Even though this was not my favorite book of the wonderful Brown Siblings series, it still was a very good read. Yes, in terms of in your face sexuality it’s no Laid Bare, and in terms of heartthrob hero and feel good romance it’s no Coming Undone. But it is a beautiful, character driven story about cafe manager/future social worker Ella Tipton (who we first met in “Laid Bare”) and former cop and now partner in a security firm Andrew “Cope” Copeland. Along with LD’s rich-in details-storytelling,
The story starts slowly between Ella and Cope, as they each discover their feelings for each other are more than that of just friends after 6 years of knowing each other. Cope treads carefully with Ella though, because she survived a harrowing attack from her abusive former boyfriend that put her in the hospital, which damaged her not only physically, but mentally. Cope had always had feelings for the younger (she’s 26, he’s 36), pretty redhead, but the timing was never right for a relationship beyond friendship to develop. But now the former boyfriend is in jail, Ella is on the mend, and Cope is tired of dating women who mean nothing to him. So he finally makes a move on Ella, who’s not sure if she’s reading him right. Cope is known as an outrageous flirt and a bad boy–is he really serious? About her? Could the sexy, tattoed, black haired, blue-eyed, nipple pierced hunk who’s been starring in her recent super hot fantasies be interested in her that way?
I loved both Ella and Cope. Lauren Dane has a way of writing her characters that makes you want to be either their best friend (as with Ella) or their lucky girlfriend (as with Cope). Both were extremely likable. I loved that they were both blushers–even ladies man Cope! I loved how Ella grew stronger and stronger as the story developed and conquered her fears and grew more confident. I loved how she was able to see the real Cope, not just the easy going facade he presented to the public. I loved how she saw him as the more serious and deeper “Andrew”, the artist who enjoyed poetry and carpentry, as well as the fun loving “Cope”. Cope had doubts and fears about himself and wasn’t always as self-assured as he seemed to be, and Ella was able to get him to reveal that vulnerable side of himself. I loved how Ella discovered and supported all his hidden talents. I loved how she ‘got’ him, and I loved how Cope recognized and appreciated that fact. I also loved the little notes they mailed to each other–very sweet and romantic.
I loved how Cope got nervous around Ella. That was really cute for such an experienced ‘bad boy’. I loved how he took it slow with her, yet let her know he was very interested. I loved the respect he showed her, the care he took with her, and his whole protective attitude. I loved how he pursued her, and gave her confidence in herself and her sexuality. I loved how he loved his friends and his family. He had a certain role in his family and I felt bad for him that his father (who was an ass in this story) didn’t appreciate him fully and that he was sometimes taken for granted, even by his brother and his friends.
Now, the love scenes–very hot, yet tastefully done. Not quite as erotic as the other two stories in the series. But I felt that was appropriate for the characters. Ella was coming out of an abusive relationship, one in which she was controlled and was scorned for her sexual desires, so it took her a while to regain her confidence in that area, and Cope wanted to be very sure that Ella was ready for him. And she was, believe me! The only problem I had with the love scenes was that it took a little while (page 150 or so) for them to get to it!
Fans of the series will be happy to see all the couples of the previous stories have prominent roles in this one, as well they should. This is not only a love story between the hero and heroine, but between them and their friends and family. Erin, Todd, Ben, Brody, Elise, and Adrian are all there to lend support and offer advice. I love how they all love and support each other–they are there for each other in the good times and the bad, and they all have each other’s backs. Wonderful friendships in this book.
There were a few things in this book that were kind of quirky. First of all, all the similar sounding names–Ella, Erin, Elise, and Adrian–sometimes it was hard to keep straight in my head just who was talking! And Ella’s abusive boyfriend (Billy) and Cope’s father (Bill)–strange coincidence. Ella’s habit of saying “gah” and “Pfft”. Don’t know if that’s a regional thing or just a Dane-ism, but I think I’ve read that in some of her other books. None of this took away from the story, it just made me stop and wonder about it for a bit.
I think fans of this series will be pleased with this love story, and the subplots surrounding it. Ella was an easy to like, strong and relatable heroine, and I was pulling for her to get her HEA with Cope. I adored Cope, thought he was excellent boyfriend (and husband) material (even though he had a moment of fear that almost wrecked his future with Ella). Not only was he described as drop dead gorgeous, but he was a good person inside. Ella and Cope together? A steamy hot, perfect match. My take on this story? A solid 4 star read. Now bring on Adrian, the last un-hitched Brown sibling…