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For nearly a year, Dinah has been anonymously email-sexting with a man; she originally left a drunken comment on his Tumblr page one night and it took off from there, growing into almost daily sexts that got them both off. No names, no pictures, no personal information, but they both still put bits of themselves into the brief post-sexy-time messages as the months go by. It's only sex . . . and yet it's not.
Dinah, trying to prove to her uncle and grandmother that she can run the family business, must convince Carter, a local farmer, to sell his land. He tells her no, just as he told her uncle already. But she's not backing down, can't if she's to finally achieve her dream of running Gallagher's. But he's not going to give in, either.
Later that same night, after another sext session with Mr. Tumblr, she starts randomly scrolling through his Tumblr page, suddenly realizing the garden pictures on there look very familiar . . . like Carter's yard, in fact. Yep, the man she's been sexting for months is the same grumpy farmer she's trying to buy out.
She goes over to confront him about it. He's thrown by the revelation of his sexy email partner too -- she's the enemy, the one trying to take away the only thing he has left: his family's property, his beloved farm and livelihood. Yet even though he's not fond of her as a Gallagher, he can't resist his attraction to her, especially when she takes a risk before leaving and asks for one thing: a single night together, offline, to put it all behind them. In the morning though, they go back to being enemies. What could possibly go wrong?
I found the start of this book, and the premise for their meeting, very fun and sexy. Sadly we only get a few teasing lines from their recent sexts; I truly wish more of their emails had been included -- not just for the, obvious, sexy parts, but also for the little messages that were added after the orgasms, the bits that lead to their developing intimacy even before they met. I also enjoyed the tension between the two when they first meet, not knowing their online identities; when a hero and heroine clash, you know it always adds that extra something to their dynamic. But I didn't feel like a lot of that showed up in later chapters, which was a bit disappointing.
Carter's determination and fierce fight to keep his land, his very legacy, I could understand, and I liked that about him. But Dinah's single-minded obsession with the family business -- that got on my nerves from the beginning and only increased as the story went on. And it has nothing to do with her being a woman with a focus on a career or dreams; fuck that kind of sexist thinking. The fact is I never, not once, understood WHY she so loved the company, why she was putting it above literally everything else in her life, even a budding relationship with Carter. Did I want her to give up her dreams entirely because of a man? Fuck no, that would have pissed me off, too. But I never saw one reason for her devotion to the business, just the throw-away comment of "it's the family's business". Even when her cousin tried pressing her about a reason, there was never an explanation -- and I kept waiting for one, for a glimpse into why she felt so strongly about it, even knowing that her shitty uncle was calling the shots and her grandmother, while not completely terrible, had her not-so-great qualities and moments. Her cousin sees the grandmother very differently, and can't figure out why Dinah wants to be like her -- and honestly, I had to agree with her because I never understood what Dinah saw in the grandma, either. It just felt like we were getting her drive for the business thrown in for the conflict without ever explaining, unpacking, or truly resolving it. And to be clear, if this had been done with the hero instead, I would have had the same reaction. I need to understand a character's motivation, especially for something that's so much a part of the book. I don't know how else to explain it other than by saying I wanted more depth and instead I got the surface, even to the very end.
Overall, I did truly enjoy this one, though I do wish more of that fun dynamic that started the story had been shown (the sexts, for example, shown within the context of the scene while they were exchanging them) and that their push-pull dynamic had continued through more of the book. Instead it felt like what started on a fun and sexy note then went into this continual battle of Dinah repeating that she cares about the family business above everything else. I guess I wanted more of a balance with the story, a bit more of an understanding of Dinah's character and motivation, and a bit more of the sexy times on page (though admittedly the scenes we do get are nothing to turn your nose up at!). I'll still be back for more from Healm in general, and definitely for book 2 in this series. I liked her writing style just fine, but in the end I wanted a bit more from this story.
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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.
*Note: The quotes used belong to Nicole Healm; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.
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Have you read Healm before? If so, what's your favorite from her?
Until Next Time,
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