Valerie lives in Philadelphia and everything is going wrong for her: her fiancé breaks off their engagement, she loses her apartment, and then loses her job all within days. While home for the holidays, her sisters give her a hard time—telling her she is holding herself back in life, she’s too afraid of what others think, and just isn’t up for adventures. They tell her she should join them on their upcoming trip to Ireland and she decides to go for it! Her New Years resolution is to say yes to more, starting with the trip. On their first night in Ireland, the sisters end up at a bar for New Year’s Eve and she immediately takes notice of the the hero across the room. She realizes everyone seems to know him but she doesn’t and with a little push from her sisters, she approaches to ask if she can buy him a drink. Padraig first says no but then later can’t take his eyes off of her and offers to buy her a drink instead.
Padraig is Ireland’s top rugby player who just had bad news delivered to him earlier in the day—he finds out his father, who has prostate cancer, is not doing well and he needs to go home to his little hometown of Shambles to see him before it’s too late. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his father and has his own health concerns as well. He knows he doesn’t want to spend the night alone and after spending time with Valerie at the bar, a restaurant, and then ending at a club kissing on NYE, he ends up inviting her back to his place where they share a passionate night together. After spending the night together, the next morning neither of them wants it to be over and he has a wild idea for her to join him on his trip to Shambles and pretend to be his fiancée to appease his ailing father.
I really enjoyed the emotions in this story. There is definitely a heavy tone throughout the book. Padraig is not only trying to come to terms over the soon-to-be loss of his father but he was also recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS at just 29 and deals with all aspects of that news. Valerie has never felt like she fit in anywhere and finally starts to feel like she belongs for the first time in her life while in Shambles with Padraig. Valerie was in an accident when she was younger and has scars covering her legs. I loved their roadtrip down the Irish coast to Shambles while they get down all the details for their fake engagement. His family owns a bed and breakfast and I liked the times with his Nan and “The Major” who also lives there.