There are some books that are just too good to banish to an archive list never to be read again; some characters too endearing not to keep in your heart.
Such is Lauren Dane's four-book series about the Chase family of Petal, Georgia.
The books are, in order, Giving Chase, Taking Chase, Chased, and Making Chase. They are contemporary romances that follow the Chase brothers: Kyle as he pursues Maggie, Shane in his pursuit of Cassie, Marc's campaign to win Liv, and Matt's efforts to win Tate.
And in support of their four sons are Edward and Polly Chase, the parents anyone would wish for himself. They love unconditionally, and are supportive and encouraging and never unjustifiably critical.
The Chase family lives in the small town of Petal Georgia and part of what makes these books so endearing is Ms Dane's creation of the small town experience; making the reader feel as if he could walk down the streets of Petal and feel right at home. The reader would be familiar with the different neighborhoods, the grocery, and the places to eat and hang out with friends.
The Chase brothers are all alpha males, tall, extremely handsome, sons of the most influential family in Petal, and all unattached.
Kyle, Giving Chase, is not the oldest brother, but his is the first story. He has watched his oldest endure heartbreak as Shane's fiancé cheated on him, breaking his heart and removing his ability to trust in a relationship. At the beginning of this story, Shane is dating a local girl, Maggie, who had a longtime crush on him. He feared developing feelings for her, so he dropped the relationship before it had a chance to grow. Kyle had always liked Maggie. He waited for what he thought was an appropriate length of time, according to the unwritten Chase Brothers' dating code, and began his pursuit of Maggie. As Kyle and Maggie begin to date, a stalker begins terrorizing her. Like all the heroines in these books, Maggie is strong and independent and works through the legal system to try to shake off the man who is pursuing her. But ultimately, the system fails her. The Chase brothers come to her rescue.
Shane, the oldest brother falls in love with a new woman in town, Cassie. Shane's book, Taking Chase, is the story of Shane's pursuit of the mysterious Cassie. His position of town sheriff was called upon in Kyle's situation, as it is here. Cassie was an abused woman who relocated to Petal and established a new identity to escape her old life and violently abusive ex-husband. Her strength and determination help her adjust to life in her new home. Shane, with a gruff and overpowering personality has to learn to temper his take-charge approach to life in order to win his Cassie. The former husband does show up to threaten Cassie. Shane ultimately resolves the situation and wins the heart of his love.
Marc Chase's love story, Chased, is very different than his brothers'. He has known Liv most of his life. She was involved with his older brother, Matt and viewed Marc as a sweet younger brother. Marc, likewise, viewed Liv as nothing more than a family friend, but then something changed, and Marc fell in love with the emotionally vulnerable, but outwardly pushy and aggressive Liv. She is almost six years older than Marc and therefore, even though their physical attraction grows, she views any relationship with Marc off limits. Marc, who opened a gym and personal trainer business, ignored Liv's objections and his more dominant, aggressive personality, which had been hidden, blossomed and captured Liv.
My favorite of the four books was Matt's, Making Chase. Matt, the most handsome of the four brothers was a firefighter. Physically perfect, but considered vapid, Matt had dated only the most beautiful girls around. He wanted to fall in love as his brothers had, but he was beginning to give up hope that there was a woman out there for him when a traffic accident and a thank-you box of cookies introduced him to Tate.
Tate was short, not thin and not traditionally beautiful. She was worlds away from Matt's usual type, and he couldn't help but notice the differences and embrace them, falling hard for the indomitable spirit and loving and protective heart of the most delightful heroine I've read about in a very long time, Tate Murphy.
At the end of Matt's and Tate's book, all loose ends are tied and all the relationships are neatly wrapped up.
Treat yourself to these four delicious love stories. Are they classic American literature? Are they exquisitely written? Are they flawless? No, no, and no. But they are feel-good stories about love, family, loyalty, and devotion. I left pedagogical reading behind me. Now I read for pure entertainment. Ms Dane's books did that well. Though not each book was a 5/5, overall I give the series an enthusiastic five out of five.
Be sure to read the books in sequence. Though each is a stand alone book, each builds on the other and there will be much lost without the background of each previous story.
Ms Dane's own disclaimer: "Warning, these titles contain the following: explicit sex, graphic language, and some violence."