Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.
Publication Date: February 21, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Maggie is done with men. Flying to Minneapolis, she’s seated beside the type of man she always falls for. A sexy, arrogant alpha jerk. Mace Williams irritates the woman next to him. She’s so damn sexy, he doesn’t care. When their seatmate suffers a cardiac arrest, Maggie and Mace team up to save his life, but it’s too late. In Minneapolis, Maggie heads to a restaurant with her sister, only to find Mace waiting. Worse, she learns he’s the brother of her sister’s fiance. Stuck in her sister’s apartment with Mace, Maggie offers him one night of sex, anything goes. No obligations, no recriminations. Mace agrees…he wants more than Maggie’s body, he wants her heart. Thrown into a disastrous canoe trip, they must work together to survive. Maggie must face her demons and trust Mace with her life. Mace is determined to save her, regardless of what the future brings.
I’ve been a fan of Julia’s since reading her stunning book, Come Back To Me – if you haven’t read it yet, go do it. Seriously. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate a couple of things about her writing: she’s fearless about genre-jumping and she’s got some of the most interesting life experiences that she can use as jump-off points for a story. This book in particular is based on an experience Julia and her husband had at the Boundary Waters region in Minnesota, when they were stuck with an ill-prepped guide who let them run out of food and got them lost. While that would have been enough to make me catatonic, fortunately she was made out of something a little stronger and the result is this sexy and often funny story with the added bonus of the gorgeous – and dangerous - Boundary Waters backdrop.
Maggie’s having an a, b, c or d type day so far, as in “pick one.” Which one is worse: a) being stuck in a crowded airport lounge for over an hour listening to an ass on a Bluetooth go on and on for more than an hour: b) finding out the ass – who is a doctor and has a very nice one – ass, that is – is headed to Minneapolis like she is: c) having their seatmate die mid-flight or d) finding out Dr. Gorgeous Nice Ass is really the brother of her future brother-in-law that she’s meeting in Minneapolis during her visit with her sister. She’s picking option e, all of the above.
Mace couldn’t be happier that he’s seeing Maggie again. He thought she was gorgeous at the airport and admired the way she handled the mid-air crisis. He decided some of her irritation with him was a natural nurse/doctor thing and whatever was left, he’d easily handle with his charm.
Thninking some blisteringly hot sex would get him out of her system, Maggie and Mace have a night of no-strings, no-holds barred passion that she tries to walk away from, not knowing that her sister and his brother have set them up together for four days of canoeing through Boundary Waters in Minnesota, alone except for two extremely incompetent (hilariously so) guides.
Maggie’s biggest obstacle to overcome isn’t getting out of Boundary Waters when she and Mace get left behind in the storm, it’s overcoming her distrust of men and learning to trust Mace with her heart. She’s been burned too often and too badly by smooth-talking handsome guys and she doesn’t believe in her own judgment anymore when it comes to her feelings beyond sex. I loved that she was allowed to be just as strong and capable as Mace was when it came to their physical situation and in a few cases, more so. She wasn’t afraid to be honest or vulnerable (or pee in the woods). The author made her a full, rich, three-dimensional woman.
Mace’s background was a little bit of a puzzle, which was a slight issue for me. There was a lot going on and this really was Maggie’s story so I didn’t put as much weight on it as I normally might. He was wonderfully written – just enough arrogance and confidence to be funny, and smart enough to know that he could trust Maggie’s capabilities. Sexy? Oh, yes. The doctor likes to be in charge.
We come to the portion of the review where I speak about the sexiness because I take one for the team that way and read those parts carefully. There was a lot of sexiness. And it was red-hot, indoors, outdoors and on one occasion, involved some dominance and the use of butter. I’m from the dairy state. I’m not sure we sanction the use of butter for that purpose, but at that point, I was all for it.
My Summary: This is a great example of different elements coming together to make a really good story. The emotional arc of a woman learning to trust herself again to love a good man, blended with the high adventure of a life and death struggle in the unforgiving wilderness had me glued to the pages of the story. The author’s obvious knowledge (and likely mastery) of the sport of canoeing and of the Boundary Waters region shines through and makes the story all that more enjoyable for its authenticity. This is definitely a recommend.
My Rating: A-