Jack Henry McLachlan is a rich man, the owner of multiple vineyards stretching across Australia, and he is tired of women who only want him for his money. So he has an arrangement – he selects a woman he’s attracted to, and offers her a no-strings attached relationship for three months, without the use of their real names.
His latest choice is Laurelyn Prescott, an American woman visiting a friend in Australia, attempting to get over the fact that Blake Philips, the boyfriend she thought she’d loved, who is also the record producer who owns half her songs, turned out to be married with children. Since Laurelyn herself was the product of an affair with a married man, who never acknowledged his daughter, this is a touchy issue for her. So she’s ready for a sexy, pampered three-month romp with Jack that will help her push Blake far, far out of her mind and heart.
It isn’t long, though, before they each realize that the other does things for them no one else can, and their feelings start growing past the limits they’ve set. But can they admit that to each other before the time is up? And can they deal with their past histories, their stalker exes, and family crises in a way that brings them closer together?
This is the first volume of the series continued in Beauty From Surrender, and if you enjoy it, you may want to have the second book handy, because it ends on something of a cliffhanger. The characters are sympathetic and reasonably likeable, though Jack Henry has some issues with anger and possessiveness that are worrisome. The sex scenes – a large part of the book, naturally – are well-written and erotically charged, and the chemistry between the couple is electric. There are also moments of laugh-out-loud humor to break the romantic tension, particularly with respect to Jack Henry’s family.
This book is rated slightly higher than the sequel, mainly because there is more of substance going on both emotionally and in terms of plot in this book. The major action of falling in love takes place here – the sequel is mainly for resolution of outstanding issues left hanging at the end of this book. However, both are full of enough sensuality and romantic enthusiasm to please the reader who is primarily seeking an emotional charge.
The book does not substantially depart from a pretty standard romance-novel template – “jaded man seeks uncommitted sex, ends up falling wholeheartedly in love with an irresistible heroine” – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if the template in question is to your tastes. The premise is a bit fantastic, and problematic in its riskiness (a woman entering into such an arrangement with a perfect stranger in real life might very well end up as some serial killer’s victim, or at least as a married man’s affair – to the author’s credit, at least, Laurelyn does consider both possibilities), but hopefully we all know by now that romance novels do contain elements of pure fantasy.
This is a nice beach read, and a well-written representative of the erotic romance genre, but if you hate being left hanging, have the sequel handy.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader