Dear Mrs. LaFoy,
When I start a new book, this is what I hope for. It’s fun, flirty, sexy and a fabulous time. It’s what I read romance novels for. It’s a book that I read, waiting to exhale. Please let it hold up, please don’t let it go off the rails during the last little bit, please don’t let me say, “Ah, shit. It was great up until X happened.” Oh, please. Oh yes!
Emily Raines doesn’t know who the Secret Santa is who gave her $50,000 seed money to start a Senior Arts Center but she’d kiss him full on the lips if she could find out. In the meantime, she’s going to make good use of the money by buying and rehabbing a building that, let’s be honest, needs a little work. One of the citizens of Augsberg, Kansas who wants to help her is Ida Bentley, former dancer and current owner of a hella portfolio of stock.
And the man who helped her build it up and who is determined to see she doesn’t blow it on someone he considers to be a smooth talking con artist is her grandson, Cole Preston. His grandmother is known far and wide in charity circles for being a soft touch so when she asks him to liquidate a large amount of stock, he decides to hotfoot it to Augsberg and put a stop to her plans.
Their first meeting doesn’t exactly rack up points for politeness or manners so Cole decides to attack the problem with finesse. Problem is, Emily is all over what he’s trying to do. And decides to just let him go ahead and try to seduce her. He’s hot, she could do with a short fling, so…why not? Except neither one expects what they find in the other. Will the money man blow it or land the deal of his life?
I love it when a hero and heroine actually communicate with each other. These two can laugh with each other and talk to each other – and the other one listens and laughs too. Even after they’ve had a fight, neither dramatically flings a cape of snoot around their shoulders and stomps off in a huff. What a delight.
I wonder if you used your rehabbing knowledge for the bits about the senior arts center. Then I wondered if you used some other experience for the elevator scene. Maybe I need to get into rehabbing historical buildings?
Ida Bentley is fabulous. I want to know her. She’s so caring and giving. She understands the values in life that last. But she can also bring her grandson in line without raising her voice or losing her temper. And when she tells him something, he listens to her too. What’s the old saying, you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his [grand]mother? Well, based on how much he cares for her and about her, Cole is a darling.
There are lots of things in the book which made me laugh including Emily’s guess at what Cole’s cologne would be called – “I’m That Good” -, how she describes his descriptions of day trading – talking Greek -, but the scene that had me choking with laughter is when Cole takes Emily over to his grandmother’s house where he’s got all his computers set up. And they start to get frisky….
"Have a seat," he commanded, working a mouse across the desktop, his gaze riveted on one of the monitors.
"Since you’re the one at the controls," she offered, pulling her blouse back to rights, "shouldn’t you be the one sitting in the chair?"
He looked up over his shoulder at her to give her a sheepish grin. "Sitting right now would be more than a little uncomfortable for me."
"Really." She dropped into the chair, wondering if she was the cause, or if he actually got that big of a charge out of trading.
Well, she decided, there was only way to find out. She reached out and slowly drew her hand up the hard ridge lying beneath the fly of his khakis. "Do you have a day-trader fantasy?" she asked.
"Apparently you do," he answered, his hand over the now-still mouse, his gaze smoldering and locked with hers. "I’m liking it so far."
"Yes, I can see that." She ran her hand over him again, harder this time. "May I see more?"
He abandoned the mouse, straightened and turned to face her. "Your wish is my command," he said, unzipping.
"Such an accommodating gentleman."
"The jury’s out on the gentleman part." He freed himself, then added, "Accommodating-Yes, definitely," as he set about undoing his belt.
She didn’t wait for him to get as comfortable as he had in mind. She took him in her hand, stroking down the hardened length and then slowly stroking back up.
"I’ll add appreciative, too," he said hoarsely, his hands still as he broadened his stance. She quickened the pace of her strokes and he drew a breath through his teeth. Tipping his head back, he groaned at the ceiling. "That feels so good."
Yes, it did. God, she was climbing the arc herself, her own tension coiling tighter, hotter, and building with the power of his arousal, with every sound he made in the throes of the pleasure she was giving him.
The sound was muffled, but distinct. Emily froze, listening. It was followed by another and then two more in quick succession.
"What?" Cole demanded. "Don’t stop!"
The moment of possibility and promise shattered, she drew back quickly and looked up at him. "I hear car doors." The look of disbelief and frustration on his face-
Emily fought the urge to laugh as he growled and made a rather penguin-esque-‘no, pissed off penguin-esque-‘trip over to look out the front window.
"Hell!" he cried, whirling back and frantically trying to get himself tucked back behind his trouser fly. "It’s Grams and the bridge club!"
Emily leaned back in the chair and stretched out her legs as she watched him arrange himself, tug at his clothes, then put a hand on the back of one of Ida’s wingback chairs and stare off in the general vicinity of the crown moldings. Emily sighed softly around a smile. If only he’d had a keg and a parrot-.
Outside the window, Ida and three blue-haired ladies were making their way along the front walk. Emily looked back at Cole. "That’s your best casual I-wasn’t-doing-anything pose? Gotta tell ya, it’s not working for you."
"God," he groaned, his shoulders sagging. He glanced around the room and then moved toward her saying, "Out of the chair."
She did as he commanded, saying, "I thought sitting was uncomfortable for you."
"Not a problem now," he declared crisply as he dropped into the seat and grabbed the mouse. "Grams and her friends coming up the walk took care of it."
Standing behind him, she put her hands on the back of the chair. She leaned close and said softly, "I always wondered what they meant by "deflationary pressure.’ Now I know. You learn something new every day."
"Your economic education was appalling."
Listening to Ida insert her key into the door lock, Emily kissed the curve of his ear and whispered, "Wanna tutor me?"
"You’re not helping me here."
"I know," she laughingly admitted as she straightened and focused over his head at the monitor screen right in front of them.
Yes, Virginia, authors can write about people with real conflicts and still manage to avoid having them look like morons. Cole’s main concern is for his Grams. He doesn’t want her taken for a ride or her generosity abused. But, he’s going about it all the wrong way. Which Emily proceeds to tell him. And then she offers some solutions. It’s called “working together” as well as “respecting the other” and they do it well. And to me, that bodes all kinds of great for their future relationship.
People who’ve read my past letters will probably have picked up on the fact that I don’t handle whirlwind romances well. An author truly has to do a beyond fantastic job of selling me on a couple’s relationship for me to buy that less than a week after first setting eyes on each other, that they’re in lurve. And I mean love and not lust. I take points off for this all the time. But with this book, I bought it. Totally. And then went around and loaded it into my shopping cart to buy it again.
And sexy. I did mention that earlier? ::checks first paragraph:: Yep, I did. I’ll be honest and say that a lot of the time, after the first sex scene of a book, I tend to skim and skip them. “Yeah, yeah, thrust, parry and orgasm. Got it.” But this one made me want to read it again. It made me hot.
At the end, what is wonderful is that Cole knows he’s screwed up but then goes about groveling to Emily in all the right ways. By telling her what she means to him and how his life would be without her. But definitely not making the mistake of trying to buy his way back into her good graces.
I don’t give A range grades easily or often. A book has to be special down to its toes. And to make a straight “A?” I think I’ve given 6 of those. Well, now I’ve given 7. This book is realistic, has smart dialogue, a great interplay between Cole and Emily and is a book that just writing this review makes me want to read all over again. I can exhale now.