Constantine has a past that no one ever lets him forget. Of course, the fact that his screwup nearly cost his mother their family business and forced his older brother to move closer to home to attend veterinarian school so he could help out has no weight whatsoever in the shackle of guilt that lays about Constantine like a shroud. No, Con refuses to think about it all too closely. Instead, he does what any sane person would do and refuses to let it get him down—at least that’s how it appears on the surface as Con jokes and flits his way from his part time job at the local sheriff’s office to helping out with his mother’s flower business. Inside, however, Con is a ball of shame and remorse over a past that he never meant to happen.
With his father’s death as a catalyst for his reckless, youthful behavior, the Con of today still seems a bit cocky, but actually he has a heart of gold—unless and until it comes to Micah Bloom, the family floral business’ chief competitor. The smug, gorgeous, aloof, bitter rival and taker of business, Micah Bloom is Con’s nemesis and the man he wants more than anything. But Con’s mother hates Micah and all his shop stands for—namely that the revenue he makes is money their company doesn’t and so having any dealings with Micah is off the table. Con gets it–until his car breathes its last breath and the guy offers Con a clandestine part time job to make money for a new one and then they begin flirting and then somehow end up in bed. Yeah, things have gone south really fast and Con can’t find it in him to really care.
Micah always had a plan, always, and bringing the annoyingly gorgeous Constantine Ross into his business and his bed was never part of it. So how did they go from sparring across the market aisleway at the fairgrounds to playing naughty boss and employee in his back storeroom? This is a major mistake—especially since no one can find out the two are involved with each other. But Con is irresistible and Micah is falling hard and somehow Con’s happiness is more important than any plan Micah may have once had.
I have to say that this third full novel, The Secret, from the Love in O’Leary series by May Archer is my favorite thus far. I absolutely adore both Constantine and Micah and was so very happy to see their story unfold. Poor Con, his past haunted him and led him to feel he deserved all the unhappiness he continually pushed down and refused to acknowledge. It not only kept him from his dream of being a landscape designer, it prevented him from ever fully committing to the idea of a loving relationship being possible. So, the author created a perfect foil for the seemingly always happy flirtatious Con—solid, curmudgeonly, set in his way, Micah Bloom. Micah, who was nearly as much a mess inside as Con was and also fought against bending to the younger man’s charms, finds himself falling hopelessly in love and that opens up a whole new box of problems.
This novel was funny, fast-paced, and honestly, just so easy to enjoy. From the witty repartee to the sexy role playing between the two main characters, I was riveted. I enjoyed watching these two men try and keep their relationship platonic—spoiler alert—they fail fantastically. I enjoyed almost every aspect of this story except for one returning character, Con’s mother. This is the second time we have met Angela Ross and I must say I disliked her even more than when she first was introduced in the second novel, The Gift, featuring Con’s brother, Julian. Although she and Con have a heartfelt coming to terms moment and an apology is offered, I still found her remorse just a bit too convenient and disingenuous. She was a controlling mother who found it hard to admit when she was wrong—saying all you’ve guilted your children into doing is done because you love them even when it hurts them isn’t really love. Honestly, other than that, I found little to dislike about this story—it was really a solid novel and one I could find myself rereading.
The Secret is a sweet romance that reminds us all that putting your dreams and your love for another on hold is never a smart thing to do. Instead, this story encourages us to grab life with both hands and fly as high as you can go.