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A Not-So-Perfect Past

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Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn't stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he's just the man to fix the damage. And Nina isn't the only one who thinks Dillon's the perfect man for the job: her two kids h Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn't stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he's just the man to fix the damage. And Nina isn't the only one who thinks Dillon's the perfect man for the job: her two kids have taken a shine to him. Still, she can't afford to get close to Dillon, even if he is tempting her to toss out her good-girl shoes. Because it's not that she doesn't trust him. It's that she doesn't trust herself.


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Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn't stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he's just the man to fix the damage. And Nina isn't the only one who thinks Dillon's the perfect man for the job: her two kids h Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn't stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he's just the man to fix the damage. And Nina isn't the only one who thinks Dillon's the perfect man for the job: her two kids have taken a shine to him. Still, she can't afford to get close to Dillon, even if he is tempting her to toss out her good-girl shoes. Because it's not that she doesn't trust him. It's that she doesn't trust herself.

30 review for A Not-So-Perfect Past

  1. 4 out of 5

    Saly

    Dillon is the brother of the heroine from Not Without Her Family. He went to prison for protecting his sister by killing his step-father. Prison changed him, hardened him, he doesn't want to be a hero or get involved anymore and after the events of the previous book his living in town has become difficult. He hates women like his mother who can't stand up to bullies even when her kids are the victim and Nina is like that even though she loves her kids. Honestly I didn't like Nina, I get it she wa Dillon is the brother of the heroine from Not Without Her Family. He went to prison for protecting his sister by killing his step-father. Prison changed him, hardened him, he doesn't want to be a hero or get involved anymore and after the events of the previous book his living in town has become difficult. He hates women like his mother who can't stand up to bullies even when her kids are the victim and Nina is like that even though she loves her kids. Honestly I didn't like Nina, I get it she was emotionally and physically abused by her husband and didn't say anything since she wants to appear like the good girl but even though she is divorced from her husband(he left her for another woman), she still allows him and her family to dictate her life, no matter how much she proclaims wanting to take control of her life. So, she evicts Dillon and when her shop is damaged hires him to repair it, the only reason Dillon agrees is out of pity. She even tries to make excuses for her husband's bullying in front of her kids not wanting to rock the boat. Yes, she stood up to her father about Dillon, the next moment she caved in front of her brother. She never told anyone the truth about her marriage, maybe I don't understand battered women but allowing your kids to be affected is unacceptable to me. And when Dillon stands up for her what does she do?Oh she runs away and then goes to say sorry. Only when her husband finally hits her child, does she do something about it. Honestly, I didn't believe in the HEA. It took too long for her to grow a pair. Rating 2.5

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I could not wait to get to Dillon's story, but I have to tell you that I secretly wanted his boss Allison to be his heroine.... their interaction I thought was wonderful and I was shocked when instead he is given a different heroine. His heroine is Nina.... I loved Dillon so much and I did feel sorry for Nina's past but she pretty much betrayed Dillon EVERYTIME she was given a chance... she eventually comes around and she eventually stands up and I understand how hard it was with her past.... bu I could not wait to get to Dillon's story, but I have to tell you that I secretly wanted his boss Allison to be his heroine.... their interaction I thought was wonderful and I was shocked when instead he is given a different heroine. His heroine is Nina.... I loved Dillon so much and I did feel sorry for Nina's past but she pretty much betrayed Dillon EVERYTIME she was given a chance... she eventually comes around and she eventually stands up and I understand how hard it was with her past.... but watching her destroy him EVERYTIME he sorta reached out reminded me of a man kicking a battered puppy.....and I semi liked her but loved her kids... they were much better to him than she was EVER. I loved reading the story and seeing him walk Kelsey down the aisle but Nina was darn lucky to get him after her behavior in fact as I stew now over it I think she kicked him as he was the only one in her life SHE COULD mistreat as she KNEW he would not HIT her... and that really sucks in reflection. So I loved going back to serenity springs and I loved Dillon and Kelsey and the kids, Nina... you never really earned Dillon's love so you getting a HEA I still find myself wishing as I head to the next book and Allison that she would get Dillon from you....lol.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4 Stars ~ Dillon served five years in prison for manslaughter. His step-father had been attempting to rape his teenage sister and he had to protect her. Moving to Serenity Springs, he hoped for a fresh start but when there was a local murder and he was one of the last people to see the victim, of course, his past comes out in all it's horrendous glory. The town people aren't happy with an ex-con in their midst, and the owner of the bakery and the apartment he rents above it, isn't all that thril 4 Stars ~ Dillon served five years in prison for manslaughter. His step-father had been attempting to rape his teenage sister and he had to protect her. Moving to Serenity Springs, he hoped for a fresh start but when there was a local murder and he was one of the last people to see the victim, of course, his past comes out in all it's horrendous glory. The town people aren't happy with an ex-con in their midst, and the owner of the bakery and the apartment he rents above it, isn't all that thrilled either. Nina is struggling to build a good life for herself and her kids. All her life she's been the good daughter, good wife, good mother ... except now, she has an ex-con tenant and everyone wants her to get rid of him. Everyone sees Nina as someone who needs help, no one see the strong woman who is battling her own insecurities after an abusive marriage. When a joyriding teenager drives into the bakery shop, Nina asks Dillon to do the repairs so she can get back to business. Dillon watches Nina struggle to stand up for herself, not only against her abusive ex-husband but with her own family who tend to take over. With some gentle prodding Dillon gets Nina's anger to boil and she finds herself finally fighting for what she wants. This is the sequel to Not Without Her Family where we were first introduced to Dillon and the nightmare past that threatens to bury all that is good in him. He easily sees all the signs of Nina's past abuse with her husband and can't help himself from pushing her to fight for herself. When her son bullies his younger sister, Dillon calls him on it and quickly Marcus assesses his actions, realizes that he was wrong and a seed is planted in the boy to recognize the bully in his own father. I loved the way Dillon gave the joyriding teenager, Kyle, the nudge he needed to see his own worth and to own up to his mistakes. Nina is a remarkable woman struggling to make a better life for herself and her kids. Her ex-husband is a psychologist which fully armed him with the barbs that cut her self-esteem. He's brutal in his verbal battery and Nina almost lets him win. I do wish Nina would have stood up for Dillon much sooner in the story. This is an emotional story that touches on the nasty effects of bullying and the various forms bullying comes in... from childish name calling, the good intentions of a controlling family, to the destructive emotional and physical tyranny of an abusive husband. Nina and Dillon most certainly deserved their hard won HEA.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline J

    This was well written and kept my interest. I enjoyed reading it but I do have some issues with it. The hero, Dillon, has a history that makes him less than sympathetic about her issues with being a battered wife. Every time she has a moment where she lets old fears and anxieties overcome her, he gets pissed and tells her off or walks out on her. It seemed like he wanted her to be super perfect or something. She does eventually call him on it. But I didn't really like Nina either. Sure she had a This was well written and kept my interest. I enjoyed reading it but I do have some issues with it. The hero, Dillon, has a history that makes him less than sympathetic about her issues with being a battered wife. Every time she has a moment where she lets old fears and anxieties overcome her, he gets pissed and tells her off or walks out on her. It seemed like he wanted her to be super perfect or something. She does eventually call him on it. But I didn't really like Nina either. Sure she had a bad history but she needed to stand up for him sooner and better. I didn't really see their relationship develop much either. They fussed and didn't get along then suddenly they were in bed together. I'm not sure I believe in the HEA as we didn't really see them fall in love or enjoy spending time together. Hmmm, still I liked it pretty well. Well enough to perhaps check out the rest of the series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lhenry

    A pretty good book for a Harlequin. I usually prefer some mystery or suspense with my romance and this had neither. It was really about Nina recovering from the abusive relationship with her ex and about Dillon allowing himself to be both a friend, brother and lover. I did not love the characters, but I found them very true to life and believable. Although it was a happy ending, the reader could tell it was still going to take work for both these characters to continue their journey but also tha A pretty good book for a Harlequin. I usually prefer some mystery or suspense with my romance and this had neither. It was really about Nina recovering from the abusive relationship with her ex and about Dillon allowing himself to be both a friend, brother and lover. I did not love the characters, but I found them very true to life and believable. Although it was a happy ending, the reader could tell it was still going to take work for both these characters to continue their journey but also that they were not alone any more they supported each other. I knocked off a whole sta for the sappy ending though - sometimes I am ok with sap, but this time it didn't work for me

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Hero is an ex-con living upstairs from a single mom who runs/owns the bakery on the first floor. He went to prison for defending his sister - really isn't a bad person. Heroine is divorced from man who abused her (mostly verbal, but slaps as well) but hasn't been able to stand up for herself against anyone, including her protective family. Hero helps her find a backbone, heroine helps him believe in himself - very nice read. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Hero is an ex-con living upstairs from a single mom who runs/owns the bakery on the first floor. He went to prison for defending his sister - really isn't a bad person. Heroine is divorced from man who abused her (mostly verbal, but slaps as well) but hasn't been able to stand up for herself against anyone, including her protective family. Hero helps her find a backbone, heroine helps him believe in himself - very nice read. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This is the 2010 RITA Winner for Best Contemporary Series Romance. An enjoyable book, with the angsty touches that I enjoy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane Peterson

    Not really sure what to say about this book. The writing was very good. The characters seemed genuine and the issues seemed realistic. The problem may just be me. I didn't quite believe in the romance. I didn't think the hero, Dillon, had worked though enough of his issues. He was improving and opening up, but I thought he had a long way to go. It was difficult for me to see why she would have fallen in love with him. I could see that she was attracted to him and I could believe in the potential Not really sure what to say about this book. The writing was very good. The characters seemed genuine and the issues seemed realistic. The problem may just be me. I didn't quite believe in the romance. I didn't think the hero, Dillon, had worked though enough of his issues. He was improving and opening up, but I thought he had a long way to go. It was difficult for me to see why she would have fallen in love with him. I could see that she was attracted to him and I could believe in the potential for a strong relationship, but they really didn't know each other very well. The ending was a little abrupt as well. Interesting book with some strong issues presented, but not enough time for the relationship to solidify.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ranie Elias

    Excellent story line...well-defined characters... Highly recommended

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristiej

    When I did the research before getting this book and discovered the hero had been in prison for either a) a crime he didn’t commit or b) a crime he committed but in defense of someone who couldn’t defend themselves, I knew this one would be on my Very Short List of books to read. I LOVE this trope and some of my favourite books have this theme. And Dillon makes for a very scrumptious hero indeed. He’s been out of prison for a while now, living in the apartment over the bakery owned by Nina, our h When I did the research before getting this book and discovered the hero had been in prison for either a) a crime he didn’t commit or b) a crime he committed but in defense of someone who couldn’t defend themselves, I knew this one would be on my Very Short List of books to read. I LOVE this trope and some of my favourite books have this theme. And Dillon makes for a very scrumptious hero indeed. He’s been out of prison for a while now, living in the apartment over the bakery owned by Nina, our heroine. While he had gone to prison, he fell in the second category – he was defending his younger sister who he had almost raised himself. But still the townspeople don’t particularly care to have an ex-con living amongst them, including Nina. She’s about to toss him out on his kiester after listening to her parents and bossy jerk of an ex. And Dillon isn’t really surprised. He doesn’t expect any support from the townspeople, figuring they would just as soon see him run out on a rail. But while his relationship with his sister is rather strained, more on his end, still she’s family. So when Nina gives him the book, he’s ready to move on. That is until a tough teenager living in a foster home with a gigantic chip on his should crashes into Nina’s bakery and Dillon offers to stay and fix the damage. Nina is reluctant to say yes to the help, her family is opposed, but she does reluctantly agree. Dillon is slowly, and almost against his will drawn into the circle of family and friends around Nina. Her children like him and as penance, he has the young man who did the damage helping out too. I really enjoyed this book. There’s no question the real draw was Dillon; he’s the kind of hero I adore, withdrawn, almost surly yet drawn to the heroine in spite of himself. As for Nina, well – she was a doormat. She let her father push her around. She let her ex-husband push her around. This can be very irritating, especially the ex-husband bit since he’d pushed her around even in the literal sense. But thankfully she grew a backbone during the story, although a couple of times I did get very irritated by her, when she didn’t stand up for Dillon, when I thought she should have. But I suppose old habits are hard to break and being a wimp that other wimps pick on, isn’t something that’s going to change overnight. Overall, I was quite pleased with this book and now I have a new author to BOTLO for – one with more books about these people. I like that!

  11. 4 out of 5

    MBR

    4.5 Stars Harlequin Super Romance I can see why this book received the 2009 RITA award for the Series Contemporary category. As I delved into my first Beth Andrews story, delighted was I to find such a well crafted one, a hero that I needless to say salivated over and a heroine who was real enough with genuine problems and fears that she needed to overcome to find everlasting happiness and love with the man who even though is not perfect, is the one for her. Stuff I liked: 1- Dillon Ward. I alway 4.5 Stars Harlequin Super Romance I can see why this book received the 2009 RITA award for the Series Contemporary category. As I delved into my first Beth Andrews story, delighted was I to find such a well crafted one, a hero that I needless to say salivated over and a heroine who was real enough with genuine problems and fears that she needed to overcome to find everlasting happiness and love with the man who even though is not perfect, is the one for her. Stuff I liked: 1- Dillon Ward. I always love my heroes to be a little bit tortured and just a tad dangerous. Hell, the more dangerous the better. And Dillon proves to be as sexy as they come and brings to the story that elusive quality which makes a romance come alive in the little ways that matters so much in the end. 2- Nina Carlson. What I loved about her was the fact that I could see her struggle with very real problems that many a women go through in the real world and come out the winner in the end. Because she tries so hard to be a better woman, to be more independent and to rid herself of her dependent nature on others, its no small feat that she accomplishes within the story that unfolds. 3- I loved the sizzling variety of sexual tension in this book. From the many a Harlequin Super Romances that I have read, this one comes out on the top in delivering sensuality that knocked my socks off as I read along. I always love it when the tough hero loses control and that is exactly what happens in this delectable story towards the end! 4- Loved the character development. Harlequin Super Romances always deliver on that and this one’s no exception to the rule. Because of this very reason, this line from Harlequin is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. What could have made this better? The lack of an epilogue rankled me in this one because I so wanted to see how Nina and my deliciously sinful Dillon with Nina’s two adorable kids fare in the end. Would have definitely made this novel a much more complete one in my opinion. Head onto http://bit.ly/e7Hccf to read the full review with quotes!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Prolific MM Reader

    Easy, one-day read. I was intrigued by the less-than-perfect part. Give me real people, damaged people. People who don't always act or react the "proper" way. Drug addicts, robbers, etc....a past one can really sink their teeth into while rooting for the hero's eventual redemption. I'm tired of perfect-past or tragic victim heroes and heroines. This book delivered. Kind of. I'd have preferred if Dillon hadn't gone to prison for a very noble reason - protecting his sister. I'd like to read one whe Easy, one-day read. I was intrigued by the less-than-perfect part. Give me real people, damaged people. People who don't always act or react the "proper" way. Drug addicts, robbers, etc....a past one can really sink their teeth into while rooting for the hero's eventual redemption. I'm tired of perfect-past or tragic victim heroes and heroines. This book delivered. Kind of. I'd have preferred if Dillon hadn't gone to prison for a very noble reason - protecting his sister. I'd like to read one where he actually did something without the nobility part of it mitigating the circumstances. I like deeply flawed, but redeemable characters to root for. And yeah, I have to agree with the other reviewers, Nina was annoying. I've been in an abusive relationship, and I thought I'd been spineless, but Nina took the cake. (see what I did there?..heh...she runs a bakery...ok anyway)... but I know DV is complex and it damages people in different ways and degrees. I think the author captured that pretty well. But the scene with Dillon, Luke, and Nina? Pissed me off. Nina had no reason at that point to dis Dillon the way she had, it was clear what was going on. But I get the need to create the crisis/black moment to lead to the HEA - which I'm trying hard to believe in.

  13. 5 out of 5

    E_bookpushers

    This is probably a 3.5 star book. It is part of a series that I didn't know when I started reading so I need to go find the previous books. At first I didn't like the heroine but then I realized why she acted the way she did. Gradually she started to develop a backbone but occasionally reverted to her previous beat-down self. The hero also had some issues with his past and how he expected people to treat him. Both had to grow in one way or another. Like most SuperRomances the children are rather This is probably a 3.5 star book. It is part of a series that I didn't know when I started reading so I need to go find the previous books. At first I didn't like the heroine but then I realized why she acted the way she did. Gradually she started to develop a backbone but occasionally reverted to her previous beat-down self. The hero also had some issues with his past and how he expected people to treat him. Both had to grow in one way or another. Like most SuperRomances the children are rather like real children. They certainly were needed for several of the plot points.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natalija

    It was wonderful, sweet and emotional read. I haven't read the first book in this series, but it did't take away much from the story & I had no problems understanding it. The main characters were well developed & very human and lovable. As far as the secondary characters go, they were vividly imagined & added just the right amount of drama or tenderness (reg. Nina's kids). The best thing about this book is its characters, their being flawed & their journey towards a better life. Highly recommend It was wonderful, sweet and emotional read. I haven't read the first book in this series, but it did't take away much from the story & I had no problems understanding it. The main characters were well developed & very human and lovable. As far as the secondary characters go, they were vividly imagined & added just the right amount of drama or tenderness (reg. Nina's kids). The best thing about this book is its characters, their being flawed & their journey towards a better life. Highly recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Juliette Swett

    The romance of Nina and Dillon: Good Girl meets Bad Boy. Good Girl learns from Bad Boy. Bad Boy learns from Good Girl. Peripheral Characters benefit from all of this learning. By my brief review, you'd think that I didn't like the book. In actuality, I did enjoy it, but other romance authors, such as Kristan Higgins, have written books with a similar, "Oh-no-what-will-my-family-think" storyline, and done it in a more three-dimensional way. A Not-so-Perfect-Past won the RITA for Best Contemporary The romance of Nina and Dillon: Good Girl meets Bad Boy. Good Girl learns from Bad Boy. Bad Boy learns from Good Girl. Peripheral Characters benefit from all of this learning. By my brief review, you'd think that I didn't like the book. In actuality, I did enjoy it, but other romance authors, such as Kristan Higgins, have written books with a similar, "Oh-no-what-will-my-family-think" storyline, and done it in a more three-dimensional way. A Not-so-Perfect-Past won the RITA for Best Contemporary Series Romance.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    My grade: A-. It's been a couple years since I read this book, so I don't actually remember all the particulars. I read this just prior to its winning the RITA and I liked it a lot. I liked the theme and liked how the heroine was so fair yet was hesitant, wondering if what she was doing was really right. The hero's trust comes slowly. As far as my recollection goes, I don't recall things that just didn't work for me. I thought it was a great superromance. My grade: A-. It's been a couple years since I read this book, so I don't actually remember all the particulars. I read this just prior to its winning the RITA and I liked it a lot. I liked the theme and liked how the heroine was so fair yet was hesitant, wondering if what she was doing was really right. The hero's trust comes slowly. As far as my recollection goes, I don't recall things that just didn't work for me. I thought it was a great superromance.

  17. 5 out of 5

    June Rodgers

    Another wonderful book in this series. I love the characters and storylines in this series.The characters are believable and easy to like The storylines are interesting and keep your attention from beginning til the end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mareli

    it's a little series comprending 1 - not without her family 2 - A Not-So-Perfect Past 3 - his Secret Agenda 4 - [Count on a Cop] - Do You Take This Cop Another good one. I love tortured and brooding hero! And he had a very sad but good story. I enjoyed the whole series it's a little series comprending 1 - not without her family 2 - A Not-So-Perfect Past 3 - his Secret Agenda 4 - [Count on a Cop] - Do You Take This Cop Another good one. I love tortured and brooding hero! And he had a very sad but good story. I enjoyed the whole series

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I love books about second chances.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mollie

    Recommended by SuperLibrarian (Wendy)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    dnf--heroine was annoying as hell! I hate doormat heroines.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elle (Ligia)

    Yup, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. It was cute book. It had some twists and turns I didn't see coming, and a sweet little ending to make me sigh and grin. It's worth a try. Yup, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. It was cute book. It had some twists and turns I didn't see coming, and a sweet little ending to make me sigh and grin. It's worth a try.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yona

    This was one great story but if there was epilogue it would have been perfect.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    bad boy returns to town. Loss redemption story. Not very interesting

  25. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This was a good read. I enjoyed both characters and think the heroines emotional journey was the best part of the novel.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Penney

    I love Beth's books! I love Beth's books!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessy

  28. 4 out of 5

    s maclean

  29. 4 out of 5

    mrs margaret robinson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaya Wilson

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