“Not very good. Couldn't even get half way through. ”nina d wrote this review Wednesday, October 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I've been a fan of Molly O'Keefe's writing for a long, long time and this book is no exception. She excels in writing beautifully flawed characters.
Can't wait for the rest of the series.”
“I enjoyed reading this book. It reminded me so much of my fave hockey romances penned by Rachel Gibson. Luc is 38 and too many concussions have resulted in a brain injury that requires him to quit playing. But he is not ready since hockey is the only thing he knows. His rancher father is dying and lured by the prospect that his golddigger girlfriend, Tara Jean, is set to marry him- Luc and his sister came to see him for the first time in 15 years. The will left by his father required him to stay but he didn't count on falling for Tara Jean and getting entangled with her problems since he had enough problems of his own. Luc is a wonderful beta hero who is considerate and perceptive. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books.”ALICE S wrote this review Monday, February 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The title, cover, blurb, and opening line all lead you to believe this will be a romantic comedy, but it is actually a very tense suspense with little romance and damaged characters which are hard to like.”Elizabeth F wrote this review Monday, December 24, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Tara Jean Sweet made a deal with 90-year old Lyle Baker to help lure his estranged son Luc and daughter Victoria back to his ranch in Texas. Lyle is dying and wants to see his children before his demise as he hasn't had contact with them for years. Luc is facing the possibility of the end of his professional hockey career because of a head injury and Victoria has been living a nightmare the past year because of her husband’s Ponzi scheme that left many financially shattered. The ruse worked as they bought the act, believing Tara Jean to be a gold digger ready to marry their father and abscond with their inheritance.
I was pleased to discover that this was not the light fare the description first led me to believe. These are complicated relationships and the characters have really serious issues to contend with. Tara Jean has a troubled, nasty past and her deal with Lyle provided the opportunity to reinvent herself. On the surface, she seems tough and a bit on the cheap side but it’s just a veneer she's created to protect herself. When Luc gets a glimpse of the real Tara, he becomes captivated and wants more. Their relationship is a tough one and, at times, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to root for them but Tara’s recovery from her self-loathing and Luc’s patience will win you over.
This isn't a story for the faint of heart as these aren't easy people and they have many flaws. The first half of the book was typical of a new relationship, with witty repartee and humorous moments. The second half is grittier as the characters have to contend with hard issues that surface once you’re expected to trust one another. I loved the complexity of the story and how the characters weren’t predictable. Tara and Luc's road to a relationship is unconventional and she's pretty damaged from a sordid past and a prior bad relationship. Luc and Victoria both have a lot of baggage as their father would never come close to winning father of the year awards. They all have redeemable qualities, although Victoria will challenge your sympathies.
There were times when the writing was a bit heavy handed with Southern/Western metaphors, especially when describing Tara's physical reactions to Luc. They sometimes got in the way of the emotional aspects, which was the more compelling part of the story. Otherwise, this is was an intriguing story, complete with humor, tragedy, romance and a bit of suspense. I wasn’t always happy with the journey but I loved its realism, edginess and honesty to the characters who were all well developed. I am looking forward to continuing the series.
“To say that NHL hockey star Luc Baker was loathe to return to his father's home would be a gross understatement, but when the bastard sends him and his sister a wedding announcement that includes a picture of the...bride-to-be, a tarted up twenty-something floozy named Tara Jean Sweet, he's left with little choice. If he doesn't put an end to this farce of a wedding, his sister and his nephew could lose everything. Again. Luc refuses to let that happen. And considering he's spent a career handling some real bruisers on the ice, dealing with one trashy chick with dollar signs where her heart should be will be a piece of cake.
Tara owes Lyle Baker in ways that she can't - and won't - explain, so doing this favor for him, playing a questionable part in getting his grown children back to the ranch before he dies, is the least she can do for the man she's come to care for. She wasn't expecting the reality of a furious Luc Baker getting in her face, though. Sexy, intense, and as cold as the ice he skates on, everything about the man puts her back up and makes her wish she'd never agreed to Lyle's Machiavellian scheme.
His presence threatens everything she's been working towards for years. Her existence is a risk to the two people he most cares about in the world. And the sparks that are ignited while they battle it out threaten to melt more than their determination and burn brighter than either are prepared to handle.
Never, ever judge a book by its cover. Trite, maybe, but in this case, extremely apropos. I was expecting this book to be a sexy bit of brain candy. I mean seriously, do you see the abs on that cover model? Yum. The reality of the read, though, was something else entirely.
Luc and Tara's story is a deep, intricate, emotional journey of two damaged and broken souls. Parts of their tale were ugly and gritty (so were some of the characters, for that matter), and the ride to their HEA was fraught with self-loathing and angst. It was all much more than I was expecting. More, really, than I wanted at the time, regardless of how well done it was.
There were some lighter moments, thankfully, that helped balance out the narrative. Both Tara and Luc were at times sardonic and witty, sometimes wacky and fun, and all of it necessary for lightening the more complex and tortured elements of their characters. I enjoyed them both, and enjoyed the depth and detail in their character definition.
What impressed me most, though, was how deftly O'Keefe managed and maintained the two faces of Lyle Baker, Luc's father. On one hand, he was a hard, brutal man who should have been shot for how he treated his children when they were young. Even as he's dying he's wily and manipulative, unforgiving and cruel. On the other hand, he was a savior to Tara, and took care of her in ways that went far beyond what anyone would expect. As a result, Tara's feelings for Lyle and Luc's feelings for him were about as diametrically opposed as could be - and the reasons for both were equally valid.
I loved that.
Luc's sister, on the other hand...
I loathed Victoria. I didn't actually think it was possible to have as little respect for a character as I did her. She spent most of the book coming off as helpless and weak in a way that pushed every single one of my buttons. At one point, when she was thinking about how she had no identity without a ring on her finger, and she liked a man because he could take care of her and her son, I would have cheerfully read that a house fell on her. Twice.
I get that her book is the second in the series, and imagine her journey to self actualization is going to be part of the arc of that story, but damn, I found her revolting in this one.
Unfortunately she was a significant enough secondary character with enough of her own page time that my feelings for her impacted my enjoyment of the overall read. That, along with the initial mistaken impression of the nature of the book, kept me from loving this read. I was expecting light, fluffy, and sexy. I was in the mood for that sort of brain candy. That I didn't get it threw me off, no matter how great a story this actually was.
"Have a drink, Eli." He checked the ice bucket, hoping for the best, only to be disappointed. "Is there no ice in Texas?"
"It's one in the afternoon, Luc."
"The ice only comes out at night?"
He was going to give this headache a name, try to befriend it, because as an enemy, it was kicking his ass.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Bantam Dell publisher Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.