A Reluctant Attraction
Anyone with a cable TV subscription has at least one channel that involves watching attractive and skilled characters do some kind of home renovation. That’s the theme behind Rosanna Leo’s Handymen series with a trio of brothers, Michael, Eli and Nick Zorn who have successfully parlayed their skills into a Toronto-based TV show with the same name. In A Reluctant Attraction, it’s Nick’s turn to see if he can follow in his brothers’ footsteps and find a life partner.
Nick has enjoyed the fame that the Handymen show has brought him and his brothers, but sometimes being in the limelight has its disadvantages. Currently he’s trying to avoid the public after an ex-girlfriend posted some unflattering comments about his ‘difficulties’ in the bedroom. When the show’s producer Lacey broaches the idea of taking the show on the road and travelling to different North American locations, only Nick is interested, resulting in a change in direction for all of them. Handymen will wrap up with one more local gig with the three brothers and then Nick will venture out on his own with a new show while his brothers settle back into the family contracting business.
Claire Brewer isn’t sure what she thinks about having the Zorn brothers and their TV show renovate the Haven Cat Sanctuary she runs in memory of her deceased husband. But truth be told, she doesn’t have a lot of financial options. Staffed mostly by volunteers and challenged to stay afloat, unbeknownst to Claire her sister Mia put in an application for the Handymen show and was accepted. Help to fix up the place and the exposure from the TV show could mean getting new donors and increasing their financial stability, but it’ll also mean having to appear on camera (ugh) and trying not to drool openly over having her TV crush, Nick, around in person. But for the cats, and her husband’s memory, she’s willing to try anything.
When they meet in person, Nick and Claire are struck by an instant attraction to each other, and working together lets them explore those feelings in more depth. But with Nick gearing up for his new show and subsequent travels, and Claire stuck in her obligation to the cat shelter and still grieving her husband’s loss, will their short time together be enough to spark something permanent?
The author appears to have managed to go behind the scenes of a TV construction show and seen the inner workings of an animal sanctuary, because both are portrayed in a totally believable and interesting manner in this story. I really enjoyed seeing these important elements well-detailed and how they are combined for the renovation of the cat shelter with the animals and workers in mind. Cat lovers will certainly appreciate the care and attention shown to the animals by Claire and her volunteers, as well as the animals themselves, with their own character quirks.
Claire is a lovely, strong woman for whom the loss of her husband Arthur (a previously healthy man who died of a brain aneurysm) has resulted in her being stuck in a life she hadn’t really envisioned for herself. Her dreams of being a photographer and travelling were put aside when she married, and now she feels obligated to continue the shelter in memory of her husband. It’s been a few years since his death, so she doesn’t feel too guilty about her attraction and subsequent relationship with Nick, but she’s not sure if she’s ready to really put the past behind her and move on. Her grief has mellowed over time and I didn’t find the story depressing or sad, it’s just a fact of her life. It’s what to do with the shelter that is the real struggle for her as there are volunteers willing to take it over but clinging to it is a way to show Arthur that she’s not forgetting him.
Nick is a fun, generous and warm guy with a good heart. Ironically he’s afraid of cats (!) due to some negative experiences when he was young, so hanging around with cats in a shelter isn’t really his idea of a good time. Claire doesn’t make fun of him for his fear (unlike the cameramen who think it’s hilarious) but shows him ways to be comfortable in the presence of cats and he eventually bonds with an older shelter mate, which is really sweet. Nick and Claire’s attraction leads to some sexy love scenes and some intimate sharing of personal fears and dreams (and Nick, with Claire’s steady presence and understanding is able to get over the troubles he had with his ex). Though both go into the relationship believing it’s just a fling for the duration of the filming, their feelings become much more entangled and they soon have to figure out what they will do when the show is over. I won’t give away the ending but suffice it to say they make both of their dreams come true. As the third and final book in the series there are some visits with the characters from the previous books and of course the three brothers are close and get their share of personal time. All in all, A Reluctant Attraction is an enjoyable and engaging story and comes well recommended especially if you love cats and handy men or have ever wanted to go behind the scenes of a reality TV show.