Maybe This Time is the next heartwarming contemporary romance from Nicole McLaughlin in her Whiskey and Weddings series.
Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life—and her occasional careless choices—have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.
TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take—and having it all, together?
McLaughlin's second Whiskey and Weddings contemporary (after Maybe I Do) starts out sweet but ends on a sour note. Jen Mackenzie is one of the working poor, both fiercely proud and desperate to keep her head above water. She's had a crush on comfortably wealthy TJ Laughlin since high school, but, now that she works for him, she assumes he disdains her and accordingly treats him rudely. In fact, TJ's fallen for her. At first, the way that TJ decides to finally act on his feelings is sweet and patient, and if he's a little overbearing, he means well. Slowly, though, that attitude shifts into near-violent jealousy, possessiveness, and controlling behavior, turning what should be a love story into a surprise horror novel for readers who recognize the hallmarks of abuse. With weak plot resolutions and explicit but lukewarm sex scenes, this novel is an easy pass.