Title: Designing Love – Book Three in The Calderone Family Romance Series
Author: Victoria Grant
Designing Love is a story about two people who are both sure that a relationship is not their current priority, but find themselves drawn to each other anyway. Caroline has a number one rule—no relationships—that keeps her career as a budding architect on track. At the wedding where they meet, Charles makes a vow to stay a bachelor. Still, sparks fly between them, leaving them curious about the possibility of more.
The characters in Designing Love are drawn vividly. Caroline, her best friend Casey, Charles, and his family members each have distinct personalities that enliven the story. Charles has a big family. They’re a close-knit group who work together, celebrate together, and help each other. Caroline and Casey are both welcomed into this circle, and the scenes that depict these relationships unfolding are a highlight of the book.
One of the strengths of this novel is that the relationships between the secondary characters are not neglected. Caroline’s friendship with Casey, and Charles’s relationship with his father and each of his brothers get time devoted to them. There are even scenes written exclusively between one of Charles’s brothers and his wife. In this way we end up with a really full picture of these people and their world.
The romance between Caroline and Charles is less consistent. At times, it’s satisfying to read about them together, but at other times the characters’ motivations for pursuing their relationship are unclear. Many early scenes of them dating contain some clichés and those chapters don’t quite measure up to the writing standard of the rest of the book.
Grant ventures slightly into exploring the world of rough and dominant encounters with this novel. Caroline and Charles do a bit of experimenting in overly long, but refreshingly creative steamy scenes.
Another aspect to their relationship is that Caroline and Charles start a business project together. Their dynamic at work is completely different than their dynamic at home, but problems at work still affect the way they act as a couple. At work they are totally at odds and watching them fight while trying to remain professional in front of their colleagues is entertaining.
One of the themes that seems to run throughout the entire novel is communication. Grant does a good job of exploring this in a subtle, realistic way. Her characters are very open about their feelings and often dissect conversations with third parties, but they manage to do so without feeling forced.
Reading this book is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It’s filled with sudden shifts in mood like someone changing the channel: humor, fear, comfort, passion, anger, then back again. This heightened emotion is likely to grip a reader’s attention and keep them turning pages.
Designing Love will appeal to any fan of contemporary romance novels. This story is everything you’re looking for: sweet, sexy, and funny. It’s sure to make you want to read the stories of the rest of the Calderone brothers.
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