Hellooooo, Kiss Me That Way by Laura Trentham! You’ve made my summer romance reading list something to look forward to! Finally, I should say, because the other two on my list were duds (see reviews here and here)!
Kiss Me That Way is a lovely tale of coming home and finding that the someone who made you feel special when you were young still makes you feel that way.
If you know me at all, you should know that I love stories set in Small Town, U.S.A., and Cottonbloom, Mississippi and Louisiana, fit this bill!
Wait… Mississippi AND Louisiana? That’s right. Cottonbloom is a town divided; one side is in Mississippi and one in Louisiana. The wealthy side, the ‘Sip side, as the locals call it, is where Monroe Kirby grew up, while Cade Fornette grew up on the lower-middle class side in Louisiana. As teens, they meet one night when Cade, a high school dropout who was struggling to keep his younger brother and sister fed after their parents’ deaths, is scavenging for food. Monroe is struggling that night too, running from one of her drunken mother’s overzealous boyfriends. They both share the hardships of their lives, more than they have ever told anyone, and a friendship is maintained under the full moon every month until Monroe’s senior year of high school. This is when Monroe’s plans for college Cottonbloom overlap with Cade’s decision (forced by a crime he committed) to leave since his brother and sister are able to care for themselves. His leaving causes resentment among both of his siblings and a desolation in Monroe.
But Monroe is strong, and she graduates from college, becoming a physical therapist in Cottonbloom (the ‘Sip side, natch). And who should walk in for therapy 12ish years later? Cade Fornette, of course! Not the old Cade Fornette, but the new one who used his knowledge of engine parts to begin patenting his more efficient engines and who is successful but seemingly lost when his brother drags him through the door for physical therapy.
Tender feelings resurface quickly, but this is not an insta-love story, which I only sometimes like. This was a slow burn upon Monroe and Cade meeting again. Old prejudices and old enemies resurface, but the focus of the story is Monroe and Cade finding a love in the present that was implausible in the past. (Not implausible because of their social situations, but because they are young and still have so much ahead of them, although the attraction is there for the younger Monroe then.)
Plus, the side characters were charming and delightful. Cade’s brother and sister, Sawyer and Talulah, respectively, resent Cade’s departure, especially since he didn’t bother to explain that he was basically forced to leave town. But he also never visited, either, so their relationship had to be repaired. They love each other, obviously, so forgiveness is imminent after a good “talkin’ to.” (Yeah, that’s right! Southern!)
Trentham did her story’s minor characters right, not giving them perspectives, but allowing us to see them through the eyes of Monroe and Cade. Plus, although the minor characters play in some big parts of the story, the focus remains on Monroe and Cade, as it should.
SIDEBAR: There’s a funny scene where some people from the Louisiana side plant some rabbits in the tomato garden of someone from the ‘Sip side due to a competition that will play a huge role, I suspect, in the third novel in this series. It’s cute, as is the war between the ‘Sip mayor, Regan, and her former high school boyfriend, Sawyer, Cade’s brother, who is the commissioner on the LA side. (How badly do I want to read their book, Till I Kissed You? BADLY! It’s out August 2nd, so I don’t have to wait long!)
SIDEBAR #2: There’s also an excerpt from the second book in the series, Then He Kissed Me, which will star Cade’s sister Tallulah and local brainiac Nash Hawthorne. I think I’m already in love with Nash, myself. I mean, a guy who runs out of a bar in the middle of a conversation with the girl of his dream just so she won’t see him puff on his inhaler (his asthma is flaring up due to the smoke in the bar) is a guy after my heart! And Tallulah’s, too! (This one’s out June 28th!)
Overall, my friends, I fell in love with Cade and Monroe’s story. It was a story of scars from the past being healed by the love of the present, and I’m glad I picked up this first book in the Cottonbloom series by Laura Trentham. I can’t wait for the next two to come out this in June and August!
I hope you pick this story up, and you enjoy it as much as I did, my dears.
Until next time, enjoy your summer reading!