A Night with the Society Playboy (Nights of Passion, #3) by Ally Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Confession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizer heroes, and I didn't think I would care for this story. It sounded like a lot of the shallow and plastic (to me) romantic comedies out that I avoid like a plague. I am glad my GRs friend wrote such a sterling review that I pulled it off my shelf. It was a very good book.
What did I like:
* I liked how Ms. Blake took the time to show Caleb's viewpoint. I don't think this book would have worked nearly as well just through Ava's viewpoint. I absolutely needed to see his vulnerabilities, and first-hand how Ava had always been in his heart, even if he had erected the callous, carefree armor of a slick womanizer/high finance shark. His soft spots really endeared him to me, and that's saying a lot because I didn't think much of his values, and just merely being dumped wasn't enough to let him get out of jail free for being so slick and materialistic. I don't mean to be judgmental, but those qualities don't shout out to me in a hero. For all that, Caleb ultimately won me over, especially when he came to his senses at the end. I think deep in his heart, he was always in Ava's corner, and that endeared him to me.
* Let me say I loved that Ava was pursuing her doctorate in higher education. Danielle was mentally doing a fist pump. I am always campaigning for more HP heroines with higher educations and careers, and Ms. Blake gave me that! In a strange way, it worked for me that Ava was such a book-smart woman but kind of a screw-up in other ways. Her family baggage had set her on a path where she made mistake after mistake. It was realistic. Now, when I read romances, I prefer it to be about the hero and heroine meeting and falling in love with no other partners and no long years lost. Ten years is a huge time period to regret the one that got away. However, in this case, I feel that this time apart might have been necessary to shape Ava and Caleb to better appreciate life together. So, although this in not my ideal scenario, it worked for this book (although I have some pangs about it).
* I loved the interactions (non-sexual) between Ava and Caleb. The relationship re-builders such as their snarky back and forth, and their flirting and just hanging out, and how they were there for each other emotionally. Moreso from Caleb's side. But Ava also helped Caleb to see that getting in deep was okay, and feeling something more was the way life should be. Are you really living if you only play life fast and loose? I firmly believe that Ava and only Ava could have taught Caleb this.
*Although more time could have spent on showing Ava with her family, I am glad that the crucial make-up between Ava and her father did occur. I think Ava can heal in some essential ways now.
What I didn't love:
*Honestly, the love scenes were a bit of an afterthought for me. I wanted to know that they felt more and it wasn't just sex, and it was hard to feel that way with both scenes, to be honest. When I read romance, I hate to see sex treated casually. It might work for some, but it doesn't work for me. And when I see it in a romance book between the hero and heroine, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although the scene on Caleb's car might have seemed hot, deep down, it left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied, especially compared to the emotional and tender first time they made love ten years ago. However, the moments of connection outside of their sexual interactions were winners for me. Such as when they lay on the grass and caught up with each other. I wanted to knock some sense into Caleb at his actions when Ava lay her heart at his feet in his apartment, so that post-coital intimacy was ruined for me.
*As much as I liked this book, I felt kind of melancholy after reading it. I felt like so much time had been wasted, and maybe that's what made it a bit of a downer in some ways. I did like the end, so that sort of makes up for what was lost, but not completely. That's probably why I couldn't rate this higher than four stars, along with the love scenes not being as emotional as I liked.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good reunion romance and friends to lovers book. The heroine has a lot of emotional depths, and Caleb's soft heart beneath a callous exterior intrigued this reader. I loved his expanded viewpoint a lot. I would recommend this book with the above reservations.
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