Maybe This Time is the next heartwarming contemporary romance from Nicole McLaughlin in her Whiskey and Weddings series.
Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life—and her occasional careless choices—have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.
TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take—and having it all, together?
This is the first book I’ve read from Nicole McLaughlin. I admit that I do get nervous trying a new author. I think it’s because I want to love her every book that floats my way and I feel bad if I don’t like something. But I didn’t need to worry. I actually read this book in one sitting. It was easy to read and I became so invested in these characters.
Jen Mackenzie might be one of my favorite female characters ever. She is exceptionally flawed. She’s made some poor decisions, she has her own insecurity, plus her present day life brings a lot of stress. I aligned with Jen. There was a scene where she sort of breaks down as all of the stress just hits her. I cried right along with her. Her stress and anguish just soared off the page.
TJ Laughlin is, again, a favorite character. When you look at these characters, without meeting then, you see TJ as the rich kid and Jen as the poor kid. Which is true. But having money, or not having money, doesn’t leave you immune to insecurity or issues in life. TJ has many battles, they are just of a different caliber. Even with all of that, TJ isn’t scared to give Jen his love.
Jen and TJ are in their early 30’s. I feel like this is a weird thing to hone in on, but I really appreciated that the characters weren’t so young. And the fact that they both had sexual experience. I know we all love a good virginal, first love romance, but I also appreciate when the characters have experienced life with other people. It makes the connection so much stronger. There was one particular love scene in the story where you the passion was so intense and, as a reader, I understood how these two could feel how they did.
If you enjoy contemporary romance, you will enjoy this story. But if you also love seeing a couple overcome the odds, you would also love Jen and TJ’s story. Both characters have flaws that are realistic, and when we see these two come together, the passion and chemistry seem to jump off the page.