Friday, July 31, 2009

Year of the Category - July: His Expectant Ex by Catherine Mann

His Expectant Ex by Catherine MannJust seconds after signing divorce papers, Marianna Landis fainted. Shocked, her now ex-husband Sebastian discovered Marianna was three-and-a-half months pregnant. The timing was perfectly in line with their last impetuous night together. Incensed that his "wife" would still be so intent on their separation, Sebastian vowed to do anything to win her back. Seduction had worked once before…he'd make damn sure it would work again. For Marianna was carrying a Landis baby, and a Landis man keeps what is his!

It’s been a long time since I’ve read and enjoyed a Silhouette Desire. But I admit to being a Catherine Mann fangirl. And although I generally dislike Desires, when I realized that this book had several things going for it right off the bat, I couldn’t resist. Namely, it’s loosely related to the Wingman Warriors series (HUGE plus), it’s got one of my favorite themes – already marrieds trying to find their way back together, and … well… it’s a Catherine Mann. Pretty much a no-brainer.

As the book opens, Sebastian and Marianna are finishing up dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on their divorce agreement. As they ride down the elevator together, they somehow end up in the car together and then celebrate the end of their relationship in the same manner in which they celebrated the beginning of their relationship – in the back seat of Sebastian’s car.

Fast forward a couple months, and they are in the courtroom completing the divorce. Marianna passes out after the divorce is finalized, and it comes out that she’s pregnant.

What I liked about this book, is that while it was obviously in Sebastian’s nature to play the alpha and carry her off in the Me Tarzan, You Jane way and force her to his will, and he desperately wanted to do so (and tried to many times), Mann didn’t take that stereotypical Harlequin route. Sebastian and Marianna were 3-dimensional characters with a boatload of loss behind them. She had suffered a miscarriage on their honeymoon (they married as teens due to her pregnancy). Then they suffered through years of infertility, and finally settled on adoption only to have the mother change her mind just before the adoption was finalized.

All this trauma was too much for their marriage to withstand, when they didn’t communicate well except in the bedroom. I liked that the characters took the time to really delve into what the problem was in their marriage – and that Mann gave them typical responses as well. Sebastian couldn’t talk about his grief about the loss of their adopted daughter. Marianna closed herself off after Sebastian started working excessive hours once their daughter was taken away. Their marriage didn’t crumble due to a lack of love, but due to a lack of communication.

They slowly had to build up their trust and lines of communication. It seemed they would take two steps forward and one step back. I enjoyed watching this marriage and friendship come back together. I liked seeing Sebastian do little things for Marianna – like bringing her special treats during her pregnancy. I liked It when they each came to the realization that their own behavior could have been misinterpreted – it wasn’t necessarily that they were wrong or that the other person was wrong. They each grew in their own right and grew to accept the other’s personality traits as a strength rather than a liability, and saw how their partner could see what they viewed as their own strengths as a potential weakness. Love it when characters grow and learn. I also liked watching some of the family interactions that surrounded them.

Having only read Mann’s military books before, this was a welcome departure, and I really enjoyed it. This is part of The Landis Brothers Series. I’ll go back and read book 1 as well.

Re-Read Challenge: Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase

Lord Perfect by Loretta ChaseIn keeping with my theme for the re-read challenge, I read another Perfect book this month. I first read this back in 2006. It was my first Chase book, and I’ve been pimping her ever since. I originally reviewed it here.

Everything that I love so much about Chase’s writing is on display in this book: smart, sophisticated characters; witty, snappy banter; deep emotion underlying; and both a fantastic hero and heroine who make the story move forward rather than the other way around.

When I last reviewed Lord Perfect, I took note of the great banter between Bathsheba and Benedict. And I still stand by that. The dialogue fairly sparkles off the page. But what I didn’t mention in my last review was how wonderfully they opened up to each other. Benedict especially, opened up to Bathsheba in a way that he likely had never done with anyone ever before. In earning his moniker, Lord Perfect, he had given up all the things that made him who he was – his joie de vive. He somehow found himself telling her about all the pranks he pulled as a little boy – even as far as his time at Oxford. It wasn’t until he hit 21 that he felt compelled to become the perfect son. It’s noticable immediately the first time he sees Bathsheba and has to repeat rules of proper behavior to himself, something he does repeatedly throughout the book. This says more about his true nature than almost anything else, and the subtlety with which Chase imparts it is masterful.

It was wonderful at the end to see Benedict’s father acknowledge Benedict’s true nature as well, when he tells him that he used to laugh all the time. And how Bathsheba makes him laugh. And that’s how he knows she’s the right woman for Benedict. What a lovely thing for a father to notice – especially a hardass father like Hargate.

So while I focused on absorbing the witty banter and story in my last read, I soaked up the emotion and true nature of the characters with this read. It’s a true testament to Chase’s writing that there are so many facets to focus upon in subsequent readings.

If you haven’t read Lord Perfect, I highly recommend it. Benedict is the eldest of the Carsington siblings. His book follows Rupert and Daphne’s, Mr. Impossible.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Laid Bare by Lauren Dane

Laid BareUnexpected Desire…

It’s been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn’t in the cards just yet…

Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin’s past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed—and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?


First and foremost, thank you to Lauren Dane for giving me a sneak peek into Laid Bare. This is a powerful, emotional story. It was not what I expected - not that Dane doesn't write powerful and emotional - she does! This book is both different and similar to ones that Dane has written in the past. Different in the topics that it tackles, but similar in that Dane never shies away from the tough issues. Here our heroine has suffered an intense personal loss, leaving her not only devastated, but also intensely afraid for her own personal safety. And while she is terrified of being overcome in a situation physically when caught unawares, she is thrilled to be overcome physically in the bedroom and dominated there. Very interesting dichotomy.

I almost felt as if this was two books in one. There was a thread of continuity throughout, tying the two halves together, and that was Erin’s trauma and need to cope with her past. The first part felt like a love story between a man and a woman, coming to terms with their D/s relationship. I loved this portion of the book. It was beautifully written. Dane handles the D/s relationship in a way that I truly hope is real for that lifestyle (sue me – I have no clue!). The book opens 10 years earlier, and Todd hasn’t come to grips with his Dom. He still feels that he would be disrespecting a woman to unleash that part of himself in a sexual relationship. And so, he leaves Erin, unable to handle a relationship that fully includes a D/s component.

10 years later, they meet again. He is recovering from a shooting (he’s a police officer), and she is recovering from a personal tragedy. Erin and Todd have true respect for one another, and grow into a true love. The only place they have a D/s relationship is in the bedroom. The only time it’s even hinted at outside the bedroom is that Erin likes to “take care” of Todd. She likes to cook for him, make him plates of food, etc. But that feeling is completely mutual, and she takes care of her brothers in the same manner. He, in turn, likes to take care of and protect her as well. For them both, the D/s relationship is about taking care of and feeling cared for. Todd makes Erin feel beautiful and cherished, and she makes him feel the need to treasure her and show her how beautiful and wonderful she is. He shows her by taking care of her every need, taking away the need for her to make decisions, so she can just feel taken care of. In turn, by loving him and doing as he wishes, she shows him her love and feels utterly cherished and beautiful to him. But he's oh, so masterful in how he dominates her. And she's very playful, yet so comfortable and content in her submission. I would like to think that this is what lies at the heart of a true D/s relationship, and Dane conveys this in a magical way, without being trite, without condescension for the characters or the reader, but with a great sense of reality mixed in.

I enjoyed the sense of family in this book. It’s something that Dane does very well. Erin’s brothers give her a sense of close family and make her feel loved and as safe as is possible. Todd’s family, while not nearby, is also close-knit, and his lifelong friendship with Ben and Cope give Todd an extended family as well. Dane excels at writing families, especially sibling relationships, and this book is no exception. As always in a Dane book, the families are an essential element in the glue holding the H/H together. There is always such a feeling of community and family in her books, and I love that.

Dane’s dialogue, both internal and between characters, screams of realism. I always find myself saying this in any review of a Lauren Dane book, but her voice is one that I can so comfortably relate to. Her characters speak like everyday, ordinary people. You can imagine being there in the conversations when her characters talk to one another. It’s very refreshing, and quite unusual – no matter whether it’s a contemporary, a futuristic, or a paranormal, that voice and comfort level is with me when I read Dane’s books.

The extended families of Erin and Todd both reach out to support Erin as she copes with her loss, and she and Todd deepen their relationship to a new level. It was at this point that Dane brought a third person into their relationship and I felt like the “second book” began. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well for me as the first one. Todd’s friend Ben is brought into the relationship and they all begin a journey into the world of a M/F/M triad. The additional relationship felt tacked on to me. I didn’t see the need for it. I was perfectly happy and content with the book as it was. Erin and Todd also seemed to be content with themselves; it felt complete with the M/F relationship and I didn’t quite see what it was that Ben brought into the existing mix. He was a bit softer than Todd, but truly I thought Todd was a very sensitive guy, and didn’t find him lacking, so I didn’t see the need for the addition of Ben in the relationship. He felt intrusive to me, and it took me out of the intense love story that was Todd and Erin. I think perhaps Dane tried to accomplish too much in one book. It was already perfect as it was, and the additional relationship on top of the D/s and the trauma of Erin's past was just too much.

So the first half of the book was fantastic, and was a beautiful love story. While the second half’s M/F/M love story didn’t work for me, what did work in that part of the book was the emotion written into the resolution of Erin’s personal journey. She worked hard to overcome the death of her daughter and the lingering fear and debilitating anxiety it brought on. Dane writes amazing heroines. Strong, vulnerable, and sassy. Her heroes are tough, yet tender, and sexy. Her voice always shines through as powerful, contemporary, and real.

Laid Bare is available from Berkley Heat on August 4. Get it here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Relentless by Lauren Dane

RelentlessSince the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federation Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time to throw out the old and usher in a new order, giving voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life brattling the system. A fighter by nature, she’s always been too busy and too driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted an audience with Roman Lyons, the head of the House Lyons – a man who stands for everything she hates – her instant attraction catches Abbie off guard…

It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around the world Ravena – and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant – if stunning – rabble-rouser. But sometimes headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private.

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age-old traditions and unleash a sexuality he’s never given rein to before.

Relentless is the followup to Undercover, the futuristic ménage set in the Known Universes. While I liked Undercover, I can honestly say I loved Relentless. Loved it. Relentless is not a ménage; it’s a M/F love story, set in the same world as Undercover, and taking place almost immediately after Undercover ends.

Like Undercover, one of the things I liked so much, even though this is a futuristic, is the definite parallels to historicals drawn in this book. The conflict is based around the differences between the Ranked and unranked (think ranked aristocracy and unranked commoners). The language and terminology used for many things is very anachronistic for a futuristic, harkening back to Regency times. For example, they drink mulled wine and wear spectacles. Abbie is a barrister, not an attorney. That gave me a sense of comfort and familiarity in a genre that is far outside my comfort zone. Additionally, Dane’s voice is a familiar and comfortable one, a constant in what might otherwise be uncharted territory for me.

Abbie and Roman are both very likable characters, both strong in their convictions and loyal to their people. When they meet, it’s instant chemistry, and while they know they shouldn’t, and can’t, be together, they simply can’t fight it. Again, drawing parallels, it reminds me very much of similar stories of Dukes and unranked “bluestockings” falling in love. Their entire affair is carried out knowing that Roman will eventually have to marry within the Ranked, and that he cannot be with Abbie, since she won’t be his mistress, and he wouldn’t ask her to be. Yet they defy convention, meeting secretly and falling in love anyway. And in doing so, each get a glimpse into the other’s world and gain new respect for the other and their place within that world.

Dane does a beautiful job of showing Roman, especially, falling for Abbie. This particular passage, made me stop and sigh:
He tapped quietly on her door, anticipation thrumming through his veins. She opened, wearing a soft robe, her hair loose like he preferred. He stepped inside and everything felt right again.

“I’m sorry. I wanted to get away earlier, but Alexander wanted to talk. And talk some more. I escaped as soon as I could. Is it too late?”

She cupped his cheek. “I’ve missed you. I’ll take whatever of you I can get.”

He moved into her arms because it was where he was supposed to be. She was warm and soft and felt like home.

His clothes melted away, their hands working together to make him naked, as naked as his heart was.

Sigh. Roman is a man who isn’t afraid to feel things deeply. He loves his grown sons, his people, and he loves Abbie. He writes her several love letters through the course of the book as well. Oh, and he talks dirty. Heaven help me, I love that when it’s done realistically. In turn, Abbie loves her cause, her people, and Roman. Their circumstances tear them apart, much as they try not to let them.

I thought the conflict was well done – the desire of the Movement for Democratic Reform – the desire of the unranked to have representation on the governing council. Abbie is their spokesperson, and it wasn’t tied up all quickly and neatly in a bow. While it was her job to convince the Council of the wisdom of this, it didn’t happen overnight, and several things including her job as a barrister got in the way.

I appreciated that both Abbie and Roman felt a deep sense of responsibility toward the people of Ravena – all the people, not just those within their own class system. While innate to them both, that grew deeper as they learned more about one another’s people and grew to care more deeply for each other.

The world-building in Relentless felt more complete here than in Undercover. I felt a sense of connection, felt drawn into the everyday lives of these people, came to care about them. It wasn’t superfluous; it was an integral part of the storytelling; each setting served to forward the story in some way. I didn’t get that sense with Undercover.

I felt Relentless was a flawless romance. The characterization was excellent, the world-building perfect. I loved every minute of this story that, by all rights, should have been outside my comfort zone, but instead felt like reading an old favorite. Now if only I could convince Lauren to stop using the C word so dang much, LOL. Different fight, different day :)

Oh, and if you’re wondering who she pictured as Roman, the last line of the acknowledgments is this: “Lastly, thank you to Daniel Craig, who played Roman Lyons in my head. I promise neither Abbie or I sullied you too much.”

Yum. Daniel Craig.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Uncovered by Linda Winfree

Uncovered is book 10 in the Hearts of the South series from Linda Winfree. While there has been something in each book that has been hit or miss for me, the entire series has been a winner for me. There's something very appealing about Winfree's voice, pacing, and characters. (and seriously, this cover makes me drool)

My recent complaints about previous books in the series have centered around one of the main characters, Tick (dubbed by me and Holly as Tick the Dick). He has always been a high strung guy, but in the last several entries, he really has become just a nasty dude. In this book, Winfree gives him a terrific excuse for his all-out surliness. And a fix. It was wonderful to see him working together with his wife, Cait, again as a team. He's good again. Nuff said.

The focus of this book is supposed to be on the main couple, Madeline and Ash. Madeline is a cop who grew up with Tick, and their past ties them together. They share some sort of "incident" from their teen years that drove Madeline to leave town, and Tick to pretty much hate her. She comes back to town as an interim investigator, hired by her brother-in-law Stanton (hero of book 4). As she and Tick begin to work out their differences, they come to realize that the cold-case murder they're working on is related to their past together. It drives Madeline to both face her past and open up to Ash.

What I liked: I thought that this book was much better balanced than the past few entries in the series. By that, I mean that there was a better balance between the relationships and the suspense element. Also, I liked that there is finally some resolution to Tick's nasty behavior. And it's a believable, totally plausible one. Fully explained, and not one-sided either.

I also liked that he reached out to Madeline, but wasn't out of character in doing so. He was still a bit surly in his efforts, as was she. Tick compares Madeline to his wife Cait, but I found more similarities to Tick himself; surly, putting up emotional roadblocks, not wanting to face issues that put her "out there" and vulnerable. The person who sees right through her, and directly into her from the start is Ash. If there was any area where this book felt underdeveloped at all, it was in the love story between Madeline and Ash. Winfree tried to accomplish a lot in this book, and for the most part, succeeded. The resolution of Madeline's past, the resolution of her relationship with Tick, the resolution of Tick & Cait's issues - all well done. But it left little time or room for a romance. Mad & Ash squeezed in as much romance as they could into the remaining pages. This was more of a "struck by lightening" romance. Ash accepts this almost immediately, and moves forward, but Madeline fights it every step of the way. I found myself wondering more than once why on earth Ash was still trying to make a go of a relationship with her.

Ash. Just a great, unassuming guy. Accepts Madeline as she is, faults and all (and there are a lot!). Plus - he is 42. Yes - he isn't a baby hero. I love that! Either a 42 y0 guy is going to come with a ton of baggage, or he is going to be at peace with himself. Ash has come to terms with his baggage and is at peace with himself. I love that.

What I didn't like: First, this series seems to be becoming more and more focused on Tick and Cait. I'm hopeful that now that they've resolved their issues, the subsequent books will focus more on the main characters, and they can move off to be peripheral characters once again.

Next, and perhaps more important, Ash is portrayed as being Tick's best friend. I don't recall him being mentioned in any of the previous books, even in passing. It's always been my impression that Cookie was Tick's best friend. So to now have Ash rise up from the... well... ashes, and be mentioned as Tick's best friend, and have Cookie be an "also seen", was a bit jarring. As well as disruptive to series continuity.

Madeline was certainly less likable than Ash. While he had come to terms with his baggage prior to the opening of the book, this is her 'coming to terms' story. And while I want to say that she was unaccepting of Ash's support for a good deal of the book, I must acknowledge that it takes place over a two week period. That's fast, especially for an avoider such as Madeline. So a little leeway, but noting that he was much more likable than she.

Lastly, the ending was very abrupt and felt unfinished. The resolution comes in an epilogue, not in an ending. I felt that Madeline and Ash deserved an ending, not an epilogue.

Overall, a fairly solid entry in the series. Once again, I like Winfree's voice, her storytelling, her ability to draw me in. But this book felt less like the Madeline and Ash story, and more like the Tick and Cait story. And they already had their book. So I'd like to move forward. Looking ahead to the next entry.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Re-read Challenge: England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch

A Hero in Disguise...

With her two best friends happily married, Lucinda Barrett realizes she can no longer put off her lessons in love. The rogue she hopes to educate must be someone who will keep her life steady and uneventful - and that someone is definitely
not Robert Carroway! The handsome, brooding war hero is far too complicated, and he shuns London society and its "trivialities." Still, it is a pleasant surprise when Robert offers to assist Lucinda in her mission to reform and wed a more suitable nobleman. Now if only she can resist the sensuous allure of Robert's astoundingly blue eyes - and his intense fire that leaves her breathless. Lucinda wants a husband, not a passionate, irresistible lover who could shake her world with one deep, lingering kiss. And her heart is telling her that this man could be the most dangerous, disastrous... and exhilarating love she will ever know.

I think I've reviewed this twice already on the blog, LOL. This book is one of my comfort reads. Third in Enoch's famed Lessons in Love trilogy, this one is my favorite. Many claim Saint to be one of their favorite heroes (from book 2), but I love Bit.

I seem to gravitate toward books with main characters who suffer from PTSD. Don't know why. If you read my re-read review for He Said Yes, I linked to my original review for the series, where book 3 - He Said Now, has a fabulous PTSD hero. Read that one, too.

Anyway, back to this book. England's Perfect Hero has an amazing hero. 3 years after his return from the war with France and his experience as a POW, he is the poster boy for PTSD. He still cowers in the corner of his room. He still rocks back and forth on the floor, lost in his own world, losing hours at a time. He still cries. He still is afraid to interact with people, his own family included. Afraid of his own memories - because to remember would be to die. He still is fine one moment, and the next simply disintegrates into a quivering ball of uncontrolled fear and emotion. With each look into Robert's psyche, I can't help but fall for him; want to heal him, help him, just plain make him feel less hurt.

Enter Lucinda. Bit overhears his sister-in-law (heroine of book 1) and her friends discussing their lessons. He runs into Lucinda and asks who she's chosen for her lessons. Somehow, he manages to interact with her. He manages to feel somewhat human around her. And he craves more of it. He offers to help her with her lessons.

Lucinda gradually draws Bit out of his shell, little by little. In an honest portrayal, Enoch gives him major setbacks, major phobias, major paranoias. But he wants to be there for Lucinda.

In return, she grows to learn that there is more to life than just looking for a man. Than living for the next ball or party. She grows into what Bit needs, and wants to be what he needs.

The book, while focusing on Bit and Lucinda, also shows the entire Carroway clan, and how PTSD can affect an entire family. All the way from Viscount Dare (hero of book 1) to 10 year old Edward. The book portrays a close-knit family that rallies around one another to support and love. It's always great to see close families, especially in historicals where there is often so much strife among families.

The only thing I could do without in this book is a suspensy back story of someone trying to discredit Robert. Thankfully, this is short-lived, and it does serve a purpose in getting Robert out into society a little faster than he might have done otherwise. (This is obviously a current pet peeve of mine, LOL)

I love this book. Still. I love that Robert is always confronting his fear in order to face each day. Sometimes a success, sometimes a dismal failure. Lucinda is unfailingly devoted to him and to their friendship first, then to their love. I like that even as they accept their love and announce it, they acknowledge to each other the long road ahead. Knowing that this may be as good as it gets, that Robert may never be "whole", but that Lucinda makes him feel as whole as he can be.

Robert is an amazingly drawn character. Sometimes full of self-pity and self-doubt. Sometimes accepting of his situation. Sometimes wanting to better it. Sometimes strong, sometimes stoic. Always immensely human. You want to cry when he stumbles back into his corner, and pump your fist in the air with each small step out of his room. It's definitely his story. Lucinda is along for the ride, although she does her share of growing, as noted above.

Still one of my all-time favorites. Still on my keeper shelf (as is the entire trilogy).

Love at First Flight by Marie Force

What if the guy in the airplane seat next to you turned out to be the love of your life?

Juliana, happy in her career as a hair stylist, is on her way to visit her boyfriend of ten years who's working out of state. She's wondering why they're not engaged yet. Michael is going to his fiance's parents' home for an engagement party he doesn't want. A states' prosecutor, he's about to try the biggest case of his career, he hates the distraction, and he's having doubts about the relationship.

They sit together on the plane, and discover they're on the same flight coming back. When the weekend is a disaster for each of them, they bond on the plane ride home. But life is full of complications, including their exes, who don't want to let go, and when Michael's trial turns dangerous, the two must confront what they value most in life...

I must confess up front that I had serious issues with this book. It hit a personal hot button with me - completely unexpectedly. And as I write this review, I have no idea if it will turn out to be favorable or not. I can say that I picked up this book because I loved Force's first book, Line of Scrimmage. I read Barbara's wonderful review of this book, and having just finished a love triangle book (A Hint of Wicked), wasn't sure I wanted to read another. The love triangle isn't what tripped my switch, though. Completely personal issue - I'm sure it won't have this effect on anyone else. And a warning that this review may border on TMI.

Turns out that Juliana's live-in boyfriend of 10 years is wondering what it would be like to have sex with another woman. They've been together since they were 17, and have never been with anyone else. She, on the other hand, has never had thoughts like this (until she sees Michael on the plane, but she isn't really ready to admit this to herself yet). There in a nutshell was my problem with the book. As soon as I read that scene, I wondered all the way through the rest of the book... is my own husband having those kind of thoughts? Our situation is very similar. Together since 18, now in our 40s. Never with anyone else. And although we have a very happy, healthy sex life, what if he is wondering? So I read the entire book with this feeling of dread and trepidation. And 2 days later, still find myself looking at him with a speculative gleam in my eye. Crazy.

Having said that, Force handles a delicate, sad, and no-win situation with grace and style. Neither one of these men is a villain - they both serve a very important purpose to Juliana. All four characters are flawed. None of them is perfect, although Michael sure seems to come pretty close. And that in itself is a red flag, isn't it? Still, he shows his impatience with his fiancee and then relief when the relationship of four years simply ends. So maybe not perfect. Juliana is a bit wishy-washy. She "takes a break" from Jeremy, then pretty much hops into bed with Michael, and then is unwilling to fully commit to him - still keeping the possibility of Jeremy dangling in front of him.

Jeremy, aside from the cardinal sin of admitting he thought about what it might be like with another woman, is the perfect guy, and goes completely out of his way to show Juliana how much she means to him. The only one who appears to be completely able to be written off is Michael's fiancee Paige, and even she is saved from true villain status through Michael's flashbacks of their courtship and his memories of how much he loved her.

I thought that through the entire book, Michael was far too understanding of Juliana's need to keep Jeremy hanging on a string. SPOILER*** Even after she and Jeremy broke up, all he said was I'll wait for you forever. Then he waited an entire year for her without complaint. Srsly - too good to be true. But in its own way, sighworthy. ***/SPOILER I would have liked to have seen him at least once attempt to force her to make a decision.

So, I guess that even with my personal issues aside, there were still things with this book that gave me pause. However, what a tough topic to tackle without making Juliana seem like a ho, Jeremy seem like a jerk, or Michael seem like a pushover. Even Paige didn't seem like such a bitch at the end. Well done. So next time, Ms Force, can you do it without pushing my own personal buttons? Hmmm?
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