The Proposal by Katie Ashley

theproposal2In the weeks following Aidan’s betrayal, Emma has tried her best to move on. Ignoring his countless texts, voice mails, and flowers, she isn’t sure she wants to be won back by him. But Aidan isn’t going down without a fight – especially not until Emma lets him reveal the secret of his past that caused him to be so commitment phobic.

But fate intervenes when premature labor forces Emma on strict bed rest for two weeks. Aidan steps forward with a shocking proposal. To prove his love and commitment for her and their unborn son, he will take a leave of absence from work to care for her around the clock. Vowing to guard her heart, Emma reluctantly agrees.

While she is touched by Aidan’s attentiveness and tender loving care, Emma is thrown for a loop by the amorous attentions of ER doctor, Alpesh “Pesh” Nadeen. Pesh is everything Emma could ever want – successful, stable, and ready to settle down and be a husband and father. Pesh wants nothing more than to win Emma’s heart, but she is not sure she’s able to give it.

Her heart may still belong to the very man who broke it – the one who is so desperately trying to win her back.

review

“I’m on my knees – totally and completely begging you to forgive me.”

In one of the most anticipated sequels of the year, the story resumes immediately after Emma caught Aidan with another woman. Although the act was never fully consummated, the trust between them is now broken, making Emma doubt Aidan’s feelings and commitment to her and their unborn child. She is heartbroken, devastated by his betrayal and confused about her lingering feelings towards a man that took her dream of building a family with him and broke it.

“To let him back into her life would be to walk barefoot over the shards of her broken heart. He would cut her again, it was inevitable.”

Aidan had regretted what he did to Emma even before she walked in on the act, but he knows that no amount of regret or apologies can make things right at this point. He spirals into depression and drunken self-flagellation, knowing all too well that he has destroyed possibly the best thing that has ever happened to him. This also brings past torments to the surface, events that he believed to be long forgotten hurting his aching heart all over again and adding painful memories to his already fragile state of mind. His desperate attempts at apologising to Emma fall on deaf ears until her pregnancy suffers a small complication and she is forced to bedrest. Aidan takes advantage of this situation by offering to take care of her at his house while she is confined to bed, hoping that his actions would speak louder than words and show Emma the true depth of his feelings for her.

Emma’s perception of Aidan’s infidelity is only partly about the act itself and a great deal more about the reasons for wanting to commit such an act in the first place, knowing very well it would irreparably destroy their budding relationship.

“Could she really ever trust him completely again? Could she emotionally withstand building a life with him only for it to all fall apart if he cheated again?”

And then the ‘perfect’ man comes along to add to Emma’s confusion. Pesh pursues her openly and relentlessly, showing no concerns over her pregnant state or the emotional baggage weighing heavily on Emma’s broken heart.

“As long as I have a chance to win your heart, Emma, I’ll take whatever you can give me.”

He acts as the antithesis to Aidan’s character – he is portrayed as someone willing to offer Emma everything that she has ever dreamed of finding in a man and everything that Aidan was too scared to give her. Her attraction to Pesh only confuses her even more in light of her enduring feelings for Aidan, her heart and mind deciding to play against each other on opposite teams.

I have to admit that every iota of my being wanted and expected to love this book. The storyline in its prequel touched me in so many ways, making me emotionally invested in the characters’ fate. I was deeply disappointed to find that the story in this book failed to engage any positive emotions on my part – I could not connect with any of the characters and was left feeling angry at most of their actions towards each other. My strongest objections were to the heroine’s actions and behaviour in general. What I hoped it would be a heartfelt story of redemption, forgiveness and regained trust between characters that loved each other deeply, quickly became one of punishment and painful tit-for-tat. I understood and sympathised with Emma’s indecisiveness regarding wanting to be with Aidan and not wanting to put herself in a situation where she could be hurt by him again, but instead of watching her find forgiveness in her heart, we are made to painfully witness her doing the same exact thing that Aidan did to her and finding ‘clarity’ through the act of quite literally putting herself in his shoes. I was left confused in the end, unclear on what exactly made her trust him again – her ability to forgive him or her realisation that they were more alike than she thought.

I do believe that most people might not have the same reaction to this storyline and will enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching a guilty man squirm to be forgiven, but I personally could not. I enjoyed finding out how it all ended, I just did not particularly enjoy the journey it took us to get there. I also understand that a plot involving adultery is a tough one to tackle and that forgiveness given too easily and too soon can alienate readers with zero tolerance for infidelity, but I do believe that the readers in this book end up ‘forgiving’ Aidan a lot sooner than Emma does. I found myself resenting her for all her subsequent actions towards him. I cringed when she brought another man into Aidan’s house while she was still technically under his care. I hated the type of woman who cannot wait for two weeks before she goes on a date with another man so that she would no longer be in a situation where she is living with the person trying to win her back and dating another at the same time. Her character in this book alienated me from the get go, and I’m afraid I never recovered from it.

For all the hard-core fans of The Proposition who were left gasping at its cliff-hanger, there is no doubt you will want to read this book and will hopefully engage in the storyline a whole lot more than I did. You might find solace in the heart-melting scenes involving baby Noah’s birth or Aidan’s unmistakable devotion to Emma. They were definitely worth the wait and made the storyline a lot more bearable for me.

Finally, I just need to point out that any doctor who finds it appropriate to approach a man that has just witnessed his wife/partner giving birth to their child and tell him, “You know, some men have a hard time ever looking at their wives or girlfriends the same way again after experiencing birth,” needs a punch in the face.

3stars

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EXCLUSIVE: Teaser from The Proposal by Katie Ashley

Do you remember that delicious little book called The Proposition that has been on everyone’s lips since its release in November…? Are you one of the many anxiously awaiting for its sequel, biting your nails, stalking the author’s Facebook page, desperate for a snippet, a teaser, even just a word to soothe the withdrawal symptoms? Well, book junkies, your FIX is coming sooner than you think!!! Shhh… Can you keep a secret? Put a little star next to 15 January on your calendars…

In the meantime, I give you the beginning of Chapter One to tide you over…

The Story

theproposal2In the weeks following Aidan’s betrayal, Emma has tried her best to move on. Ignoring his countless texts, voice mails, and flowers, she isn’t sure she wants to be won back by him. But Aidan isn’t going down without a fight – especially not until Emma lets him reveal the secret of his past that caused him to be so commitment phobic.

But fate intervenes when premature labor forces Emma on strict bed rest for two weeks. Aidan steps forward with a shocking proposal. To prove his love and commitment for her and their unborn son, he will take a leave of absence from work to care for her around the clock. Vowing to guard her heart, Emma reluctantly agrees.

While she is touched by Aidan’s attentiveness and tender loving care, Emma is thrown for a loop by the amorous attentions of ER doctor, Alpesh “Pesh” Nadeen. Pesh is everything Emma could ever want – successful, stable, and ready to settle down and be a husband and father. Pesh wants nothing more than to win Emma’s heart, but she is not sure she’s able to give it.

Her heart may still belong to the very man who broke it – the one who is so desperately trying to win her back.

The Teaser

Aidan jolted out of his nightmare to find himself facedown on the kitchen table. Sweat trickled down his face. He raised a trembling hand to swipe it away. That was when he realized it was tears, not sweat, soaking his cheeks. He hadn’t had a nightmare about Amy’s accident in years. It only took a second for him to remember what had brought it on.

Emma.

Everything he thought he had felt for Amy was magnified a million times with Emma. He had only thought he knew what love was. Without even trying, she had managed to illicit feelings in him he never could have imagined. And now she was gone.

A defeated cry of agony slipped from his lips.

“I see we’re back to the nightmares, huh?”

Aidan jumped before jerking his gaze over his shoulder. “Hello to you too, Pop. How’d you get in?”

Patrick gave him a tight smile. “I have a key, son.”

When he whirled around in his chair, Aidan’s head spun, and he had to grip the table to steady himself. “Yeah, well, whatever happened to knocking?”

“I did, but you never came to the door. Now I can see why.”

Aidan stared up at the blurry double images of his father’s frowning face. One look of absolute and total disgust would have been enough, but damned if in his drunken state there had to be two.

Patrick leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “Son, I do believe you’re sh*t-faced!”

After snorting contemptuously, Aidan’s face smacked hard onto the kitchen table. His chest rose and fell in laughter at the fact his father had actually said the word sh*t-faced. Of course his level of inebriation also made it funnier.

When he finally composed himself, he exclaimed, “Actually, Pop, I was sh*t-faced five beers and three shots of Patron ago. I think it’s safe to say I’m f*cking plastered.”

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BOOK REVIEW: The Proposition by Katie Ashley

With her thirtieth birthday looming, Emma Harrison finds her biological clock clanging and the elusive knight in shining armor yet to appear. She’s running out of options, especially after her gay best friend backs out from being her sperm donor. Of course, there’s always a sperm bank, but Emma fears a donor mix-up might impregnate her with the spawn of Satan.

Resident company womanizer, Aidan Fitzgerald, is used to always getting what he wants, especially in the bedroom. When Emma spurns his advances at the company Christmas party, he’s determined to have her no matter what it takes. After Aidan learns of Emma’s predicament, he is quick to offer a proposition that will benefit them both. He will father Emma’s child, but she must conceive it with him naturally. Not one for hook-ups or casual sex, Emma is reluctant to take him up on his offer, but his charm, coupled with her intense desire for motherhood, wins out.

Soon their baby-making sessions become more than just physical. Aidan can’t seem to walk away from her while Emma begins to wonder if Aidan could be the one. But can Aidan leave his past behind to become the man Emma needs him to be?

review

“Here’s my proposition. I offer to father your child, and you in turn, promise to conceive it with me naturally.”

Just when I thought another romance novel couldn’t possibly surprise me – Ladies and Gentlemen, lo and behold, The Proposition!! A perfect ratio of sweet and romantic, a super-sized amount of scorching hot lovin’ and convincing sexual chemistry, with just a dash of angst, this is the perfect recipe for the type of story that will please anyone looking for a book to curl up with and escape into, all the while having a goofy grin plastered all over your satisfied face. Piece of advice though – do NOT forget to have an industrial-sized fan handy because it’s gonna get hot!!

“Have you ever wanted something so bad you think you’d die if you didn’t have it? That the mere thought of it keeps you up at night. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t drink. You are so consumed by that desire nothing else matters, and you’re not sure life is worth living if you can’t have it.”

Emma is a thirty-year-old single woman who wishes nothing more than to have a baby of her own. Her dreams of becoming a mother have almost become a physical need for her, making her willing to do almost anything to make that happen, desperate enough to even ask her gay best friend to father her child. But when everything falls through with that arrangement, the answer to all her prayers comes in the form of Aidan, a man whose womanizing reputation precedes him by a mile.

Aidan is a player. Aidan doesn’t do relationships. Aidan equates the responsibility of being a husband and father to choking. Emma is also the only woman who has ever rejected his advances and he is willing to do just about anything to get her into his bed. But that is not the only reason Aidan offers his ‘stud services’ to Emma – he is no stranger to the kind of comforting feeling that the love of a family can give you so he understands Emma’s need to become a mother. His motives might be primarily fueled by his raging libido, but there is a part of him that connects with Emma and desires nothing more than to make her happy.

“You’ve had so much death and loss that you just want a little life in you.”

At this point I recommend bringing that industrial-sized fan out of storage and turning it on at full blast because Ms Ashley writes good sex scenes like nobody’s business. Emma and Aidan engage in a commitment-free physical relationship aimed at one thing and one thing only – making a baby for Emma. Let me tell you, as a reader, it has never been so much fun reaping the benefits of a fictional arrangement like this before! The chemistry between our lead characters is unquestionable, the connection created by their toe-curling sexual encounters slowly bleeding into other areas of their lives, making them fall for each other for all the right reasons and fighting to stay emotionally unattached for all the wrong ones. They don’t reach that point at the same time, or rather they don’t realize the depth of their feelings for each other simultaneously, but once their emotional bond is forged, all they can do is deny it to themselves and to each other.

This is in so many ways Emma’s story, and a very personal one at that. Unless you’ve ever been ‘an Emma’ in your life, it might be difficult to imagine what it is like to face the unwanted prospect of never holding your own baby in your arms. So many of Emma’s emotions in this book felt very familiar, identifiable, real. Her hopeless desire to become a mother took central stage even in her relationship with Aidan, making her willing to suppress her growing feelings for him in order to fulfill her dream of having a baby. She threads so very carefully with him, always aware of his commitment phobias and trying not to push him into anything he is not ready for.

“Their entire relationship was such a fragile balloon that she was afraid would pop at any moment.”

Aidan is a much more complicated character than Emma. This might be Emma’s story but it is Aidan’s journey to travel. His ‘conversion’ from incorrigible bachelor to man owning up to his feelings is a slowly progressing one, laced with doubt, inner conflict and a desperate want to avoid commitment at all costs. I hope we get to delve into the reasons behind this urge to form no lasting ties with a woman in the sequel as I found that part of his personality as fascinating as it was infuriating.

“Love like he had never known entered him that day, and instead of embracing it, he kept railing against it. … In the end, maybe it didn’t matter if he loved her. He could not imagine giving up the entirety of his life to being all she would need.”

Ms Ashley’s writing style is a force to be reckoned with. Apart from the spectacular dialogues which, in my opinion, can make or break a story, this book is flawlessly written in its entirety, leaving me with no objections other than having to wait to have the sequel, The Proposal, in my greedy little hands. This is a story you will love from the very first page and will want to re-read right after you finished it. It will leave the romance junkie in you well sated but also craving for more. More of everything.

5stars

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