This book was great for so many reasons, the first of which is Alward’s talent for writing. Her emotion, her conflict, her descriptions were all concise, yet beautiful and dramatic. There was one page that really took my breath away, written from the hero’s perspective, as he and Ella made love. It wasn’t about the sex, really. I mean, he was still present in the sexual moment, but it was about how the sex made him feel. And it wasn’t just ‘she made him feel great’ or some BS like that, it was gorgeous, beautiful, poignant writing that showed how he craved her and needed her and was only at his best with her. She was his coming home, his dream, and his hope, and it was so clear on that page that it resonated within me for the rest of the story. It was unbelievable how Alward touched me with those words, how she got through the hero’s years of utter devastation without the heroine, his love for her, his anger, his need… I can’t even describe it for you. I would recommend this book on that page of writing alone. Luckily for you, there’s more than one page of goodness.
Devin McQuade and his wife, Ella Turner, have been separated for over a decade. They married young, a couple in a one-horse backward town where Ella felt the growing panic of being stuck in place and never realizing her dreams. Fearful of a stunted future, she leaves for college and never comes back. Several times over the years she sent divorce papers via courier but Dev always returns them unsigned. Now, Ella is a reporter assigned to return to the small town she grew up in and married Devin to cover a charity event. She brings the divorce papers with her – and isn’t leaving without his signature this time. It’s time for her to move on with her life, which can’t happen if she has a paper husband peering over her shoulder. As she begins to cover the charity event – a male ‘auction’ to help a local woman with cancer pay her bills – she sees her husband up on the block. Desperate to get her papers signed, knowing that can’t happen if he’s away for the next 48 hours with someone else, she bids for him and wins.
At the beginning of the story, both Devin and Ella are understandably angry, bitter, and scared. The majority of this book they spent talking, arguing, and I enjoyed reading about them talk to one another - trying to reach the other across the great divide of separation. Their fears broke them apart, and I loved reading about those fears because they made Devin and Ella so real, indisputably one of the realist couples I’ve ever read about. Each has a story of pain, loneliness and confusion, each blames the other – and each loves the other, but is afraid to let go of the fears and go with the flow. There's so much fear for them to overcome - fear of love, fear of failing, fear of losing their dreams, and fear of losing each other again, for another decade. They were both so practical in their fears, and so human. They each made mistakes and blamed the other, and when they talked it out they realized they shared the blame. It was such a sad story at times, to watch them struggle with one another and with their own phobias, and it made it all the more beautiful in the end when they got together.
The emotions were really so vivid in this story. The struggles were almost insurmountable, as they fought each other and themselves, each thinking they were right and each being wrong. I loved Dev especially, with all he went through. His messages about hope and strength were inspiring. Ella was also inspiring. I found I had trouble liking her at first (after all, she left Devin!) but I ended up liking her at the end because she was so real to me. She left him because she was scared, uncertain, and young and instead of being angry with her I sympathized with her and how she fought her fears so valiantly, even when it made her unhappy. She warred constantly between what the world would expect her to need to be happy and what she truly needed to be happy - Dev. Overall, this story was an incredible second-chance journey and I was so glad to be a part of it as these two beautiful, wonderful people overcame their fears to be together at long last.
“I appreciate the coffee, but you don’t have to be nice to me.” (Ella)
“Is there some reason I shouldn’t be?” (Dev)
There was an edge to his voice she hadn’t ever heard before. She could easily list a dozen reasons and proceeded to name the top contenders. “Because I left you within two months of our marriage and I’m here for a divorce?”
A tiny drop of the ruby-red liquid stained the top of her lip. Before she could take a breath, he moved in, dipped his head and drew it away from her mouth with his tongue. She stepped back like she was on fire.
“What are you doing?” (Ella)
“You had some on your lip.” (Dev)
“Then give me a napkin!”
*SPOILER QUOTE*:“So you quit.” (Dev)
“I did.” (Ella)
His smile spread slowly. “That’s fantastic.”
The smile was contagious and she found herself answering with one of her own. “Sure. It’s always great to find oneself pregnant and unemployed.” *END OF SPOILER QUOTE*
“Sexy”ness rating: Really, really hot. And so beautifully written too
Overall Rating: A-
Bottom Line: This is a great book for people who love second chances, couples overcoming their mutual fears, and sweet, sinful heroes with hearts of gold.
Published: February 1, 2010