Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arouse: What Happens After the HEA.

Arouse (Spiral of Bliss, #1)Arouse by Nina Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've come to a place in my reading that isn't bitter or burnt out yet, but it's a bit tired. I'm done with the pages of sex and skin that lack the bones of a real story. As much as I love good sex in a good book, I can't even remember these people's names and I'm tired.

This is the story of Olivia and Dean West. I know their names and so will you.

As a romance reader, this is the book I'm dying to find in the piles of bare-chested covers. Finding out that it was about an already married couple, already seemingly past their HEA, forcing the question of what happens next made me immediately put it first in my TBR pile. I wanted to see it done, and from the reviews everyone seemed to be in agreement that here it's done memorably well.

Hauntingly well.

Olivia is a woman who ran from her issues, intent on achieving her dreams by sheer force of will and that lent her a life that was to be isolated. She was okay with this. She did better on her own than with people, but then she met Professor Dean West.

He's tall, dark and captivating and he's caught on her line she hadn't even intended on casting. He's this wonderful concoction of medieval professor and lean muscle and he's delicious. Olivia is gorgeous and contained and together they've got an insane amount of chemistry.

Like, honestly. I can't remember the last time reading a book with so much understated chemistry. It wasn't pushy with cliches, didn't rely on purple prose, but it was organically hot.

It's was entirely Olivia and Dean. They became solid and real.

This story is lush, simple and engaging. From the quiet setting that felt like falling into a dreamy oil painting of a college town to the lovely sense of pace of their current story stitched together with the story of how they met. How desperately in love they are with the other steals your breath as you watch their marriage begin to crumble. It's the oddest most engaging juxtaposition.

Quiet monsters have stolen into their tiny apartment; doubt, fear and regret. Questions and denials have taken root and watching this marriage come apart at the seams felt achingly authentic, and yet you never stop feeling their need for the other. They can barely talk, but they're grabbing and pulling and kissing and it's hopeless and desperate and so good. It's hot and gets you right in the chest, and no, it's not emotional crybaby Let Me Stretch Your Boundaries sex, and thank all that is sweaty and hot for it. It's good, lusty sex between two people who are driving each other nuts, and as I was reading I was dying for them both, falling deeper with every revelation and stupid decision. Banging doors down, too. Standing in that coffee shop when they met.

 I was rooting for Liv and Dean and then I was throwing confetti, because there's a sequel.

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