There are many authors I love, but only a handful I’d cancel Christmas for if one of their books was releasing on that day, and Nicola Rendell is one of those precious few for me. A rare and gifted storyteller, her stories are always so unique, so electric, so utterly satisfying in every possible way, but it is her whimsical writing style, the palpable magic between her characters, and her flair for making the ordinary extraordinary that have turned every one of her books into a treasured reading experience for me. As always, I was smitten from the very first page, and having now read this book twice in as many days, I just know that this is one of those books I’d want with me if I were ever stranded on a deserted island.
I believed, in my gut, that there was one woman out there for me. The one who would make me crazy with need. The one who made the world make sense. The one who would make me whole. Finding that woman, if she existed at all, was proving harder than tracking down all the urban legends put together.
For thirty-five-year-old Gabe Powers, the world is truly his oyster. As host of a popular reality television show, Gabe travels the globe hunting for urban legends and unsolved mysteries, and it is while chasing ghosts in Savannah, Georgia that he accidentally solves one of life’s greatest riddles of all—finding the one. There might have been Fourth of July fireworks lighting up the night sky above them, but from the moment Gabe lays eyes on Lily Jameson across a crowded park, she is all he sees, and his every thought then becomes consumed with her. Their attraction is immediate, intense and inescapable from the get-go, and it isn’t long before they’re burning up the sheets.
There were a lot of mysteries in the world, but the way I felt about her wasn’t one of them. She was the one I wanted. She was the one I had been looking for.
So when Lily is suddenly hired as Gabe’s new sound engineer while filming his show in Savannah, a pesky no-fraternisation clause in her employee contract quickly stops them from taking their relationship any further. Only one of them, however, is dead set on adhering to the rules, while the other remains entirely undeterred in his pursuit of a woman he knows he is falling more deeply in love with by the day. And before long, they are unrepentantly and wholeheartedly surrendering to the white-hot chemistry between them. Any chance they get.
“I want to take you. Right here, right now.”
My breath came out as a shudder. If he came at me again, I was going to crack like an overstuffed taco shell. Just one more scoop of Gabe and I was a goner. “Noted,” I whispered.
He hooked my chin with his brawny finger and made me raise my eyes to his. “But instead I’ll get us out of here, take you to dinner, and pretend like fucking you hasn’t been the only item on the agenda since you nearly knocked me out. We clear?”
I was stunned with desire. Shivering with need. Pulsing with please, please, please. Yet somehow, in the midst of all of it, I hung on tight to the antique doorknob and managed to whisper out the only word that was left in my head. “Crystal.”
But mind-blowing passion and growing feelings aside, their vastly different realities continue to remind Lily of how much they’d both have to sacrifice just to have a future together, and how someone like her could never be part of the world where Gabe feels most at home. She feels inadequate in his great big life, but loves him too much to force him into her little one, so she pushes him away, breaking both their hearts in the process.
I adored him. I adored his spirit and laughter, the way he looked at me and the way he made me feel. I adored his unchecked love and his unstoppable passion. But that didn’t change a thing. It didn’t change that we had been swept up in a handful of days of pure madness. How we felt didn’t change who we were or where we came from.
For a romance that grows by leaps and bounds from one scene to the next, we can feel Lily and Gabe’s connection in every one of them, and there is not a moment between them that we don’t believe that connection. Nicola Rendell is a master at breathing life into her characters through the small details, through the engaging dialogues between them, through warm scenes of everyday life that tell us more about them than any description ever could, creating a story that is driven entirely by the characters within it. There are about a trillion things I loved about this story—just the idea of an urban legend hunting hero had me at hello—but an African grey parrot called General totally steals the show, and I still catch myself giggling every time I think of him.
Gabe glanced at me, clearly a bit puzzled. “Lily. That’s just a parrot.”
I set down my keys and hung my purse on the hook next to the door. It was a logical enough thing to say. But logic didn’t really apply to a creature that could distinguish between organic and nonorganic cauliflower. “And Jaws was just a shark.”