Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Brava (May 1, 2007)
Publisher: Brava (May 1, 2007)
In Sharon Cullars' dazzling new novel, two unlikely lovers give in to explosive desire. But guilt and long-buried secrets could destroy their future before it begins...
It's been five years since Lacey Burnham saw Sean Logan, and in that time her son Calvin's best friend has turned from a surly youth into a handsome, self-assured young man. Crushed with grief over Cal's sudden death, Lacey offers Sean a place to stay while he's in town--an innocent proposal that quickly becomes anything but. Lacey is stunned and confused by the yearning he ignites with a single kiss...
Beautiful, warmhearted Lacey Burnham was a haven of comfort in Sean's troubled youth. Now, against every shred of logic she possesses, Lacey is falling hard for Sean and for a heady carnal bliss she's never experienced before. But the ghosts of the past are waiting. And sooner or later, every shadow must face the light of day...
I've never made it a secret of my love for the Kensington Brava line. It has always been sexy and romantic, yet a bit light on deep, intense stories, which never really bothered me before. So when I first picked up "The Object of Love", I really thought I knew what I'd be getting and yet got something totally different, which was so much more. To categorize this book in a few words is impossible as there are many elements intertwined into it: a paranormal twist, a bi-racial romance, a significant age difference between the hero/heroine, to name only a few. But stir them up all together and you get an unusual yet engaging concoction that is poignant and completely believable.
Lacey Burnham has just experienced the most devastating loss a parent can face - the death of her only child, Calvin, in a car accident. She holds up fairly well at the funeral, but at his gravesite her grief overwhelms her and she collapses, her anguish too strong to fight against. Her family tries to reach her though the fog of pain, but it's her son's former best friend, Sean Logan, someone she hasn't seen in years, who rescues her and helps her to her car. His strength and insistence ground her, allow her to grasp onto her dignity again. Remembering Sean being such a part of their lives, she invites him to stay with her while in town, letting him know that her house is still his second home.
Sean had come back to Oak Park, Illinois to pay his respects to his friend and had originally planned to go back home to Muncie, Indiana in a few days, yet when Mrs. Burnham invites Sean to stay with her while he's in town, he decides to take her up on her offer; there's not much waiting for him back in Muncie, and Sean longs to be close to Lacey again as his long-denied feelings for her rise to the surface.
Though his body is dead and buried, Calvin's spirit lingers behind, stuck in the house where his mother took care of him and provided him with everything he could ever need or want. Seeing the person he used to think of as his best friend in this house again brings back a paralyzing rage that consumes Calvin, and his only thought is to get rid of Sean, one way or another, not realizing at first that the secret he shares with Sean is what is keeping him from acknowledging the truth from long ago, and from finally moving on.
Lacey is grateful to have Sean around, but her gratitude soon turns to desire as she begins to notice him as a man and not the boy who practically grew up in her house alongside her son. Sean is not the typical twenty-two year old; he's gone through much in his few years, and that pain has let to a maturity and understanding not usually found in one so young. Yet Sean is also somewhat lost, without direction, and Lacey is guilty about her attraction to someone young enough to be her son and not much going for him other than his dreams. She tries to push him away, but circumstances keep bringing them together, and she sees that there is so much she doesn't know, not just about Sean, but about her own son. It is her loyalty to Calvin that ultimately gives Lacey the strength to deny her own feelings, but secrets have a way of coming to light, and Lacey must decide what's more important: protecting her son or telling the truth.
I had seen this book in the stores - how could I of all people not be drawn to this cover? - yet I never picked it up with any serious intent of buying it. I had read the book blurb and though I don't mind age differences in my books (or in real life), I'll admit I was rather turned off by the number of years between Lacey and Sean and didn't think I would be able to get past that. Then Karen Scott made mention of it at her blog back in May, saying how she loved it, and since I find her opinions to be fairly straight-forward, and I also read other rave reviews, and that convinced me to buy this book.
I must say I enjoyed this story more than a lot of the ones I've read so far this year. Don't let the beefcake cover fool you - it's definitely one of the most memorable, and I know it will stay with me for quite some time. I'm sure it will become a favorite re-read as well. It was darker, more serious and very touching, and brought tears to my eyes several times, especially towards the end. Lacey was a wonderfully strong and amazingly courageous woman, a true heroine in my eyes. Sean was someone who'd had his share of hard knocks but instead of being resentful and feeling sorry for himself, he wanted bigger and better things and was on his way to making them happen, yet he still had some growing up to do, too, but he seemed to realize this, and was ready to accept the challenge.
And instead of ruining the overall impact of this story with a pat and simple ending, Ms. Cullars has left us with a vague yet hopeful closing where the HEA is not a complete definite, however that makes the story all the more compelling. Sean and Lacey have a lot to get through with each other before their HEA can happen, yet it ends with the possiblity of an eventual union for these two lonely souls who are initially drawn to each other in grief yet discover a passion with each other they've never known before. You can't help but hope they find it together.
Oh, and I definitely plan on reading more of Ms. Cullars' books. She definitely has something to say in her romances.