Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Bottom Line (The Ladies Who Lunch #1) by Sandy James

After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change—with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single, which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.

Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix just about anything—but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?

Type: Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Amazon | All RomanceGoodreads incredible surprise! I won a copy of the Bottom Line a little bit back from LilyElement and on a lark picked it up this afternoon and.... proceeded to read the entire thing in pretty much one sitting. I flipping LOVED this book. The Bottom Line was a truly lovely romance and a touching personal journey that sparked off as Ben's hired on to fix up Mallory's mess of a house.

The quick of it is that Mallory has been going through a lot of struggles. Her husband left her amid a medical scare--yes he is the scum of the earth!--and she's finally ready to start living again and make some changes. Starting with her house that's a DIY disaster thanks to her louse of an ex. And in to her life comes one seriously hunky contractor who winds up fixing more than her broken home. Girly-effing-sigh.

Mallory is a teacher and just a great heroine. She's sweet and strong and has a beauty about her--despite not always seeing it herself--and is just a lovely woman through and through. She's a cancer survivor and has some insecurities and fears because of it that were so realistic, understandable and just heartbreaking. Watching her overcome and deal with them was just gut wrenching and had me near tears more than once.

And Ben. This man is a catch! Solid, reliable, patient and talented. He's a single parent and really cherishes his daughter. He's not the most well off emotionally--from a horrid ex--or financially but he doesn't let it keep him down, ya know? He does what he needs to do to create a stable life for his daughter who has been so hurt by her mother time and time again. And damn that totally made me go all girly. I love a single daddy like that.
"Maybe I could drive you home? You won't even have to give me directions."

She didn't rise to his teasing this time, which made him even more convinced he'd done something wrong. The problem was he didn't have a clue what it was.

"No thanks, I drove myself."

"Then let me walk you to your car."

"You don't have to do that. This is a mixer, remember?" She shooed him away with the back of her hand. "Go mix."

"I've mixed with the only woman I care to mix with."

At least Mallory smiled. "That sounded kinda dirty."

A small crack in the wall. He'd try his best to crawl though. "Only kinda dirty? I'll have to try harder next time."
Mallory and Ben were amazing together. They had that instant chemistry but things didn't go zero to 60 in the blink of an eye. And I really appreciated that. Both have been dealt hard blows by love and needed time to get to know each other as he worked on her house over a number of weeks and months. To slowly work up to their first date and venture into intimacy. The sexual tension between them was shiver-worthy and the little things they started doing--without even realizing--for each other so incredibly sweet (like him cooking her dinner when he knew she was going to have an exhausting day at work). One of my favorite things about them was that they were both upfront and blunt about things. They agreed to always tell the truth and what they were thinking and that made for a great experience. Sometimes a little awkward and edgy but worth it in the end. And when things got heated they were very steamy. Mallory is not shy in anyway and actually likes to be in the drives seat which was kinda fun to watch play out.

From James' soothing and comforting voice to the characters to the emotional upheaval Mal and Ben experience to the hot lovin and gentle touches as two people start to heal from some serious damage their exes had inflicted on them The Bottom Line was just a phenomenal read.

Have you read James? Have a favorite?
What was the last read you randomly grabbed and just...loved?

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