26yo photojournalist Hero is back in town since he left heroine abruptly 4 years ago. He goes straight to the house of 24yo bartender heroine like he always does when he’s in town.
He’s made a habit of crashing at her place for sex and comfort since they became lovers 8 years before.
And he usually leaves her without any contact until the next time he’s back in town again. She no longer wants to be used by him and wants to put her foot down this time. Hero is shocked by how different she’s become. She’s more settled and no longer strung out on drugs and alcohol.
And she’s saying ‘no’ to him for the first time ever. It doesn’t stop him from seducing her but he can’t deny that things are different between them now. How will her changes affect their relationship in the long run?
This novella was short but heavy. Both characters carried a lot of baggage in their personal lives and their dysfunctional relationship. Heroine battled addiction to alcohol and drugs plus her destructive relationships with Hero, her sister, and her father. Hero battled with the trauma of his work as an international photojournalist and the dysfunction of his broken family. That’s a lot of issues to tackle with already without adding in heroine’s estranged child with another man and the town residents’ gossiping about their relationship. Amazingly, the author managed to put all these pieces together that fit together and flowed well. Not that everything was resolved. In fact, most issues were not, which made it realistic. What made all the heavy emotional content easier to handle was Hero and especially heroine’s willingness to change and improve their lot in life. Heroine was Hero’s longtime booty call and she was done with it. Hero was a selfish user but he did care for heroine. The changes heroine made set off changes in Hero and their relationship. And that’s what we see in this book. It’s heroine’s inner strength and ability to survive gross mistakes that gave way to a better romance for them. Her saying ‘no’ to Hero (even though she changed it later) was the impetus to change their one-sided relationship. The sex was still hot but now it was finally personal for both. Now that heroine was no longer an easy lay Hero was forced to think about her needs and wants and work at being with her. Finding out what she went through since he last saw her shocked him and shook him. It made him see how much value she had in his life.
The details were not easy to stomach (i.e., drugged-out & drunken sex, suicidal attempt, other lovers in between for both, child neglect) but the redemptive work heroine has gone through and we see Hero going through somehow makes the bad easier to handle.
I recommend this book.