Stefan Joss is headed to Texas to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding. He isn’t thrilled that his boss also wants him to try to negotiate a land deal while he is there, but hopefully that will only take a little time away from the wedding festivities. Stef and Charlotte have been close since college and he is almost part of her family. The only problem is that Stef and Charlotte’s brother, Rand, have pretty much hated one another since they first met (though Stef does find the rancher incredibly hot). The two can barely stop fighting when they are around each other, but for Charlotte, Stef is going to try to get along.
As the two men spend time together at the wedding, tensions thaw between them. Even more surprising, Rand reveals his feelings for Stef are actually nothing like hatred. With that barrier gone, the two men fall hard and fast for one another, the chemistry that has always been between them sparking to life. Stef and Rand not only begin acting on their fierce attraction, but realize that there may be something real between them.
Even as things are going well between the men, complications from the ranch deal rear back up. Suddenly Stef finds himself in the middle of a murder, and now his own life is at risk. Stef and Rand have finally put their fighting behind them and have a chance for a real future, but threats to Stef’s life may end it all before things can really start.
I am a huge Mary Calmes fan and her Timing series is one of the few I haven’t read, though it has always been one I have wanted to try. So it seemed like the perfect choice for TBR Pile Week for our Reading Challenge Month. This story was originally released back in 2010, but rereleased last year along with book 2 in coordination with the publication of the third book in the series. Timing has a very old school Mary Calmes feel, and if you are a fan of the author, you probably know what I am talking about. There was a lot about it I really enjoyed, including a dreamy alpha cowboy and a super sexy connection between the heroes. But there were other areas where I struggled at times.
Calmes has a way of really sweeping the reader up in her romances. They feel big and epic and intense. The men are passionate, they fall fast and hard, and her books can just make you swoon. Here we get that same dynamic as the guys move quickly from enemies to lovers, and their feelings are intense. The chemistry between Stef and Rand is so strong and I found myself just wanting things to work for them from the start. The story is anchored by the wedding at the beginning and a light suspense element at the end, but mostly this book is focused on the relationship between these men and their intense feelings and hot connection really drive the book. So if you are looking for a romance that will sweep you off your feet, I think this is a book you will really enjoy.
I did find myself struggling in some areas, however. First off, the romance is almost instantaneous. The guys go from hating one another to totally committed almost immediately. Once Rand shares his true feelings, it is like those many years of hatred are just gone. I get it from Rand’s end as we learn he has been doing to equivalent of pulling Stef’s pigtails, figuring bad attention is better than no attention at all. So his feelings have always been there, even though he has been hiding them by being a jerk. But Stef has truly disliked, even hated, Rand for years. So I had a really hard time with the fact that Stef is able to suddenly put all those years of animosity behind him and jump right into bed upon learning the truth. These guys have just reconciled when Rand claims Stefan, they have ditched the condoms, and the expectation is that they are now together for good. It was hard to imagine how Stef wasn’t running from the room at this sudden declaration of possession so quickly on the heels of the two hating one another, yet he just rolls with it. Now once we moved past this initial get together and into the guys developing their relationship, this was less of an issue and I could really sink into things. But I had a difficult time with the speed with which these guys go from hating each other to ready for a lifetime commitment.
The second issue is that I found Stef way over the top in his perfection. Everyone loves Stef. Everyone. Like adores him and tells him so at every opportunity. The bridesmaids at the wedding are constantly touching him, feeling his chest and back and hair. They practically treat him like a pet. Everyone always wants Stef sitting with them or talking to them. It just became way too much. Not only because it is unbelievable that anyone is that perfect and universally adored, but it also made it harder to get a sense of Stef as a real person because people’s reactions to him were so unrealistic. I did like his connection with Charlotte and their close bond was very apparent. We see over the course of the book how the two have been there for each other for years, as friends and confidants, and helped each other through some difficult times. But I’ll admit during the wedding I found it again over the top. Charlotte basically ignores her husband-to-be and spends all her time with Stef. At the rehearsal dinner she is yelling at Stef that he needs to be with her to greet her guests, as if that isn’t a job for her husband and family instead. As the story moves forward past the wedding, this became less of an issue as we are more focused on Rand and Stef, versus Stef interacting with family and friends. But it made for a rocky start.
There is a mild suspense sub-plot that kicks in toward the end of the book relating to Stef’s job. It is a nice way to move the story forward out of the bedroom into the real world and there is some nice intensity as Stef deals with the threats to his life (especially with hunky Rand there to support him). I did find the explanation for the bad guy’s actions to be hard to swallow. It made no sense to me that [spoiler] if he didn’t want the deal to go through, he would send the guy most likely to succeed. Why not send someone else who would have less of a chance of convincing her to sell? Why send anyone at all and not just tell the company the deal has collapsed? [/spoiler]It ended up making the conflict seem contrived for the purposes of the story, rather than organic like it might have been.
Overall I found this story was a combination of the very many things I love about Calmes’ writing, as well as some things I found challenging. For me, the sweeping romance and warm fuzzies of these guys together, combined with the hot alpha cowboy, were enough to overcome the more problematic areas.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from NineStar Press. Four lucky winners will each receive a $25 NineStar Press gift card. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!