From the BLURB:
The force of those eyes hit Frankie Moorehouse like a gust of wind.
But she quickly reminded herself that she had dinner to get ready, the staff of White Caps B&B (such as it was) to motivate. She didn't have the luxury of staring into a stranger's face.
Although, jeez, what a face it was.
And wasn't it just her luck that the owner of that face, Nate Walker - with his rebel attitude and distaste for authority - was the chef her restaurant desperately needed, and he was staying for the summer...
And...it was a bit too tempting to let this breath of fresh air sweep her off her feet. Because all work and no play had been Frankie's motto for much too long!
This is Jessica Bird’s (aka J.R. Ward’s) first book in the Mills & Boon ‘Moorehouse Legacy’ series (four books in total). The Moorehouse Legacy refers to a family estate in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. In its hey-day the Moorehouse Mansion was the pinnacle of the Moorehouse families success. But decades have past and the mansion, now the Moorehouse B&B, belongs to siblings Frankie, Joy and Alex. They inherited the house after their parents died in a sailing accident. Alex, the eldest son vanished soon after his parent’s death to pursue professional sailing. Frankie, second eldest, gave up a dream of studying business and moving to New York in order to run the B&B and support her youngest sister, Joy and their senile grandmother Grand-Em. The house is falling apart and Frankie’s behind on her mortgage payments and her chef has just quit.
Enter Nathaniel Walker. In a twist of fate Nate’s car breaks down not far from the B&B and he knocks on the back door and enters into a scene of complete chaos. After saving Frankie’s bacon, Nate offers to work at the Moorehouse B&B for six weeks.
If the whole premise sounds a little cheesy, that’s because it is. As the plot set up I was rolling my eyes a little bit at all the coincidences and happy circumstances – but it’s really only in the beginning that Bird asks you to suspend belief. Otherwise this is actually a pretty good Mills & Boon romance because the characters have real problems (monetary, unrequited love, death etc). The plot takes a few hard-nosed twists and turns that you wouldn’t expect to be so realistic in a Mills & Boon romance.
J.R. Ward (Jessica Bird) published this book the same year that ‘Dark Lover’ was released. There’s no sense of familiarity in ‘Beauty and the Black Sheep’, it is very different from J.R. Ward’s other books. The only consistency is in the male protagonist – she likes writing hero’s with shady pasts, some sort of trauma or ‘incident’ that affected them a great deal.
The sex scenes are the tamest of Ward’s I have ever read. There’s very little description and they only last a few paragraphs. This is about as graphic as it gets:
His body was taut over hers as he came back to her. She reached for his hips to pull him down, but he resisted, resting his forehead on hers. His breath was ragged.
“Frankie, look at me. I want to see your eyes.”
And then he sank into her body, filling her, stretching her. He was slow at first but then his thrusts gained power until she was climaxing again. As her body grabbed onto his, he went rigid, her name torn out of his throat.
Perhaps for that reason I didn’t really feel much spark between Frankie and Nate. Sure, they’re very sweet and clearly hot for each other – but it didn’t translate so much for me. In ‘Beauty and the Black Sheep’ other romances for future books are glimpsed – and I felt more excited (and sensed more sizzle) in those than I did in Frankie and Nate’s.
I didn’t love this book, but I really loved the set-up for future books. The previews of relationships for books #2, #3, and #4 had me very intrigued and eager to read more.