This book ticked ALL the boxes for me. I wanted a nicely paced and believable love story and a plot too – got it. I wanted loveable characters – got that too. I wanted sizzling chemistry between characters – definitely got that and then some. Needless to say, I ended buying the entire Colorado Mountain series after reading this book.
Nina is a complicated, passionate, emotional woman in her thirties who escapes to Colorado to have a “timeout” from her fiancé and her current life. As perfect as her life might appear, she has had her share of tragedies in her past, abusive relationships, neglectful father, loss of a beloved sibling, and what she craves the most at this point is stability. Her fiancé offers her that but that stability comes at a price – she feels lonely and unfulfilled – so she decides to take some time to think things through. She rents an idyllic house in the Colorado mountains, hoping to spend a week in solitude and reflection. She gets exactly the opposite of that. The house owner, Max, happens to be in town that week, making the house unavailable for renting. One bad case of sinusitis later and they end up not just sharing the house, but a bed too. And the story just rolls from there, like an avalanche, unstoppable and utterly unpredictable.
There was not one second of this story that I did not enjoy. Nina is as gutsy as a female character can get – she has no filter, the shortest fuse in the history of fuses, she overreacts, she explodes at the slightest thing that rubs her the wrong way, she holds nothing inside and takes no prisoners when she goes on one of her rants. But she is also a very loving and love-hungry young woman who craves a relationship where she feels cherished, needed, adored and never taken for granted. However, she never expected to find her perfect man in “Macho Mountain Man Max”.
Max is domineering. Max is overprotective. Max takes what he wants and he doesn’t apologise for it. Max does not take no for an answer. He is everything that Nina’s fiancé never was and never would be.
“I was your man, you were halfway around the world from me, honey, I’d f*cking phone you … If you told me you needed a timeout, first, I wouldn’t f*ckin’ let you have one. Second, I wouldn’t give you reason to f*ckin’ want one. And last, you took off anyway, I’d f*ckin’ phone.”
But Max also shows Nina the kind of love and attention that she has never had in her life. He is physical and he expresses his affection for her by holding her hand while he drives, by sliding his arm around her shoulders and pulling her into his side when they are sitting next to each other, by curling his hand around her neck when he wants her to pay attention to him, by snaking his arm around her waist when he is just standing behind her, by never forgetting how she likes her coffee, by making her feel confident and beautiful. Nina fights him at every turn but she cannot fight the way her body reacts to him or the way her heart falls hopelessly in love with him. Max is the ‘jing’ to Nina’s ‘jang’. While we never know how Nina will (over)react to things when she starts “seeing red”, Max never allows her to get away with her tantrums and challenges her to see things differently and more calmly. Every time they spoke to each other I couldn’t erase a stupid smile from my face. Their interactions made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I loved how irrational and insecure Nina would get and how Max would read her every single time and would erase all her doubts by communicating with her openly and honestly. There were no misunderstandings when Max wanted her to understand something. His language might not be fancy but he made his point every time. He was the only one who could extinguish the fire that raged inside Nina because he made her unafraid of giving her heart away to him.
“You just need to know, I gotta fight to keep what we got so we can build on it, I will. Him, your Dad, you, I don’t give a f*ck. In my life, I’ve learned when to let sh*t go and when to fight. This, babe, what we got, I’ll fight for.”
What also pleasantly surprised me in this story and made me love Nina even more was that the moment she felt that something started with Max, she broke it off with her fiancé back home. There was no real relationship overlap at any point. She did not keep one ‘on hold’ while she was figuring out the other. There was no adultery and that made me love the story even more.
“This happens between us, Duchess, I’d take care of you.”
“Die doin’ it,” he vowed.
Nothing in this book was rushed. The pace and the length of the story gave the reader time to fall in love with the characters, absorb the storyline, it allowed the characters to develop naturally and to forge bonds that never felt forced or hurried. There was a believable progression of events, as colourful and complicated as they eventually got, and there was enough angst and emotion to keep us helplessly glued to the pages, wanting more.
The secondary characters and storylines are also definitely worth noting. Each character was there to add to the plot, not just as a story filler. They were each carefully developed and helped to make this book a well-rounded and beautifully written read.
“You think to slide back, settle for something that made you run away because you think it’s safe, because it’s familiar, because you’re scared of takin’ a gamble on me, I’m warnin’ you now, Duchess, I’m not gonna allow that.”