Dear Ms. Shalvis:
This is the second in a series of books about the Wilder brothers. I really enjoyed the first one, Instant Attraction, and I feel that those who enjoyed Cam Wilder’s story will also enjoy Stone’s although these decisions could be made easier if the books were in mass market and not trade.
Emma Sinclair has come to the town of Wishful, California, to help manage her father’s clinic while he is recovering from a heart attack. Stone Wilder, partner and business manager for Wilder Adventure, the extreme vacation getaway that the Wilder brothers own and operate out of Wishful (set in the California Sierras). Everyone in this story comes across as fit, buff, and beautiful which makes for a nice fantasy read but doesn’t entice me to do anything but load on another blanket, reach for my bag of potato chips and snuggle down into the sofa.
Emma wants to get back to New York and her fast paced life, her no strings attached emotional life, and her bevy of take out choices. Wishful, however, moves at a glacially slow pace particularly since no one wants to be treated by her. I wasn’t quite sure if the reason was supposed to be because she was a woman or because she wasn’t part of Wishful. Given that there was no alternate care options in Wishful and that residents were driving to a nearby city, I figured it was because Emma was a woman doctor. This issue was never fully fleshed out to my disappointment.
Stone’s emotional conflict had to do with him straining at his commitment to Wilder Adventure when he would rather be flipping houses. The conflict is played up during the middle of the book but has no affect on the emotional arc between him and Emma. Ultimately, this, too, felt unresolved at the end, as if his love for Emma swept away his other needs for personal fulfillment.
The romance part of the book was definitely the strongest. Emma is determined to leave. Stone is trying to seduce her to stay. Emma’s prickly parts are slowly sanded away by the charm of Wishful and the potent sexuality of Stone. No woman alive can resist a Wilder brother. (and between the three, they’ve run through the entire town of Wishful and then some).
Emma’s real reason for not wanting to stay in Wishful is because when her father and mother divorced, she went with her mother and never saw her father again. In an effort to redeem the father, we are treated to a series of despicable acts by Emma’s now deceased mother. This was yet another emotional issue I felt barely received any serious treatment. Between trying to renegotiate her tainted memories of her beloved mother as well as reconnect with her formerly absent father, I felt Emma should have been far more emotionally unbalanced than she was presented.
One thing I feel that Shalvis books excel at is the interaction between the men, particularly the brothers. Even in the internal exposition, Stone has a distinctive way of thinking, different than Emma which I appreciated.
“Mystery solved," TJ said. "I can’t believe you were fucking around on duty. You wrote the book on protocol for us, remember? You made Cam and I swear not to-‘"
"Excuse me," Emma said stiffly. Both men looked at her. "For the record, he wasn’t "fucking around’. Not literally anyway," she muttered, and stormed out of the water, a glorious, furious goddess in her underwear.
TJ shot Stone a holy-shit look.
In return, Stone shot him a get-the-hell-out-of-here look, which he knew damn well TJ received and understood, and yet the dumbass just stood there.
There’s no denying that there are sparks between Emma and Stone existed and I did believe in them as a couple. It was all the padding surrounding the romance that faltered for me. B-