Solid Soul by Brenda Jackson

This contemporary romance novel succeeds in making the seemingly most mundane location appear to be the epitome of passionate intimacy, and that my friends would be the darkened tunnel of your neighborhood car wash. Sign me up for an unexpected foray into pleasureland. 

What’s it About? 

In the real world there was no way flower shop owner Kylie Hagan would ever meet up with millionaire Chance Steele. But the world of single parents and teenage hormones brought them together the first time — and a simmering passion they both tried to deny wouldn’t keep them apart for long.

Chance made her think of hot, sultry Southern nights. Kylie had him imagining satin sheets and soul-stirring kisses. But in the cold light of day, they had to resist each other. There was no way they’d let uncontrollable desire ignite their carefully protected hearts.

But some things they couldn’t ignore.

First Impressions

This was a fun matchmaking romance with a few unexpected emotional observations on how certain perceived mistakes of the past can have a lasting impact on the futures of those involved. Our novel opens on two frustrated teenage best friends who are tired of their overbearing, single parents obsessing over every aspect of their lives. Perhaps if their parents could focus on something else, or someone else for that matter, Marcus and Tiffany would be able to enjoy a bit more teenage freedom. Cue a delightful fake relationship story line involving an impassioned plea of true love and the possibility of matching tattoos. However, while this classic romance novel trope typically involves the instigators of the ruse falling in love, we instead see how it is utilized to make their parents rediscover what it means to open their hearts to someone else, and fall in love all over again with someone new. 

Kylie and Chance don’t get off to the best start, as notes exchanged between their plotting teenagers to skip school make both of these devoted parents think the child of the other is up to no good in leading their precious baby astray. Nothing quite like a meet cute involving a surly demand to keep the other’s teenager away from their own! It doesn’t take long though for these two adept business people to starting devising plans for how to manage the situation, which of course leads to them spending an increasing amount of personal alone time together. As Marcus and Tiffany start to see their plan working with flying colors, they try to conceive of additional activities which would require all of them to spend more time together interacting as a foursome, and dare they say it, even as a family. What started off as animosity quickly transitioned to understanding, respect, desire, and the murmurings of love. Who would have thought that the premise for bringing these two together would ultimately prove to be the thing that holds them back from making the final step into something permanent, as Kylie especially is hesitant to pursue something with the father of her daughter’s boyfriend! Will Chance be able to convince her that what they’ve come to feel for each other can’t be pushed aside? 

Mistakes” of the Past

We soon see that this isn’t just a case of two helicopter parents not being able to trust their children, but rather they fear their kids might repeat the same “mistakes” they did. Kylie herself got pregnant at 16, the same age her daughter is now. In spite of the fact she has single-handedly raised her daughter into an intelligent young woman, all while building a successful flower shop business for herself, Kylie has simultaneously experienced 16 years of stigma and negative perception by her parents. The last thing she wants is for her daughter to experience the same tormented guilt, or for the actions of her daughter to give the impression that she is an unfit mother who can’t keep her child in line. This intense desire to give off the impression of the responsible mother is also why Kylie finds it so difficult to open herself fully to Chance. At one point in the story she finally agrees to explore her sexual desires for this man, and it was both exciting and sad to see how many firsts she was finally able to have with Chance. For so many years she has had to needlessly carry this false narrative of being an unruly and lewd teenager, and yet we see that Chance takes her on her first date, is the first man to give her a pleasurable sexual experience, and is indeed the first man she’s ever truly fallen in love with. 

Unfortunately, the idea of pursuing anything long term with Chance while her daughter it still living under the same roof as her fills Kylie with a debilitating fear of once again being labeled as a thoughtless and perhaps even selfish woman. I could understand and appreciate Kylie’s apprehension of falling for her daughter’s boyfriend’s father. Even though we as the audience know this teenage romance is a sham, Kylie is under the impression her daughter is madly in love with young Marcus. If Kylie and Chance were to take the next step in their relationship and marry one day, let’s just say things could get rather awkward around the breakfast table with step-siblings in love. Nevertheless, while some might eventually get exasperated by Kylie’s insistence on not exploring love for herself until her daughter is off to college, it was also an interesting psychological glimpse at how the vitriol of Kylie’s parents against her choices all these years has prevented her from ever opening herself up to a man again. However, a charismatic and confidently sexy single father is about to change all that. 

Chance also had a child and married young. Whereas Kylie was abandoned by her teenage love to raise her daughter all her own, Chance made the decision to honor his commitment to his girlfriend. Now a widower, Chance is devoted to his successful business, his many brothers, and his son. The last thing he has time for is to fall in love. One of my favorite aspects of this book, aside from the good-natured meddling of two resourceful teenagers, was the comparison of Kylie and Chance’s teenage experiences of love, and how their respective journeys into adulthood impact how they view their developing relationship. Kylie’s pregnancy not only cost her the support of the boy she thought she loved, but also that of her parents. She had to fight for everything to succeed in life, and while we commend her for this obvious strength, we can also witness the underlying fear that pervades her life worrying that all she’s gained in life could come crashing down. Allowing a man into her life is a risk she doesn’t think is worth taking. Chance on the other hand followed through on marrying the love of his life, and was always surrounded by the love of his wife and family. Just like Kylie, he was also able to build a successful business for himself, but when his wife passed away he was plunged into a grief that made him wary of opening his heart to another person ever again. Their pasts shared certain similarities, and while their individual journeys couldn’t have been more different, they still found success in business and raising two respectful and intelligent children. If they can put as much energy and devotion into each other, just maybe they can make this thing work between them after all. 

Series: Forged of Steele, book 1. We are provided with a few glimpses at Chance’s many brothers, and I for one can’t wait to get to know each and every one of them better. 

Final Impressions: This was a fun read that still managed to have some serious aspects melded into it. Marcus and Tiffany certainly give their parents a run for their money at the start, and as things progress we see them increasingly take a back seat to allow Kylie and Chance the opportunity to explore each other more fully. When their plan starts to backfire they make one last attempt to make their parents realize that they’re meant to be together, which certainly added to the fun shenanigans of the read as a whole, though I probably would have preferred if Chance had initiated this big gesture on his own rather than relying on the kids to do so. Speaking of Chance, his sensuality and natural sexual magnetism will immediately draw you in, and you’ll find it difficult to escape the clutches of his powerful allure…not that you’d want to escape. While I could see some readers becoming increasingly frustrated with Kylie’s repeated attempts to push him away, I think it’s important to remember the difficult journey she’s traversed for the last sixteen years, and how it plays a critical role in the fear she still holds onto to this day.

Smut Level: As previously mentioned, Kylie is able to experience many “firsts” with Chance. This not only includes going on her first ever official date, but also kitchen sex, shower sex, hot tub sex, and the delightfully sticky use of caramel sauce. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Harlequin Special Releases. 212 Pages. 

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