19 y.o. heroine has been fantasizing about 35y.o. covert CIA-agent Hero for years.
She sets out to turn her wild imaginings into reality when she finds out that he’s in town for a visit.
They quickly indulge in a hot and heavy affair.
However, it has to be kept a secret. They expect people to be shocked & upset about their new relationship because Hero is her father’s adopted brother. When they announce their engagement and their romance becomes public, their eagerness for their marriage is darkened by the knowledge that they can’t get married because Hero is still married. It doesn’t help that they only get to spend a weekend every 2 months because of Hero’s constant travel for his CIA work. He can’t disclose what he’s doing and where he’s going. And heroine is increasingly worried about how long their relationship and his life will last due to his dangerous job. How can their relationship withstand all these trials?
Clever yet straightforward writing. I liked how this book immediately drags you into the thick of things—emotional, sexual, and relational. Towers doesn’t mince words and just gives it to you straight but with lots of excitement and action. Since it’s an erotic romance, we get plenty of steamy and detailed sex scenes. But it’s wrapped in the strong emotions Hero and heroine have for each other. So emotional and sexual tension between them is resonant all throughout the book. The forbidden aspect of their relationship certainly heightened this tension. What makes the writing clever is how it tackles the forbidden. It looks like it's forbidden but when you examine it closely it really is not. It flirted with some taboo topics enough to titillate but without crossing those boundaries.
--------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details ----------------
1. the pseudo-incest
She basically grew up thinking that Hero was her uncle. Then, at age 16, she finds out he’s adopted & had no blood ties to her. So her hero-worship of him turned into a lusty infatuation. What didn’t make it so icky to me is that they didn’t spend much time together at all when heroine was growing up. Hero worked as a field officer for military & CIA since heroine was a year old and was mostly overseas. He came to visit them only a handful of times. What she knew about him was from stories their relatives regaled about his James-Bond-like exploits from letters & postcards he sent them.
2. the pseudo-cheating
Hero married his former partner years ago for work and security reasons. Their covert identity was that of a married couple & they had to legitimize it as part of their dangerous operation. He thought the CIA took care of the divorce proceedings of which he signed but it evidently fell through the cracks. So he was still married to his ex-partner (who was also his ex-lover) on paper and was technically cheating with heroine.
As Hero and heroine progress in their relationship, these taboo issues interestingly diminish. The strengthening of their bond as they go through the various trials together becomes the central focus. We see Hero cherish and protect heroine, constantly ensuring her happiness and safety. He was caring and sweet with her. It made whatever sugar-daddy or perverted-uncle questions I had fade away. With heroine, I had some questions about her motives & maturity level (i.e., rebellion, Electra complex, boredom). But we see her become a partner to Hero and not just somebody he was babying or protecting. I liked her inner strength, assertiveness, & protectiveness over him.
There was a lot of excitement in their relationship. It made me wonder how their relationship would fare without those external excitement and once the taboo stuff is removed when they get married. Towers begins to answer it towards the latter ¾ of the book. It was the first time ever that they spent more than a weekend every 2 months together. But it was still filled with unusual happenings, with people kidnapping them & trying to murder them. At this point, Hero and heroine are solidly in love and want permanence with each other. They’re getting to know more about each other but still have a good bit to go, especially with Hero used to not disclosing much due to his covert work. When everything settles down & they’re married, what will their relationship be like? Will they still be as hot for each other? What will Hero do after resigning from his CIA job? Is heroine going back to school? How will their baby affect their relationship, especially their insatiable sex life? I hope Towers answers these questions in the subsequent books in the series.
I heartily recommend this book.