Book one in the Cottonbloom series starts off with Cade Fournette and Monroe Kirby, two people who grew up together but on different sides of the state line. Cade is a “swamp rat” from the poor side, and Monroe is a “‘Sip” from the rich side. Cade has been gone from Cottonbloom for ten years, and once he left he never thought he would return, but a accident climbing El Captain has brought him home to rehabilitate.
Cade met Monroe when he found her hidding in his boat one night while he was out poaching food for his two younger siblings. It was clear to him she was scared and that something had happened. Monroe ran from her home when her mother’s latest boyfriend came into her room one night and tried to molest her. From the moment the 18-year-old (or so) met the 13-year-old, they became friends of a kind. They met every full moon at the tree they originally met and talked into the night and did that until she was ready to head off to college. She was heading off to school and he was leaving town for good.
While away, he made something of himself and is no longer the poor swamp rat but rather a very wealthy inventor of several patents for boat engines. When he goes to a PT for his injuries, he never expected it to be Monroe, the girl he always looked at as a little sister until one day she was no longer a kid but a woman, though he refused to explore anything with the 'Sip. Monroe has had a crush on Cade ever since he came to her rescue and now that he is back for a short time she can’t help but remember their times together or her attraction to him. Things slowly heat up and Cade becomes a bit territorial when a slimy lawyer, that he grew up around, starts sniffing around Monroe. What he doesn’t expect is for her to make a public declaration that she wants him and is perfectly fine being seen with a swamp rat. Their relationship builds slowly and they have several highs and lows before he inevitably leaves to go back to Seattle (that is right, he actually leaves her behind a second time). Three days after leaving he realizes the life he built in Seattle isn’t the life he wants anymore and he goes home in hopes that Monroe will accept him back.
Their story was great. Well developed. The conflicts were real and weren’t overly done. The plot was steady and not rushed and I really enjoyed watching them learn to be more than the occasional friends they were ten years ago. I picked this book up because I got When the Stars Come Out, book 5, from the publisher to try and fell in love with the small town home grown romances. The characters are great and I enjoyed it enough to go back and start at the beginning. If you like Hallmark-esq style romances but still need the passion that can be missing from typical Hallmark style romance stories, this is a perfect fit. It had the passion and tension but it was also sweet and romantic.