Meredith Wells and her neighbor, Tristan Wolfe, spent countless summers together as children and throughout their more formative years, but for the last five years he has failed to return to the river they both call home. He was off gallivanting around the world, while Meredith stayed behind to work on her illustrations of plants. When he finally comes back to New York to open a major international seaway on the river, Wolfe discovers that in the years he’s been gone Meredith has been sketching something other than plant life. More specifically, him. In all his naked glory. And she would like nothing more than to get another close up view of him in his birthday suit to perfect her drawings. Nice!
What we have here is an anatomy lesson mixed with a historical romance. The young lovey doveys have always been mutually attracted to one another, and have deeper feelings of love simmering just below the surface. It turns out that right before Wolfe left, he and Meredith engaged in some kissing and underwater groping activities. Since then, she can’t help but sketch a certain part of his anatomy (hint: it’s his penis!), and wonder if he’ll ever return. Her adult-themed drawings would have been just fine and dandy for her to enjoy in her spare time, but it just so happens that she was rather bored at a local ball one evening, and decided to pass the time by drawing her long lost friend’s wobbly bits on her dance card. Again, wouldn’t have been a problem if she hadn’t gone and misplaced said dance card, and had some of her drawings end up all over town.
What truly sets this historical romance apart from others is Meredith. Unlike most female leads in this genre, she wasn’t a delicate blushing virgin who feared that her reputation would be ruined if she was caught alone with a man. Sure, she’s a virgin, but when she and Wolfe are alone together underneath a willow tree she gives it her all and pushes him up right against it to have her fill. That isn’t to say that Wolfe was an absent participant. I mean, he just whips her around and pushes her right back up against that tree, but she made the first move. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. Also, she draws nude pictures for crying out loud! Definitely a far cry from the needlepoint and long walks which many women in historical romances engaged in as favorite pastimes. Hell, her anatomical drawings are so detailed she wonders if she could make any money in the pornography business! She settles for developing an anatomy manual instead, but she was still a very unique and strong female lead.
This book had a decent amount of sexual build-up, and although our couple doesn’t do the deed until fairly late in the game, they aren’t afraid to grind up against each other every now and then. Wolfe also has some lovely alpha male tendencies going on which are just a delight. He has the tendency to go into a jealous rage whenever someone shows Meredith any kind of attention, including his best friends. Love it! The main issue with all the bumping and moaning going on between our pair is that Wolfe is intended to marry the daughter of his wealthy business partner who is funding a large portion of the international seaway project. Sure, the woman he’s supposed to marry is more sexually attracted to Meredith than to him, but if he says no he’ll have to throw away a dream that he’s built up for years. Well now isn’t that a pickle.
I did enjoy the overall storyline of this book. Most of you know that I am a sucker for romances featuring neighbors, friends who become lovers, and some alpha maleness. That being said, there were some aspects of the book which left me feeling a bit confused. Firstly, the timeline. The beginning of the book is riddled with flashbacks, flashbacks within flashbacks, and dates which didn’t seem to add up with the ages of the characters. I’m sure if I had just done some simple math I probably would have been able to figure it out, but I studied languages and international studies in college. Ergo, I don’t do the maths. Secondly, Meredith and Wolfe make a deal about halfway through the book, and apparently I completely misread the details of that agreement. Basically, she wants to get another look at his private parts so that her drawings are more detailed, and he agrees on the basis that he gets a look at her as well. I read this to mean that he would pose for her while she drew him, but that maybe she would have to be naked while she did it. I don’t know, sometimes historical talk is difficult to follow. Anyway, he never once poses for her in the entire book, and instead they pretty much make each other, how should I put this delicately… burst with pleasure? Essentially, they have some orgasms. Was that not clear? I guess not because I did not know that was what they were agreeing to!!
Lastly, some things weren’t described in enough detail. The fateful ball during which Meredith lost her drawings is mentioned numerous times throughout the book, and yet I still don’t completely understand how she lost her sketches, how others came to get a hold of them, or exactly how big a dance card is! I mean, you hear card, and you think business card, and yet it seems there were multiple pages which could be unfolded many times. Note to self: research size of turn of the century dance cards. There is also one last drawing that Wolfe finds which basically made him fall out of his chair from shock and lust, but he doesn’t come right out and say what the picture was of. I think it was of Meredith and Wolfe together. I know they were naked. She may have been performing some kind of service on him, but I really can’t say for sure.
The ending of the book was pretty vague in that we don’t really find out what happens in regards to the seaway project and Wolfe’s business partner. I’m hoping this is because there will be a sequel which brings some closure to everything. There were also some funny supporting characters featured in this novel which I would love to see again in a sequel, but instead as the main focus with a love story of their own. Ah well, a girl can dream. I really did enjoy the wonderful descriptions of the landscape in this novel, which was almost a character of its own. The author was able to describe the land of a thousand islands in such vivid detail that it felt like I was there, or that I should be planning a trip there soon. Road trip!
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Not that I know of, but here’s to hoping.
Should you read it? If you’re looking for a historical romance with a bit of steam, then I’d say go for it. You’ve also gotta love two characters who try so hard to stay apart, but can’t help submit to their bodily urges.
Smut Level: It was definitely sexy, but I could have used a tad more smut. One more sex scene probably would have done it for me, but there was definitely a decent amount of heavy breathing, smoldering looks, and of course, moaning.
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