Review: Peace Love Music by Cornelia Amri

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

This story is exactly as it sounds from the title; it is about peace, love and music, but most of all a woman finding love with the man of her dreams, even though she hardly knows how he will react when she wants him to be hers. Jody is her name, and she has been in foster care since she was young, and now that she has turned eighteen, she finds she is on her own, and knows what that means – no one cares about her and she has to find her own way in life.

Excited about the new of the three day Woodstock music festival, Jody hitchhikes her way there in the hope of finding a meaning to her new life, thumbing a lift, she gets there only to find too many people to get to know, then there’s Blue, one part of a hippie commune that welcomes her with open arms. They have come from far and wide to get there, and she appreciates that they have strived to do what she has, and that links them together.

Blue is a bit of a spaced-out character who thinks they have been lovers in a past life, but she knows that can’t be true even though he is showing her that he is pretty much falling in love with her. She doesn’t get that at first, even though she has already fallen in love with him – deeply. Jody wanted so much to find her way in life, and she has done once she took up life with Blue and his commune. He has shown her all she needs is love, and companionship, but more than anything else acceptance.

Cornelia does a great job of bringing the 60’s to life without over emphasising it. Her characters talk and react like they would in that era and some of the dialogue is funny because of it. If you are one of those people who like reading about this era and the stars and people in it, then this book is definitely for you. This book is short enough for a quick read, something for you to get into rather easily, and it does have a satisfying ending too.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Peace Love Music, Peace Love Music (UK)

Defining the Genre: Gothic Romance

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Gothic romance is a genre you can’t find all too easily today. It was a popular genre a few decades ago and lovers of this romance sub-genre will have to troll secondhand bookstores to find titles. Classics of this genre are novels such as Wuthering Heights and Scarlet Letter. Well known authors of Gothic romance/horror include Ann Radcliffe of the past and Stephen King of the present.

A typical Gothic romance revolved around conflict and mysteries. It made the heroine choose between two male characters for love. One is bright, sunny, cheerful and charming. The other was dark, mysterious, secretive, and brooding. Plotlines of cursed leads and daring adventures took place on wind-swept moors, and places that were haunted. The heroine would embark on a thrilling journey to discover if her hero was worthy of love. Her task usually boiled down to find out if the hero really murdered his first wife, brother, mother, insert other relation.

It is interesting to note that Radcliffe introduced this brooding male as the Gothic villain, which developed into the Byronic hero. She is considered a pioneer of the genre. The movie Becoming Jane shows a meeting between Radcliffe and Jane Austen but there’s not basis for this meeting. However it does provide an interesting backdrop on the dual rise of the two types of popular novels.

As Gothic or dark romanticism developed it became more distinctly separated. The first direction of Gothic novels glorifies gore. The second took on the key aspects of modern romance. This new evolution made the focus on the romance instead of the mystery. These are the romances that disappeared after the eighties.

So what is a Byronic hero?

Trivia: The name of this hero comes from the English poet Lord Bryon.

The hero himself is highly intelligent, urbane, sophisticated and introspective. In other words he’s arrogant, mysterious, seductive, and moody (see bipolar). We see male figures like this all over, you could make the argument that Mr. Darcy is a Byronic hero on top of being a Regency hero, as Byronic heroes dislike social formalities and functions. Of course Mr. Darcy doesn’t have a troubled past or flippant air towards the wealthy and privileged, as he is one of that set. While Mr. Darcy was disliked he was not a complete social outcast and exiled from polite company. All these things are attributed to the Byronic hero.

What’s a good modern Gothic romance?

Some titles of the modern Gothic romance include: Bells of Widow’s Bay by Miriam Lynch, Castle Midnight by Evelyn McKenna, and Satan’s Rock by Marilyn Ross.

Authors to look for include (past and present authors): Victoria Holt, Dorothy Daniels, Theresa Weir, Phyllis Whitney, Barbara Michaels, Allison Knight, Mary Stewart, Joanna Challis, and Megan McKinney, Kay Hooper, Eve Silver… to name a few.

Trivia: In the 1980s Harlequin had an all Gothic line of books. See here for Gothic titles. Harlequin Intrigue also contains several titles that could satisfy your craving.

Erotic Romance, Not Just Erotica and Romance

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by Cecilia Tan, guest blogger

Our tale begins in 1970, which is the year some point to as the beginning of the modern romance genre, with the arrival of the manuscript The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss on the desk of editor Nancy Coffey at Avon. The book would be a huge bestseller, kicking off a new era of romance publishing, and Woodiwiss was the first of the “Avon Ladies.” In that year, the average age at which American women married was 20.6 years old.

But 1987 that average was up to 23.3 years old, and according to the US Census Bureau, by 2003 it was 25.1 years, where it remains today.

Meanwhile, the percentage of female teenagers becoming sexually active rose from 30% to 40% between 1982 and 1988, and now, 20 years later, the rate of high school students who have had intercourse is close to 50%. (They don’t count it as “sex” unless you have intercourse, you know.) In short, that means a lot of young American women, who used to go into their marriages with no sexual experience, now tend to have a significant amount of time as sexually active people before they marry–most as much as a decade.

Not only that, but as the generations have progressed from the swingin’ seventies to today, the kinds of sex that women are having has proliferated. The likelihood that they have experience with spanking, bondage, multiple partners, bisexuality, and other things that would have once been considered outre is now quite high as well, with 48% of people currently in their 20s reporting they have at least “experimented” with these activities.

bondage

Is it any wonder, then, that romance novels have changed, too?

This doesn’t mean that every romance reader wants in her life–or in her fiction–non-stop sex, kinky sex, or partner swapping. But the “bodice rippers” that were a staple of past generations are now often seen as either laughable or even anti-woman by modern readers, and the breathless euphemisms that used to be standard in the genre come off as quaint or unintentionally funny. The back cover copy on Woodiwiss’s “Flame…” speaks of “…the Carolina plantation where Brandon finally probes the depths of Heather’s full womanhood!”

We might make fun of the old style of marketing, but there is no denying that whatever language is used, romances have always been about passion as well as love. And just as fewer and fewer women would find a chaste kiss to be satisfying after a romantic dinner out, and now they want the same desires reflected in their favorite fiction.

But what distinguishes erotic romance from “erotica”(a broad term in itself)? Is erotic romance just a hybrid between romance and erotic fiction? In actuality, it’s the strength of the romance genre that allows so much flexibility in what we can call “romance” these days. The two unchanging aspects are the focus on love and the core relationship, and the happy/emotionally satisfying ending. That leaves a lot of room to have different historical settings, mystery subplots, fantastical aspects. As Beatrice Small wrote in a 2007 essay on the history of the genre, “[In the 1970s] romance [grew into] a billion dollar baby for publishing. It was a two-headed baby to begin with: Historicals and Category. But then as women’s palates grew more sophisticated, baby grew more heads. Historical and Category were joined by Western, Thriller, Paranormal, Glitz, Chick-Lit, Christian, Contemporary, and OHMYSTARS! Erotic, just to name a few. And the Historical sub-genre had sub-sub-genres. Regency. Georgian. Medieval. [and so on.]”

In other words, romance is a great-looking model on which you can put any kind of outfit, whether a medieval ball gown or six-inch spike heels and a leather corset.

For me, it isn’t the amount of sex in a book, nor how graphic it is, that makes a book “erotica” and not romance. I am one of those women for whom love and sex go hand in hand in my real life. I wouldn’t dream of spending my life with someone if I didn’t know we were compatible in bed. In a love story, especially a contemporary one, I feel like I need to see some erotic interaction between the characters in order to believe that their love is real and can work. In historicals I find Unresolved Sexual Tension more believable than in stories set in the modern day, but what I am still seeking is the ultimate release of that tension. I love writers who can wind the ratchet tighter and tighter, but just like someone who is great at teasing in bed, I want them to eventually deliver me that mind-shattering release.

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More sex scenes do not necessarily make a “hotter” book, the way more salt and pepper doesn’t automatically make a meal taste better. What is most arousing is when the sex is convincing, when it makes sense with the characters and when it follows a logical progression through their emotional lives.

There are plenty of books of erotica out there. I know, because I’ve written them. Many of them are collections of short stories, because erotica can so often be about the fling, the one-night stand, the exploration of a character’s sexual growth, but doesn’t necessarily have to be about love. Short stories are flings, but novels are relationships. And just as I found I need to see some sexual interaction between characters for me to believe they are falling in love, I also have to see them falling in love in order to believe that they are going to keep having sex for the space of an entire novel! If they aren’t, if the plot is not a love story but just an vehicle to get us from one sex scene to another, inventive and arousing as the scenes may be, I’d classify a book as erotica, and not erotic romance.

When I sat down to write my book MIND GAMES, which I’d classify as an erotic paranormal suspense romance, I had already come up with the characters many years before. I’d originally envisioned Wren and Derek as an established couple, and I was trying to write them in a kind of detective/spy scenario where their partnership and relationship were already long since established. But that idea never really firmed up. I kept asking myself how they had come to be a couple, and how did they find out that sex enhanced her psychic abilities? Ultimately I realized I couldn’t write what happens in their future until I wrote their love story and answered those questions.

It was an incredible experience writing them falling in love. After over a decade of writing and publishing dozens of erotic short stories, in places like Ms. Magazine, Best American Erotica, and Nerve, having the room to follow the characters from their initial meeting and spark of attraction, right through to their eventual emotional break-throughs, felt like a decadent luxury to me. I really was able to focus on the emotions, not just on Wren’s attraction and feelings of arousal, but also her conflicted feelings, her fears, her past wounds, and her determination to make this time different from the failed relationships of the past.

Now that I think about it, I did the exact same thing in my second romance novel, THE HOT STREAK. If anything, THE HOT STREAK concentrates even more on the relationship because there is no mystery sub-plot. All the “action” revolves around our heroine falling in love with a baseball player and learning to negotiate the ups and downs of being a “major league girlfriend.” It’s a much more light-hearted book than MIND GAMES, but again there’s that theme of her not yet having found Mr. Right, and then all the doors it opens in her heart and her life when she finally meets him.

Ultimately, this is why erotic romance is still romance, because although we want him in bed, we still want Mr. Right. It’s just romance created to satisfy the women like me who aren’t satisfied by a story that doesn’t meet their own sexual reality, and those are the women I set out to please, too. And I’m sure as the needs and lives of women continue to change in the 21st century, the heroines and stories we find in romances will change to meet them.

Cecilia Tan is the author of the erotic romances MIND GAMES, THE HOT STREAK, and the forthcoming MAGIC UNIVERSITY series, as well as numerous books of erotica and baseball nonfiction. Read sample chapters more at http://www.ceciliatan.com/.

References:
“More Girls Are Sexually Active, Study Finds,” by Felicity Barrington, New York Times, November 10, 1990 (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/10/us/more-girls-are-sexually-active-study-finds.html)

“Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health,” Alan Guttmacher Institute, September 2006 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_ATSRH.html)

“Most Americans Have Had Premarital Sex,” By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY, December 19, 2006, (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-12-19-premarital-sex_x.htm)

America transformed: sixty years of revolutionary change, 1941-2001, by Richard M. Abrams, Cambridge University Press, 2001

“A Brief History of the Romance Genre,” by Beatrice Small, Shorelines newsletter, August 19, 2007 (http://www.authorscene.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=60)

Photo Credits: Wiros, Oneras [what about peace?]

Are Romances Built On Hormones A Good Thing?

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by Tracy Cooper-Posey, guest blogger and author of Betting with Lucifer.

I’ve been touring Betting With Lucifer around a few stops now, and a lot of the feedback I’ve been getting is that it’s a great “old fashioned romance” where the characters really get to know each other as they fall in love and commit to a life together.

Which is lovely and flattering and all (and you should see the reviews!), but I’m really not leading off with this in order to rave about my book. I’m trying to make a point.

What are all the other romances doing, if their characters are not really getting to know each other as they fall in love and commit to a live together as well?

Are we all as romance readers getting so used to erotic romance and fast-paced, hip, sexy romances where the hero and heroine see each other and pow! — instant lust and hot hard sexual tension that has the pages turning (nothing wrong with it – love the stuff myself), that we’ve lost track of the relationship stuff in the meantime? Have hormones replaced heartache in the modern romance?

You may not be aware of this, but I met my husband via the Internet. We courted on-line for eight months before I committed to moving from Australia to Canada to be with him. That was eight months of emails and phone calls when hormones and sex couldn’t get in the way (much!). Eight months of pure relationship establishment. I’m not saying that our relationship is any stronger or weaker than any other marriage, but I am absolutely saying that we have a foundation that will survive anything. We can work out anything. I know we can. We’ll have our problems. Any relationship will, as it endures, but we didn’t start off on the wrong foot. We’ve both admitted that had we met as strangers at a party, we probably wouldn’t have connected because we’re not the people we normally gravitated towards in those days. But we have a relationship now, so all bets are off. And we’ve survived fourteen years already.

So while the modern romance is all hip and sexy and wonderful – hell, I’m writing enough of them myself – and everyone is gobbling them up, I have to wonder…what are we teaching the up and coming generation about love and romance? Are we teaching them that this is what love is all about? Sex and lust and gotta-have-you-now? (Along with love-is-sparkly-vampires.) Because there aren’t too many old-fashioned romance books out there anymore with 100-proof romantic conflict in them anymore, if I’m to judge from the feedback I’ve been getting.

And if that is the lesson the next generation learns, is that part of the reason for the horrendous divorce rate the western world is observing these days? Because there isn’t any manuals out there teaching kids what love means. The romance genre really is the go-to-guy, whether we like it or not.

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Lyndsay is determined to outshine the memory of her mother’s illustrious career. As head of the marketing department of the exclusive Freeman Hotel, high up in the rarefied mountain air of northern Washington, she grapples with her rival — the charming newcomer, Lucifer Furey Pierse.

No one knows much about Luke except that he could turn a murder into a side-splitting comedy routine, and that he has an eye for women, including an inexplicable attraction for the prickly, definitely not-interested Lyndsay.

It starts with a bet that goes horribly wrong.  If Lyndsay wins the bet, then Luke leaves town—forever.  If Luke wins the bet, he gets a date with Lyndsay.  But when Luke wins the bet and Lyndsay is forced to pay the price, she learns more about Lucifer Furey Pierse than she thought existed…and the process of discovery for both of them becomes a bitter-sweet journey through their personal histories as they learn why they are the people they have become.

Then life hands them an unexpected twist that they must deal with…one that tests both of them to the limit.

_________________________

Lyndsay heard the tap on her office door and Luke’s muffled “’Night, boss,” exactly thirty seconds past five. The same time as last night and every night since Luke had begun working here.

Tonight it completely blew her concentration. She threw the pen down.

Damn. A date, for heaven’s sake! Of all the things he might have laid on the line—vacations, time off, cash bonuses, a promotion, title—he’d held out for a date.

A date! The word left a sour taste in her mouth.

With brisk determination, she began tidying her files again, trying to realign her focus and bring it back to the work at hand. She had been spending more time than she could afford this afternoon wondering what on earth had motivated Luke to settle for a date. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that his sole motive was to humiliate her.

First, winning the bet—if he won the bet and that wasn’t a sure thing at all—if he won the bet, Lyndsay would die of mortification and he knew it. Having to humiliate herself by going through the motions of a date with Luke would just be rubbing salt in the wound.

She looked down at the paperwork she was supposed to be completing and grimaced. There was no way she was going to be able to finish it tonight. She might as well quit now, than waste the rest of the evening trying to get it done.

The worst of it was, this stuff didn’t come naturally to her. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to dash it off if she wasn’t mentally wide awake.

She gathered up the files, shoved them in her briefcase and snapped it shut. Maybe she could go home and work there. Perhaps a shower, dinner and talk with her father would put her in a more appropriate mood for work.

At the very least, at home she would not be on tenterhooks, waiting for Luke to interrupt her whenever he chose to. She might be able to put the horrid afternoon out of her mind. Just being able to forget about the bet would help.

She locked the office door and went to find Timothy. He almost looked startled when he saw the briefcase in her hand but his unflappable expression returned instantly.

“You have an appointment?”

“Did you make me any you haven’t told me about?”

“No.”

“Then no.”

“You’re going home?”

“Yes Timothy, I’m going home.”

He smiled. “Luke got under your skin, didn’t he?”

Lyndsay tried very hard to hide her surprise. “The only way Luke Pierse is ever going to get under my skin is if he turns into a tick. In which case, I’ll burn his tail off for him.”

Timothy’s smile widened. “You’d enjoy it too, I bet.”

“Speaking of bets…” Alexander stepped into the office, carrying a little notebook and pencil.

“No, we are not speaking of bets. Now, or for the next week,” Lyndsay said firmly, feeling her anger stir yet again.

Alexander hesitated, his dark face drooping almost comically.

“I mean it,” Lyndsay insisted. “I’m not turning the winning of a lucrative account into some kind of nine-day wonder.”

“You don’t call combining Lyndsay Eden and dates a nine-day wonder?” Timothy asked.

She swiveled to look at him, feeling a touch of surprise. “Since when did you sell out on me, Tim?”

“When was the last time you had a date?” he shot back.

“I’ve had plenty of dates!”

“When was the last one?” he pressed.

“I don’t keep statistics.” She could feel her indignation growing. Why was Timothy doing this? “Except, maybe, the size and capacity of my assistant’s brain.”

“I can tell you to the day when your last date was.”

“I also keep odds on how long my assistant is going to keep his job.” She clenched her teeth before hotter words tumbled out.

“Ten months and three days,” Tim supplied.

“Wow!” Alexander breathed, his notebook lowering.

“You can go home now,” she snapped at him.

“Right,” he agreed, hurrying out.

“I should can your butt,” she told Timothy.

“You won’t fire me.” He was serene.

“Give me one good reason.”

“Because you like having someone around who tells you the truth. Warts and all.”

That damped her anger. Instantly. Because it was true. She took a few breaths, letting the anger dissipate. “And you’re the only truth-teller around who has an invisible asbestos suit. I’m sorry.”

“Agh!” He waved his hand, his awkwardness with sentiment making his face flush. “I grew the suit after twenty years of living next door to you.”

“Thanks,” she said, simply.

He shrugged. “But I meant what I said. A date might do you good.”

“With Luke Pierse? You know he does nothing but make me spit with anger.”

“Exactly.”

She shook her head. She didn’t get it. “Well…”

“Go home,” he told her.

“’Night.”

She made her way to the elevator and the last vestiges of anger stirred back into instant, blazing life, for Luke was standing there with the general manager, Vince Gormley. Worse, their head were together. As she approached, they both started laughing, throwing their heads back.

Good ol’ boys.

Lyndsay gritted her teeth. Even though she reported directly to Vince, she knew she had never really been fully accepted by him and largely it was because of her lack of this intangible ability to mix and mingle. Luke had it in buckets, damn his eyes. He and Vince got along like father and son and every time Lyndsay saw them together her stomach would clench.

She pushed away the tendrils of alarm creeping through her. Just because she wasn’t into backslapping and golf, it didn’t mean she would lose her job. She was one of the best promotions managers the hotel had ever had. Almost as good as her mother had been.

Almost.

It was the “almost” that made her heart sink when she saw Luke and Vince together. In the back of her mind, never quite articulated even in her thoughts, was the knowledge that her mother would have been in there mixing it, slapping her thigh right along with them, fully accepted as one of the boys.

Lyndsay marched up to the elevator control panel and prodded the button with energy. Luke continued to talk and Vince to listen with rapt attention, a smile lingering, his eyes twinkling with merriment.

“The judges declared that the packaging had to be green and the meat to be fresh. Frozen wouldn’t do. Well, Aunt Mary had won the scavenger hunt for the last twenty-five years and wasn’t about to go down for an upstart who had been in the neighborhood for only twelve years. Her pride was on the line.”

Another one of Luke’s mad relative tales, Lyndsay realized. None of them were true, of course. They were too ridiculous to be true.

“So what did she do?” Vince asked.

“Okay. The supermarket was closed and she knew there wasn’t any meat packaged in green to be had anyway. What company is going to package meat with a green label? It’s too bizarre, makes the meat look rotten before its time. So she sat down, had a long, hard think about it.”

“And?” Vince asked, echoing Lyndsay’s thoughts.

“So she stripped naked, tore holes in the bottom of a green garbage bag and wore it like a dress. Walked right on up to the judges. ‘Meat on the hoof’, she called herself and declared they couldn’t get fresher if they went to the abattoirs.”

“No!” Vince began to laugh, a helpless chuckle that swiftly grew to a loud bellow.

“Did she win?” Lyndsay asked, lifting her voice above the laughter.

At that moment, the elevator arrived, announcing itself with a loud chime. And at the same moment, Vince got control of himself and stopped laughing.

Luke turned his head to look at her, as total silence fell. His dark eyes narrowed a little. The effect was too eerily like she had interrupted him and her question was unwelcome.

The elevator doors slid open behind her.

Damn, she thought. She’d got sucked up into his tales yet again. “Never mind,” she muttered and scurried into the elevator.

Vince stuck out his hand toward Luke. “Anyway, Luke, have a good evening. I’ll see you on Thursday, okay? Ten o’clock, remember!”

Lyndsay hit the lobby button with a vicious jab, hoping the doors would slide shut before Luke could disentangle himself from Vince’s farewell. Miraculously the doors began to slide shut. At the last minute, Luke’s shirt-sleeved arm chopped down between the closing doors and they bounced harmlessly back again.

He stepped into the lift and shot a glance at Lyndsay.

She sighed. Well, it was only ten floors. It wouldn’t kill her to share an elevator with him for ten floors.

But her heart was racing along unhappily.

She remained silent, hoping Luke would take the hint.

“She won,” he said quietly.

“Who?”

“My aunt. She won.”

“How nice for her.”

Eight…seven…come on, Lyndsay mentally encouraged the creeping light.

“This bet is bothering you, isn’t it?”

“The bet?” she inquired airily. “Not at all.”

Five…four…

“That’s why you’re going home early. You’re worried you might lose, after all.”

Worried? She spun to face him. “You’d be the last person I’d tell if I were worried!”

His hand hit the panel of lights, slamming down over the emergency stop button.

“That’s exactly what the bet is about,” he said, his voice flat, forceful.

She looked at the panel with the bright red LED display flashing its alarm. “What are you doing?” she demanded. “You can’t just halt an elevator like that. They’ll penalize you, or charge you or something. I don’t know what the penalty is for unlawfully halting an elevator but if it’s anything like stopping a train—”

“Just shut up for one minute, will you?” he said quickly, as she paused for breath.

She shut up. It was something in his eyes, rather than his words, that made her fall silent. His eyes in the dimly lit elevator car were almost obsidian black and the thick, deeply dark brown weight of his hair fell over his forehead, shadowing the eyes even more. There was something in his face… She groped to define the subtle expression and could feel a growing frustration. Other people would be able to name it instantly, would understand that strange light straight away.

“You have no idea why I bet what I did and it’s chewing you up,” he said, his voice very quiet.

“Aren’t you at all worried that you might lose?” she asked. “That you might have to leave Deerfoot Falls?”

He smiled a little. “I’ve been kicked out of bigger and better places than this one. And you’re changing subjects on me. Not this time, Lyndsay.” He stepped closer to her and suddenly the sides of the car seemed to close in around her. Too small. Much too small a space to house her and Luke at the same time.

She almost gasped.

“Have you ever wondered what it might be like to kiss me?” he asked softly.

She stared at him, flummoxed. Had she really heard him say what she thought he’d said?

“I-I… What?” She blinked at him. Out of left field. Out of a blue sky. “What on Earth…?”

He smiled and it seemed to her that the smile was bitter. “I guess I have my answer,” he said, reaching for the small button that would restart the elevator’s descent.

Lyndsay kept very still as the elevator started up and slid down to the lobby level. She kept her eyes on the display, afraid to look around.

Her heart was racing as if she’d run a mad hundred yard sprint and her mind was churning with bewilderment. What was going on? She didn’t understand it at all. It was as if that one glimpse into Luke’s eyes, the small, singular note of bitterness, had opened up a whole new facet to Luke…and she wasn’t sure she wanted it opened.

The doors slid open, revealing the pink-marbled, gold-and-crystal-enhanced lobby and a swell of pride lifted her heart a little. The Derwent was a classy hotel, no doubt of it. Small enough to be intimate, large enough to be sophisticated.

She was about to step out when Luke’s arm came across the opening, jamming the doors back with the flat of his palm and blocking her way. He looked at her, lowering his chin a little to do so.

“You know, when I first arrived here, I was a little bit intimidated, a little in awe of your unrelenting dedication to your career. I’ve never met anyone quite like you before. But after a couple of weeks, I began to wonder when you were going to stop for breath. I started watching for it. I figured sooner or later you’d have to come up for air. But you didn’t.”

Lyndsay bit her lip. “You don’t understand—”

“No, I don’t. I don’t even admire it any more, Lyndsay. After six months of waiting for you to fall off the pedestal, I started getting really uneasy. Now, when it comes right down to it, mostly what I feel when I watch you doing your thing is…” He paused and she saw him draw breath. “I pity you.” His voice was very low.

He let the doors go and stepped out.

Lyndsay stepped out behind him and watched him walk across the rugs and marble to the bank of glass doors leading onto Queen Street, sliding into his jacket as he went.

She didn’t know whether she should be angry or upset. Neither seemed to fit with the churning inside her. Luke’s words had been mild but his attitude, the quiet depth of feeling behind the simple words had stirred up a huge, hard ball of reaction that she had no idea how to start dissolving.

He patently disapproved of her—that much was clear.

Well, she didn’t like him much, either.

So why did his disapproval strike so deeply, then?

__________________

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