The gossip mill in the seaside community of Monterey is churning about Chloe Patterson, the newcomer who is starting a sanctuary for rescued pit bulls. It’s rumored that she’s a former beauty queen (true) who ditched her fiancé the morning of their wedding (also true). And that while she’s not looking for a new man, the good-looking local veterinarian has his eye on her. Absolutely, positively true. When Lucas Campbell isn’t at the family veterinary clinic, he’s paddle boarding in Monterey Bay. Recently single, he’s definitely not in the market for a new relationship, but he still can’t resist taking a second, third, and fourth look at the recent arrival of Miss Golden State. Neither Lucas nor Chloe has any interest in being tied down. Being tied up, however—now there’s a thought. But are a few Mai Tais, a moonlit night, and the music of Frank Sinatra enough to allow them both to forget their past? Let’s hope Ol’ Blue Eyes knows what he’s doing. Mix one part tiki, one part kinky, and a splash of old black magic matchmaking, and it’s time to be . . . Mai Tai’d Up.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Chloe Patterson has the life every girl dreams of: plenty of money, tiara-earning good looks, a wonderful fiancé and, a perfect life mapped out for her by her wonderful fiancé and her mother. All she has to do in order to make nearly everyone happy is go through with the fairy tale wedding planned by her mother. All is in order, the day has arrived and, if Chloe Patterson were every other girl in the world, all would be right with the world. Chloe Patterson isn’t every girl and though she does love the money and appreciates her good-looks, her wonderful fiancé just doesn’t do it for her (at all!!!) and the map of her future is pointing in a direction Chloe has no interest in going. Everything about her life that is displeasing to Chloe comes to her via a box of donuts in her mother’s kitchen in a moment of pure panic and so, on the day of her wedding, she runs away.
Lucas Campbell is doing exactly what he loves to do. He has spent his life in the service of others, others who have loads of fur and four legs, of course. He is a third generation veterinarian in his family’s practice, he travels to economically depressed countries to provide veterinary care and, he helps out when and where he can in his small, close-knit community. The only thing that would make Lucas’s life absolutely complete is a family of his own. He was well on his way until his fiancé dumped him at the altar and left him wary of women and relationships. Oh, Lucas is no monk but he certainly isn’t looking for the ONE either. Lucas is happy with his life and with the freedom being single affords him and is in no way prepared for the crazy that is Chloe Patterson that is about to descend upon his life.
Chloe’s escape to Monterey is courtesy of her father and though she initially sees the trip as a smallish getaway to regroup, she quickly realizes Monetary is just the place to put some of her own life plans into action. As a tiara-wearing beauty queen, Chloe was expected to participate in philanthropic pursuits and one of her favorites included working with dogs. With a few phone calls, some serious training, loads of permits and, the help of the totally-hot local vet Chloe begins to build a sanctuary for rescued pit bulls. For the first time in her life, Chloe is standing on her own two feet and doing something she wants to do and not what is expected of or has been planned for her. Damn! Independence sure feels good J
As the weeks go by and Chloe’s sanctuary gets ever closer to opening, Lucas stops by more and more often to help out. Chloe is feisty, determined, passionate, funny and, so not what Lucas should be focusing on. Having his heart-broken on the day of his wedding was a huge blow and though Lucas certainly isn’t pining over his lost love, he is wary of Chloe, his growing feelings for her and, the possibility of being hurt again. But, the heart wants what the heart wants and if Chloe would just open up and tell Lucas whatever it is she is holding back, they just may have a future together. Chloe and Lucas together are just a fine pair, sharing a love of the Rat Pack, mixed drinks, a bit of naughtiness and, caring for their four-legged companions. On paper, Chloe and Lucas make perfect sense but in real life, they both have some baggage that needs to be handled (see what I did there?) before they can truly make a go of a real relationship.
The Bottom Line: At the end of Screwdrivered, I feared the Cocktail series may be slipping a bit but Mai Tai’d Up proved me wrong. Chloe and Lucas are so much fun and the emphasis on animals and their care in this book really pulled me in. I am absolutely glad the fallout from Chloe’s wedding runner didn’t dominate the book and the lion’s share of the read focused on her future in Moneterey. Don’t get me wrong, the runner still bites her in the butt from time to time but it isn’t the dominate theme of the read. I found I liked Chloe instantly and continued to like her as the story progressed; she is a genuine character who, like everyone, has made some mistakes and is doing her best to make amends and move on with her life. Lucas is mostly likeable character and though I understand his motivation for the moments I don’t like him, he is pretty unlikeable in those moments. The scenes with the dogs are some of the best and most heart-breaking of the entire read and serve to enhance the overall experience. In all, Mai Tai’d Up offered me exactly what I hoped it would, solid characters, excellent naughty bits, great humor, animals and, the return of a few older characters that serve to connect the entire series.