The Rebel’s Return is the 4th book in the Red River series by Victoria James. The bestselling Canadian author fell in love with romance novels in high school and fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer after the birth of her first child. This book will be published on August 22nd 2016; I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So, as not to spoil the story too much for you guys, I won’t go into too much detail. I think the blurb is a perfect teaser:
Natalia Puccini has spent her entire life playing by her overbearing but well-intentioned Italian family’s rules…except the one time she took a chance on a bad boy and fell hard. She’s worked to get her life back on track so when Aiden McCann comes sauntering back into town with his heart-stopping smile, Natalia vows not to fall for him again. There’s no way she’ll let him mess with her perfectly planned life…and there’s no way she’ll let him near her heart again…
Now reformed and a self-made success, Aiden is tormented by regrets and secrets. He left Red River years ago filled with anger and resentment and a promise to never come back. But when his ill father needs help, Aiden knows it’s time to face the mess he left behind, and face the one woman he never got over. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or intriguing she is, though, because he’ll never be able to give her what she needs. As soon as his father is healthy, Aiden is leaving Red River…for good.
So basically, Natalia and Aiden were high school sweethearts. But Aiden wasn’t just a bad boy, he had some serious problems and he didn’t want to drag Natalia down with him. Which is why he left, breaking Natalia’s heart. Natalia recovered and gave love another chance with Franco, who ended up cheating on her with her cousin, which is why she doesn’t trust men anymore. But she never really got over Aiden.
Aiden, on the other hand, grew up in a broken home. His father became an alcoholic after his mother’s death, leaving his brother and him to fend for themselves. He got into drugs and alcohol at a young age, and didn’t know what to do with himself after high school graduation. The only light in his life was Natalia and her big, Italian family. But he needed to go find himself, which is why he left with his brother. They started their own company and are now pretty successful. Until Aiden needs to come back to Red River because his father is sick and needs help going to chemotherapy. He runs into Natalia on his first day back, who he still loves as much as before.
Victoria James’ novel contains all the hallmarks of the typical romance, but it wasn’t cliché. A lot of romance novels quickly fall back to clichés, but that really wasn’t the case here. Rebel’s Return is a sweet romance novel about two people finding each other again and trying to get over their past to get to their happily ever after. The relationship between Natalia and Aiden heats up slowly and gently, but they don’t sleep together until the very end. This also really fitted the story of their sweet, rekindled romance. As teenagers, they didn’t sleep together because Natalia wasn’t ready and now Aiden wants to wait until they are married to respect her principles. I can’t say it enough: a really sweet romance. Not too childish, not too adult and no “fifty shades of grey”-situations.
I’d definitely recommend it for people new to romance novels as a way to gentle ease into the genre. And I was wondering to go read the previous 3 installments in the Red River-series – if you have already, let me know if I should!
Should a fifth installment come out about Natalia’s brother and best friend Sabrina, I will definitely read it! Because let’s face it, the policeman older brother who doesn’t think it’s appropriate to date his younger sister’s best friend (who has had a crush on him for years)? That has all the elements of a great romance novel, don’t you think?!