Never again. Fleeing her hometown to escape an abusive marriage, Ella Patton swears she has surrendered to a man for the last time. But while living under a new name, she meets a kind, handsome stranger who seems different—and will be moving on soon, making Ella reckless enough to break her rules. With a kiss, the stranger opens the door to desires Ella believed she would never know. Then he makes an unexpected proposal.
A dot-com billionaire from humble beginnings, Liam Stone is a man whose past has made him compassionate yet guarded—much like the beautiful, secretive woman he stumbles upon in a remote Southern town. Though he intends only a dalliance, when the time comes to return home to San Francisco, Liam cannot bear the thought of leaving her behind. But when he tries to entice her to join him, he finds the tables turning dizzingly fast. Suddenly a little seduction becomes a huge battle for one thing: control.
Let me say from the beginning what the character, Ella Patton endures is beyond disgusting and I in no way mean to belittle or demean (nor pretend to understand!) the experiences of abused women. With that being said, I simply don’t understand the appeal of this book nor these characters.
When Ella Patton escapes her abusive husband, Blaine she has no intention of every seeing him again. As far as Ella is concerned having a crap job at Wal-Mart and barely getting by is totally worth being able to sleep every night knowing her husband can no longer get to nor harm her. Ella allows only a few to get close to her and even those few have no idea who she really is or what she has endured. Though Ella’s life certainly isn’t ideal, she is safe and with every dollar she manages to save, she is one step closer to moving even further away from her abuser. Ella understands completely that she is broken and will likely live the rest of her life alone.
Liam Stone never intended to be stranded in a small town in Arkansas but when his plane unexpectedly needed repairs he decides a few days off the radar is just what the doctor ordered. Though he is used to the very, very good life, Liam finds himself in a rat hole of hotel and taking most of his meals at the local Wal-Mart snack bar. Liam’s first encounter with Ella is unlike anything he has ever experienced and his second is one of the most profound of his life. Within 24 hours, Liam makes it his mission to make Ella his no matter what it costs him. To be fair, Liam is a stone cold billionaire and there is very little in the world that he can’t afford. No matter what Ella’s conditions are, she will be returning to California with Liam.
Though his proposition doesn’t go exactly as planned, Liam convinces Ella to board his plane and return with him to his homes (!) and life in California. For the first time in his life, Liam is considered something far beyond a casual fling and it scares the living hell out of him. Ella is ridiculously skittish and though she discloses some of what has happened to her, she keeps a great deal to herself. Ella wants to be close to Liam but his attitude and actions often make that very, very difficult. Ella’s own skittishness and insecurities also come into play on a regular basis making their relationship a virtual powder keg. From the beginning, Ella and Liam hold back from one another causing problem after problem to arise. Ella has no idea how she fits into Liam’s world and Liam has no idea how to manage his very intense feelings.
Over a very, very short period of time Ella and Liam go through the wringer. Ella’s baggage is enough to fill a warehouse, her decision-making skills are based solely on self-preservation and, her ability to trust is non-existent. Liam is a child in a man’s body who is, at this stage in his life and career not used to being denied anything. Assuming Ella will simply fall into line with his grand plan, he often blunders with her when he doesn’t get his way. Liam can throw a serious fit and the results are often far more damaging than he anticipates.
The Bottom Line: In an effort to be completely fair to the author, even in ARC form this book is well-written and has little to complain about from a purely technical perspective. With that being said, the best and only truly good part of this read for me is the explanation of Ella leaving her abusive husband. From this point forward, it all went downhill for me. What Ella and Liam put one another through is well and truly ridiculous. Between all the secrets they each keep, the stupid stunts each pulls and, all the extraneous crap with the minor characters, this read becomes a hot mess from the beginning. Which begs the question, why did I keep reading? The easy answer is, I really don’t like DNFing books that Netgalley has been gracious enough to gift me.