Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: n/aPublication Date: October 17, 2012
Page Count: 414
Rating: ★★★★★Review Copy: ARC
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…
Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.
Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.
But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up characters, such as Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, for example, will enjoy this book. (Although I must say this is a more polished, more grown-up, sexier and more realistic story than BD without quite so many WTF? moments.) I make the comparison only because of how this book made me feel, which was similar to my reaction to Beautiful Disaster, in that I connected easily and strongly to the characters' twisted relationship and felt like I got sucker-punched numerous times. And it made me cry, at least twice. Which, bizarrely, is something I rather like my books to do.
It's a character-driven story with some very minor subplots thrown in and a strong theme of 'fear of letting people in/getting hurt'. The main culprit of this particular character flaw being Joss (Jocelyn) Butler, the protagonist.
I liked Joss, I really did, but sometimes she infuriated me. She lost her family (mother, father and sister) in a car crash at age fourteen and went a little wild for a few years, then closed off and withdrew from people altogether. Cut to 8 years later and she's still mostly walled off from humanity, but has at least managed to acquire a few casual acquaintances. However, circumstances force a sharp change in her life when she moves into a new flat, with a new room-mate, on Dublin Street. And said room-mate has a very handsome, very charming, utterly egotistical brother called Braden, and this book is all about their tempestuous relationship.
It's an extremely sexually-charged relationship, with some absolutely scorching love scenes that were H.O.T. without ever crossing any of my personal boundaries of what I want to read about (like some other highly popular books floating about at the moment that you may have heard of...). Where the annoyance with Joss bit comes in, however—and really, it's not actually her fault at all—is that she has been so unhappy and alone for so long, that when the chance presents itself to become part of an adopted family of sorts, and a loving relationship, she's too scared to take it. And I just wanted to shake her at times and say "It's right there! What you are looking for is right in front of your damn face!". But then I also kinda wanted to cry for her as well, because she's clearly terrified of losing anyone again and thinks the answer is to not care about anyone...like, ever.
The use of 1st person narrative through Joss works really well for this book, even though it's much more common to find romances written in 3rd. Every thought, feeling and sensation is brought to you with first-hand descriptors taking you along for the ride rather than just being a witness to it. The other plus, IMO, is that it causes Braden to be that much more of a mystery as we never have the privilege of his thoughts, so we experience Joss's worries, insecurities and emotions about him which really draws you in, and it also means we only get to see Braden through Joss's lust-filled gaze, making him seem extremely appealing!
Not that Braden needed much help to sound appealing... My, my, my. He has his caveman tendencies, sure, and I could have lived without the string of ex-Barbie doll girlfriends (as I'm sure Joss could have, too) but he was also very sweet and understanding, even when Joss was being a total basketcase. I liked his character a lot and might have a teensy weensy crush on him. Just don't tell anyone, 'kay?
To sum up, I lurved this book. I didn't want it to end. So if you're in need of a steamy, well-written contemporary read, this is the very fella for you. Enjoy!
5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.