Clear a couple of days in your schedule because Any Man of Mine is unputdownable.
The week Autumn went to Las Vegas – determined to start having a life of her own again after taking care of her mother through a terminal illness – she ended up married, pregnant and abandoned. That’s apparently what happens when you let yourself be seduced by a professional hockey player.
Nearly six years later, Autumn and her ex-husband Sam LeClaire run into each other at a wedding. Since Autumn’s the wedding planner, she has to be nice to him, even though he’s regularly disappointed their five-year-old son by changing his plans at the last minute.
Sam’s a busy man who enjoys all the perks that come with being a professional athlete. He barely remembers the weekend he spent so drunk he ended up married and a father, but he’s always regretted the way he left Autumn. When she finally gets fed up with him letting their son down and tells him little Conner cries himself to sleep, Sam realizes he needs to man up and become a better father. That means spending more time around Autumn, who justifiably hates him.
Rachel Gibson is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. I’ve read nearly all of her books, and the thing that keeps me coming back for more is the emotional intensity of the relationships between her heroes and heroines. Her men are always masculine and tend to start off selfish and egotistical—in other words, they have a lot of room to grow. Her women are strong, sassy and independent, but have usually been severely let down in the romance department.
Autumn and Sam are no different. They each carry a set of emotional baggage so complex it takes months to unlock it all. One thing I loved about this story was the characters’ insistence on acting like grown-ups for the sake of their son, even as past anguish seethed between them.
But I don’t want it to sound like the book is a gut-wringer. The characters are often funny, and it was the wonderful mix of emotion with humor that kept me up reading far beyond my bedtime. More than that, they’re hot. Scorching hot. And sometimes all three at the same time. Take, for example, this exchange just after they give in to the heat between them after so many years apart.
She shrugged and turned her face away before her cheeks caught fire. “It had been a while.”
His finger on her hot cheek turned her face toward him. “A few months?”
“Drop it.” She took a drink. Maybe if she got drunk enough, she’d think the whole thing was funny. There probably wasn’t enough booze in the world for that, though.
“A year?” At her silence his brows shot up his forehead. “A year and a half?”
“I’m a mother. I work and take care of Conner. When I have time without him, I get a pedicure.”
“A foot rub is no substitute for good sex.”
“Depends on the quality of the foot rub. Some people are good at it. Others just can’t get the good spots.”
Autumn and Sam have so much to get over before they can have their happily ever after. But once they forgive each other and themselves, their final reunion left me wishing the story wasn’t over.
In fact, the only bad thing I can say about this book is that I woke up with Shania Twain in my head every day while I was reading it. Definitely annoying, but worth it.
Heat: 5 (Scorching)
Released April 26, 2011