Genres: Contemporary Romance
Released on October 24, 2013
A little while ago, I had the opportunity to read a free short story about a man who desperately wanted to win his ex-wife back and it came down to the wire at the wedding itself. The story finished with him of course getting his Happily Ever After. I couldn’t quite get totally excited for him because in the process of getting his Ex back right at the altar no less, a very worthy man who had done nothing wrong had been left at the altar. So with that in mind, it pleased me to no end to discover that the author decided to give this jilted groom his own chance at happiness in this story.
It begins of course when Lyle Cummings, son of wealthy society types and successful heart surgeon who has just been jilted at the altar- literally, wanders into a bar to get a drunk on and forget the pain even temporarily in a place where no one knew him or what happened. The bartender gives him his drink with a sympathetic expression for his obvious pain and encourages him to stick around for the live entertainment. Kyle wasn’t planning to, but the moment he hears her voice, he plunks back down and lets the musician carry him along with her. He may return to his condo to be confronted by a banner, gifts and a train of rose petals to his room- evidence of what he has just lost- and he plans to bury himself back in his work, but he now returns to that bar night after night to listen to the woman sing.
Katrina knows a thing or two about sorrow so she finds herself captivated by the handsome man who doesn’t belong in a blue collar bar. Normally, these businessman or lawyer types aren’t her thing, but there is something compelling about him that makes him different. Angie has dubbed him Sad Eyes and it fits. She changes her line-up of songs to sing to him and soon an attempted mob hit brings them into closer acquaintance.
Katrina is the daughter of a mafia don and there is a turf war going on between two of the strongest mob families. Her father wants to send her away for protection, but she has no intention of uprooting her life or going near her father and his associations again. Her twin brother died trying to please her dad and her mother left him years ago when he put The Family first. He never once tried to be a father and now he wants to act like he cares. The danger is real as evidenced by a knife in a dark alley that Sad Eyes rescues her from.
Lyle brings the beautiful injured woman back to his penthouse condo to stitch her up only to find his jilting ex-fiancée on the doorstep to deliver an apology. It is painful and awful, but not heartbreaking because he concentrates on Katrina. They slowly begin something tentative between them. Katrina starts teaching him to be spontaneous and try new things. He gives her a calm place in the midst of her stormy life.
[quote]With Lyle, she felt a sense of inherent rightness. He balanced her in a very unexpected way. So much of her life had been pure chaos that she never would have imagined Lyle’s steady presence would call to her so strongly. It was the quiet strength she’d seen in him, that she felt as he cradled her in strong arms, that drew her to him. p. 119 Katrina from The Groom[/quote]
Mutual companionship and need grows into something more even as the danger escalates. Both of them are holding tightly on the brink of something bigger, stronger and lasting. Lyle knows that he wants Katrina and not as a rebound thing in spite of everyone in his life telling him they are all wrong for each other, but he sees very clearly that she is holding back. Her ‘one day at a time’ no plans philosophy is her wall to the world to hold onto her grief, guilt and fears. He thinks he stands a chance of breaking down the wall until her past catches up with them and time is up.
First of all, I know the first book was just a short read that didn’t have much time to develop, but I’ve got to say that the writing, character development and plotting on this one showed me what this writer was truly capable of producing. I was engaged from page one and rooting for Lyle and Kat all the way. Katrina’s issues made her stubborn and stupid at times causing a ton of unnecessary danger that annoyed me and I wish she would have started to heal the rift with her father in the end though maybe she would get there eventually with Lyle’s help, but for the most part it was good stuff.
Lyle did much of the growing in this book as he stepped out of his comfort zone and embraced all that Katrina coaxed him to try. It was neat to see happen. Katrina’s development was of a different sort. She had so many issues that were slowly exposed even to her own eyes as her relationship with Lyle deepened. He saw clearly what kept her back and what she tried to hide. Her personal journey was one of letting go and moving on. I wanted to be angry with her particularly because it was Lyle who was suffering right along with her, but she had big stuff to deal with and it wasn’t petty.
This relationship is one of my favorite kinds. I loved watching these two seeming opposites find each other and start bringing out the best in each other. They were passionate- oh yes, those folk who dubbed Lyle as a stick need to learn the difference between dull and someone just waiting to be awakened. He just needed an African American Italian spitfire to bring out what was already there waiting. But sexy times wasn’t the only good thing for them. They shared time with the young heart patient at the hospital and mourned her relapse together. They went on fun and spontaneous lunch dates and just enjoyed spending time together. They appreciated the gifts and skills that each possessed and encouraged these to blossom.
All in all, this was a fabulous follow-up to the first book with a nice balance of action, character development, and sizzling romantic development in this opposites attract contemporary romance.