The Queen’s Heart
(The Growing Strong Series: Book Two)
By Michel Prince
At the tender age of seventeen, Mary Beth discovered the family she thought would see her through anything couldn’t accept her one mistake. Thank goodness for her best friends that stepped up to support her decision to keep her child. Seven years later together with her friends she’s created a successful business on the verge of a large expansion.
But the desire to be accepted by her family continues to be a failure that taints all her accomplishments and has her making concessions she never thought she would.
Elias Marquez was content with his life. He definitely wasn’t looking for the vibrant redhead down the hall from him. After a chance encounter he can’t escape the need to be in her company again. He wants to explore the possibilities and the undeniable spark her touch inspires.
Torn between trying to right the past and accepting that she can only control her own life is Mary Beth truly ready for the love Elias is prepared to offer as a future?
My Review: Mary Beth is a single mom, a co-owner of a daycare center/school, and a college student. She’s busy, but never too busy to take excellent care of her son. Unfortunately, she’s adrift in self-doubt and can’t see what a terrific mom she really is. Thanks to parents who abandoned her when she got pregnant out of wedlock, and a controlling, verbally abusive, manipulative ex, Mary Beth has some serious baggage to work through. But, her best friends are always there for her. Together, the four women run the Growing Strong daycare/school. When a hot new neighbor (Eli) comes into Mary Beth’s life, she can suddenly imagine a life that doesn’t involve her ex calling the shots. But is she brave enough to take control of her life and reach for love and happiness?
The Queen’s Heart explores the bonds of friendship between Mary Beth and her friends, as well as the romance Eli has to offer. Mary Beth is torn between happiness and responsibility. She’s afraid to breakaway from the ex who keeps her in line using threats and manipulation. In midst of her usual turmoil, she’s beginning to have feelings for Eli, her business is on the verge of an expansion, and she discovers a bombshell secret about her family. With Eli, she gains confidence and begins to fight back against those who have tried to take advantage of her. This story is about more than romance–it’s about a young woman’s inner struggle to overcome her doubts and fears.
There were several aspects of this book that struck a chord for me. As a young, single mom, Mary Beth doesn’t feel “as good” as the moms of her son’s friends. She feels like she doesn’t have anything in common with her, and feels like they look down on her. I was young when my oldest son was born, and I remember having exactly those same feelings. Michel Prince did an excellent job tapping into Mary Beth’s insecurities. Mary Beth’s feelings of inadequacy resonated with me as well. In the past, she’s allowed depression to take over, and despite her guilt over those dark days, a small part of her is afraid it might happen again. In response to those feelings of being not quite good enough, she’s set the bar impossibly high. Because of her upbringing and her mother’s high standards, anything less than perfect is failing in Mary Beth’s eyes.
Eli is drawn to Mary Beth. Though he has his own high standards in terms of what a relationship is supposed to be, he isn’t afraid of a challenge. Mary Beth is his Queen, the only woman for him. He wants her heart and soul despite the roadblocks in their way. Though he gives her the freedom to be who she is, his possessive, protective side comes to the forefront when Mary Beth is being threatened in any way. Eli is family-oriented, loyal, and calm in the face of a crisis. They’re the perfect match for each other.
Who should read this book? Readers who love romance novels or chick lit. There’s a lot of substance in this book that deals with more than romance, but at its heart, it is a romance book. As such, there are some steamy scenes and descriptive sexual content. It’s definitely a book for grownups.