**spoiler alert** I loved this book but I can't for the life of me understand why a woman choosing to sleep with a guy that is a total player for the...more**spoiler alert** I loved this book but I can't for the life of me understand why a woman choosing to sleep with a guy that is a total player for the purpose of making a baby a) thinks she can go through with the affair without engaging her heart, and b) when her heart is involved, thinks the guy - an established commitment-phobe - will not cheat. Unfortunately, the book ended on a cliffhanger, so I won't get any answers for another week or so.
I'm not sure why, in the spur of the moment, I chose to listen to this audiobook. I had learned enough about the book in the "cheating heroes" thread...moreI'm not sure why, in the spur of the moment, I chose to listen to this audiobook. I had learned enough about the book in the "cheating heroes" thread at Amazon to banish it to my "not in this lifetime" list. But with gloomy weather enhancing a melancholy mood, I decided to embrace depression completely.
Tessa & Nick Russo, it would seem, have a life together that many aspire for yet few achieve. In their mid-30's and married 7 years, they are already enjoying an affluent lifestyle. Nick is a world-renowned pediatric plastic surgeon and Tessa was a professor until recently when she quit working to devote herself full-time to raising their daughter Ruby,4 and son Frank, 2. Tessa & Nick's relationship isn't one of earth-shattering passion fueled by copious amounts of sex as it had been when they were first married, but long work days and small children will do that to any marriage, right? More importantly, with love and commitment they are developing a solid foundation for their children and for their future as a family. Success in their endeavors can be attributed to one important factor...Tessa and Nick love each other.
What's love got to do..got to do with it? What's love but a second-hand emotion?
Valerie Anderson is a part-time lawyer and full-time single mother raising a 6-yr-old son. Her relationship with Charlie's father was over before the guy even knew Valerie was pregnant, so her twin brother Justin is doing his best to provide Charlie with the male guidance and loving attention he would otherwise be without. Aside from Justin, Valerie isn't close to any other adult. She has serious trust issues with pseudo friends and family members, her track record for hooking up with a good man is non-existent and she refuses to associate with wealthy - and therefore - pretentious people. Suffice it to say Valerie is a loner...and very lonely.
So the hero rides in on his white stallion and rescues the damsel in distress.
Dining out on their anniversary, Tessa and Nick are interrupted by an emergency call from the hospital requiring Nick's area of expertise. Tessa understands, as she always does, and goes home. At the hospital, Nick treats the burn victim, little Charlie, while Valerie, wide-eyed and horrified, tries not to fall to pieces. Fortunately, as a pediatrician Nick has excellent consoling skills with children that apparently extend to distraught single mothers. Charlie is going to need plastic surgery and Nick officially becomes his doctor. Nick bonds with Charlie as a father-figure and with Valerie in a way that is anything but fatherly. Pretending to themselves more than anyone else, Nick and Valerie insist they are just good friends; however, the sexual tension between them is palpable and it becomes just a matter of time. When Tessa goes away one weekend to visit an old friend, Nick and Valerie succumb to their desires and f**k the night away.
What you don't know won't hurt you. (Really? What stupid-ass penned that nonsense?)
Tessa knows something is wrong. Oh sure, Nick has been working longer hours than ever before but Tessa attributes that to the crazy clock a doctor lives by. She hasn't been feeling like much more than a mommy since she quit teaching but it had been Nick's idea for her to quit. On the surface, he seems like the same wonderful man she fell in love with years ago, but knowing him so well she senses something is amiss...he's pulling away. She finds his cellphone lying unattended; and though normally she wouldn't give it a second thought, that nagging woman's intuition insists she check his messages...
Oh what would we do without our well-meaning friends?
"I miss you too and no, he doesn't hate you. How could anyone hate you?" Tessa comes up with a hundred plausible scenarios for someone to send Nick this message because she trusts her husband completely. Come on Tessa...you've got more than enough clues. Then, while away visiting her best friend, Cate, Tessa gets a text from one of her newer "society" friends who feels an obligation to the sisterhood to inform Tessa her husband was seen standing "unnaturally" close to Valerie Anderson. Tessa stands firm that her husband is faithful, yet she cuts her weekend stay short and is on the first flight home.
Shame, thy name is Nick.
I'll stop here but believe me I can't think of anything more heart-wrenching than what transpires in the last fourth of this story. In fact, the entire book was tough to listen to. Not only was my heart in my throat most of the time but I had to pull the earbuds out at one point because I couldn't handle what was transpiring. Did I like it? I LOVED it! This is my first book by Emily Giffin and I now intend to read (listen to) every book she has written.. She has the gift of bringing her characters to life...people you can't help but come to know extremely well and thereby care for immensely. I can't wait to become so involved like that again!
The story is told in alternating chapters by Tessa in 1st person and Valerie in 3rd person, with an emphasis on her personal thoughts. Valerie played the martyr well, strong enough to handle motherhood alone yet vulnerable and helpless without a man. Yes Nick was married and had 2 children, but Valerie decided that they were responsible for his unhappiness. As she sneakily cruised by his house (yeah, like a stalker) she decided Tessa was a society snob and probably had a lover herself. Surely, she was anxious to get rid of him. Besides, Nick was wonderful with Charlie and her son needed a father! With all the rationalizing Valerie did to convince herself she was entitled to Nick - along with a healthy dose of hero worship - she came off as helpless and needy, yet vindictive and manipulative. Gah! I hated the bitch! How much pleasure I would have found in rewriting the story to have Tessa beating the crap out of her!
On the other side of the coin, I loved Tessa. She was experiencing some depression when all this began, probably due to the fact that she missed teaching, which meant daily interaction with humans older than 4. I know it isn't hard to succumb to the feeling that you are nothing more than someone's mommy. With a husband at work 12 hours a day, by the time Tessa & Nick had some alone time, all she wanted to do was sleep. But she wasn't a bitch or whiny about what she was saddled with all day, and she was never too tired for sex. I felt bad for her when Nick initially told her she was the one who had changed and caused the rift in their marriage. But Tessa was not a shrinking violet, a doormat or TSTL. As much as she loved Nick, she held her marriage vows sacred and (hell, yeah) kicked his ass to the curb when the time came. There is a major confrontation between Tessa and Valerie, and Tessa's ability to remain gracious at the worst of times is tribute to the good person she is and the woman Nick realizes he can't live without.
And Nick? Well yeah, he betrayed his wife and family in the worst way possible. And what he saw in Valerie we can only speculate, but I think he got caught up in the hero worship thing...being the knight in shining armor to both Valerie and Charlie. Whatever, he crossed the line that can never be uncrossed and lost the complete trust his wife had in him...probably forever. Nevertheless, Nick seemed truely remorseful for what he had done and his grovel was Oscar-worthy. I completely forgave him.
Bf cheats so gf has secret baby. 10 years later baby daddy returns and slides right into the role. Too easy! Angst should've been ratcheted way up for...moreBf cheats so gf has secret baby. 10 years later baby daddy returns and slides right into the role. Too easy! Angst should've been ratcheted way up for this one.(less)
Well, as you can probably guess from the title, this is a story about a love triangle...a teenage love triangle...involving Henry - the hottest-lookin...moreWell, as you can probably guess from the title, this is a story about a love triangle...a teenage love triangle...involving Henry - the hottest-looking guy in the senior class, Callie - his bitch-on-wheels girlfriend of 4 years, and Riley - the quiet, pretty girl who has fallen head-over-heels in love with Henry and is now his secret "piece" on the side. After spending nearly every night of the summer with Henry (he would climb through her window after her mother had retired each evening), Riley was hopelessly in love. The two of them got on fabulously together...admitted out loud to each other they were in love... and Riley was certain that she had found her soulmate in Henry. Even so, she was well aware that he had a girlfriend; and although Henry claimed that he didn't love Callie, he wasn't breaking up with her either.
The story begins as they are starting back to school for their senior year. Since the three have known each other for 13 years, Riley assumes that she will be able to handle seeing Henry and Callie together like she always has. Actually, she knows she has no choice but to act indifferent towards them...she loves Henry too much to let him go and would rather share him than not have him at all. But all of Riley's practical rationalizing over their odd relationship goes out the window the first time she actually sees Henry & Callie together. She is devastated...so much so that she becomes physically ill.
From the beginning I had Henry convicted & sentenced to suffer the "Lorena Bobbitt" punishment. How dare he insinuate himself into Riley's life (by way of bed) and then ignore her in public! He made her feel like she was his "dirty little secret" and I hated him for it. I had no idea how the author was going to mold this guy into hero material. Fortunately, she found a way and Henry did redeem himself ..but not 100%. There were a few scenes where Henry deliberately hurt Riley's feelings and the reasons were never confronted or explained away. And of course there is always the question, 'If he could cheat with me will he cheat on me?' Nevertheless, I suspended disbelief, shook off all nagging thoughts and bought right into the sweet HEA.
Even though this is a YA romance and I am so not a young adult, I do remember the feelings I had when I was 17-18 and involved with someone...they were very real and just as profound and complex as they have been in adulthood. I found myself truly empathizing with Riley and the inner turmoil she silently struggles to come to grips with. Bottom line: should she follow her head or her heart? Lauren Hammond is like a fountain overflowing with metaphors, and she uses them most effectively by telling this story through 1st person POV. Riley's intense love for Henry and her conflicted emotions because of it are so vivid through description that you can actually feel her despair. At times it became a little overwhelming and I had to stop reading to bring my heart rate back down!
4.25 stars Recommended to readers who thrive on angst
**spoiler alert** One word describes this story...intense. Extremely, brutally, heart-wrenchingly intense. It is the story of Michael Wade, lead guita...more**spoiler alert** One word describes this story...intense. Extremely, brutally, heart-wrenchingly intense. It is the story of Michael Wade, lead guitarist for the rock band Thrust and Annie Logan, the woman he loves. Their feelings for each other are genuine but their relationship is tempestuous, volatile and nothing short of overwhelming. How can it be otherwise considering the lifestyles they lead? But Annie wants what surely seems to be the impossible...the devotion, the honesty AND the fidelity of a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life proving that sex, drugs & rock n roll is much more than just a cliche.
I really loved Michael. He knew he had found his soul mate in Annie and he honestly tried to be as perfect as she wanted him to be. Being a musician herself, Annie was well aware of the temptations Michael was confronted with on a daily basis yet she cut him no slack. Most of the time I admired her for the short leash she was able to keep Michael on, but other times she irritated me when she was purposely trying to hurt him. Yes, he cheated early in their marriage. He was on the road on tour...tired, alone and missing his wife...when a persistent band groupie slut wouldn't leave him alone. He kept trying to get rid of her but she was giving him a massage and he basically let his defenses down and she gave him a blow job. It was over in two minutes but the guilt was already tearing him up when - unannounced - Annie arrived. Of all the cheating books I've read, this is the one heroine that didn't roll over and play dead. She bit, kicked, punched, and spewed venom at him...for months. When he tried to touch her, she would actually vomit (although being pregnant certainly helped that bit of drama along). Michael groveled. And groveled. And groveled some more. It was obvious that when she finally did forgive him, she wasn't being sincere because when a similar situation presented itself, Michael actually fought the girl off and got scratched for it. Annie saw the scratches; and without giving him a chance to explain, she walked out of his life & divorced him.
Michael did everything he could to make Annie happy...went to rehab, stopped touring, even let her divorce him without a fight. If nothing else, they had 2 baby girls together and he desperately wanted to be a part of their lives. But Annie's bitterness ran deep, and for claiming to love Michael so much, she did everything in her power to beat him down. Purposefully making out with a guy in front of Michael when he was there to see the girls was an immature stunt for a 34-yr-old woman to pull. Yes, he was flawed...he had cheated, but he paid for that indiscretion in spades...he lost the only 3 people he truly loved.
Although the author wrote Michael & Annie a happy ending, I'm not so sure that would've been the outcome in reality. But, thankfully, this isn't reality. And the rock legend, his loving wife and 2 beautiful daughters, drove their Land Rover to their beachfront home on Martha's Vineyard and lived happily ever after. *sigh*
Tucker & Rebecca were married for a brief period when they were in their late teens/early 20's. They had a baby boy, Sammy, but for various reason...moreTucker & Rebecca were married for a brief period when they were in their late teens/early 20's. They had a baby boy, Sammy, but for various reasons they divorced soon after the birth. Six years later, Tucker is a handsome, successful lawyer who (thank God) has matured a great deal. However, he feels an emptiness inside that threatens to consume him from never having known his son. He knows Rebecca has remarried; and although he has never stopped loving her, he decides to suck it up and get in touch with her in the hopes that he and Sammy can meet and maybe have some type of father-son relationship. This is where the book begins..
It has been my discovery that whenever a small child is directly involved & crucial to the plot of a Harlequin, it is going to be a major tear-jerker. Days Gone By is no exception. Sammy's vulnerability and timid countenance are very realistic - his little heart yearns to love this man that has suddenly appeared in his life, but, just like in real life, an older boy who comes from a broken home is Sammy's "mentor".
Tucker wants Rebecca back in his life as well as Sammy and the entire story is devoted to Tucker proving that he is worthy of having both of them.
I thought this was a great "second chance" love story and would have rated it higher but too much of the story was portrayed through internal thoughts so there wasn't enough dialogue. But it was the perfect "one-sitting" read I was looking for to pass the time on a dark, rainy afternoon.
I've read many books where the hero has cheated in the past and the story begins several years later (present day), but this is the first book where t...moreI've read many books where the hero has cheated in the past and the story begins several years later (present day), but this is the first book where the affair is "fresh" so to speak. Daniel & Rachel have been married for 7 years and have 3 small children. While Rachel is home totally content with her role as loving wife and mother, Daniel, a corporate whiz kid, is rapidly rising to the top of the food chain. However, buying and selling businesses is a nerve-wracking, cut-throat profession. So, when his business is on the brink of being destroyed by a fraudulent takeover, the twins have the measles, the baby is colicky and Rachel is too tired for him, Daniel strays.
Rachel's "best friend" informs her of Daniel's affair in the first 2 pages of the book. The affair has just ended at this point so the story is based on 1) Rachel's struggle to understand why, bringing forth feelings of inadequacy, naivety, mistrust, fear, loneliness, and most of all heartbreak, 2)Daniel's battle with extreme remorse, self-loathing and the fear of losing what he loves most in life, and 3) the most important question of whether the marriage will be able to withstand the devastation and endure or has been irrevocably destroyed.
With my heart aching from the very first page, I was totally prepared not to read much past the first chapter. I mean seriously, I read romance for enjoyment and relaxation, not to be on the verge of tears with my blood pressure up, nerves frayed and my heart wrung out. But just like a car accident you come upon, knowing you shouldn't look but you always do, I flew past the first chapter and didn't stop until the end. I became so invested in this couple. Was Rachel an idiot for not picking up on the signs? No, because she loved her husband immensely and trusted him completely. Afterwards, was her confusion with sex realistic? Totally. Normally uninhibited, Rachel could only have sex with Daniel if the lights were out and she closed her eyes. Even then, she couldn't climax because the faceless ghost of the "other woman" always came to mind. (That seemed so real to me). Did I hate Daniel? Surprisingly no, the pain he was in from hurting Rachel was palpable. Of course there is no excuse for what he did,however, I truly believe he suffered as much from remorse as Rachel did from heartache.
Only in an extreme case would I possibly consider adultery as justifiable and this isn't one of them. But the author does an excellent job of laying feelings bare...we do not have to question any motives and therefore can understand how both Daniel and Rachel react and progress.*** I'll give you a hint of a spoiler: the truth of what really happened runs along the same lines as what happened in The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred. So if you have read TSGT, let that be your small measure of comfort if you read The Ultimate Betrayal.
I gave this book 4.75*** because it was such a touching, emotional read for me and every once in a while I guess I need the jolt of awareness. If you're on the fence about this type of story, besides being a remarkably in-depth study of a relationship, I can also say there is a satisfying, believable HEA; however, if you hate the idea of having a lump in your throat for a few hours and you really don't think you can handle a "cheating hero" premise, then you should probably steer clear of this one.