Dear Ms. McCarthy:
You are fast becoming one of my go to authors. This was a fun, sweet, and very sexy romance. I want more of these. Russ Evans has been trying to track down a fraudster, Trevor Dean, who is preying on women in online dating forums. He romances them, takes their money, and leaves them heartbroken and poor. Russ and his partner believe that Trevor is set to meet a new victim, one Laurel Wilkins. Except Laurel is different than the others which makes Russ wonder if she is not Trevor’s accomplice.
The setup is cute. Laurel and Russ are both waiting for her blind date to show up. When it seems like Laurel is about to get stood up, Russ goes inside the coffee shop to warm up and take a closer look at the vic/accomplice. Once inside, Laurel spots him and greets him like he’s her date. And apparently he is because Trevor masqueraded as Russ online.
“How the hell did she know his name, he wondered as he watched her walk. And how had she poured herself into those black pants? That was one beautiful backside. Which was probably the point. Maybe her job was to lure him, confuse him, distract him with sex.
It wasn’t going to work. Or at least not completely. He was only slightly distracted.”
Once Russ learns that Laurel is indeed a potential victim, albeit one that got stood up, he immediately starts to lecture her on safe dating practices. This leads Laurel to tell him baldly that she’s not interested in a relationship but just good sex. Laurel is deaf and she’s been in a cocoon of her own making for the last five years. She had set off to college, encouraged by her father, but when he died, she returned home, leaving a vibrant deaf community behind. She’s tired of living tentatively and would like to get out, meet people, and have some fun.
Russ is horrified. Laurel reminds him of cotton candy, sugary and delicate; a bunny in fact. He can’t see her out there amongst the ravening wolves. It’s funny to see Russ project his own desires on all men out there “She was so damn appealing, Russ wanted to take advantage of her himself.”
Russ is no gentleman. He’s into casual sex and no emotional ties. He’s trying to raise his rebellious brother after his parents died suddenly and, as he tells Laurel, he’s giving everything to his brother, Sean, and he has nothing left.
It was both easy to remember and hard to remember that Laurel had any disability which made Laurel pitch perfect to me. Granted I am not deaf so I might be talking out of my ass here. What I mean by that is Laurel reads like any other heroine only she has mannerisms affected by her disability. For example, she looks down as an avoidance technique so she can’t see what people are saying (she’s a lip reader).
Her deafness provides some funny moments at the expense of Russ. When Laurel tells Russ she can smell him, he smells himself but only smells soap. Another time, Laurel explains that she tried to call him, but he didn’t have TTY. “I’m sorry.” Jesus, what an ass he was. He’d given his phone number to a deaf woman. Clearly he hadn’t reached detective by his intelligence alone. “Why were you calling?”
The interaction between Russ and his partner was very funny, very male. (or at least what I presume males would sound like).
Russ stared at Jerry as his partner about fell into his lap trying to pull the latch on the passenger door, opening it. “What the hell is your problem? Get off of me.”
“Get out.” Jerry reached toward his thigh.
Knocking Jerry’s hand away, Russ shifted toward the door, a little unnerved. “Anders, touch me and I’ll be forced to hit you.”
Jerry snorted and unlocked Russ’s seat belt. “You can only wish I’d cop a feel off you. Now get out of the car before I shove your dumb ass in the snow.”
You want to tell me what’s going on?”
“You’re making me crazy, that’s what. Every day you make me drive by Blondie’s house three, four times while you stare out the window, drooling. Get out of the car, knock on the door, ask her out. Get yourself laid, before I smack the shit out of you.”
Laurel and Russ were totally adorable. I even liked that their first time wasn’t all hearts and roses (lack of communication). The story is quick paced, the dialogue funny and the sex scenes, make sure the ice tray is loaded up. The conflict is the problem. Russ was both overprotective of Laurel because of his nature and her disability. But we were also to believe that Laurel was simply too rich for him. The former conflict was better integrated into the story but neither was dealt with effectively in the end. At the close of the book, all hesitations regarding class differences or Laurel’s need for independence v. Russ’ need for her to be a safe little bunny disappeared with little resolution. It was disappointing, but not enough of a bother to deter me from reading this book again. B