BLOG REVIEW: Coming In From the Cold by Sarina Bowen

The only solace late-20s NYC grad-school dropout has lately are her chickens.
Her cheating ex-boyfriend left her in the small-town Vermont they moved to for California, leaving her financially constrained. Getting into a car accident with a stranger  
and getting stranded in his car during a snowstorm are just part of her recent string of bad luck.
Except for the strange connection they have and how it easily progressed into passion.
With both agreeing it's just a 1 time encounter between strangers. 29y.o. Hero lives only for the dare-devil challenge of professional alpine skiing.
As a way he's tried to outrun his demons. But accidentally seeing heroine again
makes him realize his attraction to her is 1 more thing that can overpower him.
As much as he wants to be with her,
he won't let himself.
And making herself vulnerable to him only pushes him to reject her,
breaking her heart in the process.
How can he get out of his personal hell? How can he make her trust him again?

I haven't read a regular Harlequin in years (I read Harlequin Presents instead) and now I'm wondering what I've been missing. This book has some explicit love scenes I didn't expect from a regular Harlequin book. I liked it and I'm hoping this is the norm. The explicit love scenes combined with the unstoppable emotional connection between Hero and heroine made this a good and speedy read. We got some hotness between the two as well as some angst from Hero's personal problems, giving their romance a forbidden aspect.  I loved it. We don't get to know exactly what made Hero unable to commit to heroine or to any other woman until about 70% of the book. So, we get this push and pull between their mutual feelings for each other and the barrier that only Hero knew about. It's a bit like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Lovers who want to be together are barred by external forces but snatch secret moments with each other. The biggest differences were that the external barriers to their romance are not people per se and have been internalized by Hero so he's a torn man, battling his growing attachment to heroine and his belief that he's doomed to be alone forever.  I really felt for him and felt his angst. Poor guy.


I also sympathized with heroine. She's made some poor choices, resulting in poorer results. Yet she didn't let it bring her down. Not so much because she's stupid or gullible because she confessed to acting so at times (i.e., her ex-boyfriend decisions).  But because she had a positive outlook on life and won't let circumstances steal her joy. Which given the way her life has been was pretty incredible really. It showed her inner strength and verve to not get beaten down by her tough life (i.e., put in foster care at age 4 due to alcoholic-drugged out parents, in foster care system for years, cheated on and left by her ex-boyfriend who she followed to Vermont from NYC 2 years ago, hard time finding a job, dropped out of grad school).  It's what I liked about her and it's 1 of the things that attracted Hero to her. His attitude was so different from her: closed-off and fatalistic. So he was taken aback by how she could still genuinely smile, had a ready laugh, and find comfort in feeding her chickens, when her life was in the dumps. Heroine was in no way perfect. She knew she tended to want to please others to overcompensate for being rejected. But she was working on it. I sometimes thought she forgave too easily but that was her nature and she did so knowing the consequences. She was insightful and faced things honestly, whether she was making the right choice or not. She was not a blamer or whiner. She accepted responsibility for what she did and tried to learn from her mistakes. 


Hero was a damaged man. Damaged by his belief about his life, rooted in the horrible suffering his mom and his brother went through due to their genetically-inherited illness. As a result, he protected himself and others by closing himself off to any emotional attachments since he was in his teens. He had never slept next to another woman nor has he wanted to until heroine. He never expected to have a normal life with a wife and kids. So, wishing for those things when he was with heroine disturbed him. And, when she made her confession, it terrified him. Thus, his cruel rejection of her.


     ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details------------


Heroine told him she was pregnant. And his immediate reaction was rage and suspicion, wondering if she planned it that way to get to him money like other women tried to do. He verbally lambasted her. Wondering if that baby was even his since he didn't know how often she had 1-night stands. And, when she confirmed it was him, he told her she was a "fuckup" and demanded she get an abortion ASAP. 


He resolved to be the last victim of their family illness. So having a baby that may have passed the illness to broke him and broke his silence about it. Enough to make him finally get genetic testing to confirm whether he or not he had the illness so he could present it as proof to heroine as the reason why she should really elect to abort their baby.  


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His rejection of her was motivated by caring and protection but he couldn't tell her the truth. But when she didn't follow through his demands, then he was forced to confront her with his secret via the test result. But the test result yielded unexpected findings and overturned his life and changed the fate of his relationship with heroine.


     ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details------------


The shock of not having the family sickness after all those years he suspected he had it made him do some major re-evaluation of his life and his future with heroine. It took some time for him to get over the shock of it all and begin trying for a second chance with heroine. He apologized for his cruel words, which he said he didn't mean. But I think he did mean his wanting her to get an abortion pre-test result. But now that he knew that their baby wasn't a carrier of his family's illness he wanted the baby. There was actually a moment where he thought heroine was at the hospital to get the abortion and he was distraught about it. 


His apology was genuine and he tried to atone for hurting her by: 

1.) laying himself out there for her and showing her can be different than his previously closed-off self. He was open about caring for her and wanting a life with her and their baby. 
2.) giving her the space to consider his apology and a second chance with him. It was a change from his cruel demands on her before.  I could sense his respect and consideration of her feelings and wishes.
3.) showing her that he wanted to be with her romantically. He slowed things down sexually so that she could see that he was interested in more than just sex with her. He also wanted to experience all the normal girlfriend-boyfriend activities like watching a movie on a couch together & sharing popcorn and snuggling.
4.) encouraging her to finish her doctorate and attain her career goal. He offered to support her and the baby so she can finish her degree without the problem of finances. He was hoping that she'd consider going to a school by where he lived & live with him.  
5.) increasingly and publicly displaying his excitement about being with heroine and her pregnancy. She and his ski team were surprised at how openly affectionate he was with her and how proud he was that he was going to be a father. His ski team couldn't  believe how different he was.
6.) his willingness to sacrifice being part of his ski team if that's what it meant to be with her & the baby.

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His atonement was not dramatic and shown more in the little things he did with heroine. The change in him was believable and permanent. I liked that he planned on seeking therapy to deal with his past and the recent changes. He was making a good headway towards a HEA(happy ever after) with heroine. 


I recommend this single book (which can be pre-ordered now for its release on May 1, 2014) or read it now as part of this e-Harlequin book set.

4-star

4 comments:

  1. Wow! Just wow. Thank you so much for this amazing review.

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  2. Sarina, you're welcome. I enjoyed it so much I went overboard with the pics. I had to have those chickens in there. And Aksel Lund Svindal.

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  3. Thanks so much for the review and information about the book. I am sold!

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    1. DA4Pups, alright! Hope you like it as well.

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