This novella, from Shyla Colt, is long on ideas and a little short on delivery, possibly because of its length, but largely due to a lack of character development. The premise is outstanding – Sergio DeLuca has just been released from jail and wants to reinvent his life. Because of his limited finances, he’s got to move back in with his mother, follow the conditions of his parole and get a job. He knows, however, that it won’t be easy being back in the hometown that always judged him based on the actions of his friends and family.
Enid was the only person who ever saw him for who he truly is. He had turned away from his girl-hopping behavior in order to win her over and win her he did, taking her virginity on a magical night in “their” meadow. Unfortunately, the next day he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong people, which resulted in him being sent to jail for years.
Enid has worked hard to prove herself to her family, getting a college degree in business and taking over managing the restaurant despite her sullen older brother. Her family is smotheringly protective, so dating hasn’t been easy, even if she does have time. When her high school flame and perennial bad boy, Sergio DeLuca, walks through the door looking for a job, Enid still sees the gentle boy he was in the face of a man hardened by circumstances. Despite the attraction she still feels, she can’t not help him, and she offers him a job in the kitchen to help him get on his feet. Naturally being in proximity again, results in the two of them being all over each other and when Sergio declares that he wants more, Enid has to confront her feelings and decide if she wants to take a chance on love…again.
It’s so tough to fully flesh out a great story idea in a limited number of pages, and Sergio’s Redemption suffers from rather two-dimensional secondary characters like Sergio’s mother and Enid’s unhappy, older brother who is out to cause problems. While Colt uses her signature brand of sexual tension and hot sex scenes to good effect, Enid’s psychological journey to accepting Sergio back into her heart is not that well charted.
A little more backstory or memories of their time together, which shows their intimacy, would have also led the reader to understand the couple’s history and perhaps the rapid resumption of their feelings. But in the end, I feel this novella’s collapse centers on the heroine, who is not fleshed out enough as a character (and as a result couldn’t carry her half of the relationship with the far more attractive and empathetic Sergio) and makes behavior choices, which remind me of a much younger protagonist.
Readers who enjoy determined and reformed bad boys and Colt’s hot writing will find something to enjoy here, but I think most readers will find Sergio’s Redemption requiring a little forgiveness.
-Reviewed by Tori