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unrequited-love

REVIEW:  Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

REVIEW: Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

Allison Parr Imaginary Lines

Dear Ms. Parr:

This book is definitely my favorite in the NY Leopards series of books. It has two tropes that I love — reunited lovers and friends to lovers.  There was one other thing that made it memorable for me. Both characters are Jewish and their faith and families played an important but not overwhelming role. It just served to remind me of all the cultural differences in our world and how very Anglo Saxon romances are that this particular aspect was memorable.

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with Abraham Krasner since the age of twelve. She even screwed up the courage to tell him so. He’d always known but as a young buck about to get drafted he didn’t have an interest in young Tamar, the daughter of a family friend.

When Tamar moves to New York as a new journalist for an online sports magazine, one of the beats she’ll cover is that of the NY Leopards. She doesn’t immediately reveal her past with Abe nor does she seek him out. She moves in with three other young women and makes up a list of things to do while she lives in New York including get over Abe Krasner.

Abe reaches out to her because her mother told his mother that she’d moved to Manhattan. Suffering a mix of excitement and trepidation, Tamar allows Abe back into her life.  Despite Tamar’s early feelings of rejection, I was super disappointed that she did not move on emotionally and mentally from Abe. I wished she had dated someone other than Abe and that she allowed him back into her life too quickly.  Tamar is a virgin and honestly if she had had at least one other sexual encounter I would have felt better about it. She does try to resist him but her friends, interested in having someone famous around, kind of thwarts her efforts.

While Abe’s excuse for why he rejected her made sense, I wanted to see him have to work harder to win her back.  While Tamar didn’t act like she had no backbone, I felt she was too pliable when it came to Abe. The internal emotional conflict frustrated me from that standpoint. Yet I couldn’t be unhappy entirely because I really liked Tamar and Abe, despite that initial rejection, was a lovely suitor.

The second half of the book relies more on an external conflict. Tamar is doing a piece on concussions and helmets in the football league. There’s a safer helmet available on the market but not every team uses them. A competing manufacturer just so happens to have an official sponsorship deal with the League, generally, and the Leopards specifically. The timeliness of this issue helped ground the story in realism. Concussion syndrome in the NFL is a big deal yet no one believes the actual League is doing more than lip service but worse, there are many players who want to play hard and win at all costs no matter what the long term repercussions may be.

Later in the book, Abe stands by Tamar in a very strong fashion which made up a bit for his earlier rejection. There was something endearing about the way that the two interacted. The longstanding friendship that morphed into something stronger and more intimate was sweet and tender. Of course, there are moments of typical possessiveness but I enjoyed those because they came at the right time in a way that reassured Tamar, and the reader, of Abe’s intentions.

His jaw firmed up, and in an instant he had pulled me flush against his body and kissed me so intensely all thought fled my mind, replaced with a perfect storm of heat and desire. His mouth played a symphony of pleasure against mine. It reverberated throughout my entire body until I was weak and clung to him.

When he raised his head, he was smiling in satisfaction, and I was utterly breathless. “What was that?”

“That,” he said, “was to let you know that you will never get me out of your system, Tamar Rosenfeld.”

You get scenes of past characters together as well as witness the wedding of the one non white couple referenced in the Leopards’ books.  Overall, this was a solid B- read for me. I would have given it a stronger grade had I not felt like Tamar was in stasis for all of her young life, just waiting for Abe’s kiss to awaken her. B-

 

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REVIEW:  Trust in Me by Dee Tenorio

REVIEW: Trust in Me by Dee Tenorio

Dear Ms. Tenorio:

This book features the eldest Jackman sibling, Locke. He’s held his family together after the death of his parents and raised five brothers and one sister. In the past year, all of them have moved and now Locke is alone. Many of the townspeople believe that Locke will do a runner but in reality, he is lonely. His big house is empty. His dinner time has no companions. The house is too quiet.

Trust in Me Dee TenorioWhat Locke would really like is to bring Susie Packard home with him. He’s been watching her since she showed up in town two years ago but Susie has been resistant. While Susie has feelings for Locke, she’s also a victim of past abuse. Her conflicted emotions are wearing her down physically and the situation is not alleviated when her past starts catching up with her.

Locke is an adorable hero, all gruff and protective. He wants Susie and is willing to fight both her fears and her past to make sure they can be together. Susie has a lot of baggage and to some degree that past baggage limited the way in which she appeared in the story. In the previous book, Susie is a sassy, fearless, seemingly sexually confident woman. In this story she takes on the more traditional mien of the wounded heroine which may be expected given the circumstances but was a tiny bit disappointing. She still gets off a few priceless lines.

The story delivers a strong, caretaker alpha who wants nothing more than to marry the woman he loves and make her happy. Every action in this book by Locke is to further that end. In order to provide momentum and conflict in the story, then, Susie has to be the one to put up barriers and to fear the commitment. It’s hard to deliver on that for the reader even when we are given the details of Susie’s past. All we see is Locke being gentle, understanding, kind, and fiercely in love with Susie. And that’s a really great part of the story.

For a time there, it is hard to understand what exactly is providing the conflict in the story. Susie’s just as hot for Locke as he is for her and there are many scenes in which we get to see the physical manifestation of their mutual want. While those scenes were very sexy, I spent some time wondering where I was going emotionally in the story. Susie and Locke’s emotional issues seemed a bit too manufactured. Intellectually I understood. Locke was afraid Susie would leave him and that made him want to hold her even tighter. But given that he knew or feared that holder her tighter would cause her to flee sooner, he tried to keep his possessiveness on the down low, hoping that Susie wouldn’t awaken to the fact that he’d kept her with him until they were twenty years into their relationship.

Intellectually I understood that Susie’s past would make her wary of a man as big as Locke and as dominating as Locke but even she consistently acknowledges that Locke would never hurt her; that he’s different from every man she’s encountered in the past; that every thing about him screams steady, kind, generous. At times, I had to tell myself that there was tension even if I didn’t feel it on the page. Even the issue of Susie’s pregnancy doesn’t provide any kind of sense of uncertainty because it’s a romance book so despite her past problematic pregnancies, we all know this one will turn out just right because Locke’s sperm is magical romance hero sperm. It’s possible that danger from Susie’s past is inserted late to create suspense and danger in the place of the lack of internal emotional tension.

If you like the caretaker alpha hero and can get past the manufactured tension, this is a sweet and sexy read. In other words, read it for Locke. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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