Cole is a star defensive back for a pro football team. He was raised by his grandmother, whom he adores. When she is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, she tells him all she ever wanted for him was to find a girl to settle down with. Cole knows that the slutty girls that he sleeps with due to his fame are not really what his grandmother is wanting for him. So he heads out to find a “nice girl.”
Enter Anna. She’s always been the one afraid to take risks, careful, and deliberate. She’s a school teacher. Aha! Perfect! Cole doesn’t expect his intense attraction to her, but views it as a serious plus. When he propositions, and then proposes to Anna basically on the spot, she agrees, because she’s never been this intensely attracted to someone either.
Cole came across as quite the man-whore - by his own thoughts, but his redeeming quality was that he was really a very nice guy who simply wanted to make the woman who raised him and who he loved more than life itself happy. Hard not to like that.
OK. Here’s where my problems began. After their quickie wedding, they head back to San Francisco, where miraculously, they both live. Their first time together, instead of taking it slow and nice, Cole decides to tie Anna up. Initially, her bravado and desire to prove she’s not afraid to take chances has her giving in. Then as the progress, she starts to have second thoughts; in fact says no and asks him to stop several times. But no. He knows what she wants. And she wants it. Wants to be tied up.
As I read, I highlighted this passage (and these are the actual notes I took as I was reading it):"Anna's reserve went so deep that if he gave her any chance to protest, to try and fight what her body so desperately wanted, she’d use it."
This struck me as incredibly coercive. She had obviously never done anything like this, so why did he insist on it for their first time?
Later in the scene: "Cole," she begged, "please untie me."
And he doesn't. Because he just knows that’s not really what she wants. "You're being so brave, sweetheart." OK, just ick. It's one thing if they had established a safe word, but they hadn’t. Again, I felt like this was coercion.
"But he’d known she couldn’t, that she didn’t have the words, the sexual experience to play the kind of games he probably played every single night with beautiful women."
Iyou're way out of her league sexually, then you let her go when she asks, or begs, asshole.
Bear in mind, this is all in their first sexual encounter – before they’ve even had sex even once - and they had just met. He married her because she was a "good girl." And of course, Cole was right. She just needed him to push her. To tell her what she really wanted.
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive in this time right now, when so many are trying to redefine what rape is and isn’t, so "gee, she really wants it", but this whole scene left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it rape, because I honestly believed that if she got really really freaked out and started screaming, he would have stopped, but it was certainly coercive. She struggled, she said no, she "begged". And he still
carried on, certain that he know what she wanted more than she did.
So from there, they have a getting to know you period, they get close, and Cole comes off as a really nice guy. Yes, he has a wild sexual appetite, but he’s just so nice and sweet out of bed. He just likes to tie his women up in bed, and get a little kinky. Nothing wrong with that when it's completely 100% consensual.
Enter the next problem that I had, and this is something that should have been caught in editing (this is a self-published book. I’m just making the assumption that it was professionally edited, because Andre is a multi-published author through several houses, and a complete professional). Cole’s word for Anna is "sweet". Everything about her is sweet. She has sweet lips, she carries on sweet conversation, has a sweet ass, she was so sweet. A thesaurus would have been a great asset here.
And then we have the great misunderstanding that I thought wasn’t such a great secret. Anna finds out Cole only married her to make his grandmother happy. I thought he had been pretty up front about it, and thought her reaction was a bit over the top.
And at the very end, Cole’s grandmother miraculously recovers from stage 4 cancer.
This book pushed a lot of buttons for me, but I do truly like Andre’s voice, and I’ve enjoyed many of her books. I think this one just wasn’t in the cards for me. I will still continue to read Andre, though, because I think she has a lot of talent and oh, how well she writes hot men. This just wasn’t a good fit for me.