Learning Curves by Elyse Mady
May 18, 2011
From Carina Press: Leanne Galloway has no time for dating; her focus is on launching her academic career. Dragged along to her childhood frenemy Gillian’s bachelorette party at a male strip club, she just wants to get through the evening-but she can’t help interfering when Gillian sends a note to a sexy dancer proposing a hot hookup.
Brandon Myles is working backstage at the Foxe’s Den to fund his post-graduate studies in dance, but he’s forced onstage when the headliner fails to show up. He feels a surprisingly strong connection with a quiet woman watching from the table full of tipsy bridesmaids, and he’s delighted when she appears backstage after his set.
After a scorching spontaneous encounter, Leanne and Brandon agree to go their separate ways. But they’re both grad students on a small campus, and avoiding and denying their attraction won’t work for long, especially when a jealous rival appears, determined to ruin both their academic careers.
I included the back blurb because it does a good job of setting up the story and introducing the characters. Leanne Galloway is what one might call bookish or nerdy. She is extremely intelligent and proud of her academic accomplishments. She is working on her thesis and is also being considered for a prestigious fellowship, the Walter’s Prize. Leanne doesn’t see herself as an attractive, sexual woman and she certainly doesn’t think anyone as gorgeous and sexy as Brandon would ever be interested in her. She sees their chance encounter as a fluke; an extremely hot, once in a lifetime experience.
Brandon Myles didn’t have a great childhood. He’s been on his own for a long time, but thanks to the friendship and support of the club’s owner, along with some grants, he’s very close to realizing his academic goals. While he’s the first to admit that he’s been with a lot of woman, and has used his good looks to get what he’s wanted, he really is not the typical stereotype that one would expect of a guy who works as a stripper. Stripping was simply a way for him to pay for his education. His encounter with Leanne, while brief, has thrown him for a loop and has him feeling things that he’s always tried to ignore. He doesn’t do relationships or commitment. He doesn’t let anyone get close, but there is something about Leanne and he can’t stop thinking about her.
When Leanne and Brandon run into each other at a faculty get together, Leanne is surprised and while her libido is doing summersaults, she knows that there can never be anything between her and Brandon. But their attraction to each other is too strong and they continue to see each other, all the while knowing that they can really never be together. Little by little Brandon feels his walls coming down but even as he realizes what he’s feeling is in fact love, he pushes Leanne away because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved Leanne! She is strong, confident and intelligent in spite of the fact that her mother made her feel like she didn’t quite measure up all her life because she didn’t fit the image of the daughter she always wanted. Having constantly compared her to Gillian, just made matters worse but now, after years of feeling like a disappointment, Leanne is finally in a place where she is comfortable in her life; everything she’s worked for is in her sights. Leanne is completely oblivious to her beauty, both inside and out. She knows she is a good person, but how she sees herself is still somewhat clouded by the comments her mother has made throughout her life. When Brandon is so obviously attracted to her, she still doesn’t get it. Brandon is very likable too. He’s such a good guy, but in the back of his mind he kind of believes that he’s not quite good enough for Leanne. He thinks he should stay away from her but he’s so drawn to her. Watching them fight their feelings for each other was kind of painful and drawn out and I wanted to smack both of them upside the head at times. Just when you think they’ve finally gotten to a place where they might finally find their way to each other, the author throws a huge wrench in the form of the very evil Gillian. Gillian is written perfectly and I hated her completely which I am positive was the author’s intent. She is the kind of woman who has everything and still isn’t satisfied. The conflict she brings at such a critical point in Leanne and Brandon’s relationship is very predictable considering Brandon’s job, but the way the author resolves it left me very satisfied!
I’m such a sucker for the “plain Jane gets the hot guy” theme and while we see this theme often, I thought the author put a good spin on it. I got a little frustrated at times while Leanne and Brandon fought their feelings. It is obvious that they have a connection, but they keep listening to that little voice in their heads and continue to deny themselves. The HEA is hard fought for and seeing the couple finally give in to their feelings, listening to their hearts and not their heads, left a smile on my face.