Heavy Issues by Elle Aycart (Bowen #2)
Erotic Contemporary Romance
May 29, 2012
Reviewed by Helyce
When Cole Bowen’s brother James got engaged, he had no idea that it would affect him so much. But with one less eligible Bowen brother available in the small town of Alden, it seems the women are working overtime to get Cole to notice them. Unfortunately, he’s not interested. Cole doesn’t do relationships at all, and he doesn’t expect that to change.
Christine “Christy” Sheridan is taking a sabbatical from work after finding her fiancé cheating on her with their neighbor. Hurt and humiliated, she jumps at the chance to spend some time in Alden working in the town’s library. Though Christy has had it with men, she admits to her girlfriends one night, after several tequila shots, that she’s considering hiring a man through an escort service. She’s not interested in a relationship, just some no strings attached, earth shattering, mind blowing sex.
She doesn’t know it, but Cole overhears this particular part of the conversation and as he’s been lusting after Christy for some time, he thinks he might have a solution that will satisfy both his and Christy’s problems.
When Cole proposes that he and Christy should “date”–he providing the mind blowing sex and Christy acting the dutiful girlfriend to get the women of Alden off Cole’s back, Christy is adamantly against it. It’s not that she isn’t attracted to Cole, she is, but his overbearing dominant attitude has them butting heads almost from the beginning. When she agrees to one date, she sees a different side of Cole and she begins to consider the idea of acting as Cole’s girlfriend. Why not? It’s a win win as far as she’s concerned.
It isn’t long before what started out as a ruse, begins to feel like more of a relationship. Christy becomes attached as does Cole, only he refuses to admit it. When Christy realizes that Cole has started to mean more to her than a casual friend with benefits, she dissolves their agreement. Better to cut all ties before her heart completely falls apart.
I really enjoyed this book. I read the first one, More Than Meets the Ink, so I was looking forward to getting to know Cole and see what the author had in store for us. While the blurb doesn’t hint at it in any way, the title is perfect in that both characters are dealing with some really heavy issues from their pasts. So much so, that they are literally stunted when it comes to relationships.
Cole isn’t interested in a long term relationship. He dates women who he knows won’t start expecting anything from him and he in turn has no expectations either. Cole’s issues with woman go back to the first woman in his life, his mother. Her leaving when he was just a young boy hit him hard and because of it, he expects that all woman will at some point leave him, so he makes sure that he never finds himself in that position. With Christy, though, he slowly begins to realize that he likes having her around. He likes falling asleep with her and waking up with her beside him. He finds that he misses her when she’s not around. All these things go against the no strings attached rules that he’s lived by for years.
Christy has issues with her mother as well, and sadly, this caused Christy to develop an eating disorder that she has suffered from her whole life. Bingeing and starving, gaining and losing, the yo-yoing up and down has just been a way of life for her until she finally took charge, got some real help and now maintains her weight with a rigorous diet. Though at her goal weight, she still sees all her body’s imperfections and she certainly doesn’t believe a man as gorgeous and perfect as Cole could possibly be attracted to her.
It is here, though, that I truly fell for Cole. Yes, he may have entered into the dating situation with Christy as part of a ruse, but he’d already noticed her, had already been attracted to her. Cole is one of those guys who likes a curvy woman, but with Christy’s messed up self image and her thoughts of what men are “supposed” to like Cole had his work cut out for him. At one point, he forces Christy to stand naked in front of a mirror to see herself through his eyes:
“My body is covered in marks, Cole.” Big deal. “Mine too, sweetheart.” She snorted. “Yours are war scars.”
“Yours too, Christy. I waged war with others while you waged war with yourself. It’s the same. It’s just life; there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We both survived. This body tells its own story, and it’s an amazing story. You are amazing.”
Cole goes a long way to making sure Christy knows just how attractive he finds her and I loved the author’s approach to this subject matter. I’m a sucker for the plain Jane getting the hot guy, but in this story,Christy is not plain at all. She’s attractive, intelligent and for the most part really together. It’s just her image of herself that is quite screwed up and in here the author does a fantastic job of moving Christy through her own self evaluation to her true self worth. Cole, too, is forced to take a hard look at his past and the scenes where he talks about his mother and her leaving are heartbreaking.
I loved that both characters go through a huge range of emotions and self-healing before they get to the point where they realize that they are meant for each other. A love story is so much better when it’s a hard fought for win.