How does Melissa Brayden do this every time? Every single time?
I really need to have more faith in authors whose books I love. I’ll blame it on my anxiety. Melissa Brayden is one of my favourite authors and because she is, I worry with each new book that maybe this will be the one that disappoints. Sure, Brayden’s plots are pretty traditional but there’s something about the journey, the way her characters fall in love that I can’t get enough of. And Two to Tangle is no exception. It made my heart warm and achy at the same time. In the best way. As usual.
In this second book in the Tangle Valley Romance series, the focus is on Gabriella Russo, the fiery and extraordinarily talented chef of the future restaurant that will come complete the visitors’ experience of Tangle Valley Vineyard. Joey, the owner, has given her total control over the construction and Gabriella is extremely excited at the idea of having her own restaurant and having it be exactly as she imagines it. In charge of making that dream come true is Ryan Jacks, the town player, whose whole outlook on life and love will not survive meeting Gabriella. Gabriella left the east coast for a quieter and slower life and makes it very clear she is not into hookups, but she’ll have a hard time protecting her heart from everything Ryan makes her feel. And then there’s Madison, Gabriella’s ex, Joey’s winemaker and best friend, who knows all there is to know (or so she thinks) about Ryan from high school and the town’s very efficient gossip network. In her view, Gabriella deserves better and that better might be her.
From page one, this book is, once again, pure Brayden. The group of friends, the witty banter, the perkiness. So much so that I asked myself at one point whether there was such a thing as too perky. But just before it got too much, Brayden made a subtle shift and the perkiness turned bittersweet. I liked the change in atmosphere a lot. The characters are wonderful, which isn’t surprising. Even though their voices are not always as distinctive as I’d like them to be, they feel genuine and complicated and very lovable. As is often the case in romance, miscommunication and low self-esteem play a big part, but Melissa Brayden manages to make the inevitable breakup feel justified. I believed in the struggle on every side. I really really love when characters try to deny they have feelings but just can’t resist because love is simply stronger than them. That’s what romance is about.
I’ve been told off for overrating Melissa Brayden’s books before. While I can’t entirely disagree (I have definite favourites yet I’ve rated all of them the same), I’m not planning on stopping, not as long as they make my heart happy. And they so do.