While I knew I loved her writing from reading the first two books, Lover Undercover (the first book) and the interim novella in Lovers Unmasked, “Wicked Games” which I adored, there’s always that scarred part of any voracious reader which rears its inner dialogue head. “What if you don’t like the next book? What if there’s sloppy editing? Or you hate the hero? They might not be as good and then your hopes will be dashed on the rocks of anti-climactic sequels!!! Mwhahahahahaha!!”
What? Your inner voice doesn’t do evil villain laughs?
Well, my inner voice has now shut the hell up because Samanthe Beck’s third installment of the McCade Brothers series, Falling for the Marine, has not only met my high expectations but utterly surpassed them.
I think the key piece that clinched my impression of her as an outstanding writer is her originality. Two people pretending to be engaged is a very common trope in romance (and one I usually like) but Michael and Chloe’s situation didn’t carry a whiff of anything I’d read before. Add to that Beck’s ability to turn characters into people so vivid that you accidentally start talking about them, forgetting they are fictional, and you have a powerful writer ready to take her place at the head of contemporary romance fiction. Oh, did I mention she’s off the charts when it comes to the sexy times writing? Have your significant other on standby.
The book starts with one of the best opening scenes I’ve seen in forever. Chloe is handcuffed to her own bed, surrounded by lit candles with a trail of condoms running from her front door to her thong and bra clad self. The problem? Her casual hook-up, who was going to end the sexual drought imposed after her divorce, has just called from Tijuana to say that he’s not only not coming, but he thinks he might have gotten married. Click.
She’s not upset about him not coming, it’s more a matter of her sexual frustration going unattended that has her throwing her cell out of reach and jostling the key to the handcuffs down the grate. Did I mention she needs to pee? Yikes.
Marine Major Michael McCade is wincing his way up the stairs to his new apartment, a condition caused both by the back injury that has sidelined him from flying helicopters and by the fact that his doctor/best friend Dane is lecturing him on the importance of physical therapy. Dane just informed Michael that he scheduled him for a series of massage appointments, making Michael wonder if his “spa treatments” will fully leach away all his testosterone. When he hears a cry for “Help!” coming from the apartment of a new neighbor, he’s glad he doesn’t have to break down her door since his back couldn’t take it.
You can imagine that he forgets about his back pretty quickly as the slightly embarrassed and strangely fidgety strawberry blond with the killer body and adorable sense of humor explains the need for his help. He gets her out of the handcuffs with a slick MacGyver move with a hairpin and her hot gratitude kiss turns into the potential for something much more. But his back quickly puts the kibosh and any horizontal action, much to both their frustration. Naturally when he shows up for his massage appointment the next morning, Michael knows exactly what is under Chloe’s lab coat since it’s vividly etched in his mind for all eternity.
When sexy circumstances result in her being fired because of something they both were doing, Michael can’t handle the thought of Chloe – whose temp company handles her housing and car situation as part of her employment – being homeless and running through the last of her savings. He offers a place in his apartment, but there’s a catch. The condition involves wearing his grandmother’s engagement ring since his CO does not approve of officers using their housing allotment for unlawful cohabitation. Chloe’s got a LOT of baggage between her military father being less than awesome and her cheating ex, but there is something about Michael which has her taking a chance, even when her heart knows this is a dangerous game they are playing.
Chloe was delightful – a little flaky, but it was more from being bludgeoned by repeat abandonment from everyone who had ever loved her. She is also beautiful, caring and spontaneous, which complemented Michael perfectly. And Michael *fans self* – I bet there will be legions of women jumping in their cars to drive to San Diego in the hope of picking up a Marine that fits his description. This series is aptly named for these stand-up McCade brothers who believe in doing the right thing and who aren’t afraid to go after the woman they want, even when she’s running scared in the opposite direction. I dare you not to fall in love with this gorgeous hunk of a man and cheer for his happy ending as he races to show Chloe that he’s not going to give up on them.
Considering that the novella that was part of Lovers Unmasked involved Trevor’s cop partner and best-friend, I’m pulling for the womanizing doctor, Dane, to have his comeuppance and find a woman who can resist his charm long enough for him to see her as a potential partner. There is also still the final McCade brother working himself to death in Colorado to look forward to, so at least I feel that we’ve got more than a few more books in this outstanding series to anticipate.
The best news, though? It’s that Samanthe Beck’s writing is always going to be this good, no matter her characters, so do yourself a favor and get on her bandwagon now, so you, too, can fall for a Marine this week.