Hope Meridan worked as a stripper during her college days to make ends meet. She is no longer a blushing college girl but when her friend Trish asks Hope to dance at a bachelor party she accepts the offer because she desperately needs the money. After her sister Helen ran out leaving her holding the bag with their newly opened quilting store Hope has struggled alone and worked around the clock to keep her business from failing during its critical first year. Helping Trish out will be a one time gig and give Hope a much needed cash infusion, she doesn’t know a herd of Coleman men are the audience including Matt, her bitch of a sister’s ex and the only man in town who has ever caught her eye. She just hopes the skimpy costume, mask and wig she is wearing will hide who she is from guys she has known all her life. As well, she doesn’t want the towns folk to know she has stripped to earn extra money, she’s a respectable business woman after all.
“You’re up, Hope. Go give them what for.” Trish’s firm push between the shoulders was the only thing that stopped her from turning tail and racing from the bar without a backward glance.
Matt sat to the side of the room, laughing with his brothers as they joined together in that wall of impenetrable camaraderie she’d always admired. That’s what family was supposed to be like, not cutthroat and undermining.
She only had a second to take him in. His dark hair was longer now, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache covered his chin and upper lip. Oh God, He’d grown a mustache.
She loved what he looked like with facial hair.”
Rocky Mountain Desire © Vivian Arend
When Hope hits the stage, Matt is immediately attracted to the lovely dancer and while there is something familiar about her, he doesn’t realize it’s Hope until he “accidentally” runs into her in the parking lot after the show attempting a stealth getaway. An embarrassing exchange ends in Hope pleading with Matt not to share that she was one of the wearing-next-to-nothing dancers and she speeds away. Matt knows that Hope isn’t Helen, but the wounds are still too fresh for him to consider pursuing even a casual fling with his ex’s sexy younger sister.
Months later Hope is at the Coleman’s ranch giving a pre-Christmas quilting lesson to family matriarch Marion and some of her friends. She hasn’t seen or talked to Matt since her performance at Daniel’s bachelor party. Sexual attraction zings between them when Matt walks into her in his parent’s home. Then comes the rescue mission later in the evening when Hope gets stuck in a ditch as she tries to maneuver her broken down clunker along a dark snow and ice covered road on a bitterly cold December night. Matt pulls her out but Hope has to abandon her car and the two end up back at her apartment soaked and frozen, they get reacquainted as friends while warming up.
Arend progresses Matt and Hope’s relationship slowly and realistically over the course of their wonderful love story. They enjoy spending quality time together and when they move past a plutonic friendship to a hot love affair, the pages light up with smoking hot passion. Expect dominance and submission, bondage and a little voyeurism to be incorporated into ‘get out the ice water and fan’ love scenes in this Vivian Arend erotic romance. I bonded with Matt and Hope, both of them are honest, decent people who have insecurities and worries about their ability to maintain a lasting relationship. As well, the author gives Hope another town suitor who doesn’t easily let go making for some great rivalry.
This reader was delighted that Helen left Matt, but it was a blow to his masculinity and he worries that he will make the same mistakes with Hope. She on the other hand is worried that Matt will give up on them because when her crazy sister returns to town she causes a bucket load of trouble. What I loved was the depth of support and compassion they show one another.
The spirited, strong-minded Jaxi plays a pivotal role in the story as Hope’s close friend and confidante. As well, Jaxi is a supportive sister-in-law to Matt. Readers can look forward to getting caught-up on the goings on with the six-pack Colemans. The twins are wild as ever and a we discover there is more to Travis besides being a lady killer.
Set in small town Alberta, Arend instills humor and heart into a story that doesn’t let a reader forget that these ranchers are extremely hardworking people who battle nature herself to eek out a living but know how to play hard. Vivid descriptions of breathtakingly beautiful country took me into each scene as Matt and his family tend the land and livestock. There is a deep sense of family closeness and commitment in these stories. I laughed out loud when Matt referred to the exhausting, backbreaking work required during calving season as the coming apocalypse. And, I learned about something called mud bogging when Hope and the Coleman gang take advantage of an unusually warm day when a Chinook blows through the area. It’s good country fun!
The conclusion of Rocky Mountain Desire brought a tear to my eye as Arend gives Hope and Matt a perfect and memorable HEA. This one is a keeper and will definitely be a re-read.
It’s going to be a long wait for Book 4 of the series, Rocky Mountain Angel, due out in December 2012.
Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.