Closed off, controlling, and about as welcoming and warm as ice, Easton Bradbury, and driven, arrogant, and hard, Tyler Marek clash in this story of two people who can’t and shouldn’t, but do. After reading a couple of her Fall Away series, I’m convinced this author doesn’t do easy with her characters, their situation, or their romance, but that’s alright because it makes for a riveting story that grabs the reader and won’t let them go.
The story begins when Easton goes to a masquerade with her brother hosted by some of the elite of New Orleans society. Jack is getting to the end of law school and he needs to meet the right people and get in good if he wants to land well after school. Jack has sacrificed so much for her over the years and put up with so much because of her past tennis fame and the family tragedy that she can be here for him even if smoozing is the last thing she wants to do. Easton’s boredom ends when she encounters a fascinating man who isn’t put off by her prickles and games or allows her to control the situation or keep him at arm’s length. Their encounter is brief, but both are affected. Too bad her mystery man is none other than billionaire business man, Tyler Marek, who’s preparing for a Senate race and she is his son’s new history teacher.
Tyler knows the beautiful young woman is trouble. She is nothing like the women he usually has on his arm and in his bed. She is definitely not the type who would further his political career. She’s fiery and unpredictable. And he can’t get her out of his mind. But then he learns that she is Ms. Bradbury, his estranged and distant son’s high school history teacher.
Tyler had a son when he was twenty and he screwed up when he walked away and stayed away. Now at fourteen, Christian hates him and wants nothing to do with him. But Tyler is determined. He will have Christian for a year and will do what he can to repair the relationship and prove his love for his son. Christian is his top priority even as Tyler struggles to run his business and work toward his chance at the Senate seat. But now, there is Easton- betwitching Easton who challenges him and won’t be cowered even when he interferes with how she is teaching Christian and her other students.
Easton has never felt more alive than with Tyler, but being together is all wrong. It won’t last and she tries to convince herself that it doesn’t matter. Her career, Christian, Tyler’s senate chances- it’s all on the line if they keep seeing each other and it is discovered. Attraction, want, and even need may not be enough.
And then the little scary things start to happen just like they did the first time when she was being stalked.
Alright. This one started out with lots of tension and two strong-willed dominant personalities clashing. As a reader, I didn’t get eased into this story. Easton and Tyler are something else and not in a good way. These are very much shades of gray and flawed characters. Easton is cold and manipulative and Tyler is arrogant.
I thought it was going to be a book that I would have to set aside.
But then the author’s magic started working. I couldn’t stop reading and slowly the story teased out. The two characters become better known and why they are the way they are. I became vested. They took turns telling the story of why they shouldn’t be together and believing they had nothing to offer for a relationship. But in the telling, the reader can see more clearly.
This is an agonizing and tantalizing passionate affair that is torrid and furious. They are not easy people and love is most definitely a battlefield for them. But, I enjoyed how the author slowly developed things between them. Slowly grew their characters and their relationship even as the shadow of doomed love loomed over it all.
The romance was not told in isolation. These two occupy the world of New Orleans, their respective careers, and their families.
Easton and her brother have a conflicted relationship after all that has happened. He wants her to let the past go and move forward by rejoining life.
Tyler has an even more conflicted relationship with his estranged son, Christian.
I found both these other relationships were told with honest and raw emotion.
Tyler messed up and has the work of earning Christian’s trust as his absent parent that wants to make right. Tyler drops the ball and makes mistakes, but I loved seeing him keep trying and caring though Christian wasn’t encouraging him.
I also enjoyed that the book spent time with Easton and her class. She has an innovative teaching style and I loved getting lots of time with that particular setting and plot. Easton has her own relationship with Christian and I liked seeing that develop- first as teacher to student, but then more.
The mystery of Easton’s past and what makes her the way she is comes out steadily throughout the story. Former child tennis star, parents who lived the vicarious dream, always in the limelight, stalker, and then multiple family deaths leave her barely holding it together. I went from not being drawn to Easton to rooting her on with all my might.
Tyler is not just a lover, a dad, or a man with a career, but it was a delightful surprise to see him in the son and brother role and learn how he became who he is through the short scenes with his dad.
The age difference was handled well. It is there. It has a bearing. But it wasn’t even close to the main source of conflict. And I thought the humorous way that the pair of them handled it was just right. Just as in the same way, I thought the connected issue of broken and blended families on Tyler’s side of things were there, felt authentic, but again didn’t take over the story.
So, in summary, this was a compelling and riveting story. It grabs at the reader viscerally and slowly builds the connection to the characters and their romance. I would recommend this to Contemporary Romance fans who like a hard-fought character driven romance that is sizzling hot.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #105 CR
Mt. TBR #47