Saturday, October 2, 2010

One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake

This is yet another “first read of an author new to me” and I really wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this story, but having read some great reviews I knew to look forward to, at the very least, an entertaining read. Well, I got that for sure, and much, much more. There are so many things to love about One Reckless Summer, I'm just not sure I can list them all. It’s a story about unconditional love, about not judging people until you’ve gotten to know them and given them a chance to prove what kind of person they really are, and about not allowing other people’s opinions of you to affect you so much that you change the person you are.

Jenny Tolliver was Destiny Ohio’s “good girl,” a nick name she had never resented until her husband had an affair because Jenny was too “good” for the kind of sex he wanted, so “good” in fact that he couldn’t even bring himself to  tell her about the kind of sex he wanted. He called her a modern day June Cleaver, and from that point on, Jenny couldn’t stand being thought of as a “good girl” anymore because being a “good girl” had destroyed her marriage – at least that’s how she saw it. And yes, I'm overusing the term “good girl” because that’s what the people of Destiny did, too. She was never just Jenny; in fact, they used the term “good girl” so much that Jenny and I both wanted to scream.

Mick Brody was the opposite of Jenny Tolliver – he was Destiny’s “bad boy.” His parents were alcoholics who fought all the time and his brother was rotten to the core, so… it just stood to reason that Mick was the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree, right? So who could blame the fine folk of Destiny for not trusting him, for thinking so poorly of him? Trouble, that’s what he was.  What they didn’t know was that yes, he was a boy who was headed down the wrong path, but when he saw which direction said wrong path was taking him, he took control of his future, left Destiny where he knew he’d never be given the chance to amount to anything in the eyes of its residents, turned his life around and became a good, hard working man.

It was quite by accident that Mick and Jenny bumped into each other one night and it was lust at first sight—or maybe they sensed something of themselves in one another, that connection that only someone else grieving, someone with a shattered heart would recognize in another person. Their relationship immediately became purely sexual, or so they kept telling themselves and each other. Normally, this kind of “no strings attached” sexual relationship doesn’t do anything for me, but in this case it was so painfully clear to me that they needed each in such a primitive way, needed that physical connection of one human being to another, someone to help them through the loneliness and the sorrow they were both feeling, that I couldn’t fault them for the way they found it.

Spoiler: There were many instances where I cried for the heartache Mick had to endure watching his brother slowly, painfully die, but this one scene, after Wayne had passed and the pain of waiting for him to die was over, had me sobbing.

As he looked at his brother’s limp, lifeless body, he wondered who would remember Wayne—who would remember that he could be funny, that’d he’d been good at math, that he’d liked horses as a kid but had never ridden one. It would be like Wayne had never existed—and due to the circumstances of his death, Mick couldn’t even give him a decent gravestone to mark his passing.

Despite the fact that Wayne couldn’t hear him anymore, he heard himself say, “I’ll remember you,” just before the tears flowed down his face.

Several years ago was diagnosed with a deadly form a cancer and had begun wondering if <i>I</i> would be remembered when I’m gone. Would I be missed? So reading Mick’s thoughts, and his words, brought all that back and made Wayne’s death personal – truly heartbreaking, not just for his physical and emotional struggle with dying, but for Mick who had to watch, unable to do anything more for the brother he so loved than try and ease his passing. End Spoiler

This was such an amazing story, and I’ll be honest, loaded with very passionate sex. The thing is, this is one of those books where the story itself was so, so good that it didn’t need the sex to keep it emotionally charged because it was the people, Jenny and Mick, who made this book so poignant. Through their understanding, compassion and the need to love and be loved for who they truly are, they captured a place in my heart and made me laugh, cry, and yes, I did a lot of fanning myself.

I’m definitely reading the next book in this series, Sugar Creek.

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