Why I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at “hello.” His relationship with Emme’s best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that’s ever happened to her?
It isn’t easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she’s a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme’s always been the one; she excites Deck’s body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme’s past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she’ll let him . . .
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I ended up enjoying this book but it wasn’t my favourite Ashley. I did like that Deck and Emme got together quickly and that if felt natural for it to be that way. Because they had a history of a very strong friendship some years earlier, it was much easier for me to accept they’d get physical early. I also liked that Emme was in an actual sexual relationship with someone and that Deck waited to even kiss her until she was out of it.
“So, summin’ up, you got until Sunday to get your head together about McFarland. On Sunday, you scrape him off. On Sunday night, the boys are gone, you learn the true meaning of me callin’ you ‘baby.’ ”
This wasn’t a book where the heroine was dating but not sleeping with her not-the-hero-boyfriend. They had sex. (Sure, it wasn’t great sex but they had it and only days before she was banging Deck.) Emme did slut-shame herself a bit about it (boo) but Deck didn’t (even though he basically wanted to pretend the previous lover didn’t even exist), he did specifically tell Emme that she wasn’t a slut (yay).
“Baby, a lot I’d do for you ’cause you’re my Emme, but lyin’ naked in bed with you sortin’ out your feelings for McFarland is not top of that list.”
I do think it’s easier to read Kristen Ashley books in a glom. There is a specific rhythm and cadence to her writing that it’s easy to fall out of. And, if you don’t get the rhythm down, a lot of the sentences don’t appear to make much sense. (In fact, some of them don’t anyway). Coming off the back of books like Live, the difference in the language is glaringly apparent and it took me some time to re-learn “Ashley-ese”. I also have to say that it seems to me that Ashley heroes and heroines are very similar and that is somewhat disappointing. Deck isn’t much different to Ham or Tate or Chace or Tack for that matter and Emme, while a little different, wasn’t vastly unusual either. At one point in the book I thought Emme was going to take a sharp right and she and Deck would face a really difficult challenge to negotiate – the kind that happens in real life and that can be a dealbreaker. I was kind of disappointed that conflict wasn’t more fully explored. That would have made Emme quite a bit different but alas. (I do have to acknowledge however that Deck had a reasonable basis for his beliefs and the book was internally consistent in that regard. Still, it would have been an interesting conflict and I wonder if there could have been a HEA out of it.)
The end of the story came more abruptly and less dramatically than I was expecting. In the end I did believe Deck and Emme were meant to be together but there were some things I would have liked to have been much more fleshed out in the book.
Still, there was plenty to make me smile and, once I again familiarised myself with Ashley’s signature style, there were even some parts that made me laugh out loud.
“Go, Emme, or the wedding’s gonna be delayed an indefinite amount of time and your hair is not gonna look like that when you stand up in the sanctuary,” he stated.
My hair was in an elegant updo à la Dominic (another Mom decree). It took two hours to achieve.
Mom’s head would likely split down the middle if I had sex hair for my wedding.