I always seem to hold out hope for a heroine that starts off on the wrong foot with me. I try to figure out what motivates her to do what she does and I might even make a few excuses for her in my head. And even if she is still making me lift my lip in a gesture of WTF, I hope for some miraculous revelation that will make it all make sense. Maybe I just have some sort of weird dedication to feminine solidarity, I don’t know. Tessa was one of these heroines for me and her character was my main problem with what was otherwise a very fun, sexy contemporary romance.
Tessa is the youngest of the three Donovan siblings. She has two older brothers who are obsessively protective of her. Although she is the youngest, she is a bit of a care taker for her siblings. After they lost their parents the eldest brother Eric raised them and now they run the family brewery together. Tessa, who is 27, has abandonment issues due to her parents death and lives in fear that her family will eventually splinter and go their separate ways. When her brother Jamie’s tryst with the daughter of a potential client puts a big contract in jeopardy Tessa goes into fix-it mode to salvage the deal. Unfortunately she feels she has to lie and scheme to get the job done.
While Tessa’s heart was in the right place I just couldn’t get on board with her dishonesty. She’s trying to see to her family’s future, make sure everyone has what they want, and keep harmony between her brothers but she sneaks and lies to do it. Her selfless acts were negated by her dishonesty and then her hypocrisy in demanding total honesty from her love interest was annoying considering her own track record.
Detective Luke Asher is investigating a break-in at the brewery that was possibly caused by the bad, tyst-having brother. Luke’s got a bad reputation and is accused of all sorts of ugly things such as divorcing his wife while she was gravely ill and abandoning a pregnant lover who happens to be his partner. He sounds like a real winner right? But it’s clear from the beginning he is simply the target of vicious town gossip and his circumstances have been twisted and embellished. He is attracted to Tessa but her brothers will have none of it. Tessa on the other hand is not the good girl she has made herself out to be and makes a move on the detective and the sparks fly! Although Luke has a bad reputation and Tessa says she is afraid of falling for a guy that will lie to her, she is amazingly trusting of him at first. But as they get to know each other her trust waivers.
It was easy to sympathize with Luke and clear he was getting a bum rap. His refusal to defend himself only made the rumors worse however, and he didn’t seem to care. He was secure in his reasons for his silence and only cared what Tessa thought of him. In actuality he was guilty of lying by omission but the detective reserved the right to remain silent but eventually came clean when it counted.
Speaking of clean, I have three words for you: dirty shower scene. Oh yes Victoria Dahl can write steamy shower scene. I read a lot of romance and that means I read a lot of sex scenes. It takes a lot to impress me. I have to say the first sex scene on the couch was smoking HOT. Although it happens early on, the build up is intense and lets just say I paid attention. Close attention.
There is a little mystery woven into the plot alongside the romance and while it wasn’t a nail biter it provided good entertainment along with the family drama and relationships. Of course we have a couple of romances to look forward to: elder brothers Eric and Jamie. But there is also a notable secondary I hope will get a lot more page time in the future. He is Wallace, a grizzly bear of a man who swings both ways. There is just something about him that has men and women going gah-gah for him and he’s a generous, giving kind of guy. *claps hands excitedly*
So, in the end I was left is disbelief that I didn’t care for the heroine. That hardly ever happens but Tessa never fully won me over. I thought she was a little nutso and although I understood her ‘why’, I didn’t get her ‘how’. I did however love the romance between her and Luke and the story held my attention throughout and so I’m having a hard time rating this book. With several pros and cons I’m still waffling between a C+ and a B-.
With much potential for some really fun romance to come I look forward to the Donovan brother’s romances.
He’d tell her he loved her later. It was too soon. Too new. For now, he’d just have to show her. With Batman underwear. And anything else she ever wanted.