The Start of Something Good (Stay #1) by Jennifer Probst


“When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he come home with sounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B&B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life.

It’s business – not pleasure – that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrust reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating, from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk. But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new start?”

-Synopsis from back cover


Cover image from StoryGraph

The Start of Something Good was on my to-read list ever since it came out in 2018 which is when I first saw it at the library. I really liked the cover and thought it sounded like a cute story.

Mia and Ethan find themselves thrown together when Mia comes to the B&B to stay with a troubled teen who is there to work for Ethan. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding Mia as being a “city girl” who dislikes the country, animals, and getting dirty.

There are less stereotypes surrounding Ethan. He is a pretty bland character which made me surprised that Mia was so vehemently hateful of him from the beginning. The enemies-to-lovers trope in romance novels has never been my favorite because it is often so unrealistic. I really did not see why she disliked him so much.

While it does read like a Hallmark movie at first, it quickly turns spicy which seemed a little out of place to me. I know this is a contemporary romance, but the story gave no indication at first that it would be such an “open door” romance.

What I struggled with the most with this book was the fact that Mia’s disordered eating was such a significant plot point throughout the entire story. There is so much emphasis placed on Mia’s eating, caloric intake, and her desire to not eat sweets but then being forced to in public.

If the goal of this was for Ethan to be able to show Mia that it’s okay to enjoy simple pleasures in life, such as indulging in a cupcake, I think that could have been conveyed in a different way. It was really intense and a major trigger which I think some readers will be turned off by.

Overall this was a cute story if you don’t analyze it too much. I enjoyed the setting more than anything else, and Ethan’s character’s journey.

It is book one of a series with future books about Ethan’s sisters who also work at the B&B. Since I liked the setting so much, I’m open to possibly reading the next in the series. Ultimately I’m glad that I read this because it was on my backlist for so many years!

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