Because the alternative - that this gorgeous, rich man was somehow attracted to me - was a fairy tale. And fairy tales were just shitty stories that no one really believed.There's this long standing tradition in Romancelandia that readers like to call "glomming." (I'm going to credit this term to All About Romance because that's where I first heard it). Anyway, it's the practice of discovering a new author and then going on a merry chase to acquire backlist in order to go on a reading binge. I'm very good at acquiring the backlist thing. The reading a bunch of books by the same author in a row? Not so much. Call it fear of burnout. But, you see, I had a major book hangover after Burn Down the Night and frankly, Wait for It is the last book in this particular series by M. O'Keefe. So despite my trepidation over the hero (who I found to be a flaming a-hole in the previous books in the series) - I tucked in to start reading.
And finished the book in a matter of hours. I may need to go lay down for a bit after finishing this blog post...
Tiffany is 26-years-old, has three kids and an abusive husband who won't stay gone. She finally got the courage to leave him a year ago. Packed up the kids and moved to a dumpy apartment. But, naturally, Phil came sniffing back around, she called the cops, and things got ugly. Her and the kids scampered down the fire escape, got in the car, and went to her friend Annie's (see Everything I Left Unsaid and The Truth About Him). What she didn't plan on? That Annie and her husband would be throwing a Christmas party. Oh, and that her asshole brother-in-law, Blake Edwards, would be there.
A while back Blake found out about Tiffany. The entire family has cut Phil out of their lives, so the fact that the man had a wife he liked to beat up on and three kids he enjoyed terrorizing was unknown to them. Blake has spent his entire life cleaning up after Phil and something inside him breaks. He finds out about Tiffany and automatically assumes the worst. In one of the best scenes I've ever read in a romance novel, he pays her off to make her "go away." Blake is the kind of guy who used to have nothing and now has money - so to his way of thinking? Money solves everything and keeps life from getting emotionally "messy." Tiffany had stayed gone, until she literally had no other option.
This sets off a chain of events. Blake, in a moment of clarity, realizes that he may have been wrong about her. It probably helped when he saw her three kids in the back seat of her crappy Toyota. He knows all too well what his brother is capable of and he sees this as another mess. A problem to solve and make better. But it's very complicated. There's guilt, there's baggage, and then there's the fact that he likes Tiffany. He really likes her.
How big of an ass was Blake in the earlier books in the series? Let me put it this way - I found Max, the head of a criminal motorcycle club more sympathetic. That scene where Blake "pays off" Tiffany is enough to get your blood boiling. So I had reservations about him as a romance hero and naturally, O'Keefe makes it work. How? Well, it helps that he realizes early on that he was wrong and yet the author doesn't make the mistake of morphing him into a choir boy. He has a lot to answer for once he and Tiffany enter into a "relationship" and to be fair to Tiffany, she's so emotionally screwed up after Phil you can see how she's terrified on one hand and grabbing at anything resembling a brass ring with the other.
This is another hard romance about hard people. What keeps it all humming along is Tiffany, who despite years of abuse is never portrayed like a damsel in distress. By the time our girl gets her own romance she is ALL out of fucks (pardon my language). She is full up and has had enough. But she knows she can't do it alone. And loathe as she is to accept anything resembling help from Blake (who she doesn't trust, at all), she has no other choice. This is a man with money, connections - frankly he can get her a good lawyer. She NEEDS him, and she knows it. But that doesn't mean she's going to make it easy for him.
As much as I loved Burn Down the Night, I think I may have liked this one a teensy bit better. I found the trust issues and obstacles to the romance believable and heart-wrenching. I loved Tiffany's strength and fire. I loved that there was a good, decent guy inside Blake yearning to be set free. My only quibble is I felt like the ending (once Phil is dispatched with...) was a bit rushed. With all the baggage, I think I wanted to wallow around in the happy-ending a bit more. Oh, like 50 pages more. Plus, you know, it's the last book in the series. But this is me being a glutton.
I only had two A reads all of 2017, a fact that left me horribly depressed. I vowed to start 2018 off on the right foot and I knew that my Kindle held a treasure trove of possibilities. O'Keefe has delivered two and I'm not done with the glom just yet....
Final Grade = A