THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL Jennifer Dawson
A Something New Novel, Book 2
A Perfect 10
Zebra Books
ISBN: 978-1-42-1-3427-2
December 2014
Contemporary Romance

Revival, Illinois

Cecilia Riley is on her way back to Revival and she realizes she is losing it. Really, really losing it. She is exhausted, physically and mentally. A life in politics is all she has ever wanted, and now that it seems to be within reach she has so many doubts. Cleaning up her congressman father's latest scandal has made her realize the extent of his arrogance and selfishness, and she has to get out from under his thumb. And now, for appearances' sake, she has to return to Revival and spend two weeks in her brother Mitch's house and watch him and his fiancée Maddie gush over each other while they prepare for their wedding. And to top it all off, she will be sharing the house with her family and Maddie's family, including Maddie's brother, Shane Donovan, who has made his dislike of her very clear. Cecilia can't stand him, either, so the fact that his voice and his presence make her body tingle is beyond frustrating.

Shane Donovan is a self-made man. With barely a high school education and no college degree, he basically raised his younger siblings single-handedly and managed to become a tremendously successful and influential corporate genius in Chicago. His instincts are finely honed, and they are telling him that Cecilia Riley is made of ice, with no emotion, no softness, and no appeal. Well, except for her mouth, which is the stuff dreams are made of and obviously wasted on a repressed and cold woman like Cecilia. At least, that was the impression he had of her when he first met her. Now that she has shown up in Revival before the wedding, she doesn't appear as indifferent to him as he first thought. And just to make things interesting, Shane is going to try to stir her up a little bit and try to figure out just what makes Cecilia tick. No question, she is acting differently from the last time he saw her, and she seems unhappy. Not that he cares. Or does he?

What follows is a most delightful, compulsively readable romantic romp in THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL . As the second in what appears to be a continuing series, Jennifer Dawson has written an entertaining romance that ticks off all the necessary boxes: extreme entertainment (I finished the book in one night), witty and sharp dialogue, great romance (hot!), likeable main characters (and secondary too!), interesting plot ( blackmailers, politics, etc.), dysfunctional family conflicts (galore!) and a very satisfying conclusion (I'm not telling). THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL has everything and more. Ms. Dawson's writing is excellent (reminiscent of Susan Elizabeth Phillips) and she finely crafts this romance to make it more than just an ordinary contemporary romance novel. She knows when and how to insert conflict and tension and makes sure her characters, particularly Shane and Cecilia, are deep and multi- dimensional. I haven't enjoyed a romance like this one in a very long time. Needless to say, I immediately ordered Ms. Dawson's first in the series, TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, and read that in one sitting as well. Ms. Dawson's next novel, THE NAME OF THE GAME, will be out in September 2015.  Whatever will I do until then?

Astrid Kinn