***I received a complimentary ARC of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley.com, in exchange for honest feedback.***
This has got to be the longest tease I’ve ever received! I love a slow burn, but this book takes it to a whole new level. I am absolutely hooked on this story, despite suffering from some pretty severe sexual frustration.
Tessa Lockwood has had an incredibly rough life. Living with a mother that suffers from bipolar disorder, she had to grow up early. When we meet Tessa as a high schooler, she’s attending school and trying to make ends meet by working two part-time jobs. It was clear that she was the “parent” in the situation, rushing home to check on her mother after a long day of work.
When tragedy strikes, Tessa is thrown into an impossibly bad situation. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for Tessa, it does. The poor girl was thrust from one bad situation right into another.
She finally catches a break when her coworker, Peter, steps up to help out. He can’t offer much help, but he does whatever he can to ease the strain on Tessa. She has always been kind to him and he wants to return the favor.
In no time, the two have struck up a friendship. Peter has his own problems and the two form an unlikely alliance in order to escape their mutually exclusive nightmares. A marriage of convenience is the answer to their problems.
Despite the mostly platonic nature of their marriage, Tessa loves her husband. There may not be a sexual attraction, but he is the only person that she has in her life that cares about her. He’s her rock and her only friend.
When Peter’s dream of becoming a journalist takes him to San Francisco, Tessa is glad to follow along and offer her support. He’d done far more for her. Despite the week’s at a time that Peter will be away, chasing stories, Tessa is sure that she’s made the right choice.
Luckily, Tessa is able to transfer to a better position within the same company that she was working for in Tucson. The only problem is that she will now be working in close proximity to the man that she’s fantasized about for years. Keeping her crush under wraps, while maintaining a professional demeanor will prove challenging.
Immediately, it is apparent that Tessa isn’t the only one that is smitten. Ian Gregson is taken with Tessa upon first sight. The only problem is that another man has already made her his wife.
What follows is a long, secret, mutual infatuation. Both Tessa and Ian obsess over one another, but neither would be so brazen or uncouth as to actually act on their feelings while Tessa is married. Thus, the sexual frustration. Lots and lots of frustration!
Even though Tessa and Ian do not ever act on their attraction in this book, it held my attention. I was completely hooked on their secret obsessions. I may have to wait until the next book to see how things play out, but I wouldn’t have missed it. I’m hooked.
As much as I loved the never-ending tease that this book was, I could have done with a little less length. It is always hard to judge length because all of that unnecessary “filler” that seems like it could be weeded out, may actually be what makes the story feel unhurried and well-developed. This was definitely a story that flowed at a leisurely pace.
Even so, I think that much of the length could have been cut. There was an excessive amount of time spent on inconsequential details, like detailed descriptions of every expensive suit Mr. Gregson wore and contrasting comparisons of every bargain bin outfit Tessa pieced together. I get it — He’s rich, she’s poor. That message was hammered in so much that nobody could’ve missed it. The repetitive narrative about it was not necessary.
Similarly, certain words and phrases were frequently repeated. “Gauche” comes to mind. A little more variety would have helped, especially toward the end.
Lastly, the dreams/fantasies didn’t do much for me. I found myself skimming through those parts because they just seemed so cheesy. However, a part of me was glad that they were included since the main characters never actually act on their attraction in this book. I’m not sure if they offered a bit of relief, or added to the sexual tension that this book oozed.
Of course, I’m dying to know where things are heading. I’m starting the second book immediately. I can only hope that Ian and Tessa will bring the heat!