REVIEW: Guarding a Forbidden Love by Carla Cassidy

Posted January 16th, 2023 by in Blog, Harlequin Mills&Boon, Review, Romantic Suspense / 5 comments

In Guarding a Forbidden Love by Carla Cassidy, carpenter Sam Bravano is interested in baker Harper Brennen, and is willing to use the excuse of doing work on her building in order to get close to her and convince her that he means it. Harper can’t believe someone younger than her would be interested in her, especially after her ex-husband had run off with a younger woman. When Harper starts receiving threats and discovers a dead body behind the bakery, and Sam makes it known he was going to do everything in his power to keep her safe.

One of my main issues with this book is the constant harping on the age difference. Harper is around 45, while Sam is in his 30’s. There’s about a twelve-year age gap, which considering how old they are, isn’t that bad, but every time Sam makes his interest known, she thinks it’s a joke. When she finally does agree to a date with him, it’s only so he’ll stop “joking” about wanting to date her. Her lack of taking Sam seriously had her come across as insecure and lacking confidence.

The author also doesn’t make most of the townspeople look good, either, because they all have an issue with the age difference. Harper’s friends, who couldn’t even bother to show up for her birthday, basically shun her for being with a younger man. Sam’s older sister apparently thinks Sam is still a child and doesn’t know what he wants, and makes it clear to Harper that she thinks Harper is too old for him. It wasn’t like this was a 45-year-old with someone who was twenty. These were two adults who knew what they wanted and were fully capable of making their own decisions. It left me wondering if the author has some type of problem with age gap relationships, because she certainly had almost everyone looking down on the couple, even Harper herself.

The murder, which is an on-going storyline in The Scarecrow Murders series, along with the threats to Harper and her business are basically put on a backburner while the book focuses more on the Harper, her insecurities, and the town’s reactions to their relationship. It felt like the murder was only thrown in the connect it to the scarecrow murders, and then pretty much overshadowed by everything else until it’s brought up again at the end of the book, only so it could be used to set up the next book in the series. I found the suspense aspect of this story to be lacking, and would have rather have seen the author focus more on that than everyone’s concern over the age gap.

This is the second book in The Scarecrow Murders series, but it can be read as a standalone. I have not read the previous book in the series but had no problem following along with this one. For those who have not read the previous book, there is a brief description of the scarecrow murder that happened in that one, which does a good job of bringing new readers into the loop.

With the overall lack of suspense, the overshadowing of the murder and the threats by everyone’s seemingly negative view on age gap relationships, this book wasn’t what I was expecting. I liked the concept of the story, but the execution just didn’t work for me. I would be willing to give the next book in the series a try though.

Book Info:

Publication: January 24, 2023 | Harlequin Romantic Suspense | The Scarecrow Murders #2

Will a killer drive them apart

Or bring them closer together?

Long before he started helping her renovate her bakeshop, Sam Bravano noticed Harper Brennen…but she refuses to believe that he’s interested in an older woman. He’s doing his best to charm her when they make a grisly discovery together. Someone is very unhappy with their budding relationship. Sam wants to protect Harper, but his attraction to her might make him a deadly threat…



5 Responses to “REVIEW: Guarding a Forbidden Love by Carla Cassidy”

  1. Amy Donahue

    Even calling it a “forbidden love” in the title when there’s absolutely nothing forbidden about it illustrates exactly what you say in this review. Thanks for reading it so we don’t have to 😀