Thursday, November 22, 2012
Disappointment, Struggle, and Finally Love: "Bodywork" by Marie Harte
First of all, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! It is, by far, one of my most cherished American holidays. I always think of the times when my mom and dad and my sister gathered for our Thanksgiving dinner together, so very far away from any of my relatives, and knowing that it was "just us." I think those are some of the occasions when my ties with my family became strongest. There are so many people who are important to me--my four kids, my in-law children, my six grandkids, my friends who are like family to me, my many professional colleagues who make my life rich. And for all of you who are "friends" and who stop in here . . . for you I am so very thankful that you share in my love of all things having to do with books. Many blessings to you all on this special day! And now for a look at a wonderful book . . .
Their first meeting could have been better. He ran into her and her hot coffee, and raced off with a burn and a snarl.
Their second meeting should have been better. He lay naked, face down on her massage table while she stared at him in horror. Being sexually attracted to Mr. Tall, Dark and Rude hadn't been on her agenda. She just wants him out of her massage clinic before he recognizes her or she says something obnoxious before jumping that sexy body. Not professional. Not at all.
But when Shelby Vanzant and Shane Collins meet again, the third time's the charm. Shane has found his match, a sexy, intelligent woman he can't stop thinking about. Shelby is scared, because she might grow to like this guy. The last guy she liked dumped her for someone hotter. She's willing to take a chance--maybe--if her flamboyant mother, Shane's macho best friend and his Casanova of a younger brother don't screw things up. With fate on their side, they might both have a shot at a love they'd stopped looking for.
Two hurting people--disillusioned by their disastrous ex's treatment of them and subsequent departures as cheating #@&*. So hurt are they that even the thought of any kind of long-term relationship gives each of them the heebie jeebies. So when they collide, then again meet at Shelby's therapeutic massage clinic, the last thing they manage will be any kind of connection that can develop into a dating arrangement. Ultimately they give into their attraction but both agree that a "friends with benefits" kind of connection is best. And to hear each of them tell it, the benefits are out of this world.
This is a novel that brings some very different people into close proximity with one another. Shelby's mom and her business partner--a gay professional that "adopted" Shelby 30 years earlier--are very into Taro and and the like, reading auras and astrological signs and working behind the scenes to interfere any way they can. Shane's folks manage to get into the scene as does Shane's younger brother, a 17 year old who makes more noise than sense and manages a fair amount of damage, all in the name of loving his brother and wanting to see him happy. The progress of Shane and Shelby's romance is rocky and fun in many ways, trying so hard to keep the sex just sex and nothing more; they work so hard to keep their friends and relatives at a distance and never quite manage that. They work so hard to trust when neither really know how to do that anymore. So this story has lots of very real anxieties, very real people who struggle with those feelings, and some very funny and "out there" others who keep the two main characters hopping and worrying and hoping that they can find some sense of satisfaction in life.
Marie Harte has written lots of books and I have read some of her paranormals and enjoyed them a lot. This is one of the non-shifter books of hers that I have read and as a contemporary romance that is very erotic, I found it to be very entertaining and one that I am glad I didn't miss. I would have if I had not been trolling through the Amazon lists one day and way the author's name. Now I realize that she has written bags and bags of books I never knew were her's. This book was released late in 2011 but it is a fun book and a grand way to begin her series. It is now followed with the second book entitled Working Out and is a novel that feature's Shelby's best friend Maggie Doran and Shane's best Mac Jameson, both of whom figure prominently in this first novel. In fact, both of these friends get heavily involved in trying to bring Shane and Shelby together, moving them beyond the "friends with benefits" into a genuine love relationship.
I hope you will look for this novel and enjoy it as much as I have. I really could empathize with Shane and Shelby as they dealt with their fear of new relationships. All of us have been greatly disappointed in people we thought were trustworthy and who have let us down, often very suddenly. This is a story about real life, about real people who are very like people we may know. Their struggles are very like those we may have experienced or know friends who have experienced similar upsets in their personal lives. So there is that taint of reality that gives life and believability to a fictional story, especially one that is set in a very real context. I am delighted to be able to share this book with you and hope you have an opportunity to read it in the future. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.