Love Him Free (Book 1)
A Jewish baker and a deaf adult film star walk into a bar. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, except here the joke is that they never go to a bar, but the characters are very much real. Simon is a small-town guy battling massive amounts of anxiety who can no longer keep his grandmother’s bakery afloat. Rocco’s own life threatens to go up in flames, and he develops a surprising friendship with a fan who reaches out to him via social media and only seems to care for him rather than his crafted onscreen persona. The fan is Simon, of course, whose heart is too big for him, but little does he know that Rocco is about escape Los Angeles and sweep into his life instead.
Simon has been slightly obsessed with Rocco since college, in possibly the sweetest (and sexiest) way imaginable. The sparks between them fly immediately, and Rocco offers Simon a path out of his financial burdens by capitalizing on how Simon reacts physically to Rocco. It’s a slightly unexpected twist to how I expected this book’s plot to go, but it’s incredibly imaginative and provides some delicious sexy bits.
Intriguing secondary characters populate the small town of Cherry Creek and flesh out this book’s cast of characters. Though it’s evident that they either pop in following their own love stories or are included to set up future romances of their own, I enjoyed Simon’s growing realization that he no longer has to go through life without friendship, even though his anxiety has cut him off from the rest of the world for so long. I immediately sought out some of the other books promised by this premise and was delighted to find that some are by different authors. Cherry Creek is a true melting pot of love stories, and I look forward to spending time there.
Love Him Breathless (Book 2)
The first book in this series introduced readers to an entire small town’s worth of fascinating people, so I was excited to dive into the next love story. A fire chief with extensive burn scars is pretty distinctive, and I was pleased that Fitz’s story was up first. He’s the quintessential small-town guy who’s the hub of his community. He wants to see his community thrive, but not at the expense of ruining it by expanding too much, too fast. Needless to say, he’s not going to get along with the marketing guru hired to boost tourism.
Antoine is kind of a train wreck, but none of it is his fault. It seems like the town of Cherry Creek really is out to murder him. (Was one of my favorite parts of this novel the goat conspiracy? Absolutely.) Sparks fly, and not all of the sexy kind, between Fitz and Antoine as they continue to meet under less than auspicious circumstances. This book is an enemies-to-lovers story, though less on the enemies and more on the “annoy each other greatly” end of the spectrum. As an external reader enjoying both points of view, I cheered every time they clashed, and the sparks became hotter and hotter.
However, as much as I enjoyed Antoine and Fitz’s shenanigans, I love how expansive and fleshed out the rest of the cast of characters is. Even Antoine, the newcomer to town, makes connections while we also learn much more about his backstory and current family relationship issues than I would have expected. Similarly, we get a great glimpse into Fitz’s relationships with his sister and his long-time friends, Parker and Ronan.
The finale is entirely swoon-worthy, the perfect ending to a fun book, and I can’t wait to jump into this series’ next installment.
Love Him Wild (Book 3)
Ronan and Parker have been a married couple in Cherry Creek since the start of this series, but I was thrilled that this novel opens with their own origin story. Their road to happily ever after was neither simple nor easy, but I can’t imagine two characters less perfect for each other. Neither of their medical issues (limb loss and multiple sclerosis) defines their lives, and I was equally thrilled to see such representation (something this series has been pretty amazing at across the board, actually).
Enter Jonas to up-end their lives, and potentially all of Cherry Creek. Since Parker and Ronan had a somewhat nontraditional courtship, watching these two older men stumble through the dating and long-distance relationship process was entertaining and heartwarming. Even though it is clear that Jonas is joining an already stable relationship, he enhances the love on all sides rather than unbalances anything. It’s pretty amazing that he isn’t a more damaged character, but even his younger age didn’t cause any roadblocks to the mutual attraction between him and Parker and Ronan.
The external conflict focuses pretty specifically on Jonas’ life. This worked for me because of how effed up his family and occupational situation was. Though the resolution felt a bit like a cop-out, anything more dramatic would have made the overall story more complicated and taken the focus away from the romance angle.
Multiple moments in this book tug at the angsty heartstrings, but in all the best ways. This is easily my favorite book of the series so far, and it has set a high bar for the remaining two. I look forward to reading them anyway, and then moving on to other books by this talented author.
Love Him Steady (Book 4)
This book brings together two secondary characters we have met previously in the series as protagonists in their own right. Both men more than deserve their own happily ever after, and it was lovely to see them find it in each other. I appreciated that another character points out how Lorenzo and Wilder find their love in literally the same building as Lorenzo’s brother Rocco and Simon do in this series’ first book. However, there is no sense of repetition in this book, but instead, a complete love story in its own right. As usual, Lindsey shines with their use of complicated, well-developed characters, including the story’s secondary characters.
Wilder’s history, even back to his childhood, is not necessarily an easy read. He only begins to heal once he establishes himself in Cherry Creek, and it was lovely to see him get closure through the course of this story. Even better, he does so separately from Lorenzo because a couple should be stronger together rather than merely two halves of a whole.
Lorenzo’s character arc can be defined as “poor little rich kid,” but Lindsey makes his angst relatable in how difficult it can be to connect to the people in your life regardless of your financial standing. This isn’t an enemies-to-lovers story, but it speaks to Wilder’s character that he puts Lorenzo on his own path to healing even when Wilder deals with his own issues.
As a secondary plot, the burgeoning friendship between Lorenzo and Raphael was also fun to read. It’s a great example of a platonic friendship between two men who are not afraid to express affection, and I can’t wait to read about Raphael’s own happily ever after in the final book of the series.
Love Him Desperate (Book 5)
This book was the lovely and satisfying conclusion to the On the Market series…but I’m still mad that it’s come to an end. I was familiar with both of these protagonists and their extended family/support systems from previous books. It can be read as a stand-alone, but why would you want to when all of the books in this series are so good? I’ve had a blast falling in love with Cherry Creek and its unique complement of love stories. (Luckily, it appears that this series is a spin-off of one by a different author, so that’s where I’m headed next.) Lindsey doesn’t end with a bang so much as with a sweet whimper, and I adored Raphael and Dmitry’s slowest of burns romance story.
Once again, Lindsey creates unique, three-dimensional characters from under-represented populations in romance novels. Dmitry is asexual, and Raphael experiences physical limitations due to his cerebral palsy and epilepsy. None of these things prevent these men from deserving their own love stories, even if it takes them too long to end up with their perfect partner. Plenty of angst abounds, especially as readers suffer through Raphael dating the wrong man until these idiots get their acts together. Luckily, “idiots in love” is one of my favorite romance tropes.
The heat level is appropriate to the context and the characters, but that doesn’t stop this book from being as sexy as the others in this series. I’m currently reading another series by the same author, and she has quickly become one of my favorite romance writers. I highly recommend this series to readers looking for that small-town feel but with thoroughly realistic, modern characters.