The Deepest Night
According to Dr. Phil, “ ’The one’ isn’t going to come knocking on your door or appear on your couch. You have to get in the game and put yourself out there.” In the case of this hero and heroine, he is completely wrong. Love does indeed come knocking on Michelle Cole’s door.
Ray Powell considers the Isle of Scilly, a tiny place off the coast of England, home. It is where he spent some of the happiest moments of his childhood and where most everyone knows him by name. He needs the emotional warmth and tranquility the Island offers after a particularly stressful stint in the Middle East working private security. Once he hits the shore, he plans to grab a bite at the local pub and then head toward his favorite B and B for rest, relaxation and the joy of meeting up with old friends.
Michelle Cole is having her first decent sleep in a while when the phone rings. It’s the taxi service on the island calling to let her know they will be bringing a guest her way in an hour. Which is a real problem. Michelle is house sitting the Valhalla Bed and Breakfast, not running the hotel. But the rest of the hotels on this part of the island are booked due to tourist season and the guy definitely needs a place to stay. Reluctantly, Michelle makes up a bed and prepares to welcome a guest for the night.
The man at the door isn’t quite what Michelle expected. She’d imagined an older guy, suitcase in hand, sheepish because he hadn’t thought far enough ahead to book a room. “Instead, she’d gotten more than six feet of danger and muscles and fire barely hidden behind blue eyes and a mischievous, crooked smile.” He’s the kind of macho, good looking male she normally avoids. The antithesis of the man of her dreams. She’s not exactly sure she’s comfortable sharing an otherwise deserted B and B with him.
Michelle’s fears prove to be mostly ungrounded. Ray is a surprisingly easy guest, just happy to be home and not requiring a lot of attention. But as the two work their routines around each other and share a few meals, Michelle finds herself quite drawn to the magnetic Ray. Kisses are exchanged. Stories are swapped. A foundation for a relationship is built. But can there really be anything for them beyond the few idyllic weeks they are vacationing on the island?
This is a slow paced, sweet, character based romance. Both Michelle and Ray have issues from their pasts they are grappling with. They are surprised when they realize that somehow the other is the perfect balm to what ails them. The slow pace of the island combined with open communication between them helps them both come to terms with their baggage.
The context was really perfect for that. We’ve all probably had the experience of realizing that a sympathetic stranger can make a great listener and advisor and that was definitely the case here. Their close quarters and mutual attraction helped build that intimacy. I really enjoyed how the relationship was developed, from casual acquaintances to vacation romance. Michelle has understandable qualms when the relationship seems to be moving towards something more serious. She figures what works in a romantic getaway setting may not have the strength to survive everyday life. What makes it especially hard for her is that glamorous, exciting Ray isn’t the kind of guy she pictures being into her boring self for the long haul. On his side, he needs to convince Michelle that his dangerous job doesn’t make him the high risk she is picturing him as. Their ability to talk things through stands them in good stead here as they are able to overcome each other’s qualms with minimal drama.
There was one minor ripple when a little over halfway through the book Ray and Michelle wind up with an additional guest at the inn. I felt this character was more nuisance than benefit although getting to know them gave us some insight into Michelle. Still, it felt more like a disturbance to the tone of the novel than I would have liked.
Other than that glitch, this is a sweet, enjoyable story which is sure to leave you longing for an island vacation. It’s a good read for people who like their romance sweet and slow paced.