My Thoughts: This was an excellent romance novel. Both main characters were well-rounded and well-drawn. John was an intensely private man who had a childhood from hell - abused by his stepfather to protect his younger sister and finally driven to kill him - he still suffers from nightmares and flashbacks. He has channeled some of his pain into the books he writes and is extremely proprietary about them. He doesn't feel that he will ever have a relationship that is more than superficial.
Livvy is a pastry chef and a bakery owner whose business is not doing as well as she wished it were. She grew up with a beloved father who had a series of affairs and a mother who was bitter but couldn't or wouldn't leave him because she didn't have the skills to support herself and her children. Livvy's bakery is her safe place. It is her security.
They meet when John moves in next door. They are immediately attracted to each other. Livvy knows that he doesn't want the same things she does but gets involved with him anyway. They fall in love - both quite reluctantly. The romantic scenes are very well done. So are the emotional scenes as each manages to trigger the others survival reflexes. John throws away some sketches, Livvy rescues them from the trash and uses them to start a new line at her bakery that will give her the boost her business needs. She does have his verbal permission but, since she gets it during a hot and heavy sex scene, John doesn't know what he is agreeing to. When John finds out how she is using his drawings he feels betrayed that she has stolen something from her. He threatens to take her business which hits her most tender spot.
These two characters have to battle through a wide variety of problems before they get to their happy ever after. But I felt a great satisfaction when they got there. The characters were very real for me. This was a lovely, emotionally intense romance.
Deep blue, almost navy, his eyes could have been too pretty for his rugged face except they were hard and unflinching. Tiny lines creased the corners but beneath the desire lurked something dark, something shadowed, something dangerous. This wasn't a man for frivolity. He was made for hard work, hard play, and heartache.