By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
The heroine of this book is just so... clean. Seriously, in the first 24 hours of the story, she took one bath and two showers. -And it's not like she'd been exerting herself doing anything crazy or dirty to merit all that bathing: no, in those twenty-four hours, she slept (alone) on clean sheets and then sat around in a vineyard watching a photo shoot all day. However, bathing = being naked, which leads to imagining the hero naked, which leads to imagining other things, and imagination shortly leads to action, so as a plot device, I guess all that bathing served a purpose.
I like romance series featuring families. Shannon Stacey's Kowalskis series is a contemporary favorite. Stephanie Laurens' Cynster books were a big part of my introduction to the romance genre (though, wow, is it well past time for Laurens to move on to another project). I picked up this first book of the Sullivans series because it features a family of eight kids, and I figured if it was good, the series would be likely to keep me busy for awhile.
I liked Andre's writing style. The plot moves along, the characters are relatable, the Sullivan family seems like people I'd like to know better. I'll probably keep up with the series, but this book wasn't the strongest start. There just wasn't much to it. The entire book takes place over the course of four days, two and a half of which are pretty much sex-sex-sex-sex-sex. Which, you know, is fine: I like sex, and in a contemporary setting, I don't care if people hop right into bed together. We're all adults, here.
The problem is that the dramatic conflict was a little ... lacking. When we meet Chloe, the heroine, she's got a bruised cheek and a busted car. It's clear someone hit her, probably her ex, but we're kept in the dark for two thirds of the book until she finally decides to trust the hero (who she's been banging for two days already) with the story:(show spoiler)
So, yeah, I get that someone who's just been battered would be a little gun shy about trusting someone else, except that Chloe really isn't: she keeps saying she needs to take things slowly, keep things light, whatevs, and then she... doesn't. Like I said, the ENTIRE romance takes four days.
Also, as a domestic violence prosecutor, I cringed throughout the entire subplot having to do with Chloe's assault. She kept telling herself she needed to call the police, and then not doing it. While I understand the impulse to avoid an unpleasant experience, if you are a victim of a crime, your story seems less credible every minute that goes by and you don't report it. I kept thinking of how a defense attorney would tear her up on the witness stand if she ever had to testify:
Question: You must've been on the way to the police station when you crashed your car, right?
Answer: Uh, no. I'm not sure where I was going, actually.
Question: But when you crashed, and Mr. Sullivan stopped to help you, you asked him to take you right to the police, yes?
Answer: Um, no, actually. I asked him to take me to a cheap hotel.
Question: And did he?
Answer: Er, no. He took me to a fancy guesthouse at his brother's winery.
Question: There must have been a phone there, right? Did you call the police then?
Answer: Uh, actually, No. I mean, yes, there was a phone, but I didn't call police.
Question: No? Well, what did you do?
Answer: Well, I took a bubble bath. -And, I, er, kind of got distracted. <*witness is mumbling, blushes crimson, looks at her lap not at jury.*>
That's some reasonable doubt, there, that is.