning romance.

Today Hudson is a big deal. A really big deal. A billionaire and a philanthropist that would put Bono to shame, and Olivia is not. By playing the role of dutiful wife to a starry eyed dreamer of a husband she’d put her dreams on hold, and that is the beauty of Laurie Lewis’ storytelling.

My initial impressions of Olivia weren’t all that great and they were even worse of Jeff. As the story progressed I felt bad for her but I still hadn’t warmed up to her. But as Sweet Water drew closer its climax and ending and everything was laid out bare, holy hell did I feel for the woman. Sure she made her choices but her baggage made it very hard to make any choice other than the one she did.

In fact the most impressive skill Laurie Lewis showed throughout this novel is character development. Each member of the threesome, even the long gone Jeff, were redeemed at the end. Instead of holding onto grudges and what ifs everyone simply takes the past for what it was and vows to do better. That’s the story of our lives, learning from the past without letting it completely define our future, and that’s why Sweet Water had me smiling like a lovesick fool at times, crying and others and cursing the younger versions of Olivia and Hudson.

All in all this was a surprisingly good read and I’d love to read more of the Destination Billionaire series. There was no sex in this story and I don’t think it took away from the romance at all.

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