In this small-town romance, two people with complicated pasts must realize that only they are concerned with what they personally perceive as faults. To each other, they are perfect.
What’s it About?
What if your soul mate had been right in front of you the whole time?
Justine Lancaster made every possible mistake in her disastrous marriage. After finally leaving her abusive ex-husband, she forges ahead, creating a new life with her daughter. Although she craves companionship, she wonders if she has the foundation to try dating after her traumatic past.
Police officer Gary Lincoln fell in love with Justine somewhere between the end of his divorce and the first time he showed up on her doorstep with a deep need to protect her from her husband. After silently loving her for years, he continues to watch over Justine and her daughter, knowing they deserve happiness…and understanding a woman as special as Justine deserves more than he can give.
As their friendship grows, Justine observes the desire simmering in Gary’s deep brown eyes and wonders why he holds back. Determined to find out, she discovers the secret Gary has been keeping and sets out to prove she’ll stop at nothing until both their passions are fulfilled.
This is another homerun in the Ardor Creek series that is chock-full of lovable characters encountering real-life issues. I adore how this author isn’t afraid to present us with the somewhat unglamorous, yet truly realistic aspects, of building a life together with someone new. Or, in the case of Justine and Gary, someone you’ve known and secretly pined over for years. These two have just officially closed the doors on their previous marriages, Justine to an abusive ex and Gary to one who had trouble showing patience following an injury he sustained while on duty. Both are willing to admit to themselves how perfect and special they find the other, but they refuse to act on anything at first due to how imperfect they find themselves. Justine believes Gary deserves someone better than a woman with the responsibilities of a single mom who was arrested for stabbing her husband when he dared to lay an abusive finger on their daughter. Gary is convinced that after finally being free of her ass-hat ex, Justine should find someone who doesn’t experience issues performing in the bedroom like he does after having been shot in the thigh years ago.
We all know it’s simply a matter of time before both of these kind-hearted and loving characters openly acknowledge they’d like to take their relationship to the next level, and I for one was pleased as peaches that Justine was ultimately the first to reach her breaking point. I wondered if after spending so many years in an abusive relationship she would be hesitant to move on and find happiness with someone new. However, we find the opposite to be true in that it seems the more time and distance she gets from her ex, the more she comes out of her shell and returns to the outgoing and assertive woman she’s always been. She reaches a point where she realizes she wants Gary in her life, she’s not afraid to vocalize that desire, and she’s willing to put in the effort of understanding and working around Gary’s injury that his ex was never willing to do. You can’t help but admire this mamma bear who knows and goes for what she wants!
One Caress at a Time
Gary’s injury plays a pivotal role in this read, as well as his embarrassment and trust issues in vocalizing how his gunshot wound has impacted his ability to sometimes achieve and maintain an erection during sex. This injury also resulted in a lower sperm count should he ever wish to have children one day. Every book in the Ardor Creek series deals with topics that are oftentimes ignored in romance novels, or pushed aside seeing as they can be uncomfortable issues to put front and center, whether it be substance abuse, physical abuse, bullying, death, or even erectile dysfunction. While these topics might not be “sexy” at first glance, I must say that the ability of these characters to openly discuss and confront these issues together as partners provides an intimacy to their relationship which is truly breathtaking.
There are some books that you pick up because of the fun of the drama, almost removing yourself from reality. When it comes to the Ardor Creek series though, I continually find myself returning to this series because of the comfort I will inevitably find there of two mature adults who approach the realities of life in meaningful and relatable ways. Even when there are disagreements or arguments, they are presented in a way where it feels like we could either see ourselves in their shoes, or we know of friends whose personalities resonate with these characters. I will admit, there were a few times throughout this read where I thought, my goodness these two are almost too understanding and complimentary of each other. But then I had to remind myself, oh yeah, not everything has to be over-the-top dramatic in order for the characters to move forward beyond the difficulties they might face as their relationship grows.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Ardor Creek, book 5. Just when I thought this series couldn’t get any better, we are introduced to two new characters that you just know will forge out on an interesting journey together in a future book.
Final Impressions: A series that approaches real-life issues in a compassionate manner, with comedy and sexy fun times thrown into the mix, presented by characters you’d want to have a drink with? Yeah, you can officially sign me up every time. The central role that Gary’s injury played to the plot was fascinating, from not only the physical impact it held over his sexual relationship with Justine, but also the mental repercussions Gary must face as it creates trust issues which threaten to break down the relationship he has finally built with the true love of his life. Justine and Gary were two characters you love to love, in spite of their rather complicated pasts. From Justine’s strength and tenacity as a mother and artist, to Gary’s unstoppable devotion and protective nature towards Justine and her daughter, you gotta love ’em.
Smut Level: Lemme tell ya, for a book focused on a character with performance issues…my word do these two manage to carry out some erotically sensual scenes together! We escalate things from kissing to licking, nibbling, thrusting, throw on a bit of warming lube, and once Gary’s police handcuffs got involved I was officially on fire!!
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. 210 Pages.