The hero's name is Panda. Panda. I kept reading thinking he was going to get a better name. His real name is Patrick but that doesn't matter because he was called Panda throughout the book.
This bothered me.
While the beginning of the book with a bride running away from her own wedding and having a motorcycle as the getaway vehicle is somewhat reminiscent of the beginning of Hot Shot, overall though the tone of it reminded me a lot of another SEP book, Natural Born Charmer for some reason.
The book has a meandering quality that could have come off as seeming unfocused or all over the place. But it didn't. I actually liked the quirkiness of it. The story took quite a few left turns and ended up in places that were quite unpredictable. I thought Lucy's feeling of responsibility and suffocation felt believable. Only a really desperate person would do what she did.
Panda, awful name notwithstanding, was also a well crafted character. At first you aren't quite sure of him, but as the story unfolds, he is revealed slowly and carefully until the character's true depths are exposed.
Truthfully, that happens with all the characters in the book. There is a sizable (but not huge) supporting character contingent, all of whom have stories that are as interesting as Lucy and Panda's. What I found really interesting with this book is that SEP played a lot with the idea of perception versus reality when it came to all the characters. Each character is initially presented as one thing and over the course of their time in the book they are revealed to be something a bit more.
None more so than Mike, the real estate mogul. Like most SEP books there is a secondary romance that is just was wonderful and nuanced as the main romance. There were times when my readerly instincts were saying one thing about Mike, but then Bree or Lucy (the book is told primarily from their perspectives) would say or think something that would throw that into doubt. It was weird how difficult it was to disagree with the two primary persons in the books whose perceptions you are supposed to trust. Luckily my instincts didn't steer me wrong and my feelings of Mike proved true. Mike and Bree's sad/sweet romance sometimes even threatened to overtake L&P's for my interest. I thought their back-story was compelling and wanted to know more every time their scenes were on the page. I also was rooting for Bree and her efforts to connect with Toby the young boy she gains guardianship of unexpectedly.
Overall, the book was fun and vintage SEP, if a little more subdued than some of her previous offerings.