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261 pages, Kindle Edition
First published September 24, 2018
She’d watched her parents’ marriage dissolve around the same time her own had fallen apart. If anything, she ought to be grateful that a man as demanding and dedicated to his work as her dad and a woman who couldn’t hold an interest longer than the length of a single television commercial lasted for thirty-five years before calling it quits. Her mom had put her foot down and insisted her dad retire within twelve months so they could travel the world like she’d always wanted to. When that deadline came and went, she cheated on him and then she left. Now she was living on a boat somewhere on the West Coast of Canada, signing up for silent yoga retreats and communing with the orcas, while her dad spent so much time in his office, he was starting to fuse to his leather chair. Nora had promised herself she wouldn’t make the same mistake of falling for a guy she wasn’t compatible with.A marriage falling part is not completely one person's fault, but it can be primarily one person's fault. Cheating is not okay, so the problem with her parents' marriage isn't compatibility but rather a difference in shared values (or in other words, the lack of shared important values). I didn't like the choice to add her mother cheating to the plot was a good idea because it underscores Nora's concern of compatibility. As mentioned earlier, this is no longer an issue about compatibility but about values. But I doubt that the author is going to make the lesson of the story about the importance of shared values because there has been no mention of values up until this point.
Everything Eli had done for her since their first date—from the picnic under the stars to teaching her how to order beer without making a fool of herself—was a million times kinder and sweeter than anything Gavin ever did. (90)The following is a good example of how understanding and empathetic Eli is. He's incredibly emotionally intelligent.
Even though she’d given her body to him twice now, she’d kept her heart and her mind firmly guarded. He understood why. She was focused on making friends, not finding a lover. (97)Another example of Eli's emotional maturity. There needs to be more male love interests in romances that are emotionally available.
Nora had turned him completely upside down, and the weirdest part was he didn’t even hate it. He’d never felt this way about a woman before, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t recognize a good thing when it moved into the house next door. He just had to find a way to make her see that. (98-99)
He knew she wasn’t going to change something so fundamental about who she was, and he didn’t expect her to. He wanted her to feel comfortable in her own skin when she was around him. He wanted every quirk, every oddity, every wish—just not the shame and embarrassment that accompanied it. (100)
She didn’t have the words for what she felt. It was more than love. It was life-shattering, earth-shaking, blinding love. The kind where she could lose herself completely to him. The kind that could crush her identity and independence into dust. The kind that was too strong to deny any longer. (210-211)
He laughed. "You're a huge nerd!"After a very rough start as squabbling neighbors and then an awkward forced date, Nora and Ethan at first have nothing in common except serious sexual chemistry. But Ethan's patience as he slowly courts the prickly, tense Nora with his friendship and then the friendship of his sister's book club members was really lovely. And I loved that this romance novel totally championed romance novels:
"It's not an insult. I think it's sexy as hell."
She crossed her arms defiantly. "You have a problem with the fact I'm reading a romance novel?"And then the fun begins. I loved Ethan's pub, the Holy Grale and its themed lager names, and Ethan's sister's friends were such great people that I hope they all get their own books (Clem is the heroine from book 1).
"No. I have a problem with the fact you've been in the world's shittiest book club all this time when you could be in the best one. My sister started a Books and Brews club at the Holy Grale, and this just happens to be the book they're reading this month."
Even though she'd given her body to him twice now, she'd kept her heart and her mind firmly guarded. He understood why. She was focused on making friends, not finding a lover.And even after that, Ethan does everything he can to make Nora see how much he wants her to be a part of his life.
Nora had already pulled plates out of his cupboard and was holding them up to the light, inspecting for dirt. With anyone else, he might have been insulted, but he wasn't bothered. It meant she was making herself comfortable in his home. Getting used to him. He knew she wasn't going to change something so fundamental about who she was, and he didn't expect her to. He wanted her to feel comfortable in her own skin when she was around him. He wanted every quirk, every oddity, every wish - just not the shame and embarrassment that accompanied it.