FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley).
Series: Loving You #1
Publisher: Loveswept on December 9, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
She’s a survivor of the front lines of politics. He’s a wounded soldier returning home from the battlefield. Can they place their trust in the power of love?
Nobody plays the role of perfect politician’s daughter better than quiet, respectable math teacher Brooke Ellstein. But she won’t be caught swimming with the sharks again, not after the son of a wealthy donor sinks his teeth into her and gets away with it. Still, political connections have their perks, such as heading up the governor’s “Support Our Troops” pen-pal initiative—and getting first dibs on the smoking-hot sergeant whose picture shakes her right down to her goody-two-shoes.
When corresponding with sweet, classy Brooke, Shane Develen instinctively hides his commando tattoos and blue-collar roots—and he can tell that she’s hiding something, too. But Shane knows he’s gained her trust when Brooke gives him a blisteringly sexy photo. Then he’s injured in an ambush and a fellow soldier posts the snapshot online. Overnight, Brooke’s reputation turns to ashes. Even though he’s totally wrong for her, Shane shows up on Brooke’s doorstep, determined to set things right—and discovers that right or wrong has nothing on the chemistry they share.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Brooke’s spent her adult life avoiding the spotlight of her father’s politics and just trying not to rock the boat. Writing to a lonely, deployed soldier seems harmless enough, and when their long-distance flirtation heats up, she trusts him not to share the risque pictures she sends. But when those photos wind up online, threatening more than just her teaching career and reputation and bringing disappointment and judgement from her campaign-centric family, she has little choice but to turn to that same soldier for help.
In a genre that so often offers formulaic, idealized romance tied up with in neat, albeit unbelievable, happily ever after bow, Loving You is Easy is an incredible standout.
When Shane, deployed in the Middle East, is erroneously added to the military pen pal list for Brooke’s high school class, she doesn’t have the heart to leave him without letters. So she picks up a pen and begins what’s supposed to be nothing more than friendship. After all, Shane makes it very clear that he’s not interested in some long-distance romance — or romance at all, for that matter. Still, when they finally meet, it feels like something more, and Shane’s not making any effort to hide his attraction to her. But as much as her heart may be wrapped up in him, she knows she’s worth more than a weekend fling with a non-committal soldier on leave. She does, however, give in and send him some photos of her in lingerie, something to continue their flirtation and get him through his time in a war on the other side of the world. But when those photos show up online, Brooke’s reputation, career, and trust are shattered.
Shane’s world is equally shattered, only his damage came in the form of an explosion on a mission, and he’s spent the last several weeks learning to walk on his mangled leg and getting used to seeing through his remaining not-so-good eye. He knows he can’t be the kind of man Brooke needs, and he could certainly never fit into her high society world, but when he learns that the photos she sent him have landed on the internet, he’s spurred into action.
But Loving You is Easy isn’t the kind of story where the knight rides in and saves the day with his connections or money or spotless reputation. He’s bitter and angry and not sure where he fits in as a wounded vet instead of an able-bodied soldier. He tries to be there for her and shelter her from the ugly spotlight of the media, her selfish family, and the horrific accusations flying thanks to irresponsible and patently false comments from some of her students. But he’s a very flawed man, slave to testosterone and pride and prejudiced notions of who Brooke is and who he should be, and their road to happily ever after isn’t so sure. I think that’s what I love most about the book.
Obviously I read a lot of romance, and I enjoy the hell out of some incredibly fluffy stories. But it’s a rare treat to read one that doesn’t use the military as a prop, one where the characters more often than not say exactly the wrong things, and where the romance is a bonus to incredible, could-be-real drama. Half the time I wanted to slap Shane, tell him to get over himself and go after the girl, but through it all I couldn’t help but love him, not in spite of his rough character but because it felt so much like he was written in the real world instead of a fictional one. And Brooke seemed to love him for much the same reason, that he wasn’t some safe, sterile, idealized man playing soldier but a deeply flawed man who was so different from the polished, political society in which she was raised.
Loving You is Easy is a truly unique story with complex characters, unexpected emotional twists, and a burst of realism that convincingly illustrates just how completely opposites can attract and grow together.