by Erin McLellan
Series: So Over the Holidays #3
Also in this series: Candy Hearts
Publisher: Erin McLellan
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Freshly single Rosie Holiday is on the hunt for passion and excitement. This leads her to Leo Whittaker—a bad boy who waltzed out of town, and her life, thirteen years ago. Leo isn’t the type to stick around, but Rosie’s not going to let a no-strings opportunity pass her by.
When a business trip sends Leo back to his hometown, the last thing he expects is for his first love to hand him a list of scorching-hot escapades and a deadline. He’s happy to help Rosie discover her bossy side in the bedroom. Or in a fireworks stand. Or at a Fourth of July barbecue.
Their chemistry burns bright and fast, but what tore them apart years ago is still between them. They are polar opposites. A reserved kindergarten teacher and an irreverent artist. A nester and a wanderer. It will take a spark of imagination and a lot of love to keep their second-chance romance from flaming out.
Every time I read another one of Erin McLellan’s novellas, I keep saying that this one is my favorite, and that holds true for this Independence Day-themed one. It’s ridiculously sexy, hilarious and perfect, and a good blend of the second chance and opposites attract tropes.
“I’m so tired of being …”
He frowned, looking fierce and angry, and she wanted to wipe that scowl off his face with her tits.
“Try again. You are not boring.”
“Scared. I’m tired of being scared. I want to experience life, rather than letting it pass me by.”
After a bitter divorce, Rosie, a kindergarten teacher, has embarked on the “Summer of Rosie” to relearn how to live her life. She thinks what she needs is a new hobby, so after several false starts, she signs up for what she thinks is a still-life class – only it turns out to be a nude drawing class, and the model this week is her ex-boyfriend, Leo. Rosie and Leo were high school sweethearts who broke up when Leo escaped out west as soon as he turned 18, and though it’s been thirteen years, it only takes a few minutes before they realize there’s still sparks between them and the Summer of Rosie takes a definitely steamy turn. But with Leo in town for less than week, will this just lead to more heartbreak for them both?
“You’re not running away from anything. You’re running toward it. Toward experiences. Toward love. Toward adventure. Toward inspiration. I’ve always believed that.”
He’d tried, through the years, to fully explain his impulse to move, to not put down roots, to travel, and he’d usually failed. She’d summed it up in ten seconds flat.
Rosie is the eldest of the Holiday siblings (the younger ones were featured in the previous novellas) and, along with her grandma, spent a good chunk of her childhood raising them. She’s prim, proper, and reserved – she learned to bottle up her feelings during her marriage, and even after it ended, she worked hard at presenting an unaffected front to everyone, even her siblings. Frankly, between her lists and need for control, she considers herself to be a bit boring. Leo is her complete opposite – the traditional bad boy, rebelling against the expectations of his wealthy parents. He’s allergic to routines and is more likely to follow his gut than stick to a plan. Unlike Rosie’s picket fence dreams, Leo lives in an Airstream and travels around the country selling his erotic art – in this case, he’s in town for a pop-up at the adult novelty shop Rosie’s sister works at. Despite their successful lives, they’re both lonely. Leo knows that his need to be on the road – the fact that he’s constantly leaving – hurts his friends, and he’s especially torn up about leaving Rosie, though she keeps reassuring him that she’ll be fine.
“What do you need long term?”
A beat of silence passed between them. Finally, she said, “Security. Independence … Respect.”
He could give her all those things.
“Love?” he asked.
“No.” Her voice was starting to fade with sleep. “Love hasn’t ever given me anything but pain.”
The theming on these novellas is always excellent, and this one doesn’t disappoint. There’s a plethora of fireworks jokes and sex in a fireworks stand. The part that really grabbed me, though, is the focus on each character’s independence and how they molded their relationship to work without infringing on that for either of them. It’s an unconventional HEA, for sure, but it worked for me. This is solidly an erotic romance, with a bit of light femdom, plus pegging and even an orgy thrown in. After agreeing to the fling with Leo, Rosie makes a sex bucket list, and it’s super steamy. I especially loved how Leo’s bisexuality was included. There’s also plenty of sweet moments to go with the high heat – they hold hands at a farmer’s market and I just about melted.
Overall, this is a perfect steamy summer romance, and I can’t wait to see what holiday Erin McLellan picks next!