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Friday, July 16, 2010

Happily Even After by Lena Matthews

Happily Even After by Lena Matthews
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (177 pgs)
Other: M/F, Spanking
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Two kids and a divorce later, Creigh De Luca figures she’s pretty much done with diapers and late night feedings. That is until a little blue stripe turns her world upside down. Never in a billion years would Creigh have thought she’d become pregnant from a one-night stand, nor could she have ever guessed the unforeseen pregnancy would warrant unexpected help…from her ex-husband, Dean.

Divorce papers haven’t changed a thing for Dean. He’s still as in love with his ex-wife as he’d always been. Despite the fact he’s not the father of her unborn child, Dean is determined to help Creigh during her pregnancy—whether she wants him to or not.

Creigh has never stopped loving Dean, but she’s not going to let him back in to her life just because she’s expecting a child, especially since she is determined to keep the father’s identity from Dean. But Dean refuses to be dismissed so easily. He knows that with a little patience, forgiveness, and love they can still live happily even after.

When I read the blurb for Happily Even After, I knew it was a book I had to read. Complexities in relationships, for me, are fascinating, so I couldn’t wait to see what author Lena Matthews had in store.

The story begins by placing the reader directly in the center of the drama. Dean and Creigh divorced when she realized they were starting to hate each other. He didn’t want to end the marriage, which meant the parting wasn’t entirely amiable. Shortly after Creigh started to think she might have made a mistake. Unfortunately, seeing Dean out and about with another woman rubbed her the wrong way and instead of confronting him and revealing her feelings, she engaged in a one night stand for revenge and was left with a little something extra she didn’t anticipate. As she approaches Dean’s home with his children for their weekend visit, she knows it’s time to reveal her unexpected pregnancy. From this point, the story moves forward. You know Dean and Creigh divorced, are presented with the fact that neither has completely gotten over the other, and follow their journey as Dean decides to become a father to a child who isn’t his and, in the doing, woo Creigh into giving him a second chance.

Creigh is a very sympathetic character, although at times I did have some trouble understanding why she pressed so hard for the divorce from Dean in the first place. Her emotions teeter-totter and it takes reading a substantial portion of the book to see the entire picture. Once this occurs, however, you are able to perceive her from an entirely different light. Dean is also very well-written, so that you are able to get into his head and understand his anger and resentment. The issue for me is that, while you are able to relate to them while viewing things from their individual point of view, their connection didn’t translate well when it came to each other.

The sexual chemistry Creigh and Dean share is blister-your-fingers hot, to the point that even as she reveals her pregnancy, you can still sense Dean’s attraction to his ex-wife (and vice-versa). It is this that seems to pull them back together. When Creigh looks at Dean, she isn’t reminded of the sweetness he exhibited, but rather how sexy and hot he is. With Dean, his possessiveness and need to control things seems to be what drives him to court Creigh and entice her back into his arms. The moment they fool around, things take a decidedly sexual turn. While this is erotic romance, I couldn’t help but feel the sex became what centered them and mended the rift versus strong emotion.

There is a lot of positive to be said for Happily Even After. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, and there were moments when I absolutely melted for Dean. He is a super-sexy hero who does things so selflessly at times that it’s impossible to dislike him. Likewise, Creigh is a very strong female lead and doesn’t take crap from anyone. It’s not until she faces a future that is uncertain that she finally allows the walls that have been shielding her from Dean to crumble, so that he can see the entire woman who has silently longed for him. The tension that is produced when the biological father resurfaces also provides a little something extra, and I admired how Ms. Matthews decided to tackle the topic -- with as much restraint as detestation.

Fans of sexy erotic romance will certainly enjoy Happily Even After. The material is well written, the characters are engaging and memorable, and the story is just as the title states -- happy even after.

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