My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kelly Hunter is two for two now. I tend to avoid the Modern Romances for Harlequin Presents, but now I know I can get a satisfying read when I reach for her books. She writes chemistry beautifully. The attraction between her characters sizzle, and the dialogue jumps off the page. Her characters are layered, three-dimensional, and have issues, but they work through them and communicate.
I love the Bennett family, just from the two I've read, this and The Maverick's Greek Island Mistress. I am especially fond of Jake, and I am excited to read Red Hot Renegade. She's already set the stage for the reunion between lonely warrior Jake, and delicate but strong Jianne. I wanted to meet the rest of the Bennett clan after the first book, so I worked on acquiring the Bennett books that were published, and I bought this one when I saw it was out, expecting an enjoyable read. However, Madeline and Luke's romance took me by surprise. I was expecting the story to be about a hot affair that slowly becomes love, but there was a depth and an intensity to their emotions from the start. They didn't fall mindlessly into bed right away. They spent some time getting to know each other first. Initially, a compelling attraction drew them together, but they weren't sure they liked each other and what the other person represented in each of their minds. But respect developed very quickly. They just had to come to realize that they could be together, and not compromise who they both felt were integral aspects of their being. I loved the touches about Luke's job. He defuses bomb and explosive devices, and he can be called to work at a mere moment's notice. He's not eager to give that job up, for any woman, so he settles for casual relationships. But he wants more with Madeline, even if he's not sure how to make that happen. Madeline is considered an older man's trophy wife, despite the fact that she brought his corporation back from the brink, and expanded it in the time since his death. I like that she freely admits that she didn't love her husband and married him for security. After her tumultuous youth, she deserved it. I respected her for who she was. Sometimes marriage is about things other than true love. William loved her and gave her security, esteem, and devotion when she'd never had that as an orphan and ward of the state. She showed William respect and devotion in turn, and he had no reason to complain. She didn't deserve being judged by anyone. I'm glad Luke realized that he was wrong to judge her that way.
I loved the Singaporean setting. Something about Asia always calls my name. I could see the appeal that drew Madeline, Luke, and Jake there, despite them being Australian. I loved how Madeline adopted Po, a streetwise, orphaned youth, and provided a safe, stable home for him with Jake, and later Luke and herself. And then there is Madeline's
Kelly Hunter has made it to my autobuy list after this book (although I had previously made a note to read all her Bennett books after The Maverick's Greek Island Mistress), and I am counting the days until Red Hot Renegade is in print. I'd recommend her to fans of short contemporary romance.
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