I’m a relationship junkie. When I pick up a romance, I want to experience all the fun, tender aspects of falling in love. I want flirtation, I want banter, I want courtship and the sweet surprises that come along as you discover that the person you are interested in is really special. I want sexy seduction that builds into an explosive main event. With this novel, I got almost everything I wanted.
Tamryn West can’t believe her bad luck. En route to the historic town of Gauthier and one of the most important research missions of her life, her car radiator busts leaving her on a deserted road with no cell phone service. Just when she’s decided she has no option but to hoof it to town – several miles in sweltering Louisiana heat – a sexy man on a motorcycle pulls up. Her mama had told her never to take rides from strangers but this is no stranger. It’s her nemesis, he just doesn’t know it – yet.
Matthew Gauthier can’t believe what he’s found on the side of the road – a beauty with a drop dead smile and killer legs. He drives her to her B&B and asks she repay him with dinner. She politely turns him down, blaming travel fatigue and assuring him he’ll thank her in the morning. Confused but willing to play along he leaves, planning to make a play for her again the next night. He doesn’t have to wait that long. Tamryn shows up at his office bright and early the next day, all charming smiles, and informs him that she is the Professor West whom he has been receiving emails from for the last few months. Matthew’s office building is sitting atop a former stop of the underground rail road. The location is important to Tamryn’s research, as is his family history. She is convinced one of his ancestors and one of hers had worked together to create the first school in the area that taught slave children. If she can find corroborating information Tamryn can include both ladies in a book she is doing on women in history.
Matthew is immediately drawn to Tamryn but he has no intention of sharing the information he has on their joint history with her. He has reasons of his own to want the past to stay in the past. Yet as he shows her around town and eases the way for her to do research throughout the community he finds his resolve wavering. Can history really change the present? Can he trust the people around him to judge him for himself and not his ancestry?
There were many things to love about this novel. For starters, I loved the romance between Matthew and Tamryn. It read exactly like a real adult courtship. They meet and both feel that spark of attraction. They spend pleasant time in each other’s company, at meals, on walks, at public events – and they enjoy every minute of it and want more. Neither jumps in, realizing that they are both busy people who don’t want to get entangled in a relationship that isn’t headed somewhere. They flirt. They exchange provocative banter. When they are both ready to move into something more serious they do. Matthew was persistent but never a bully. No meant no for him. Tamryn took her time thinking through the sexual aspects of a relationship – she wanted him but she didn’t want to move on that until she knew what she’d be getting into. The pacing here was just so excellent that when the HEA came you could believe in it one hundred percent.
I also absolutely loved how the big secret in the novel is handled. Matthew has something Tamryn wants, something she needs. But he doesn’t hand it over right away. In a lot of books that would lead to the heroine storming away, vowing eternal hatred. Tamryn is upset but it is a mild anger, not a childish tantrum. I appreciated also that Tamryn seemed to understand that Matthew didn’t owe her what she wanted. It was his and it was something private to the family. Certainly his sharing of it relieved him of an emotional burden but the simple truth was he didn’t owe it to her and I really appreciated both characters realizing that.
This is the most charming series book I have read in at least a year. If you like romances that focus on the love story between two mature adults I highly recommend this little gem.