Podcast version – listen on the go!
It started out like any normal day.
Then the fender bender happened.
The guy I collided with drove an expensive car and was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad he was also a total jerk. We argued over whose fault it was and any other thing that came out of his condescending mouth.
Eventually, the police came and we went our separate ways. The insurance companies would have to figure things out. I had a job interview to get to anyway—one I was excited about.
Though that excitement changed to disappointment the moment the person interviewing me walked in. The guy from the accident.
Yeah, so I didn’t get the position.
The problem was, I really wanted it. No, I needed it. Anything to get me out of my current career and back into working with kids.
So, even though Hollis LaCroix was as intimidating as he was devastatingly handsome, I went back to see him and begged for a chance.
To my surprise, he gave me a shot taking care of his troubled niece.
At least my attraction to him wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my job or the strong bond Hailey and I formed.
But resisting the magnetic pull between us wasn’t that simple. (Then there was our little underwear game—don’t ask.)
We continued to flirt without crossing the line—until it finally happened.
This is the part of the story where we fall in love and live happily ever after, right?
Well, life has a way of throwing some major curveballs.
Ours was one I didn’t see coming..
I had no intention of giving this story anything over three stars. And then the authors threw in a curve ball at the end and I ended up with tears in my eyes. Okay fine, four stars it is.
This review will contain spoilers – so if you haven’t read it and you want to read it – don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.
Elodie is an attractive woman. And she uses her looks to flirt with married men in the hopes of providing evidence that they are cheating on their wives. She’s an investigational decoy employed by a detective agency. She hates it, but it pays the bills.
Her best friend, Bree, shows her an ad for a nanny. Elodie has a degree in child development and her true passion lies with being around children and that’s what she really wants to do with her life. So, taking her life by the short and curlies, she applies for the job.
On her way to the job interview, she gets into a fender bender with a handsome man. They spar back and forth, the police arrive, they file their complaints and they go about their business. Elodie makes it to her interview and is speaking with her female interviewee when lo and behold, who walks into the interview but the guy she had a fender bender with.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at this “coincidence,” but whatever – it’s a convenient way for the hero and the heroine to meet and start to interact.
Elodie doesn’t get the job as Hollis, the man who hit her, though he swears it’s the other way around, says no way in hell is he hiring her for the job. How can he trust her to take care of his niece if she can’t even drive to the interview without an incident?
Elodie leaves in a huff and stops by the building’s cafeteria to grab a coffee where she meets Hailey, an eleven-year old girl with a sassy mouth. They hit it off, primarily because the girl reminds Elodie of herself at that age. She soon learns that Hailey is Hollis’ niece and now she really wants the job as she wants the opportunity to help steer this girl away from the troubled path she finds herself on.
Since Elodie and Hollis exchanged personal information at the accident, she knows where he lives and not having anything to lose, she goes to his apartment to basically beg him to give her a chance.
Hailey sees her at the door, says she enjoyed talking to her in the cafeteria and talks her Uncle Hollis into giving her the job.
Elodie is a divorcee whose husband cheated on her. Hollis’s childhood friend, then girlfriend, Anna, turned down his marriage proposal and stated she was seeing someone else. Both of them have relationship/abandonment issues and are very cautious around one another though their physical attraction for each other starts to become impossible to ignore.
Hollis takes Elodie home one evening and excuses himself to use the restroom. While in there, he sees Elodie’s thongs draped over the shower rod to dry. (Why does it always have to be thongs? I LOATHE thongs. They are the most uncomfortable form of underwear known to man. I would rather go commando than wear a thong – but whatever). Elodie is mortified that he’s that close to her underwear but whatever, she wasn’t expecting to ever find her boss in her bathroom so he would have to deal with seeing her intimates.
The next morning, as she’s getting ready to catch the train into the city to be with Hailey, she realizes her black thong is missing. She looks everywhere for it and soon realizes that Hollis must have taken it. She gets to his apartment and while Hailey is busy doing something else, she goes into Hollis’ bedroom to see if he had indeed taken her underwear. She finally finds it, under his pillow, and feeling naughty, she exchanges her current thong (*rolls eyes*) with the black one under his pillow.
This back and forth goes on for some time with neither one of them of saying anything but continuing the “game.” Elodie knows Hollis is doing naughty things to her underwear because it smells like his aftershave.
I have to say, this naughty back and forth was entertaining and fun and the authors do a really good job of building the sexual tension. However, I’m starting to get a bit bored with the story as it’s not really progressing and it prompts quite a few eye rolls from me, (literally), because it’s borderline cliche.
Elodie’s friend, Bree, who pointed out the ad to her in the first place, has an incurable lung disease with an impossibly long name. She’s not doing well and Elodie has to sort of halt the attraction she’s feeling for Hollis in order to be there for her friend. Bree also happens to be the stepsister of her Elodie’s ex-husband, which was an interesting twist. Bree calls a family meeting and everyone gets together at a lake house so Bree can basically give everyone her dying wishes.
Hollis, knowing that Elodie is at the lake house with her ex-husband, goes a little crazy because he doesn’t want Elodie’s ex to talk, or trick, her into getting back together, and that prompts him to make a decision, he wants to try and have a relationship with Elodie.
Elodie agrees but both want to proceed slowly( i.e. no sex) because they’ve both been burned and they don’t know how Hailey will take the news that her uncle and her nanny are dating.
Bree takes a turn for the worse and ends up in the hospital. Bree’s family is there and when Elodie and Hollis arrive, Elodie is shocked to witness Hollis’ reaction to Bree. (They had never met before this point because Bree never physically felt up to meeting Hollis).
It’s soon revealed that Bree IS Anna. Bree’s full name is Brianna. This is a complete game changer for Hollis and Elodie and they grapple with their guilt and desire to be together.
This is where I started to get into the story. The story was a bit formulaic at this point and though I wasn’t exactly bored, I wasn’t exactly enjoying the story either – I was simply going through the motions. But when the authors threw that curveball into it, that was enough to push me into the land of caring.
I really appreciated the complicated nuances of the complicated emotions that both Hollis and Elodie went through. They wanted to be together but they felt like they were betraying Bree/Anna. I found their reactions believable and that really pulled me into their stories, I became vested in their lives from that point onward.
As I mentioned, the story was a bit ho-hum up to that hospital scene. I would have liked to have seen more of a relationship struggle between Elodie and Hailey as it was mentioned she was a “troubled” teen but I didn’t really see any evidence of that. In fact, I felt like Hailey was incredibly easy going and that relationship clicked from the very beginning. I get why the authors likely didn’t put much more effort into that aspect of the story as they wanted to focus on Elodie and Hollis, but I feel like that would have helped develop Elodie’s character a bit more.
Hollis is a player but he doesn’t really exhibit any of the player personality, in my opinion. He’s so obsessed with Elodie that he comes off as a bit if a puss and Elodie has way too much power in this dynamic.
I also think it would have been interesting to see more of Hollis and Bree/Anna’s dynamic after the initial surprise of finding her in the hospital. Instead of these interactions happening, the authors chose for Bree/Anna to write them each letters explaining her reasons for leaving Hollis and in essence, giving them both permission to be together. I can understand why the authors chose to write the story that way, but I wish the last part of the book had been expanded on a bit more and a little less “perfect” relationship scenarios highlighted. Those bored me. It was too good to be true for a little too long.
Overall, it was an interesting read. It evoked emotion for me and like I said, I teared up at the end. That hospital scene definitely elevated my rating from three stars to four stars – mainly because it was so left field and took me completely by surprise.
Responding to Goodreads comments:
It started out great. The first half was a page turner with great characters, some amazing chemistry, and a very slow, steamy buildup. It took a looong time for the h and H to finally get together, which did get a little old. But overall i really enjoyed the first half.
The second half on the other hand…..not so great. It almost felt like a completely different book. There was absolutely no heat between the lead characters. None. Nada. Zip. The h and H learn something about their relationship that shocks them (and me, to be honest. Something for which the author should get a few props, I suppose). But after this revelation the H was a bit too moody and cold. And the heat that was building between them for the first half of the book was gone. I no longer cared what happened between them. I just wanted to get it over with. The story became sad and depressing and a bit of a downer to be honest.
The ending was a happy one, but by that point I had completely checked out.
It’s funny, the negative comments on this story all begin with, “it started out great! But then the second half of the story was a downer.” I feel the complete opposite. I feel like the first half was boring as hell and the second half was where it got interesting. I appreciated the twist and the complex emotions that came along with all of that.
But, I will say, I do agree with some of the negative comments – it does seem like Hollis is settling for Elodie as “second best.’ His love for her is really more physical whereas his relationship with Anna was deeper, more fulfilling than with Elodie. It does make me wonder if Anna had lived if Hollis wouldn’t have dumped Elodie and been with her instead. And it does seem like Hollis is a bit “stuck” in the past when it came to his love for Anna. She was the love his life and yet he’s now with Elodie …??
I think it’s important to remember that there are different types of loves in life. I think that was what the authors were trying to tell us in this story. It is possible to love more than one person in life – it all depends on circumstance and timing, really. Who knows if Hollis would have picked Anna over Elodie at that point in his life. He would always have feelings for Anna, but were those feelings out of loyalty and memory, or feelings that he wanted to explore and share into his future?
I wasn’t expecting such complexity with this story and the fact that I ended it with a glimpse of the iceberg under the water was enough for me to give this four stars.