When it comes to impeccably written, engaging, clever, super sexy romantic comedies, Nicola Rendell is quickly becoming a top go-to author for me. Her wit and sense of humour shine through her every word, painting her characters with so much energy and pizzazz, they literally bounce off the pages and captivate the reader with the many delightful emotions they stir in us. Set against the vibrant backdrop of a charming small town on the Gulf Coast of Florida and its many eccentric residents, this story had all the winning components that I seek in a stress-free read—comedy, crackling sexual chemistry, sparkling dialogues—but I never expected to fall for the characters so hard, so soon. I couldn’t get enough of their quirks and whims, devouring page after page as I either giggled myself silly at their antics, or spontaneously combusted from their scrumptious romps between the sheets, because this book is the full package in every possible way. And I already want to read it again.
“Give me your number. Let me take you out for dinner.”
Her smile dissolves into a scowl. “You married?”
I shake my head slowly. “I’m a lot of things, but married definitely isn’t one of them.”
Shake my head again. “Nope.”
She takes her starfish charm between thumb and forefinger and loops the chain over her lip. “Under any restraining orders? Involved in a complicated love triangle that your Match.com profile describes as an open marriage? Divorced five times and counting? Polyamorous?”
When Penelope “Penny” Darling and Russell “Russ” Macklin cross paths at a luggage claim carousel in Port Flamingo, Florida, their attraction is immediate and little short of explosive, and despite the fleeting nature of their encounter, the impression they leave on each other is all but passing. So when a case of mistaken suitcases then brings Russ to Penny’s doorstep, it would seem that Cupid is smiling upon them. And even as their first date ends in urgent care, and Penny’s giant of a dog does not look sold on the idea of a new man in their life, the chemistry between Russ and Penny is so off the charts, it rapidly skyrockets in the bedroom.
“We cannot be a thing. You’re here for a week. You’re from Hollywood. You wear dress shirts and wool pants. Look at you, look at me. A week is hardly enough time for an avocado to ripen. Last night is just that, last night. Past tense.”
But with Russ’ visit to Port Flamingo planned as only a week-long stay, their moments together are numbered from the start, and no matter how soon they begin having genuine feelings for one another, or how much they both wish their realities were different, they know that allowing themselves to fall in love would only cause them heartbreak. Yet their hearts refuse to stop hoping.
We head down the shore together. Halfway down the point, I look back at our parallel footprints, threading their way along the damp sand. In our footprints, it is all so beautifully simple. There’s no worry about flings there, or complications. It’s a man and a woman and a dog. A little family. And the thing, I realize, looking back of the long line of prints, that I never knew I was aching to have.
Not until now.
They make the most of every second they get to spend together, exploring each other’s bodies and trying their best not to fall in love, but as their every touch begs for more and their hearts grow fonder by the minute, their little fling is all but little from the get-go. And once Penny’s dog Guppy finally starts warming up to Russ, they know they are in trouble with a capital T.
“You make me feel like I’m everything. Like I’m the only woman in the world.”
But as the true reason of Russ’ visit to Port Flamingo comes to light, everything they’ve built between them is suddenly put into question, and Penny must decide if she could ever trust a man who entered her life under false pretences.
He started with a lie, and it’ll end with more lies. I won’t be a part of any of it.
This was a scorching hot and wickedly funny story that I consumed in one sitting, loved every single minute of it, and missed the moment it ended. There is something so irresistible about two people whose emotional attachment grows before our eyes even faster than they can rip the clothes off each other, and the way Russ loves Penny, or the way Penny loves Russ, or the way both Penny and Russ love Guppy, brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. Nicola Rendell delivers an erotic yet touching love story that strikes to the heart of the reader and showcases once again her skilful control of the characters she creates. And even when all the stars are aligned against them, she never stops making us believe that love makes everything possible.
“The way we fuck isn’t for public bathrooms, Penny.”