“Lily Sawyer flees her controlling, wealthy family in New York City for a solitary existence on Cape Cod. Three months later, a mounting anxiety binds her to the house she can no longer leave. With hurricane season approaching, Lily hires Cliff Buckley—an angry carpenter with an immediate disgust for his elitist employer—to storm-proof her house.
Cliff soon discovers they have more in common than he thinks, as well as a raging spark between them could either destroy—or save—everything they care about. The question is, can either of them survive Hurricane Lily?”
Dear Ms. Maher,
I’m a sucker for books about hurricanes despite having lived through a few myself – up to and including having a huge tree fall on my house, as eventually happens here. Been there and squeegeed out the water from that. That was all it took to get me interested in trying your latest novella.
But there’s a lot more going on here than a brewing storm. A panicked heroine and a “rage is me” hero will face a storm of emotions and hot sex.
Lily has tried to be what her family wants for years and has internalized her nerves to the point that she’s wound tight as a clock and on the verge of snapping. Her old house on the Cape is now her refuge from life, only she has to finally admit that it’s going to fall down soon without some major repair work. Letting anyone inside will bring her close to a panic attack and is something she’ll have to plan and nerve herself up – no pun intended – to tolerate. Cliff is a redneck worker with an Ivy League education who has so much anger bottled up it’s amazing he doesn’t explode from it. He despises the uber rich who arrive in the area to escape from the big city and then complain about how isolated it is. He delights in sticking it to them by inflating his prices though he always delivers on the craftsmanship promised because it’s built into his blood. He views the world as being stacked against the Little Man and rages against the status quo. Lily and Cliff begin by mutually misunderstanding each other and expecting the worst of the other yet each feels the simmering attraction between them.
Here we have two seeming opposites who are unknowingly exactly on the same wavelength. Though it turns out they will butt heads for quite a while before figuring that out. In different ways they both survivalists. Lily copes with her panic by having learned how to preserve and put up her own food and can forage for more while Cliff prepares himself for the implosion of social order due to how f*cked up the world is by being able to weather proof a house to withstand about anything. I couldn’t wait until Cliff saw her home canned food collection as I kept thinking,”he’s going to think he’s having a wet dream.”
Sparks fly due to class issues before they discover they really think very much alike. Heat develops sexually while each is confronted with the fact that they’re lusting after someone they think they don’t like and would never like. I guess in a way the fact that each sort of fetishizes the other is cancelled out because they both do it. I’m not sold on the “punishing themselves by the giving of mind blowing oral sex” but … if you say so. It sure is hot while it’s happening. I like that time passes and allows them the chance to discover each other and for feelings deeper than blinding passion to develop.
We’ve had discussions here that bemoaned the fact that most books with characters who have mental health issues are usually resolved by great sex alone. As the story progressed, my worry was “will Lily actually have an anxiety / OCD condition that one good f*ck won’t cure?” Huzzah! that when the story ends, Lily seems to be dealing with her panic and anxiety attacks a little better but not just because of mind blowing sex with Cliff. Rather it’s more because of him and how he cares for her and is slowly drawing her out. In other words, it’s not just a magical dick cure. Meanwhile, Lily’s matter-of-fact questioning of Cliff’s tendency to automatically look at the shitty side of life yanks him to a halt and starts him questioning why he does it. I’m not quite sure that Cliff has progressed as much as Lily does. He realizes his “go to” response is that the world sucks but is he getting past that? I’m not quite convinced.
The writing here drew me into the story about two people who are, to be honest, both a little hard to like at times. Kudos for taking the chance on featuring less than warm and fuzzy people who aren’t actually given tons of angst just to make them more sympathetic. I finished the story feeling optimistic that these two have found in each other the person who just might help them get through life. B-