Published: September 8, 2013, Nicole James
My rating: 4.5 of 5 ⭐
She finds herself waking up in the woods with her head bleeding, not knowing how she got there. All she knows is that she is very afraid and feels the urge to run. Making her way to a road, with the lights of some town in the distance, she turns into the first drive she comes to. When asked by the men who find her there, what her name is she finds herself responding;
"..I don't know. I can't remember my name. I can't remember....anything."
Last thing Steve Garrett expects is to find a bleeding woman lying in his driveway. One who can't remember how she got there or what her name is. But he is not about to turn her away. After taking her to the hospital to get looked after and reporting to the police, he offers her a job at his farm. With him, Pop, his daughter Jessie, and Cary who works for him, he could use someone to help out at the house. He suggests it, offers her room and board just until she gets her memory back.
"Well, look, we have to call you something, and I sure as hell am not calling you Jane Doe. I think Summer fits you."
Summer slowly settles in to the routine of the farm. Early rising to get breakfast going for everyone, loads of laundry, finding out she can actually cook. At first she tries to actively jog her memory, but gives that up when all it does is frustrate her when nothing helps. But she is starting to enjoy being there, enjoy Steve's company especially, although she is discovering some tragic events from his past he still seems to be dealing with, she thinks he likes her there too.
"That's it, baby. Take it. Reach for it. Find it. Yes. Fuck, I like feeling you go wild under me."
Stress over the upcoming harvest and worries over his daughter's well-being, have Steve distant and short tempered. Summer tries to simply do her work and not put any additional demands on him but it is hard not to feel hurt. When a little snippet of memory and a coincidental find prompt Summer to intensify the search for her identity, she stumbles on some of Ruby Falls' darkest secrets, and into the hands of a predator.
BIG surprise!!! Totally unexpected and completely enamoured with this book!
If you expect a book like OUTLAW, you are looking in the wrong place. However, if you expect a book of the same caliber and quality, but with a completely different subject matter, you have come to the right place.
We know Nicole James can write hot sex.......she does so here as well, but in a way that is fitting with the characters in the book. That is to say, it is not raunchy, over the top, public, crass whenever, wherever sex..... but just hot, one on one, little dirty talk, good chemistry sex. Fitting to the story, but not the story, if you get my drift.
Interesting group of characters she has put together and without giving too much away, let me go over them a bit.
Pop is Steve's grandpa and devoted to him and his great granddaughter Jessie. He's the one who basically was Steve's father figure.
Cary is Steve's right hand man and although many years younger, also a good friend. He struggles with his strong feelings for Jessie, who is barely eighteen, and with whom he has an almost sibling relationship.
Jessie is a sweetheart, but with a house full of men, she is used to getting away with a lot and doesn's always make the smartest choices. She usually calls Cary to bail her out of trouble.
Steve hasn't had an easy life, but he loves living and working on the farm, something he didn't know before he was almost an adult already. Still struggling with town gossip and broken friendships after years of mistrust, have caused him to be a bit withdrawn, but with Summer's arrival he seems to be coming out of his shell for the first time. Smiling and laughing more than he has in years and generally being happier and more content. But it is not easy to come to terms with a past that is not finished, to which there is no definitive end and so that limits his ability to give all of himself.
Summer lives in limbo. When she is able to tune out any long term thinking and just live in the moment, she is happy. As long as she focuses on the well-being of those she cares about around her, she is happy. But the moment she thinks about who and what might be waiting for her, or what will happen when and if her memory comes back, a sense of panic overwhelms her. It's almost as if she doesn't know anymore what would make her happier, remembering or not remembering. If remembering meant losing Steve, that would be a horrible choice to make.
Such a well thought out story, with incredible depth and insight. I thought there were times through the middle that it may have dragged a bit, but that also might have been my own impatience. A worthwile read for sure!!!
✨An intensely poignant and provocative book by a versatile story teller!!!✨