I’m an unashamed fan of Entangled Publishing since I think their editors have a nose for sniffing out some of the best romance authors on the market and the latest two offerings from their Bliss line has only confirmed my opinion.
Ellie Bell has a history of falling for the bad boy who ends up cheating on her. She made the decision to go an entire year without a man in her life and she still has twenty-four days to go. The only room she’s making in her life for a man is the love she has for her brother, Sam. He was badly injured overseas and is now fighting his way to a new normal with the help of the local military center and the therapy sessions it offers. Ellie will always be grateful for Sam’s friend and fellow soldier, Charlie Johansson who emailed her during those months after Sam was injured. But the mysterious Charlie stopped writing, so Ellie is focusing on running her deceased mother’s dance studio and pondering the direction of her new life teaching plies to four-year-olds and not dancing for thousands like she did before she wrecked her knee.
Charlie “Hunter” Johansson has always been a serious player but he’s worried that his life is not the one he actually wants after the real exchange he had via email with his friend Sam’s sister, Ellie. But his work as a soldier and more importantly his romantic past filled with almost anonymous encounters makes him feel that he’s unworthy of her. One heated look at the stunning redhead in the parking lot of the recreational military center Sam frequents and he’s casting his new resolution aside…until he discovers that it’s none other than the woman he’s semi-fallen for. But Sam introduces him by his nickname “Hunter”, a moniker he acquired for his prowess with women, and it’s clear that he’s told Ellie all about what a manwhore “Hunter” is.
Flustered, Charlie doesn’t tell her that he’s the person who loved her stories of learning to surf as a teen or about summers with her family, and when Sam warns him off her, he entertains the thought of just being a friend, but the more time he spends with her, the more he knows that this woman already means the world to him. When a chance comes for him to work with her to save the center that provides a sanctuary for so many military personnel and their families, the two of them fall hard. But Ellie doesn’t know that Hunter is Charlie and she feels like she’s betraying a man she never met, while even Charlie knows that a real foundation can be built on a lie.
OMG, I defy you to not fall for these two! Charlie is a man desperate to turn over a new leaf and Ellie is a loving, giving person so burnt by the bad choices of her past that she’s terrified of making another big one with a man she finds irresistible but who her brother reminds her is not a one-woman man. Even after she makes clear that she wants Hunter, he still respects her countdown to her “one-year with no sex” rule. I was actually worried that the Bliss penchant for the closed bedroom door would annoy me since I like my romance novels at Brazen levels of heat, but London manages to imbue so much sexual tension and delicious heat (and shows the sexy couple post consummation in the epilogue) that I barely missed the naughty bits.
Fans of her Perfect Kisses series will enjoy the appearance of couples from the previous two books, all friends and relatives of Charlie’s from his childhood, but you in no way need to read them in order to fully enjoy this novel. Anyone who is a fan of Dancing with the Stars (and I’m sorry, is there a romance reader who doesn’t love that show?) will adore the many scenes of Ellie teaching Charlie how to tango in preparation for their big number for the benefit to save the center. This full-length novel is a total win and a bargain at $2.99, so I can’t recommend it enough. For your tango enjoyment, I’ve embedded a terrific, sexy tango (far better than Charlie can manage but the heat level is how I envision him and Ellie dancing) – check out from about :30 seconds to about 3:30 seconds for the beefy part.
After reading London’s novel, I was almost afraid to approach Cindi Madsen’s Resisting the Hero – how could she possibly match such an incredible novel? While blessed with a totally different voice, it was still startling to see her craft also a terrific romance filled with conflict and tension and two very sexy protagonists. She easily equalled the terrific quality found in Falling for Her Solider.
Faith Fitzpatrick is not feeling overly clever or successful right now. She’s managed to land a plum psychology internship with a premier university program that’s bound to help this doctoral student’s career, but she’d be feeling a lot better if she hadn’t been betrayed by her fiancee and her best friend who she caught getting busy in Faith’s new bed. When it became clear that her fiancee had probably never been faithful, she realized that some reevaluation was in order. Her brother, his pregnant wife and adorable little girl are more than happy to have her live with them until she gets a place, but Faith is horrified to discover right before she arrives that her policeman brother has joined the local SWAT team upon the encouragement of his good friend Connor Maguire.
Since Faith’s cop father was killed trying to breakup a convenience store holdup, her brother being placed in more danger, particularly now that he has a wife and family, is nothing short of a horror story. Going to their dad’s old police bar hangout, she finds the newly minted SWAT guys celebrating their graduation, and Faith doesn’t hesitate to give her brother and his “friend” – a sexy, good-looking playboy if ever she saw one – a piece of her mind. When Connor keeps trying one line after another on her, she has only cool disgust for him, but as they spend time together, the more she’s willing to believe that there’s depth to Connor that other people doesn’t see.
Connor can’t believe that this gorgeous woman wants nothing to do with him but as the two of them spend more time together and learn each other’s vulnerabilities, they can’t stop themselves from developing feelings for one another. He’s never just enjoyed a slow buildup in his “relationships” but the more time he spends with Faith, the more he realizes the delight of it, even if he’s in agony. But Connor is a SWAT officer, too, and Faith doesn’t think she can suffer a loss that not only would dredge up everything horrifying in her past, but destroy her future.
It’s rare that a romance novel can show a more realistic progression of a romance while also still keeping the reader on the edge of their seat but Madsen manages to do just that. Connor has women he’s slept with turning up right and left, hardly a vote of future fidelity when he’s trying to romance Faith and convince her that he can be a one-woman man. That Faith is a academic in the psychology field who fully understands her mental block when it comes to cops and infidelity, yet she still struggles to overcome it, is a nice irony. I adored the fantastic nighttime scene on the golf course (I’m never looking at a sand trap the same way again)! Fans of Madsen’s Accidentally in Love series will enjoy seeing Connor and Faith’s friends who are the protagonists of the other books, currently living their happily ever afters in their small town. This full-length novel is also a mere $2.99 and it would be worth twice the price, so enjoy the bargain and Madsen’s writing.