Drea Braddock makes no qualms about what readers will find in her latest romance novel, INTENTIONAL ACTS OF KINDNESS. Based on her disclaimer outlining what to expect (a list that includes colorful language, emotional growth, and adult relationships), Braddock’s latest release packs an emotional punch. That’s not to say the author completely forgoes the rom-com playbook—there’s plenty of “sexy banter” to be found—but the tale is as much about empowerment as it is a love story. And at the center of it all are a pair of quirky, three-dimensional characters that one can’t help but root for.
Ivy Hammond has every reason in the world to be wary of people. But despite the trauma she’s endured, Ivy lives to anonymously help others, waiting in the wings to offer a token of encouragement to those who need it most. Her small, very intentional acts of kindness make all the difference in the world, especially for Miles Bennet. She had no way of knowing it at the time, but everything changed the moment Ivy handed Miles a cup of coffee. Smitten with his anonymous benefactor, Miles immediately does everything in his power to connect with Ivy. Unfortunately, Miles has some issues of his own, including a life and a job waiting for him back in Philadelphia. The connection was instant, and they both knew it. Still, Ivy can’t help but wonder if ‘a connection’ is enough to overcome her complicated history. And Miles can’t understand why someone who gives so much positivity to strangers won’t save a little happiness for herself.
Having penned a number of well-received romance novels, Braddock is no stranger to what romance readers want and expect. In this regard, INTENTIONAL ACTS OF KINDNESS more than delivers. From the ‘love at first sight’ premise to the string of misunderstandings that drive much of the first act, the novel initially leans on crowd-pleasing tropes all the while subverting expectations. Impatient readers may clamor for less drama and more ‘steam,’ but Braddock refuses to pedal fluff. Instead, she presents a pair of complicated characters, each of whom is dealing with some very real baggage. By alternating perspectives between Miles and Ivy, Braddock not only gives readers the internal play-by-play, she illustrates just how profoundly they impact each other. In Miles, Ivy finds the key to once again learning to trust. And in Ivy, Miles discovers what he never knew was missing. Mind you, the simmering sexual tension takes the long road to fruition, but the authentic chemistry between these two leads makes that final payoff all the more worth it. To top it all off, a handful of equally compelling side characters (such as Ivy’s best-friend Chloe) add some much-needed context to Miles and Ivys’ otherwise all-consuming relationship.
From the simmer-to-a-boil tension to the pitch-perfect plot, Drea Braddock’s INTENTIONAL ACTS OF KINDNESS is purpose-built for those who prefer to find authentic characters at the heart of their romance novels.
~James Weiskittel for IndieReader