Attention romance addicts! Your quest for the fairytale-ending romance with contemporary realism, a realistic heroine, and a hero you want nothing more than to lick and tackle to the ground fall in love with, is over! Christina Crooks delivers that and more in her newest release, Hands On!
After ending a bad relationship, Ginnie Anderson has moved away from her life, ex-fiance, and mother (who's also horrible towards Ginnie), to a small bungalow nestled away in an affluent area. Too bad the bungalow wasn't as well put together as the other houses on the block, because after a nasty storm, the house literally collapses. Much to Ginnie's surprise, her unbeknown landlord becomes her hero to the rescue.
Harry lives in self-induced seclusion, playing boss and business owner to many, but only a few know the real Harry and what his horrible past entails. When he becomes Ginnie's rescuer, he only wants to make sure she's okay and won't look to sue him. But, the undeniable attraction has him allowing her to seek refuge under his roof.
The two can only deny each other physically for a matter of hours *grins*, but when days turn in to weeks, and emotions become heightened, both Ginnie and Harry are tested with just how much each would be willing to risk for the other. And the use of the marionettes to bring out the romance puts this book in to a whole new level of uniqueness and fun as far as I'm concerned! Just the fact that Ms. Crooks created such a unique career for a character completely adds points for me.
Because this is such a character-centric book -- my ultimate love when reading romance-- I feel an overwhelming need to start my review here. The bottom line is, I can't praise Christina enough for the development of the characters in this character-driven book! They're realistic, they're filled with depth and layers, and you simply can envision that somewhere out there lives a non-fictional Ginnie and Harry. They're a hero and heroine so different, yet so alike, changed and driven by events in their pasts, which ultimately leads them to one another.
Ginnie is the absolute ideal heroine for me: Down-to-earth, a little stubborn with control issues, has an unique and very uncommon career that she's absolutely passionate about, a go-getter attitude, and has a realistic view on real life events and situations. She has a bad past with an ex-fiance that doesn't seem to understand the meaning behind 'it's over'. And a new man in her life whom she wants to be in a relationship with. But he has his own issues that don't bode well for her getting the answer she wants. With all this going on, she tends to take it all in stride, managing to carry on with her goal of starting and running her own marionette company. Her attitude made me like her even more.
Harry has his own devastating and heart-wrenching hell of a past, so much so that I gasped out loud and murmured 'holy s**t' to my computer. He's emotionally closed off, yet so vulnerable at the same time. A horrible event in his not-so-distant past has left him with little trust in people - particularly women. But he cannot deny the immediate attraction, and quickly developing feelings he starts to have for his so-called tenant.
Ms. Crooks has done a fabulous job at making you feel connected to these oddly-paired characters as they learn to find themselves again, and challenge one another, as well as themselves, to relinquish control.
The chemistry between the characters was fantastic! Right away, you can get a good sense their inner workings; their hang ups, issues, and desires. And they just fit well together. Even when they first became intimate, it happened quickly, but you couldn't help but think that it was meant to be, and certainly inevitable. *swoons* And let me just say that the smexin' is great. No overindulgence of graphic words -- including swear words -- are present, nor needed, to feel the yumminess!
The pace of the story was another fantastic plus! In fact, I was so engrossed in the story, that I honestly had no idea just how long I had been sitting down reading it; I finished it the same day I started. Crooks' writing style is a wonderful mix of emotion, innocence, steamy romance, and playfulness. It was a wonderful ride through a range of emotions.
The secondary characters completely enhanced the story, never stealing scenes away from the main characters. And because of Ms. Crooks' ability to create believable characters in such a short amount of time, you could easily understand the personalities of each side character, adding to the realness of relationships-- both good and bad.
Obviously, I loved this story. It exceeded my expectations, and I finished it wishing there were more! I highly recommend this book to all those romance addicts out there that wish they could be swept off their feet by some hot, dominant, wealthy man, with a hidden romantic side that is only brought out in your presence. Well, the majority of us have a greater chance of getting struck by lightening than finding that, but at least we can have it in Hands On! :)
You will enjoy the characters, feel their undeniable chemistry, adore the playful banter, and relish in the growth of the characters and development of their relationship. If you love your romance full of palpable emotion and sweetness between two great characters, with just enough smexiness to add some heat, then you definitely need to read this! This is a keeper for me, and I may even go back and read it again latter! :) Fantastic job, Ms. Crooks!