Desert Isle Keeper
Acting on Impulse
In my quest to read more new to me authors this year, with an emphasis on diverse/own voices, I found a real winner in Mia Sosa’s Acting on Impulse, the first story in her Love on Cue series. I usually stay clear of the ‘rich Hollywood movie star falls for ordinary citizen’ type of story but the synopsis for this one makes it clear that the heroine isn’t going be swayed by stardom. From the meet-cute (which doesn’t end well for the hero) to the finale it’s a delight all the way through.
Carter Stone went through a difficult physical regimen to get himself in the right shape to portray a struggling drug addict. The unauthorized release of tabloid fodder pictures taken by an unscrupulous doctor have him heading to Aruba to escape the press. His seatmate catches his eye immediately, though in his haste to impress the beautiful woman next to him he forgets that his current image is far from a catch. Awkward! Once landed, they strike up an honest friendship – with the exception of his not revealing his true identity. It’s refreshing for him to be seen as a man and not as an actor, but his secret is revealed just in time to wreck what they’ve been building.
Personal trainer Tori Alvarez may be able to get anyone’s body into shape, but her heart took a beating after her politician ‘boyfriend’ proclaimed himself publicly proclaimed himself single, providing a rude awakening for Tori and instant end to their two year relationship. On the flight to Aruba to regroup, the somewhat scrawny, exhausted man on her flight is no threat to her libido, at least not until they get to know each other better once it turns out they are staying at the same resort. But finding out he’s actually a famous actor? No thanks! She’s had enough of being in the public eye during her relationship with a politician, and has no interest in pursuing anything further with Carter, no matter that he had been an amusing and charming companion.
Back in Philadelphia, Carter’s next acting role needs him to return to his more normal physical form – a feat impossible to accomplish without the dedication and haranguing of a physical trainer. He ends up at Tori’s gym and despite her misgivings Tori agrees to help him get his physique back. His sincere apology goes a long way to restoring their friendship, and eventually all that simmering physical attraction leads to more. But with Tori’s firm stance on staying out of the public eye, is there really a chance that they can make it to the final cut?
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, then you know you’re in for a treat when you start laughing on the first page. Told from both points of view, Carter’s voice is cocky and self-assured while still being on the right side of decent, and his instant attraction to Tori determines his next move. Far from being put out by his failure to impress her on the plane, he shows a single minded determination to prove to Tori that it’s what’s beneath the surface that counts and his true character is by far more appealing than his Hollywood persona. I am pleased that the author chose not to keep his real identity a secret for long. It’s the initial source of conflict for the couple when back in the United States but Carter’s apology is sincere, and his reasons for keeping his identity secret in the first place are sound. And Tori is honest with herself that her reaction to his betrayal is in proportion to how much she’d come to like him on the island.
Tori is a strong woman, not just physically but in all aspects of her life. She can hold her own in any situation and when her partners at the gym need her to step up, she does. In this case, it’s to take Carter on as a client. Initially she works him harder than necessary, but is quick to correct herself when she realizes he’s sincerely going to follow all her instructions and how dedicated he is to his craft. She’s a really likable character who is friendly, kind, and generous with her time, teaching a community center class in her spare hours. When she and Carter move past friendship to a more intimate relationship, their sex scenes are ones of equal partnership, a true give and take, nurturing a more emotional bond than either expects.
Family relationships make up a sizable portion of the story. Tori’s Puerto Rican family runs a traditional restaurant, and because Tori has chosen a different path for herself, her relationship with her sister – who still works at the restaurant – is strained. And the fact that Tori’s father recently had a stroke and is supposed to be eating a modified diet is a source of conflict between her and her mother. Some of the food served by her mother in the restaurant is deep fried and not low in fat and calories. But her mother views Tori’s rejection of her cooking as a rejection of her, and Tori struggles to balance how to make her fears known without insulting her family. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one that Tori is able to confide to Carter, further cementing his presence in her life.
As for Carter’s family, they are a close bunch and his decisions are often made with them in mind. His mother is a hoot! His close friendship with his agent, Julian, means they can discuss his career and his love life equally. Because of his career in the limelight, he values his close friends and family and this is yet another aspect that draws Tori to him.
There are some cute chapter openings with articles from the Hollywood Observer and the Philly Water Cooler with little gossip tidbits to show what the ‘world’ sees versus what’s really happening behind the scenes with Carter and Tori. The story moves along at an enjoyable pace, with lots of laughs and a few emotional scenes. Tori eventually has to choose whether her feelings for Carter are strong enough to consider the consequences of a real and lasting relationship with him. Acting on Impulse is a genuinely delightful and sexy romance and I’m excited to continue the series!