First off, that page count must have included ads for various harlequin lines, copyright page, title, etc. What I read was 219 pages. Which brings me to this: someone on a forum asked a while back how many books were 3 star reads. I replied, "most of them". They were astonished. There are a lot of reasons a book might be a 3 star read - characters, plot, failure to connect with THAT reader, or in this case, ambition coupled with limited page count and delusions of grandeur regarding skill of the writer.
Simply put, this book was too short for what the author ambitiously tried (and failed obviously) to do.
It's divided into 3 parts. *3*. There's distant past, there's recent past, and there's present. And it needed about 50 more pages to work out the problems in present but was only given 6.
So...past. H/h are summer friends. They spend every summer running around on the island their respective parents migrate to (why isn't explained). No communication during the school year. They've both hit puberty. In addition to this sudden awkwardness, the h's father didn't come to the island this year, and the h is distressed about that. She and her mother abruptly leave one day - we find out why in part 2.
Recent past: H is now widowed, and in addition, traumatized. His wife was struck by a car at a crosswalk. He saw it happen. He comes to the island to escape well-meaning relatives' matchmaking attempts (can't blame him for that). The h now lives on the island and is a pharmacist. They run into each other and eventually she tells him what happened. Her father was a) having an affair and b) committing a white-collar crime known as embezzling. He got caught. Spent time in prison (for not reporting his ill-gotten gains on his taxes. Who'dathunk?) She has...issues...regarding men and relationships. A week or two go by, he's called to go back to work, and they...have sex. He leaves the next day. Over the course of the next 6 weeks, he does date someone and apparently gets a boner (lovely). She calls and informs him the stick changed colors and she's keeping it. End of part 2.
Present. It's been 2 years and 9 months. He gets the kid for weekends. Their former friendship has devolved into awkward polite strangers. He decides he wants more so moves back to the island and into the house with her. 2 weeks pass. Still polite, strange awkwardness. She gets a note from her father. He's dying and wants to see his grandchild. She reluctantly invites him over. He arrives. She can't cope and is actively avoiding him. 10 hours or so pass. H confronts her and tells her she's acting like a royal bitch, much angst. The next day, father leaves, and h asks H to sleep with her. He asks her to marry him - again (he's asked several times, she's given him an emphatic NO). She says yes.
I believe nothing. They spent nearly 3 years unable to communicate, the H didn't have the balls to ask her out, yet he calls her a bitch - because she hasn't had enough time really to process her father's sudden reappearing, then everything is right in their world? Right.
I can't imagine that ugly word ever disappearing once uttered. And there wasn't much of a relationship there to start with WITHOUT that. At the very least, there needed to be time for her and her father to come to an understanding. Forcing it, with name-calling no less, was not the way to go. And her remembering the distant past when he'd been her summer friend was a cop-out. Because just as she's had time to come to grips with her father (who, btw, blames it entirely on her mother, Asshole), she's also had time to move on past a childhood friendship. Trying to use that as a crutch, when they were never that close to begin with (really? you didn't keep in touch during the school year and you expect one to believe you're besties?) just didn't work.