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Reviews of O'Keefe's Previous Novels:
Wild Child (#1)
Never Been Kisses (#2)
Between the Sheets (#3)
Burn Down the Night (#3)
I'm sure you remember my squee-filled review of book 3, Burn Down the Night, from last year, so it's probably no surprise that I loved Wait For It as well. A bit less so, but we're talking by only a tiny bit and I'll get into the reasons why later on.
This story is complicated and no mater how I try to explain it here, it's not going to do it justice out of context. For example, if I say "The hero doesn't want emotions mixed with his sex so he thinks it's okay to pay the woman he's sleeping with, in order for it to be like a business transaction", you'd start giving this book, and Blake, Major Side Eye. Understandable, trust me, but when I say that outside of the context of the story, outside of the context of who he is as a character, that surface statement probably turns you off from the book. Which is fine, I get that. For me, though, it just worked out in the end and I loved these two broken, strong characters, flaws and all. And I'm going to try my best to explain why, as well as point out the few issues I had with the book as well.
While this can be read as a standalone without too much problem, Tiffany and Blake's story kind of starts in the previous books, which is when they first meet. The first chapter or so of Wait For It looks back at the meeting, so you won't be lost, but if you're interested in this story to begin with, I'm confident you'd be interested in the previous two couples as well. (Books 1 and 2 cover couple 1, and book 3 covers couple 2.)
When Wait For It starts in the present time, Tiffany is a single mother still running (and healing) from her abusive ex. She's still married to him, as she's not been able to get a divorce; she's managed to stay a few steps ahead of him for now, but she knows that if she sends out divorce papers, he'll come running back, fists swinging -- literally. So instead she keeps her head down and keeps pushing forward, wanting to finally break free of the horrible life she ended up in, to give her three children a better, brighter future, one where they don't have to listen to their father abusing their mother, one where they can have an actual childhood and not be forced to grow up so quickly. Tiffany is one strong woman and she's been fighting tooth and nail to get to where she is; she's still got a ways to go, she's still clinging, just barely, to avoid losing it all again, but she's a fighter and I admired that about her.
When Tiffany first met her husband, he told her his parents were dead and he was estranged from his brother; only part of that was true, but she never knew . . . until suddenly his brother, Blake, shows up. Blake had no idea that Phil had a wife and children, and while at first he doesn't want to believe Tiffany is telling the truth, it's soon clear to see she is: the kids have their father's looks and the story of how controlling and abusive Phil has been to Tiffany is not at all surprising. He's well aware of what his brother is capable of, having dealt with it all his life. Not wanting to hurt his mother, who is still holding out hope that her son will change, will return to them, Blake offers to pay Tiffany off to ensure she never seeks out his family. Tiffany is a bit in shock at this, but stands her ground and demands he double the price -- she doesn't want anything to do with Phil's family anyway, but the money would be a life saver, a way for her to finally take the kids and run, and she can't afford to let this opportunity pass.
So she does just that, starting over again, away from the trailer park where Phil kept them for all those years. Jump forward a year later, when the story really starts, and she shows up at Annie's house when she needs help; Phil found her and trashed her apartment. (Annie is the heroine from 1 & 2, and lived in the same trailer park for a time.) What Tiffany doesn't know when she pulls up to her friend's fancy house is that Annie is married to Blake's friend and business partner. Blake, seeing her and the children, thinks she's there intentionally, trying to get more money out of him. They have an exchange, and Tiffany holds her own against him, ready to leave before even talking to Annie, too proud to be caught asking for more help in front of him. Perhaps my favorite part from all this was how Tiffany reacted to Blake as she's pulling away:
In this first 10-15% of the book, these two are at odds with one another, and I loved that, loved that, yes, Blake is a bit of an ass to her with his assumptions, but more importantly I loved that Tiffany didn't take his shit, that she stood proud and fired right back. I loved that dynamic and figured we'd continue to get that throughout the rest of the book. That's not really the case though. Within a chapter or so, Blake has softened to her and is offering her help, in his own way. I felt like the switch from heated exchanges to tepid head butting was far too abrupt. Don't get me wrong, I still loved them together, still loved their interactions through the rest of the book, but I just felt like it could have been more, could have been handled differently in order to make it all go more smoothly.
These two each have their own baggage. So much of it, in fact. Blake has always been the one running around trying to clean up his brother's shit, trying to protect his mother from more harm. He doesn't do emotions, he doesn't do connections, and he doesn't know how to handle his brother and all the trouble and pain that he leaves behind. Tiffany, of course, has the baggage from Phil's treatment of her, from her family cutting her off when she ran off with him all those years ago. She's fought like hell to survive the abuse, to make sure her children stay safe, and now she's working, slowly, to put her life back together, something that's hard to do when she she still doubts herself at time. Even more difficult to do when she's constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting for Phil to show up, to drag her back into hell once more.
Of course I'm simplifying their baggage here; if you know O'Keefe, you know that her books are always very complex and satisfying and she builds up the characters and everything that's happened to them in such a way that you get a good understand of why they act the way they do. And that's definitely the case here.
So Blake and Tiffany, they don't just fall into bed. It's a slow burn, in fact, and it's past the 50% mark before they have sex (the first scene isn't intercourse but rather him giving her an orgasm . . . in the backseat of his car). Honestly, I think that was the best fit for these two, so I'm not complaining. And it's O'Keefe -- when the sex comes (heh), it's hot and dirty. So again, no complaints.
Before that, when the tension is still just simmering between them, Tiffany starts to feel arousal and desire, something she hasn't known for so long. She knows that Phil's treatment warped her views on sex, but she wasn't sure how much so until she goes home one night and tries to masturbate. She realizes that she can't, that there's too much running through her mind, that she's become too disconnected from her own sexuality. It's a bit of a powerful scene, and one that I'm so glad was put in.
But here's what I would have loved to have seen: for her to try again later in the book, after she's started to reconnect with and take back her own sexual agency. I'm all for the pleasure she found with Blake, and I think that definitely helped her to heal sexually, but what I really wanted to see, sometime after they got together, was her rediscovering herself again. That would have added even more power to her story, would have shown how Tiffany went through so much hell and came out the other side stronger, in all ways, including sexually. And sexually should not be limited just to how she is with a partner, but how she is by herself. Again, it's a minor thing, and wasn't enough to truly bother me while reading, but it's something I thought about afterwards, some of that more that I wanted sprinkled throughout this already amazing book.
I did feel like the pacing at the end was a bit off; I kept looking at the percentage left and thinking "How is everything going to be wrapped up in mere pages?" It is, of course, wrapped up, don't worry! But I just felt like it could have been done in a much smoother, more thorough way, given a bit more time, a few more pages, perhaps. That being said, I did really enjoy the ending, of seeing these two finally work things out, of seeing him grovel, of seeing Tiffany tell her family off. The things I pointed out, they're all relatively small and I'm being picky; truly, I adored this book and had so many feels while reading it (as I always do with this series).
So there's sexy times, a bit of darkness/angst, complications and emotional backstories and character development -- what more could you want, right? It's classic O'Keefe and I loved every minute of it. It's different from the previous books -- and yet not. What I love about this series is that each book covers a different type of story, deals with different situations, but they all bring the emotions, the angst, and that bit of gritty darkness, along with the heat and HEA. I also love that while all three women -- Annie, Joan, and Tiffany -- are very different and have their own experiences, struggles, baggage, and stories to tell, they also have something in common, too: they're strong and brave and fight so hard for their new lives. I never tire of seeing that in a heroine.
4 1/2 STARS!
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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.
*Note: The quotes used belong to M. O'Keefe; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.
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Until Next Time,
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