Opposites not only attract, sometimes they spontaneously combust.
The Donnellys, Book 1
Ryan Donnelly’s past relationship may have failed, but he’s determined to make single fatherhood and his career a resounding success. He’s got his eye on the top of the ladder at an L.A. marketing firm when his gaze snags on co-worker Maiya Rossini.
She’s a feisty, witty, tattooed redhead who’s nowhere near his type, but she pushes every one of his hot buttons.
Maiya clawed her way out of her dysfunctional, trailer-park childhood to earn a college degree and establish a promising career. Her future dreams are big, bright and packed with full-throttle fun, but when it comes to matters of the heart and men—especially stuffy corporate types like Ryan—her past slams on the emotional brakes.
In the office and in the bedroom, Maiya and Ryan rub each other in all the right ways. Though Maiya is everything Ryan didn’t know he wanted, he’s got his work cut out for him convincing her she’s worthy of love—or the bright light she’s brought to his life could slip through his fingers.
Warning: Contains a lot of graphic, yummy sex. To those prone to lock their bedroom doors, fair warning. In this book, there are no doors, only windows. With no curtains. For those who aren’t afraid to keep their eyes wide open: Enjoy the show!
I signed up to review Unworthy Heart a while back, but when the opportunity to review its sequel came up I moved the book forward on my reading schedule so I could get a feel for the author’s writing style to see if I wanted to continue the series. It wasn’t until I was well past half-way through the book before I decided that I did want to review the next installment. This is not because I didn’t enjoy the author’s writing style because I did. Rather I wasn’t sure where exactly the story was going to end up. Shaw created such realistic characters in Maiya and Ryan that I didn’t know if they would ever overcome their baggage – and they have a LOT of baggage. Even better, the author takes the time to build the relationship between them despite their seemingly quick fall into bed.
Due to a family issue, Maiya works remotely (Las Vegas) and has been collaborating with Ryan (Los Angeles) on work projects for a few months. During the course of their working together, they have developed a professional friendship that has evolved to include quite a bit of flirting. So it was no surprise when the sparks flew between them upon their first face-to-face meeting, despite both being the exact opposite of their usual type. Even when they give into the physical attraction between them, they each maintain an emotional distance because neither believes there can be anything long-term between them, but for entirely different reasons. And the sex? Oh my god is the sex HOT! Ryan proves to have quite the unexpected dominant streak in the bedroom and despite her initial appalment at responding to it, Maiya comes to appreciate and enjoy the extra bite he provides (as did I). But great chemistry in and out of bed does not necessarily make for a successful relationship. This is a couple that has to decide whether or not a future together is worth fighting for, even when one is having to fight the other’s past.
My take on Maiya is that she seems to consider herself to be little more than educated trailer trash who has no right to happiness. She is the unworthy heart of the book, in her opinion at least. This is largely due to a neglectful alcoholic mother who laid her own guilt regarding her son’s death at Maiya’s feet. Yep, that pretty much insures a girl is going to have one heck of an inferiority complex no matter how educated or successful she becomes. Maiya suffers from a terrible case of “being left alone with her thoughts” and letting them undermine her. Normally I would find the level of angst that Maiya’s insecurities cause to be off-putting but Shaw wrote her character in such a way that I empathized with Maiya, especially when she discovered how close she resembled Ryan’s baggage. As for Ryan, I completely understood his desire to keep his single fatherhood a secret at work and him not wanting to introduce Maiya to his son until he knew what their “relationship” was. As for his son – CUTE! I suspect that being a single father and having NINE siblings is what gave Ryan the patience to keep knocking down Maiya’s walls. And that his brother Jimmy was tatted and pierced made his family’s easy acceptance of Maiya’s appearance so believable. (And I commend the cover designer on this one because it was a great representation of Maiya.) Part of why I want to continue reading The Donnellys series is because Defensive Heart is Jimmy’s book and I have to know his story. The other reason being that Shaw made me laugh and cry as Maiya and Ryan (and Jacob) made their way to a happy ending. I can only hope that Defensive Heart will give me a chance to catch up with the trio while finding out Jimmy’s story.