Dear Ms Greene,
Poor Paris, it always gets the blame for everything. And this time it’s at fault for bringing Kel and Will together. Not that it’s really Paris that does anything. More that it’s Kel’s fault for picking a bad neighborhood to rent a hotel room in and then taking all her important stuff with her – passport, money, credit cards, letters from her dead father who she’s come to Paris to learn more about – in a handbag while holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a pastry in another. If she’d stood on the street and yelled “ROOOOOB MEEEEEE!” at the top of her lungs, I don’t think she could have made herself a better target if she’d tried.
Honestly, Kel was a pill to swallow for the first 3-4 chapters. And frankly I wouldn’t have blamed Will if he’d ignored her “damsel in distress” look when he came across her trying to explain to the gendarme how she’d been carrying everything of value she possessed and just gotten stripped of all of it by a street thug. Even he admits he’s crazy to take her back to his apartment, instruct her on the proper procedure to obtain a replacement passport, get money wired to her.
"You know a lot about this," she said.
"Not a lot. But I lost a passport once. And I’ve been living in Paris for the last four years, so naturally I’ve learned a few survival tricks." He shot her a wry grin. "You can take it to the bank-’from replacing credit cards to getting money wired to getting the cop report and the application, you’re going to learn a whole bunch of French swearwords over the next couple days."
Lend her his phone, take her out to dinner, give into the urge to take her to bed. But the results of that – the bed part – are explosive and well, he’s a guy and thinks of sex a lot so it’s understandable that he makes the snap decision to let her stay.
Plus he’s shed most if not all of his inbred Catholic guilt – something Kel has yet to do – and doesn’t have a fiancee – something Kel still does – so he’s much more at ease about the fantastic sexual relationship they begin.
When she lifted her head, her lips still just inches from his, she murmured, "You know what you taste like?"
"Hot sex. Love. Wonder. Magic." She sighed. "I can feel him. You’d think he’d be tired by now."
"He is, he is."
"Yeah, right." She let out a long-suffering sigh, but there was something in her eyes. A gleam. A wickedness. The way she wiggled her hips was hardly the act of an inhibited, guilt-ridden, goody-good kind of woman. She whispered, "You’d better hold on to the headboard, because I think this could be a real rough ride."
He said primly, "I don’t do bondage with women I barely know."
"You’d do bondage with any woman who’d let you get away with it," she corrected him.
Well, hell, she already had his number. There was no point in fighting with her, when making love with her was so much more fun.
I think Kel’s decision to let what happens in Paris, stay in Paris is a neat way out of her guilt dilemma. But only because she quickly admits to herself that her relationship with her fiance is doomed and had been for a long time. If she hadn’t been immediately honest with Jason, I’d have been pissed. When Will follows her back to South Bend, she’s as surprised as he is given the tense relationship he has with his family. Thank you for making Will’s problems with his father and sisters realistic. No one is the obvious “bad person” or acts like an idiot just to move the plot along. Though I think Kel underestimates how much Will’s parents like her.
"They didn’t love me. They’d have adored any woman you brought home. They’d have groveled at my feet, even if I showed up in a rhinestone cowboy hat and hooker heels and had kin in jail."
One of my pet peeves is a relationship that moves too quickly. Meet, greet then suddenly, BAM, we’re in lurve! I like that Kel puts the breaks on that.
"Three weeks." Even when he said it, he couldn’t believe it. How could he only have known her for three weeks?
"Exactly. Three weeks. Hardly a lifetime. Yet we fell right back in bed together as if we were-well, as if we were a couple. When there are still dozens and dozens of unsettled things between us. My life is here. Yours has been in Europe. I’m a practicing Catholic. You’ve got an allergy to religion. You come from money and you have money. I’m beyond broke. I’m into guilt, and that’s not a small thing. I could wear you down over the long run. You could find me exhausting. Tedious. I’m trying to say-honest to Pete, Will, we really don’t know enough about each other to be sure we’ve got anything long-term going on. We don’t have to be in a rush."
"Kel-" He wanted to wash a hand over his face. And he would have if his palm hadn’t been occupied keeping her right breast warm. "I’m afraid you’re all mixed-up. It’s the guy who’s supposed to say, why be in a rush. I’m supposed to be the one who talks you out of using sucky words like "commitment’ and "long-term’ and all that."
"You’re in sex with me. And I’m definitely in sex with you, too. But I’m not positive we’ve got the scary four-letter word going for the long run."
She didn’t have to spell out the love word. But it miffed him that she didn’t. "Maybe it isn’t. But I think sex is damned important."
She grinned at him. A roguish, impish, archly feminine grin. "So do I. With you. And actually, that means that a little stretch of abstinence could be a lot of fun."
"No, it couldn’t," he argued immediately. "Abstinence is never fun. And it could never be fun with you. Assuming it’s even possible."
I have a friend like Kel. She’s nosy as hell, will ask you anything, freely admits she can be a pest when she does this and she can drive me insane at times. But she’s basically a good person and will let up if you tell her to shut up. Kel certainly has the right job for her personality. Though we just catch glimpses of her at work as a forensic accountant – and had I ever heard of that career? – you show us how her bulldogged nosiness would come in handy in tracking down identity thieves. But a question – what did Will ever decide to do about John Henry? Did I miss the resolution of this plot thread?
When Kel presses Will to get his issues resolved with his father, I could see his annoyance – and understand it – but I also saw that she’s being true to the character traits you gave her. It’s her nature to butt in, nose around, insist on what she thinks is right. I also see her as knowing that they’re on to something good and having the guts and strength to stand up for what she knows needs to be done to give them the best chance at their HEA. She’s learned Will, she can see that he could be happy in South Bend, that he is needed, that he does love managing a business. So…why not manage his family’s enterprises and work out a livable relationship with his family? If she thought he genuinely couldn’t stand any of this, I believe she would have let him go on as he had and moved back to France with him.
Will finally does work out how to manage his family and their many demands. It was wonderful having him come up with a realistic way to do what needs to be done, keep everyone happy and take the burden off his father. When Kel discovers the truth about her mother’s Parisian fling, I think it shows how close she and her mother are that they can talk things out and listen to each other.
The dialogue between Kel and Will is great.
"Okay," he said. "This was the plan. Remember when we were on the boat, and you wanted to seduce me in broad daylight?"
"It wasn’t quite like that," she defended.
"Close enough. And because I thought it was such an excellent idea, I thought I should enable you. I mean, if you want to get into this sin and fantasy thing, you should have a willing accomplice. It’s the guy’s job in a relationship to help the woman achieve her dreams. My sisters read that to me from a woman’s magazine, so I know it must be true."
He stood, pulled her up and leveled a slow, hard kiss on her lips until they were both out of breath. "I’ve got something in my pocket for you."
"Not there. My real pocket. The right one. Feel?"
Since he asked, she voluntarily groped and probed. "I’m finding two hard things. One is harder than the other. But one definitely seems to feel like a small square box."
"Yeah, that’s the one I was trying to tell you about. The other thing’s for you, too, but I think we’d better go inside first, don’t you?"
And of course this.
He couldn’t finish, because she had wound her arms around his neck. Again. And just hugged. Fiercely. Ardently.
"Ask me," she ordered him.
"Will you? Be my bride, my wife, share life and love with me?" Hell. He knew he wouldn’t say it well. He didn’t do emotional stuff well. But he hoped she could hear all the love in his voice. The need, the want, the feeling.
"I will. If you’ll be my husband, my mate, my love through life," she whispered back.
Hours and hours later, she murmured from the pillow next to him, "Do you want to honeymoon in Paris?"
He answered with the obvious. "We can, but we don’t have to travel to do that."
"You are my Paris, Kel. You always will be." And he kissed her again, just to make sure she understood what he meant.
Ah, very nice. B+