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Annie O’Malley’s dream of owning a secondhand bookstore in tight-knit Audubon Springs is coming true. Still reeling from her parents’ sudden deaths, she believes that signs or messages can be found within the pages of books. She loves her job and has made plenty of friends but longs for the acceptance only love and a family can provide.
Tony Iuliano is there to fix the wiring in her shop. He doesn’t believe in fate, magic, or the power of a good book. All this combined with his sexy-as-sin presence and all-knowing attitude infuriates Annie. The quirky bookworm intrigues him enough to accept her bet to read a book from her shop. When he discovers a stack of fifty-year-old love letters in the book, he wants to leave the past alone, but seeing it as a sign, Annie challenges him to read the letters and search for the long-lost lovers or lose the bet.
While shaking the dust off several ill-fated romances and fighting their attraction at every turn, the pair soon become the town gossip daily special. If they can stop arguing long enough, they may just discover this particular sign was meant for them all along.
“You should leave.” In a few jerky strides she reached the door and swung it open. “Until you can admit why you’re here, I don’t want you here.”
His hand came out of nowhere, startling her. He pushed the door shut and stood behind her, towering over, surrounding her with his heat. “What were you thinking, leaving with Quinn?” His voice rough in her ear, set her every nerve ending on fire.
Shaking, she turned to face him, but he didn’t step back. Instead he leaned on his forearm against the door above her head. Their mouths nearly collided. His scent, of the ball field and man, filled her lungs.
“I didn’t leave with him, he followed me out.” Unlike with Quinn, where she wanted to flee, she wanted Tony to lean forward, press his body against hers, give in to the desire in his eyes, and the heat rolling from him wrapping her in delicious waves.
His gaze shifted to her mouth, he licked his lips then looked back in her eyes. She bit her lower lip. Kiss me! His eyes drifted to her mouth again. He cupped her jaw with his free hand, looked in her eyes, then stepped away with a low curse. “What am I doing?”
“That’s what I’d like to know?” Stunned and frustrated, she leaned against the door. Blood pumped in her ears, a mix of desire and boiling anger. Impossible! How many times was he going to do this to her? Bring her to the edge of desire only to turn away? Maybe she needed to ask, how many times she’d let him? Chest heaving, she looked at him, a solid wall of muscle and conflicted man.
She’d come to this precipice with him as many times as it took.
Okay, this is the second straight M/F contemporary of the year that I have read and reviewed that mainly focused on the hero and heroine. Guess what? I loved it. The hero, Tony and the heroine, Annie were two engaging and funny characters that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. Their romance was sweet, frustrating but in the end well worth it. Plus, there are NO outside forces trying to keep them apart. It was only themselves that didn’t see what was right in front of them all along. Who knew, right?
Annie is the bookworm, quirky at times but a romantic at heart. Challenging Tony to read a book and then for him to find some old love letters in it. Great set up for all kinds of goodness and at times heartbreak to come. I liked Annie from the start. She is fun, smart and unfortunately has more than “friendly” feelings for Tony. She never talked “down” to Tony and believe the one scene when he has her up against a wall in her shop…Wow! Just wow!
Tony on the other hand, is gruff but sweet and frustrated as hell when it comes to Annie. He would never admit that he loves her but he does. He views himself as not very smart and doesn’t see how a woman like Annie would even think about liking him. In some, I felt like he was stuck back in high school with his thinking when it came to Annie. Opposites can and do attract but he was too stubborn at times to realize it. I will say, that once he figured it out…get out of his way. He had a woman to catch.
What really made the story for me, other than the romance, was the letters. The letters brought out good and bad in some secondary characters but once the true owners of the letters was revealed, I just about cried. It was sweet and tied together the town’s views and in some ways, Annie and Tony’s views on their relationship. I can’t tell you anymore because it would spoil the twist. Speaking of secondary characters…Tony’s cousin Mia was all kinds of awesome. She gave as good as she got from Tony and in some ways Annie.
Overall, I really don’t have a bad thing to say about the book, the characters, pacing or the plot. It is a sweet but good lord, the beach scene (bring a fan) the sexual tension was great. You could feel the frustration in both Tony and Annie at some points in the book. I love that. There is no insta anything and when it all comes down to it; it isn’t about sex but the emotional connection that Tony and Annie have with one another and can they really try to make it work. Plus, why or why did I picture a very young Andrew Dice Clay as Tony? I love the Dice Man but it who I pictured as Tony. Don’t judge.
RoseAnn DeFranco grew up in upstate NY with her nose in a book and a song in her heart. Following the pursuit of a musical theatre career in NYC, she turned her creative energy to writing romance. RoseAnn blogs about her writing experiences with her critique partners at www.the violetfemmes.com. A NJ shore transplant, she enjoys time spent at the beach with her family. She would love to one day live in a quaint shore town like the fictional town Audubon Springs from her BROTHERS OF AUDUBON SPRINGS series. More information about these Contemporary Romantic Comedies can be found at www.radefranco.com.