Samanthe Beck is an author who first came to my attention with her McCade Brothers series, part of the Brazen line of erotic romances from Entangled Publishing. Not only did she turn me onto other authors writing for this imprint (Brazen books are still a favorite to this day), she quickly became an author whose upcoming releases I’d look out for. She’s got a knack for writing sexy scenes with likable characters and low angst stories; easy reads with high heat. Emergency Attraction combines those with a second chance romance for a couple who fell in love in their teens and, now older and wiser, find themselves falling in love all over again.
When Sean Maguire, bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, left Magnolia Grove he had no plans to return. A stint in the military helped him acquire the skills he needed to become an emergency planning consultant and ten years later, his company has a contract with the city. He agrees to return knowing it’s a short term assignment and has no plans to stay. Part of him is also hoping he’ll run into Sinclair Smith, his old girlfriend who ditched him while he was away at basic training, never returning his letters or phone calls. It’s an old heartbreak, but he still wants to know what happened.
Sinclair can’t believe it when the man who broke her heart shows up at her sister’s wedding reception. She’s moved on and is happy with her single life and her jewelry design business. She’s got an old barn partially renovated as her living quarters and workshop and she’s just waiting for some final city permits to be granted in order to finish the job. Seeing Sean again brings back both good and bad memories for her. When he helps her out of a jam and insists she repay the favour by treating him as a tourist and showing him all the new town developments since he’s left, she can’t really refuse. She has unanswered questions too, and the lack of real closure between them as teenagers means she’s never really gotten over the feelings she had for him. Sexual attraction flares from the moment they lay eyes on each other, and as they spend time together the strength of those old feelings comes back. But Sean doesn’t plan to stay, and Sinclair is determined to guard her heart, even if her body has other ideas. Can a teenage fantasy of happy ever after finally turn into the real thing?
I liked how Sean’s character comes across in this story, his desire for acceptance resulting in impulsive decisions not always to his own benefit. As a young boy being raised in a poorer area of town, he felt the need to show people that he was better than his older brother, a juvenile delinquent who eventually ended up in jail. This meant coming to the rescue of people being treated poorly, including as it turns out, Sinclair on a prom date with a not-so nice guy named Ricky Pinkerton. Rescuing her from a situation with which Sinclair was clearly uncomfortable, the ensuing few weeks were among the happiest of their two young lives. That time, when sexual awakenings and first love blossomed together, was cut short by the ramifications of Sean’s actions when the fight he’d gotten into with Ricky led to his very limited options – county jail or the military. He chose the marines, and with Sinclair leaving for a European summer holiday, they agreed to keep in touch over the summer.
But Sean’s hero complex interfered again. In basic training, he came to the defense of a young recruit, resulting in his (Sean’s) almost getting thrown out of the military, needing to restart his training and keep himself squeaky clean. Unbeknownst to him, Sinclair had been trying to reach him she was while in Europe. When she comes home early from her summer holiday and still doesn’t hear from Sean, she resolves to put him behind her. Four months later, when Sean finally reaches out she never replies, leaving Sean to assume she’d moved on, never knowing why.
Back in the present, their anger at each other overflows, as does the truth of what happened that summer. It ignites the passion between them, never far from the surface, in several steamy scenes. But Sean still has the urge to play hero, this time with more serious consequences. A golf course on a resort property being built by none other than their teenage nemesis Ricky will require a diversion of a creek to prevent possible flooding – a diversion that will risk Sinclair’s home. From a money standpoint, making Sinclair move to a new location makes the most sense. But Sean’s already let her down once, and he’s determined not to do it again. He could be risking his job by trying to protect her; and balancing his feelings for her, his work ethic and the idea of leaving her again for another assignment is very much a challenge.
Sinclair behaves towards Sean in a perfectly understandable way, considering what happened to her as a teenager, yet it’s hard to hold a grudge in the face of his explanation and apology – and his clear interest in making things up to her. I liked her feisty nature, her willingness to fight for her home in the face of some pretty stiff opposition, and her honest feelings for Sean. Things come to a head soon enough, where they both have to make some choices and decide if their feelings are strong enough to really commit to a new life together. The pull between this couple is convincing, as is the happy ending they achieve. Emergency Attraction is the kind of romance that proves love can be even better the second time around.