The quickest way to love isn’t always a straight line.
This was supposed to be Xavier Moreau’s long-awaited vacation. A few precious weeks away from his over-scheduled career to see the America his mother loved and still make it to his best friend’s wedding in time. Instead, he’s ferrying the bridezilla’s sister to the nuptials. The luscious Jaime Cruz makes his mouth water, but her near-frenzy to get to Oregon now would scrape on his last nerve—if he didn’t sense that she needs the break as much as he does.
Fresh off a teaching assignment in D.C., Jaime’s white-knuckling it. She’s got only three weeks to get home, find a job and a place to live, and ensure her sister’s big day comes off without a hitch. Except Xavier tosses her three-days-or-bust itinerary out the window. Even more annoying, Jaime finds herself succumbing to his relentless determination to make sure she enjoys every minute of the trip. And falling under the spell of his sizzling touch.
Three weeks and three thousand miles later, Jaime’s feet are on home ground, but her heart is pulling her in a completely unexpected direction. Toward Xavier and a new journey that will require the ultimate leap of faith.
Jenna Bayley-Burke is an author I try to keep up with. (Which is saying something because these days I seem to floating around on a sea of lost aimlessness with books.) I have to admit, the premise wasn’t something that made me go all *oooo grabby hands!* but I was willing to give it a try because of JBB. If you know me at all, you’ll know weddings aren’t my thing. (I know, a romance reader who can’t stand weddings! I blame it on my wedding experiences. Friends say I should sell them to authors for ideas.) Road trips also give me mental hives. Although, if ever there was a way to do a cross country trip, it would be with Xavier. I’d go with a Xavier.
Jaime Cruz is a bit of a contradiction. I didn’t particularly like her in the beginning, but she grew on me. I really started to sympathize with her when her back story (or childhood, really) came to light. For all that Jaime is a caretaker, she’s rather closed off. It’s explained, but for such a take charge person, I didn’t like how she wasn’t clear and articulate with Xavier at first. With their relationship (or lack thereof) it made sense for her to hold back. I really enjoyed seeing Jaime let go a little, and think of herself and having fun.
Xavier Moreau is a really good guy. A really good guy. Just… a bit of an idiot. He’s not in touch with his emotions, but it makes sense because he’s still grieving. He lost his mother a year ago from the beginning of the book, and he’s still grieving. Xavier just doesn’t quite know it. He’s mischievous and smart, but a little lost. Career wise, Xavier is entirely set. Socially he knows exactly what to do and is quite desired in the upper echelons of society… but when it comes to being personal he falters. It was cute watching Xavier realize his emotions, all the while dragging Jaime into all sorts of hijinks and out of the way tourist destinations.
The book starts with Xavier ready to embark on a personal quest to fulfill some of what he considers to be his mother’s last wishes. He gets a call to pick up his best friend’s future sister-in-law. Jaime. Xavier wants to meander about the country. Jaime’s determined to make it a straight shot. What bothered me a lot is they never communicate that to each other. There’s a huge emphasis on the famili(es) wanting Jaime and Xavier being in Oregon now now now… but no reason why. For Jaime, it’s to settle in. (Although there’s something later that totally negates it.) Beyond that, this is a point of contention throughout the book. It made no sense to me. Jaime harps on getting home quickly throughout the trip. Even when it’s obvious that’s not what they’re going to do, nor is it what she really wants to.
Now that I’m thinking about it, it felt like forced conflict. Perhaps another method to show us how “entirely different” Xavier and Jaime are from each other. Only… they’re not. They’re both take charge, direct, and very goal oriented. Xavier is just taking a vacation at this point – and who an begrudge him a relaxed and meandering journey? I will say though – at one point Jaime probably isn’t serious anymore with her protests, but she feels compelled to try to stand her ground and get her way. Xavier isn’t a guy you want to spoil, nor does he need it, exactly. At least not when it comes to getting his way with women.
The writing was of course great. Xavier and Jaime are extremely well written characters, and I felt like I knew exactly who they were. They were definitely the focus, and although there were a number of cameo appearances from both their family members, they never detracted from Xavier and Jaime’s story. I liked that there were no seconday characters stealing the show. The chemistry between Xavier and Jaime was also extremely well done. The pages fairly sizzled. Our hero and heroine are obviously compatible with amazing chemistry. While that’s generally cliche in romance novels, it was quite believable here.
The slightly pat ending bothered me – with Jaime’s mother doing an abrupt about face in her behavior, and I felt it was really the tool to give Xavier and Jaime their happy ending. (I did love the “pep talk” Xavier’s sister gave him.) I started out the book being annoyed with how it was going (the blatant and obvious disagreement that could be resolved with a two minute conversation instead of extreme pouting by Jaime) – but the journey and the fun they were having quickly let me get over that.
I know I harped on the flaws, but those were my only issues. And it’s because I have such high standards for Ms. Bayley-Burke. I expect I’ll re-read this book, and will definitely be looking for the next release from Ms. Bayley-Burke. I recommend this book to lovers of contemporary romance, and anyone looking for a fun summer read. Especially if you’re roped into a cross country road trip. 😉
Caution! Dangerous curves ahead. Do not enter if you might be spooked by haunted hotels, embarrassed by sex in the great outdoors, or fear you might yield to a devastating Frenchman willing to drive you to distraction.