Why I read it:
Many of my Twitter friends were telling me how much they enjoyed this book. I wanted to join in the fun so I bought it.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Four years ago, Jocelyn Butler left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Edinburgh. Burying the grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without any real attachments has worked well for her so far but when Joss moves into a fantastic apartment on Dublin Street, her carefully guarded world is shaken to its core by her new roommate’s sexy older brother.Braden Carmichael is a man who always gets what he wants. And what he wants is Jocelyn in his bed. Knowing how skittish Joss is concerning any kind of relationship, Braden proposes a sexual arrangement that should satisfy the intense attraction between them without it developing into anything ‘more’. An intrigued Jocelyn agrees, completely unprepared for the Scotsman and his single-minded determination to strip the stubborn young woman bare… to the very soul.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Let’s get the gripes out of the way first shall we? There were a number of typographical and gramatical errors in the book. The acknoweldgements in the back say that there were editors so I’m not really sure why so many were allowed to get through to the final version. Examples include comma abuse, “rung” instead of “wrung”, “all and all” instead of “all in all” and I’m not entirely sure that “incapacitation” is even a word. There was also one egregious use of the word “vajayjay” by the heroine. However, the story and the characters were otherwise so well done, that I was able to press through where a lesser book may have ended up a DNF. As it was, there was some teeth gritting at the number of errors. Moving on.
I think I had expected the characters would hook up much earlier than they did and I was pleased that it wasn’t the case. We were at maybe the 2/5 mark of the book before Braden and Jocelyn first kiss. Even though their physical relationship progresses quickly from there, there was a reasonable amount of time taken to build the sexual tension and for the characters to get to know each other.
I also liked the way the book was set up (well, except for one niggle which I’ll get to in a minute). The prologue shows us a quick sketch of the devastation in Jocelyn’s life after the death of her parents and baby sister and the epilogue gave me a sneak peak into Braden and Jocelyn’s happy future without being treacly. The middle of the book charts Jocelyn’s move to Dublin Street and the beginning of the end of her self imposed emotional isolation.
I think that Jocelyn was “ready” to start connecting again, consciously, with others, or she would not have moved in with Ellie. It was clear from their first meeting that Ellie was not the sort of person Jocelyn could successfully freeze out. Not because Ellie is rude or pushy, but because she seems, in some way, fragile and Jocelyn cannot bring herself to be that mean.
Quite early on we understand that she had made connections with people – Rhiann and James and even her workmates, Craig and Jo but she had deliberately distanced herself from them. At around the time she moves to Dublin Street, Jocelyn discovers she can’t do it anymore. She wants to but the connections grow and deepen anyway.
“You’re shopping with a teenager?”
“Why do you keep saying it like that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because you’ve moved into an expensive flat, you’re spending money you were always weird about spending, you’re friends with a girl who’s seen The Notebook fifty-five times and, like, smiles a lot; you’re out for drinks with actual people on week nights, you saved my relationship, you’re seeing a therapist, and you’re babysitting teens. I moved to London and you got a fuckin’ lobotomy.”
As much as there is instant and visceral attraction between Braden and Jocelyn, it is not a book where Jocelyn is “cured” by his love. She, quite sensibly, seeks therapy – and, because she is ready now to process her loss, it has benefits. It is not without pain and panic attacks, but it is time for Jocelyn to live fully and the book charts her journey to letting people in.
In terms of structure, there were a few sections with Dr. Pritchard which seemed out of time. There would be Scene A, a conversation with Dr. Pritchard and then Scene B, but Scene B starts immediately after Scene A and it is clear that the conversation with the doctor could not have happened in between. I understood why they were there in terms of the narrative drive of the story, but it nevertheless jarred because I had mental pictures of her either using a teleportation device or having the most sympathetic counsellor in the world, who will take calls/appointments at the drop of a hat, 24/7.
And then there’s Braden. Rowr. Possessive, certain, hot, sexy. I think there is something about how definite he is that adds to his attraction.
“I want you in my bed. Gentlemen are boring in bed.”
Good point. “Gentlemen are gentlemen in bed. They make sure you’re having a good time.”
“I’ll make sure you’re having a good time, and that you’re okay with everything we’re doing. I just won’t be well-mannered about it.”
Because Braden is so secure and dominant, he can take Jocelyn’s insecurities perhaps better than anyone else – he doesn’t mind railroading her from time to time (for her own good of course)
“No. It’s spooning. You said it was just sex. No spooning. We fuck, we have fun, you go home. That’s the deal.”
He studied me intently for a moment and then lowered his head until his lips were almost touching mine. “We fuck, we have fun, and then we spoon. I don’t go home. I don’t go home because sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up, and when I wake up, I want to fuck. And for some baffling reason, the person I want to fuck is you. Now, I’m only going to say this one more time. Go to sleep.”
In fact, Braden finds things work much better this way – fortunately, Jocelyn isn’t all pushover.
“From now on I’m completely in charge. I think we’ll have a lot less drama, and definitely no more breakups, if I’m in control of this thing.”
I patted his stomach. “Whatever you need to tell yourself to get through the day, baby.”
By the end of the book, their relationship is more event – yes Braden is dominant in bed, but the rest of the relationship is more balanced, as Jocelyn finds her footing and learns to open up.
Jocelyn does treat some of her friends in a pretty shitty way during the course of the book, but, while I did not always like it, I did understand her motivation. Because she hadn’t processed her grief over the death of her family, she kind of reacts like a 14 year old child at times – it’s all about her. But, she does grovel and apologise and by the end of the book, I think she’s worked enough out that I don’t think she will do that again. Sure, she will struggle from time to time, but I think she will be a less crappy friend if push comes to shove.
What else? One of the characters has a medical crisis later in the book. Even allowing for the differences between the Australian and UK health systems, MRI scan results do not take 2 weeks to arrive. They just don’t. I could, maybe, stretch it to 2 days. In terms of the book, it would have made no difference to have the scan result available more quickly so I don’t know why there was a such a big delay. In any event, Braden has so much money and influence, he could have pulled strings – after all, that’s what he does later doesn’t he? Also, I think it more than likely that the character would have been admitted and not discharged until treatment/surgery had been completed. But then, I may be a little touchy about medical issues just at the minute.
Editing issues aside, I really enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Grade: B (but it would have been a B+ if the editing had been better).