It doesn’t happen too often that an author blows me away with two new books in such a short span of time, but Penelope Douglas is that kind of author, and her voice is always so fresh and unexpected, that I never know what kind of trill-ride she will take me on next. And while this book is so very different from any of her previous works, with somewhat older characters and new thought-provoking themes, her powerful writing style is ever-present, this time offering a forbidden love story that is so much more than it appears. I loved this book madly, finding myself addicted to its every mouth-watering scene, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking not just a great book, but an unforgettable one too.
“I found myself not wanting this evening to end any way other than in his arms.”
Two strangers meet at a party. They flirt, they tease, they lose themselves in one another for a few stolen moments in time. But even as their bodies beg for more, their chance encounter all too soon comes to an end without them truly learning anything about each other. Six month later, their eyes unexpectedly meet across the empty rows of a classroom, but the excitement from seeing each other after so long disappears the moment they both realise they can never touch each other again.
“Easton was a woman I’d wanted in my bed, but Ms. Bradbury was off limits. The lines were there, clear as day, and not to be breached.”
A former tennis prodigy and now a newly appointed history teacher at an elite private school in New Orleans, Easton Bradbury’s tragic young life has turned the twenty-three-year-old into a woman whose daily little compulsions mask a much deeper need to control every aspect of her life, to never lose her independence, or put her fate in someone else’s hands again. She is reserved, emotionally aloof, and while she avoids intimacy and never allows herself to open up to a man long enough to connect with him, her heart aches to be more carefree, to laugh more, and to occasionally just let go of all control.
“Do you have any friends? Who was the last person to make you laugh? When was the last time you went to bed with someone more than once?”
When Tyler Marek walks into his son’s classroom expecting to meet his new history teacher, he cannot believe the woman standing before him is the same woman he’s been fantasising about for the past six months. A self-made billionaire and aspiring politician, Tyler is a man driven by his ambitions and his need to excel in all aspects of his professional life, but his race to the top has cost him his relationship with a son he barely knows and who cannot stand the sight of him. The only person who gets through to him is his new teacher, Ms. Bradbury, and while her progressive teaching methods might show him a way to communicate with his own son, everything else about the feisty, strong-minded young woman fails to fit into his life. Yet he cannot get her out of his head, drawn to her unpredictable personality like a moth to a flame, and thus brazenly pursuing her every chance he gets.
“With her, I had no idea what the next hour held, much less the next week or month.”
As they commence a secret affair that could potentially destroy both their careers, they discover that there is a lot more to their connection than either of them expected. The chemistry between them is undeniable, incinerating the pages with their scorching passion and need to completely lose themselves in each other, and for a little while, they allow themselves to pretend a short-lived fling is all they would ever want from one another. But when the time comes for Tyler to make an important choice in his life by finally setting his priorities straight, something has to give, and it might be what his heart wants to keep the most.
“I’ve never wanted anyone again and again. But when I think about you, I get excited.”
A truly splendid tale that might have started as a forbidden romance between two people who stood to lose everything by simply loving one another, but this book ended up being so much more than that. It’s a story of two people learning to accept and embrace their own vulnerabilities and limitations, and realising what was missing in their lives all along. It’s a story of a parent connecting with their child, learning how to communicate with them and earn their trust for the first time. And it’s a story about recognising what matters the most in life, and having the courage to correct one’s own mistakes. I have loved every single book by this extraordinary author, each story touching my heart deeply and always in a different way, but this book might just be my new favourite of hers. I never wanted it to end, nervously grasping onto each word, and wishing I could make them last longer on a page. This story had everything I always hope to find in a great book—explosive chemistry between the characters, a heart-warming romance, an engaging storyline that keeps me glued to the pages, a compelling backstory that showcases the many colourful facets of these characters, phenomenal writing—and I loved every addictive minute of it.
I don’t even know why I am still surprised by the way Ms Douglas’ books affect me time and time again, because even though I have come to expect greatness from her every single time I open one of her books, the way her stories hook me in is something I never want to get used to. An absolute must-read.
“So you count things. What’s your favorite number?”
“Eight… Eight is perfect. Two groups. Four in each group making two couples in each group… I’m crazy. That’s what you’re thinking.”
“I’m thinking you’re beautiful. And if you need everything in eights, it could be a long night.”