Reviewed by Kini
Morning Glory native Jess Culpepper is desperate to get out of town after divorcing the only man she’s ever dated. She takes a temporary nursing job in Florida and, thanks to the bequest of her late friend, Lacy, has the funds to rent a condo right on the beach. She’s not prepared to literally trip over her old high school lab partner—and definitely not prepared for how deliciously hot he is now.
Ryan Reyes, once known as “The Brain,” has worked hard to become more than the skinny nerd that jocks bullied and girls politely tolerated. At twenty-six, he has retired from science to run a charter fishing business in Pensacola and spend his leisure time catching up on the debauchery he missed. But when the unattainable girl of his teenage fantasies moves in down the beach, old feelings come flooding back.
Their scorching attraction soon leads them into bed—but what starts as no-strings-attached fun is complicated by a return to Morning Glory and the shadows of their shared past. Can the head cheerleader and the geek redefine themselves and forge ahead to find their happily ever after?
I am a fan of this author’s voice, I have read several of her Harlequin SuperRomances and absolutely loved them. I highly recommend her “Girl” series of SuperRomances. She tends to write smart heroines that seem to be going through some life things, and the men who fall in love with them. So I was interested in this book when I saw the blurb.
Over the weekend I was at The Baltimore Book Festival and listened in to a panel about trends in romancelandia. One of the things discussed was how publishers are asking for women’s fiction, with it being heavier on the romance than might be typical in WF, and packaging it as romance. I definitely see this trend as happening, and this book is even tagged on Amazon as Women’s Fiction. Not that I dislike WF, in fact I read WF for many years until it become too expensive and the library couldn’t keep up with new books. This book is pretty firmly a very romantic women’s fic book, and that is okay, and it had a way different feel than her SuperRomances that I have read. Not better or worse, just different.
This is second in a series, but read well as a stand alone. There were several secondary characters, but it didn’t annoy me as sometimes secondaries do. Jess moves to Florida for a job and on her second night there finds Ryan naked on the beach. She doesn’t realize it is him, although he recognizes her. I was glad that the author didn’t do the thing where one person hides their identity because they are mad the other didn’t instantly recognize them. When Jess and Ryan knew each other in school, he was a few years younger than her. He is a genius and graduated high school at 14.
They reconnect and start spending time together. They have chemistry and attraction but neither wants to get serious. But this is romance so of course it gets serious. I liked both Jess and Ryan. Although I wish they were slightly older, but that is just me being picky. I felt like they were both appropriately scared of relationships, but not overly so. I enjoyed the way Ryan pursued Jess, but he was patient with her and didn’t push her too hard. At least not to start.
“No, because I don’t want to be just your friend, Jess.”
Jess and Ryan even had some hot sex, including a role-playing scene that was sexy and fun to read. And in their sex Jess had a moment of keeping it real that I LOVED.
“She was afraid if they didn’t slow down, she’d end up with a bladder infection.”
I also like when my book characters argue with each other and I feel like it’s a real argument people would have. When they push each other buttons and sometimes hurt each other. They argue over their relationship and what they mean to each other and say some mean things, but I kind of loved Ryan for it
“Hey, Jess,” he called. She turned and arched an eyebrow. Her heart thudded, and anger made her flushed.”Stop being such a pussy.”
One thing I did not enjoy was the subplot with Jess’s ex husband. He was a complete douche bag and I felt like he got too much page time that he was not worthy of.
Overall this was a good read. I enjoyed the attraction and chemistry between Ryan and Jess. It was nice to see them have their light bulb moments and get their acts together, separately and together. There were some laughable moments and the secondary characters were not overwhelming. I will probably pick up the next in the series.