From the BLURB:
Getting tangled up in fantasies about some man Joy saw maybe five or six times a year was ridiculous.
And it wasn't like Gray ever encouraged her. He remembered her name. But that was as far as it ever got. Well, except in her dreams. In real life, however, the attraction was totally one-sided.
Or so she thought. Joy couldn't believe it when her daydreams about Grayson Bennett, political consultant and heartthrob extraordinaire, seemed poised to become reality. When he noticed her--really noticed her. When he gazed at her with the same desire he'd inspired in her for years. But was sweet, small-town Joy a match for arrogant, big-city Gray, ruthless about all things--except opening his heart?
This is the second book in Jessica Bird’s (J.R. Ward’s) ‘Moorehouse Legacy’ series. This book concerns youngest Moorehouse sibling, Joy, and the man she’s loved since she was a little girl – Gray Bennett.
Gray is a political analyst and belongs to the wealthiest family in town. He’s been periodically returning home to the Adirondack Mountains a couple of times a year for as long as Joy can remember. And for just as long Joy has been in love with him.
Gray was totally unaware of Joy’s infatuation, until last summer (in the book ‘Beauty and the Black Sheep’) when he noticed Joy grew up. A bikini-covered encounter led Gray to realize that the little girl he once watched ride her bike, pigtails swinging, has grown into a beautiful young woman. So begins his infatuation…
Gray is just the kind of leading man J.R. Ward excels in writing. He had a somewhat fractured childhood – forced to watch his mother’s adulterous hijinks and his politician father’s stoic acceptance of his wife’s cheating. As a result, Gray has a skewed view of marriage and monogamy – not helped by his job on Capitol Hill which has him witness the many adulterous affairs that make and break political careers. Gray is innately distrusting of women and jaded about romance in general.
Joy Moorehouse is likewise just the kind of female savior J.R. Ward loves to pair with her troubled men. She has been pining after Gray since she was a little girl, and has even remained a virgin until the age of 27 purely because no other man could compare to Mr. Bennett. Joy is sweet, nurturing, loyal and a complete contradiction to Gray.
The romance is quite sweet, partly because it was beautifully set up in book #1 ‘Beauty and the Black Sheep’. Even though it’s quite predictable, it is still interesting to watch 47-year-old Gray Bennett lose his heart to sweet, virginal 27-year-old Joy Moorehouse. The good news is that with this romance Jessia Bird comes closer to mimicking the sex scenes of J.R. Ward – she gets more graphic than she did in ‘Black Sheep’ and the smut is smoldering. The downside to the Gray/Joy romance is a LOT of back-and-forth “I want you but I can’t be with you, I love you but I can’t say it…” that gets a little old and repetitive, not to mention frustrating.
But when Gray and Joy aren’t denying their feelings, their romance is really quite sweet and endearing;
“You’re so beautiful right now,” he said in a guttural voice. “You take my damned breath away.”
He couldn’t help himself. He put his mouth on hers, swallowing her sigh of satisfaction. But as much as it killed him, he kept the kiss light.
“I want you. Never doubt that,” he said. “All you have to do is look at me and I’m hard, ready, starved. I can’t remember what it’s like not to ache.”
Bird once again beautifully sets up the next storyline for eldest brother, Alex Moorehouse. There are just enough tidbits to tantalize, but not so much that it detracts from the central romance of Joy and Gray.
I love this series; it’s all the best bits of J.R. Ward but in a contemporary romance.