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Monday, March 24, 2008

Beyond Breathless

***** Beyond Breathless by Kathleen O'Reilly. Contemporary romance.

This is the first book in the Red Choo Diaries trilogy. I've already read the 3rd.

Jamie McNamara is an up-and-comer on Wall Street. She's determined to make it on her own merits, and is a dedicated workaholic. And she's about to reach her own holy grail--an appointment, hopefully leading to a contract, with the elusive Mr. Newhouse.

But Grand Central is shut down, and she's going to be late, so she agrees to share transportation with "Andrew"--which turns out to be a white Hummer limo, the only vehicle available. The long drive, the chemistry between them, the heightened senses from the excitement of being so close to her goal, and the feeling of unreality all combine, and Jamie seduces him in the back of the limo. She thinks that's the end of it.

Andrew is the Andrew Brooks, Wall Street star, and he's determined to see Jamie again. But before he can do that, his brother Jeff, trying to make a point, demands to know when's the last time Andrew got laid. Four shots of Jagermeister loosening his tongue, Andrew tells him.

Then their sister Mercedes, an aspiring writer, gets another rejection letter, and Jeff tells her the story to cheer her up. And the story ends up online, with just the names changed, in Mercedes's Red Choo Diaries.

It sounds like a simple, predictable story. They'll be angry, then they'll realize they can't live without each other. They'll kiss and make up, and live happily ever after. And that does happen, but there's so much more to this story. Both Jamie and Andrew have personal demons, and there's honest and realistic growth there. And the publication of their story isn't the only thing standing in their way. While they're both admirable characters, they also have flaws, and they both make mistakes. In short, this is a couple I believed in and cared about, and I wanted to see them conquer their obstacles.

The secondary characters are also well-developed and real--Jeff's more than the happy-go-lucky younger brother; Mercedes isn't just self-centered in search of fame. Even Newhouse feels like a real person.

And lest I forget, this is a Blaze after all. It's definitely steamy, starting at the beginning with the scene in the Hummer. Better yet, those steamy scenes further the plot and illuminate the characters in addition to fogging up the windows.

Beyond Breathless is just a fabulous read, and what you'd hope all Blazes would be like. A wonderful, believable romance with realistic, sympathetic characters, and plenty of heat. Sometimes category romances feel rushed or less complete because of the shorter length, but Kathleen manages to fill 236 pages to the brim with a whole, sastisfying story--romance and personal growth--and it doesn't feel like anything's left out. I'm gushing, I know. But it feels worth it. This is a keeper.

The second book in this trilogy, Beyond Daring, is in my TBR pile. Somewhere. I hope.

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This author is getting some attention. I just read a review of a different one of her Blazes over at Dear Author.
Great review. I'll have to check her out.
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