Monday, April 3, 2017

Callie's Christmas Wish - Merline Lovelace (HSE #2512 - Nov 2016)

Series: Three Coins in the Fountain (Book 3)

A coin

Months ago at the Trevi Fountain, Callie Langston wished for a matinee idol to sweep her off her feet. Instead, she got an action hero! A battle-scarred but sexy security expert used to danger and ready for love…

A proposal

Days ago, Joe Russo went down on one knee and put a ring on her finger. But before she can answer him, safe, predictable Callie is heading back to Italy, permanently, on one crazy Christmas adventure.

A wedding?

Joe is everything she's wished for and more. But Callie's waited her whole life to live. Among the timeless beauty and ancient traditions of Christmas in Rome, she's got to decide: Will it be the plan…or the man?

Lovely conclusion to the trilogy. Callie is the third of the three friends who made a trip to Rome to fulfill a long held dream. Her wish at the Trevi Fountain was for her dream hero to sweep her off her feet. In the first book, I Do...Take Two!, I thought she might fall for the Italian pilot, prince and ladies' man, Carlo, but she was too smart for that. In the second book, Third Time's the Bride, it became obvious that there were some sparks between her and security expert, Joe. Those sparks flared up when he realized that she was in trouble and insisted on helping her.

In the opening of this book, Callie is staying with Dawn and Brian, where she is safe, while Joe tracks down the person behind the threats. Callie has realized that she cares a great deal for Joe, but isn't sure what he feels for her. When he returns, with the threat to her taken care of, the passion between them flares. Joe is ready to tell her that he needs her in his life, but the tough guy is missing a few of the essentials when he tells her.

Callie wants more than to be Joe's "port in a storm". He's what she wants, but until she feels like her feelings are truly returned, she's going to continue with her plans. Wanting something different than what she had back in Boston, she has accepted a job with one of Carlo's charities back in Rome. She's excited to start a new phase in her life, and if Joe wants to be part of it, he'll have to accept it.

I loved Joe and Callie. She is smart, independent, and has a huge heart that wants to help people. I loved seeing her settle in to her new job and start connecting with the people who need her. I also loved the way she stood up to Joe, letting him know that she loved his protectiveness, but not at the expense of her independence. She wasn't mean about it, but she was adamant. I loved seeing her make sure he completely understood where she was coming from. Joe is great. He's protective, passionate, and completely bowled over by Callie. He's also a little too used to being in charge and having things his own way. It was fun to see him have to deal with Callie's reaction to his attempts to ensure her safety.

The development of their relationship is pretty sweet. Joe is a very private guy who keeps his past hurts to himself. He also takes past failures personally and they affect who he is now. I loved seeing Callie break down his walls. I also loved how he did things for her that helped her live her dream of being in Italy. The trip to Naples on her first weekend was awesome. His work on her apartment to keep her safe pushed the envelope a little, but she understood his reasons and was able to make him see her side also. I really liked how they talked out their issues rather running away from them or letting them pull them apart. I loved their big moment at the end.

There was a bit of suspense in the book that involved a threat to the center where Callie was working. I loved seeing the work she did, with the realism of helping women refugees who have fled from the threats against them. It was heartbreaking to hear what some of them had been through and knowing that those things really happen. Joe was determined to keep Callie and all the women at the center safe. The culmination of the threat was exciting and nervewracking, especially when it caused some stress between Joe and Callie. It definitely had an exciting finish.

The secondary characters were fantastic. The fears of the young woman, Amal, and Callie's attempts to help her were very emotional. I ached for her fears for herself and her baby. My favorite was Callie's boss, Simona. She was quite the "dragon lady", but it was easy to see how much the women at the center meant to her. I loved the conflict between her and Carlo and would love to see more of them. I also liked seeing more of Kate and Dawn and their husbands, showing that their happy endings have continued.

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