Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “When I’m with you it’s like I’m the person I’m supposed to be and I want that.”
With a young son in tow, Wyatt (Ty) Svenson has stopped running and decided to settle in the small town of Bishop, Arkansa. Fixing motorcycles in his garage helps to keep his hands busy and his mind off the multitude of problems that plague him. When his attractive neighbor comes over to complain about the noise, Ty sees a cold woman who thinks he’s beneath her and welcomes the anger she inspires in him.
Shelby Monroe, the local art teacher, has her life sectioned into boxes that she keeps sealed shut. Trying to deal with her mother’s Alzheimers, an abusive childhood, and a recent meltdown on TV, Shelby is barely hanging on by her fingertips. Heavily attracted to Ty’s bad boy image, her life is just not conducive to any relationships but that doesn’t stop her from wanting just a few carefree nights in Ty’s bed.
Ty isn’t looking for a casual relationship. He doesn’t want to be her dirty little secret. He wants it all with Shelby but first he’ll need to convince her that he and love are worth the risk.
This is my first time reading Molly O’Keefe. While I did not read the first two in this series, this book can be read as a standalone with no issues concerning past characters or storylines.
By the title and cover, I expected a fun and naughty romance contemporary. This story was so much more than that. Dark, edgy, and emotionally turbulent, Between The Sheets is a jewel hidden underneath a false facade. A modern day romance that speaks of second chances, love, heartbreak, redemption, and hope. It portrays three battered souls who must decide if the love they so desperately want is worth the pain that will come from reaching for it.
Heavily character driven, O’Keefe writes a bittersweet love story that doesn’t offer false platitudes towards a happily ever after. Her protagonists have deep issues that affect their lives and the lives of those around them. There is no instant fix or cure. We are assured almost from the beginning that this relationship, should it be successful, will always be a work in progress.
Well written with an emotionally deep and convoluted storyline, it gives an indepth examination of abuse, family, and the multitude pain that comes from both; the situations surrounding Ty and Shelby will bruise your heart. Shelby was raised by an abusive overly religious father. She choose to bury her emotions in order to save her sanity and comes off rather brittle, cold, and self serving at times. Her powerful voice resonates throughout the book, giving us her reasons for the way she is without manipulation. The shield she uses to protect herself is not attractive though as her backstory is revealed, you can easily empathize for why she is the way she is. She was taught to be self contained and it was a painful lesson she learned very well. Dealing with a parent who has Alzheimers only adds to Shelby’s already over flowing plate.
In the heavy dark silence he left behind, she stacked and put away those small desires to be someone else, to want more than she had, and she got back to the business of being Shelby Monroe, Art Teacher. It was enough. And if sometimes she wanted to scream, or cry, or find some stranger to prove to her that she wasn’t totally dead inside or invisible to the world, it was an urge she could easily overcome.
She had overcome worse.
Ty was easier to connect with than Shelby. Her knife sharp edges keeps everyone-readers included-at a safe distance. Ty is a good man whose carefree lifestyle is brought to a halt when a young boy appears out of nowhere, claiming to be his son. Ty learns an on and off again relationship produced a child he was never told about. The mother has been sentenced to prison for a multitude of crimes and leaves Ty struggling to get to know his son. Ty knows it’s time to settle and be the responsible parent his son obviously needs so he picks Bishop and hopes this town can help he and his son heal the breach that exists between them.
“I love you. … Did you hear me? Ty wanted to ask, feeling like somehow saying those words had cleared out part of him. Created a hole that needed if not filling, then at least acknowledgment. But he knew Casey had heard him.”
Ty isn’t perfect. He had made mistakes that continue to haunt him to this day but he tries hard to be the best he can with what he has to work with. Ty’s ability to love without constraint is a gift that continuously gives through the story. Ty’s son, Casey, is a sweet mixed up boy whose whole life has been a series of disappointments. A neglectful abusive mother and an absent father has left him emotionally disconnected and in need of therapy. He just wants to be loved and does some questionable things to try and get that love.
At times I felt there was no way Ty and Shelby could make this work. Honestly, by the end of the book I still wasn’t completely convinced but I had hope for them. Ty falls hard for Shelby and steadily chips away at her shell but her emotional distance is hard to deal with. Plus, Ty is fragile in his new status of parenthood. Shelby shuts herself down to those who want to help but she is so gentle and giving with Casey and her kids and you are able to see the remarkable person buried beneath the guilt and shame she wears like a shroud. Oddly enough the deep and sensual intimacy found in here is a result of everything but the physical sex. Not to say the physical scenes aren’t a mixture of dark, hot, erotically stimulating needs and wants. Ty has a bit of a dominant side and Shelby likes having her rigid control ripped away from her in sexual situations.
“He wanted to believe no one had ever had her like this. Ever. Because he’d never been had like this. Ever. All the way. And it wasn’t just sex, it was everything. Every single fucking thing about her.”
O’Keefe takes great pains to show that sometimes the best way, the only way, to show someone you truly care is just by being there whether the other person acknowledges it or not.
The ending was a bit melodramatic in it’s attempt to force a decision in the relationship. It resolves itself on a dime and left me feeling that it was all too easily obtained for such a tremulous journey. Regardless of my issues, Between the Sheets was a pleasant surprise in its content and storyline and I look forward to reading more from Molly O’Keefe.