They have a deal: Rachel will teach the newly divorced Mac to date again, and he’ll accompany her to her brother’s wedding. Seems like a straight forward trade, but when Mac decides the kisses he wants can only be found on Rachel’s lips, he sabotages all her efforts to find him another woman.
Rachel’s never met a man more inept at meeting women. If he’s not sharing inappropriate information, he’s hitting them with the worst come-on lines she’s ever heard. The man can’t even do a decent Texas Two-Step. If she didn’t need a date to her brother’s wedding so desperately …
I just LOVE when a book surprises me and blows all my expectations out of the water! This is a heart-warming story that stirs up a whole range of emotions in the reader, taking us on a immaculately planned journey of self-discovery and triumph over a painful past. It is an extremely sensual read which will undoubtedly please any romance addict.
Rachel is a young woman whose one traumatic event from her past has prevented her from achieving any level of true intimacy with men. While she wishes nothing more than a family of her own – a loving husband and lots of babies – she is convinced that her apprehensiveness and fear of physical intimacy are something she would never overcome. Until Mac, her best friend’s newly-divorced brother, comes to town. Their attraction is instantaneous but fought at both ends. Mac’s failed marriage has left him with a bag full of bitterness and disappointment, and a whole lot of cheesy pickup lines that he relentlessly but unsuccessfully tries on women.
“Hey, Sexy! Wanna get naked with me?”
Their relationship starts as a friendly arrangement that helps both but gradually blossoms into much more. They end up in an unconventional friends-with-benefits-style situation, with growing feelings from both sides and a sexual attraction that is so scorchingly hot that I was afraid my e-reader was going to internally combust. But Rachel’s aversion to being touched intimately is one hurdle they do not seem to be able to overcome, regardless of the numerous hot lovin’ sessions they engage in. Mac is a patient and caring lover, he genuinely wants to help her fight her demons and give her the opportunity to have the future she dreams of, but he also realises that once she does, she won’t need him anymore. And yet, he never not once chooses his own gratification or manipulates her into staying with him, selflessly doing all he can to make her dreams become a reality.
“The bag in his hands seemed far too light to hold the key to all Rachel’s dreams. And what did it hold for him? The answer came quickly: the ability to give her everything she wanted. But it tasted like ashes in his mouth.”
Rachel is stuck in a rut. Her painful past might have caused the damage but she consciously gave up on surmounting it. She convinced herself that she didn’t need love in her life in order to be happy, even though every cell of her body knew she was missing something. There are scenes in the book where she watches other couples and envies their happiness, or gets lost in the smell of a baby’s skin that so beautifully depict the vulnerability of this character, making us deeply invested in her fate. Mac is her catalyst – he is the first man in her life that makes her want to change, to unlock not only her body but also her heart. He represents everything she dreams of having and he never lets her stop fighting for it. His relentless attempts to find love again, his willingness to risk his emotions and his ego show the kind of courage that inspires Rachel to keep wanting to find her own happy ending.
“If you don’t do something soon, baby, life is going to pass you by. If you don’t want me, that’s fine, but dammit, want something! Find some guy who makes you feel alive. Whose kisses make you sizzle. Someone whose kids will run screaming through your life.”
But Rachel’s inadequacies in the bedroom have not only deeply damaged her self-confidence with the opposite sex, they have also affected her self-esteem when dealing with her family. She is a woman torn between what she believes her family expects her to be, what she desperately wishes to be and what she believes she will always be – lacking. Her greatest fear is of her mother discovering how little Rachel measures up to her standards, or what she believes those standards are. Her fear of disappointing her mother forces her to detach herself from them physically, living far away from them, alone but safely distant from their scrutiny.
“As Ruth reached inside, Rachel suddenly saw her mother’s hands. They were roughened with the life she’d led, the vanities and luxuries she’d eschewed, the baking and child rearing she’d done for so many years. Before her sons had been old enough to take over those chores, she’d worked in the fields and the barn as need had demanded. Aged beyond her fifty-some years, her hands brought home the knowledge that, one day, those hands would be folded in death, with a force Rachel had never felt before. Her heart pinched as she wondered how she could waste the intervening years in Galveston when she could be there with her mother.”
Where I expected a predictable plot and nothing more than a pleasant romance, I found a storyline so beautifully layered that I never knew what else I was in for. Where I hoped for a likeable heroine and a hot hero, I found flawlessly developed characters whose emotions took me on an unexpectedly bumpy but truly enjoyable ride. The writing style is almost too refined for this genre. Ms Quint’s attention to detail is refreshing – she thoroughly immerses the reader in her scenes, we can taste the food, hear the music, our skin tingles from the sexual chemistry between her characters. She leaves nothing to chance, making us very willing participants. Rachel is the damaged woman in all of us, the victim of her own fears and insecurities, bound by the chains of her own mind. This is a story that took me by surprise and stayed with me days after I finished it.