I sometimes seriously wonder what all these turbulent romantic stories that I ravenously read have done to my perception of ‘romance’ itself and it is books like this one that amplify those questions in my head even more. Why is it that I feel like I need industrial quantities of angst in a fictional relationship to feel satisfied at the end of it? Has my romance-sensor become broken??
This is a lovely story of two alike individuals unknowingly looking for the same things in life. Their chance encounter starts as a disaster but it blossoms into attraction that neither of them are able to suppress. Natalie is an independent professional, a kind and generous friend, with no immediate family and scars from her past that never properly healed. She is a reformed former wild child whose priorities in life became clear to her when she suddenly found herself with no loving family of her own. When she loves, she loves deeply and wholeheartedly, but she rarely opens her heart to a man.
“… when I was in college, I didn’t think much of myself. And therefore, neither did anyone else. I didn’t date as a choice …. But sex was something I understood. I’ve never wanted to feel anything else for a man.”
Luke’s life has been the polar opposite of Natalie’s. While her career as a photographer allows her to hide behind the lens and make others express the intensity of emotions that she keeps buried inside, Luke has lived in and been deeply burned by the limelight. As a former movie star, he now lives in constant fear of being recognised and of people invading his privacy. Their connection is initially born out of anonymity, Natalie not recognising Luke, but their growing connection has nothing to do with who they are and everything to do with what they crave in life the most – someone to trust their heart with.
As their relationship develops it simply flat-lines. They are faced with very few bumps in the road, making this decidedly the least angsty love story I have ever read. Even when they fight, they forgive each other soon after – they simply float in their blissful little love bubble, building their relationship rather than tearing it down, perhaps offering us doomed angst-addicted romantics a different point of view on love in general. There is a certain desperation to their connection, a hopeless need to stay together and fight to make it work, making this a story of ‘staying together’ rather than ‘fighting not to break up’.
“Don’t leave me.” He holds onto me tightly, clenching his eyes shut.
As perfect and smooth as the path before them might seem to us, this desperation is evident in the jealousy they are both guilty of nursing. Being well aware of the rarity of what they found in each other, they are confronted with the green-eyed-monster that they never knew they had in them. They are territorial, demanding, possessive and controlling, but they are also all those things equally, and it somehow works for them.
“You had your hands on her and the look on your face was the one you give me when you smile at me … You effectively ripped my heart out and stomped it to dust with just one look … Luke, I don’t want you anywhere near that woman. I don’t want you to work with her.”
If there is one thing that didn’t quite work for me it would have to be the abundant use of complimentary adjectives to describe the characters, both in dialogues as well as narrative. Luke’s ‘perfection’ in Natalie’s eyes is pointed out a few times too many, making the reader somewhat uncomfortable and exhausted from all the instances – “He is simply a Greek God. His body is perfect in every way.” However, all the well-written and deliciously visual hot lovin’ scenes make up for it and then some. They are sensual, they are toe-curling and they will make you gasp for more.
If there is a hopeless romantic somewhere in your DNA, look no further – this is the book for you. It made me question my tainted little heart but I most definitely struggled to put it down.