Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon Red (May 29, 2007)
Publisher: Avon Red (May 29, 2007)
He was her first: the first man she longed for, the first man she truly desired. Then he betrayed her and broke her heart. Now her revenge will be oh-so-sweet . . . and hot!
Trish Henderson has returned home to Eden to take care of some family business…and some personal business, as well. Though she’s achieved remarkable success as a high-powered Chicago attorney, Trish has never forgotten her small-town high school sweetheart, Joe Ramsey, or the devastation of heartbreak.
Now she’s come face-to-face with the gorgeous sex god Joe has grown into, and she’s determined to get him out of her system once and for all – and maybe take a little revenge, too. And this time, she has all the power. After all, where is it written that only men can explore and enjoy a physical relationship without commitment? Her plan: seduce him for just one night, then walk away…
But there’s just one problem. Trish is about to find out that one night with Joe may never be enough…
In stores June 2007. Go here for an excerpt.
Trish Henderson and Joe Ramsay are high school sweethearts, and love each other deeply. Trish is off to college but promises Joe she will be home soon and they can finally be together, however Joe ends up breaking her heart in the most devastating of ways, and Trish wishes never to see him again.
Fourteen years later, Trish is now a big-time lawyer and is home for an extended stay, helping her parents sell their diner and taking care of a few legal issues for them along the way. One night, Trish goes out with her best friend Debbie to catch up on old times with some old high school friends, not completely expecting to run into Joe, but inevitably she does. It soon becomes apparent that the chemistry between them is as hot as ever, and after one hot dance, Joe tells her he wants to take her home and rock her world. But Trish refuses, not impressed with his womanizing reputation. Later she decides that if they're going to hook up after all these years, it's going to be on her terms, not his. So she sets out to seduce her first love with the intention of walking away, proving to him, and to herself, that she really is over him.
Joe knows Trish still wants him, almost as much as he wants her, but he's still shocked when she comes to his door, looking like sin in heels. He doesn't let that stop him from being with the only woman he's ever loved, though he's not too happy the next morning when he finds she walked out on him. Joe decides he's not going to make things easy on her, and shows up at her door this time. Trish isn't exactly happy to see him, but can't deny the incredible attraction that exists between them, though she still doesn't completely trust him, even after all these years. But maybe she can finally work him out of her system, once and for all....
I read this book in one afternoon, so caught up was I in Joe and Trish's story. It twisted me up inside right from the beginning, when Joe broke Trish's heart so brutally. While I hated Joe for what he did, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him because not only did he strongly regret doing what he did, he didn't act out of anger or the need to hurt Trish. Instead, he was hurting too, afraid of losing the girl he loved to the excitement of college and feeling rather unwanted himself. See, Joe isn't the typical bad boy - he's not a big drinker or a partier, he doesn't get in fights or in trouble with the law. He takes his responsibilities seriously, even taking on those that don't necessarily belong to him, he still has the same best friend from high school, and he's still as sexy as all get-out. Trish is also not completely what you'd expect as the heroine of a bad boy. Trish isn't the pampered and sheltered rich girl defying her parents nor the bookish wallflower hopelessly in love with the hero. What keeps them apart isn't powerful parents or the hero's misguided attempts to protect the heroine. Instead it's an act of betrayal.
[Side note: I admit, I never understand why it has to take so long (almost 15 years in this case) for the hero and heroine to finally see each other after something like this happens. Neither of them had married other people and there wasn't any huge misunderstanding between them, so what gives? I could have understood five years, or maybe, maybe even 10, but anything longer is truly a lifetime].
Now they are both in their early 30's, each one with an established career: Joe owns a garage that specializes in servicing expensive foreign models, and Trish is a big-time lawyer about to make partner. Giving into their still-smoldering attraction is inevitable. Keeping their hearts intact becomes impossible.
As Joe and Trish go from a spectacular one night stand to a short-term affair, they begin to get to know each other all over again, as well as discovering the person the other has become over the years. They talk, really talk about what happened in the past, all of it, especially the ugly stuff that drove them apart. Trish sees that Joe is a better person than she realizes, and begins to fall in love all over again, much to her dismay. Joe finds out that Trish has a good life in the city, but doesn't think he can let her walk away, not a second time. He knows he only has so much time with her before she goes back to the city for good, and he believes they truly belong together, and could never be happy with anyone else. Now all he has to do is convince Trish that he still loves her, and that he will never hurt her again. Can he make her believe in him, in forever?
This was a bittersweet love story, one that drew many reactions from me. Overall, I loved the story, found it tender, passionate and romantic. If there is anything to take away from this book, it's that you should never settle, even if you think you may never have another chance. And when you do find that one person that makes you blissfully happy, no matter how scary it is, it's absolutely worth the risk. There were moments when I think the heroine forgot this, or maybe didn't really understand what she was giving up, and I admit to wanting to smack her upside the head from time to time for being weak, but by the end of the book, she got her act together and became worthy of my respect again. I mean, come on, how could she give up a great guy like Joe, one who was happy to see her realize all her dreams, even if it meant he might have to give up his own? Fortunately, she doesn't.
Toni does a wonderful job of reuniting the hero and heroine in her books, and peeling away the layers of their lives until we discover what truly makes them tick. While I didn't like this story as quite as much as "Swept Away", I still found this one to be engaging and sexy, and well worth a Saturday afternoon. You know a story is a good one when you immediately start to go back and re-read passages, trying to re-capture those sigh-worthy moments. I hope the wait for another story isn't too long.