This is the first must-read book of 2013. And it’s assured Molly O’Keefe a spot on my auto-buy list. It also made me cry on the train. If you’re prone to crying, you might want to read this book at home.
Billy Wilkins isn’t like most romance heroes. In fact, he isn’t very likable. I wasn’t sure I really wanted him to have a happily ever after until almost halfway through the book. He’s a difficult guy in a lot of ways—physical, not cerebral, angry all the time and incapable of seeing that he himself is responsible for many of the things he’s angry about or controlling that emotion. But I’ve known a lot of guys like Billy and I couldn’t give up on him any more than Maddy can.
Maddy was married to Billy for “about five minutes” when they were both too young, but neither of them has ever recovered. It’s not as if they ever fell out of love, they just couldn’t make it work—Maddy gave up everything to follow Billy as his hockey career grew, and he was too immature to handle his newfound fame and his marriage. So they broke it off, and Maddy lost a bunch of weight and went on to become a big star on morning TV in Dallas. No one knows she was married to Billy, and she wants it to stay that way.
What Maddy doesn’t realize is that her career is slowly grinding her under. She’s becoming just like every other TV personality and her individuality is being sucked away.
Billy, on the other hand, knows his career is killing him. This is a book about mature adults—they’ve been divorced for fourteen years—which means that in hockey years, he’s at the end of his lifespan. And it’s going to be an ignominious ending to a career because he’s been doing little other than fighting for ages. He wants another chance. At hockey, at life, at Maddy.
And Billy can see that Maddy’s losing herself, too, even if she doesn’t want to recognize it. In fact, while her name’s getting bigger and bigger, she herself is getting smaller. He’d like to convince her of that—among other things—but Maddy doesn’t want him back. She doesn’t want to get hurt and while she doesn’t blame him for everything that went wrong between them, she does recognize that she’s too susceptible to him.
She can’t see that her name isn’t the only thing that matters. One reason she’s so anti-Billy is that she’s trying to squash the old Maddy…the very Maddy Billy still loves, the Maddy we as readers are made to see is worth far more than the photogenic on-air Madelyn Cornish.
There are so many emotional scenes in this book it’s hard to pick any one to talk about in particular. Billy agrees to go on Maddy’s show for a makeover—clothes, manners, the whole shebang—and watching him learn about himself as he does so is quite amazing. Billy also has a family from which he is estranged, and he has to come to terms with them as well. There are children involved, but they’re not the cutesy kind that get in the way. I am generally not so much a fan of kids in romances, but the ones here work well.
I know this book is probably not for everyone. If you like your heroes a little more talkative, a little more…modern?…it may not be for you. But it read pitch-perfect to me as someone who’s known a lot of physical men who have problems with words.
Dallas TV morning show host Madelyn Cornish is poised, perfect, and unflappable, from her glossy smile to her sleek professionalism. No one knows that her iron will guards a shattered heart and memories of a man she’s determined to lock out. Until that man shows up at a morning meeting like a bad dream: Billy Wilkins, sexy hockey superstar in a tailspin—still skating, still fighting, and still her ex-husband.
Now the producers want this poster child for bad behavior to undergo an on-air makeover, and Billy, who has nothing to lose, agrees to the project. It’s his only chance to get near Maddy again, and to fight for the right things this time around. He believes in the fire in Maddy’s whiskey eyes and the passion that ignites the air between them. This bad-boy heartbreaker wants a last shot to be redeemed by the only thing that matters: Maddy’s love.
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