By nature, I am a slow reader. If I'm on an absolute tear, I can read two "normal sized" books per week (normal in my mind being around 300 pages). I just finished a book in a 24 hour period - and more shocking is that it was by an author who was firmly on my "never again under no circumstances" list.
I read my first Jane Graves book back in 2001 - and hated it. Worse still, I think I was the only person alive who hated that book. Other online review sites liked it. Publisher's Weekly liked it. I hated it so vehemently that I vowed I would not read the author again. Why you ask? The unforgivable sin of an idiot heroine that was a compulsive liar. It also didn't help matters that the hero knew she was lying to him, but continued to let her lead him around by his *ahem* pants. I mean, I know men can be morons when it comes to sex - but really fellas. Get a grip already.
So when I got my latest shipment of review books and saw Light My Fire by said author I literally threw a hissy fit. Bad enough that my boyfriend asked me what was wrong. Usually getting books in the mail is a joyous occasion for yours truly. But I told myself to buck up! I'm a book reviewer! We're all about keeping an open mind. Besides, the back cover blurb looked promising.
Boy oh boy - what a treat this book was! Not an idiot heroine in sight! And while the hero is a lawyer (::shudder::) he's so flawed and interesting it was hard to hold his profession against him.
The hero is a defense lawyer who doesn't like himself very much. He's just won a big case, and decides to celebrate by wrapping his Porsche around a tree. Not smart. He misses a DUI by a squeak, but the judge decides to make an example of him anyway. He sentences him to 40 hours of community service on a neighborhood crime watch patrol.
The heroine is the one who will oversee his punishment, and her 3 younger brothers aren't happy about it. They're all cops. The hero is a defense lawyer - a really damn good one. Do the math. But the heroine is strong enough to not let her brothers bully her, and tells them to buzz off. Besides, the hero doesn't look like the devil incarnate. Surely his reputation for cutthroat tactics and womanizing can't be all true. Can they?
These two like each other instantly. They joke. They banter. There's sarcasm flying. Then a murder happens in the heroine's neighborhood and one of her employees in arrested for the crime. She begs the hero for help. He agrees. They end up seeing a lot of each other. And while he tries to keep his distance (he's one night stand, she's home and hearth) it's useless. It's an attraction too strong to deny.
I like wounded heroes in my romantic fiction, and this hero is different because he's not really wounded in the traditional sense. He's made his bed and now he's lying in it. Sure he's got a fabulous house, cars and plenty of fast women willing to entertain him for an evening - but our boy has a serious problem with self-loathing.
By contrast the heroine is in the twilight of her 30s and has a good life. A good family, a good business, good charitable causes - and she's lonely as hell. She wants a man who challenges and excites her - but pickins' are slim. Then she meets our hero - a man her brothers would never approve of. Well bully on them, she's entitled to a little fun. The problem being, the hero doesn't seem all that interested. Naturally he is interested, but feels she deserves way better than him.
It's an excellent read. The mystery plot keeps things humming along, but this book is all about the romance. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Fantastic.