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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Sage Shepard and Brandon Tiggs had their epic high school fling, but that was YEARS ago. Things didn’t really end on a good note and both parties have spent the past seven years trying to get over it. Now, Sage is back in town and unintentionally walks right into Brandon’s life. She takes a job as the school nurse at her old high school only to learn that Brand is the swim coach at that very same school. Brand is in the middle of a divorce. But once he sees Sage, he is determine to win her back and right his post-graduation mistakes. Sage knows they have too much history to really make this work, but that doesn’t stop her from dreaming about being in Brand’s arms and working it out anyway. As their passion burns bright and their minds take the backseat, can Sage and Brand overcome their problems or will the past ruin their future?
I couldn’t help sympathizing with Sage from page one of this novel. She has been in such bad situations and you have to applaud her for overcoming that and making it through college. She broke out and did what she needed to do. She has my respect for that. She’s smart and devoted to her brother, making sure she can care for him they way he needs it regardless of her needs or wants. You kinda feel bad for her because she went from doing what her foster families demanded to doing what was required to keep her brother. She never really seemed to get a time when she was just living for what she wanted and needed. The only time she seems to get for herself are the moments she hits the bars looking for her next one night stand. Considering all the vices in the world, this one is not a bad choice. She makes a point always use protection and she’s a grown woman who is making her own choices, so more power to her. I still kinda feel like the poor girl needs a hug….and a lllloooonnnnnggggg vacation.
I was (kinda still am) on the fence about Brand. On one hand, he’s smart and sweet and hot and all that jazz. He obviously loves Sage and has made a point to watch out for her brother while she’s been gone, which wins him brownie points. But he’s a cheater and I have big issues with that. Every time I started to swoon over him even a little, that little voice in the back of my head yells “CHEATER! CHEATER!” and I’d lose a bit of that love that was growing. I understand that this was YEARS ago, but it still stayed in my mind. I get that Sage had reasons for wanting to keep their relationship hidden. The repercussions of putting that out in the open for her were unimaginable for teenage Sage, but that doesn’t mean Brand needs to stay with someone else. That doesn’t mean that Brand can’t just be “single” instead of stringing this poor girl along for years and years. That makes me think less of him. I had a hard time respecting him. I’ve been told (on numerous occasions) that I have very high standards and am not very forgiving and this is probably the best example of that. I can’t forgive that sin. Brand and Sage have that all consuming love/passion thing going on that we all dream about as teens, but that doesn’t justify hurting Rosie the way he does. Be a man and be honest. The fact that he goes on to marry Rosie, knowing that he doesn’t love her and probably will never love her? Well, that doesn’t help.
So, obviously, the cheating thing was a bit of an issue for me. I also got a bit tired of the strobe light relationship (that term was completely stolen from The DUFF film). There is quite a bit of history between these two and add to that the fact that they keep fucking up in present day, and it’s expected that there will be quite a few problems. These two are champs at avoiding them instead of confronting them head-on. While I can relate to that trait (procrastinators unite….tomorrow), by the third split, I was rolling my eyes a bit. Work it out or let it go! DON’T YOU DARE START SINGING FROZEN! I completely support the whole theory that happy endings don’t come easy, but it doesn’t make it easy for me to accept the on again off again thing. It’s probably because I’m not every forgiving, so I couldn’t see myself ever giving an ex a second chance. There was a reason we split up and that reason is probably still relevant now. Regardless of why, that and the cheating thing did bug me a bit.
Enough of what I didn’t like! Let’s have what I enjoy! The writing is amazing. The plot felt very put together and planned. And the chemistry between the characters was perfect. Then there was all the smut. I knew that part would be good Jessalyn (AKA Jessa Russo) wrote some pretty steam-y scenes in the Ever series and I was excited before I ever started this to see what would happen when we took away the limitations of writing for teens. Jameson manages to toe line between too little description and too much perfectly. I don’t know if that makes sense to everyone else. Let me try to say it different. With erotica romances, there are times I feel like things go too far. I want the smut. I wouldn’t have picked up an erotica novel otherwise, but I feel like a lot of them are over the top. Jameson manages to give me the smut I want without having it feel like a bad porn. Make more sense? Also, the heroine isn’t a stick! Sage has curves! I don’t think she was plus sized, but there was nary a mention of a toned tummy. In fact, there was one spot mentioning Sage being soft which made me smile!
Despite my minor issues, it was incredibly easy to get swept up in the story. I wanted to know more about Sage’s past and what happened to Brand after high school to lead him to his current career. I need to know what exactly happened when the two split for good. I need to know why Brand kept publicly dating someone else when he was clearly head over heels for Sage. Regardless of the genre she chooses to write in, Jameson’s work has that need to read quality that makes you want to forget the world for just one more chapter. What more could you really ask for? I’ll tell you what, you could ask for book 2! I’m certainly ready for it!