There are some romance authors that get it right every single time and Jennifer Probst is one of those authors. Her delicious stories tantalise your senses, they keep you in a constant state of arousal and cheeriness, the only dilemma in your mind being – wine or chocolate?
In this provocative sequel to The Marriage Bargain, our heroine is Maggie, a successful young photographer whose love life is as colourful as it is unfulfilling. She guards her heart fiercely, her fear of rejection holding her back from believing in ever finding love. But Maggie craves to be loved, to have a man look at her with possession and devotion – her unemotional upbringing has made her hungry for affection, secretly hopeful that every man she takes to bed would end up “slaying the demons in the evening and be enough under the harsh morning light”. She is lonely, tired of being alone and her past traumas have made her believe that she would never be truly wanted by anyone, never good enough.
“Nothing was worse than that empty, gnawing feeling in her stomach when she rolled over and realized the man next to her was not The One. Would never be The One.”
Michael has been a thorn in Maggie’s sight ever since their failed blind date over a year ago. Now they find themselves in Italy, Michael’s homeland, in an unconventional agreement of pretend-marriage and desperately trying to deny the sizzling attraction between them. But while they are convinced to be all wrong for each other and to have nothing in common, Maggie and Michael are a lot more alike than they realise. They have been looking for the same thing in life, the same empty search for a ‘soul mate’ both troubling them as well as filling them with hopelessness.
“Do you take them to bed to escape the loneliness, hoping it will end up to be more? Do you wake up in the morning with a sick feeling in your stomach, knowing you lied to yourself again? Do you wonder if you’re meant to be alone? Wonder if something deep down is holding you back?”
Michael wants a woman to challenge him, with a strong independent streak on the outside and a kind and loving heart on the inside. Deep down, he longs for a woman that is “wild, untamed, contradictory, and stubborn.” Maggie awakens this unconscious longing in him, he finds himself desperate to peel off her defences, one by one, and make her reveal her true self to him. He senses that something is holding her back from admitting her feelings for him and he patiently attempts to knock that wall down brick by brick.
“… there was a cool detachment in her aura, surrounding her like a thicket of thornbushes with nasty-looking spines. Look, but don’t touch. Touch, but don’ feel. Her emotions were locked up and controlled to a point of strangling.”
He senses her need to feel loved, her lingering pain and yearning to form a lasting attachment to someone, but he also struggles with his own reluctance to admit that she might actually be exactly what he’s been looking for all along. Michael finds himself unable to fight his attraction to Maggie any longer – the more he gets to know her, the deeper his feelings for her become. Her unpredictable personality and smart mouth are his undoing. Their connection is electric, intense, overconsuming. Before they know it, they are ‘stripped-bare’ before one another, with no walls between them, fighting for control over their emotions and over one another.
“She twisted everything inside of him until he vibrated at a high pitch, and she made the long line of women he’d taken to bed fade away into nothingness. She was prickly, hardheaded, honest to a fault, and hid a soft center that melted his heart.”
The build-up of sexual chemistry between the main characters, the anticipation, the will-they-won’t-they will leave you breathless. Ms Probst’s stories are pure escapism at its finest – they awaken the hopeless romantic in you and they fill your dreams with sexually-charged fantasies of meant-to-bes. This book is a worthy sequel to a favourite of mine and it only makes me wish for this series to never end.