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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Timeless Valentine by Claire Ashgrove

Timeless Valentine by Claire Ashgrove
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (266 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Fern

When Lucas Benning relocated to Kansas City, he agreed to allow his best friend’s sister to remain under his roof. Problem is, they’ve despised each other since he cut off her hair when she was fifteen. They drive each other crazy – he disrupts her work; she always has to have the last word. But as Valentine's Day approaches, his sentimental side can’t accept Olivia’s jaded perspective that the holiday’s for fools. He vows to prove romance is real and it doesn’t go hand-in-hand with sex. Except the game he starts to prove a point awakens a frightening passion he can’t escape.

Eccentric artist Olivia McDaniels finds Lucas’ proposal laughable. A man can’t woo a woman he’s not attracted to, let alone one he can’t stand. Yet when her brother commissions a portrait of Lucas, she begins to see a different side of the man. He’s tender, selfless and, to her horror, his thoughtfulness chips away at the walls she’s erected around her heart. Only, Lucas belongs to another woman, and the feelings he stirs inside Olivia can only lead to pain.

Will Cupid forge a timeless bridge between their differences? Or will his arrows eternally miss the mark?

Timeless Valentine is a story romantics are sure to enjoy. Author Claire Ashgrove has created a heartwarming, yet sometimes heartbreaking, story with compelling characters a reader can’t help but fall in love with.

Following a failed marriage to a cheating husband, Olivia McDaniels has neither the desire nor the room for love in her life. Her work keeps her busy, and she’s settled into a safe and comfortable routine. Unfortunately, when her brother Josh married and moved out, his best-friend and her childhood tormentor Lucas Benning moved in. They are as different as night and day, in both life and love. Olivia is a night-owl; Lucas works days. Lucas believes in love and romance; Olivia stanchly supports her standpoint that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a ploy to have sex. What begins as an innocent project by Lucas to introduce Olivia to the romantic aspects of the holiday becomes something more as the two begin to view one another differently through acts of kindness and caring.

Talk about a story that takes you on an unforgettable journey. It’s obvious that Olivia and Lucas view one another as necessary evils at the beginning of the story. She resents his lack of concern for her need for quiet as she works, and he resents her unwillingness to welcome his girlfriend into their shared home. They bicker, they don’t see eye to eye, and it’s both humorous and intriguing. Then the story shifts, and you get to know them on a deeper level, where you discover nothing is what it seems.

Initially, I assumed Olivia was an extremely direct woman who didn’t have the time or patience to console the insecure woman Lucas is dating (who believes Olivia and Lucas are having an affair), but I soon discovered it was something far deeper. She’s someone who aches for something she will never allow herself to have, and in welcoming Rachel, aka Miss Maple Syrup, she is forced to come face to face with her demons. It’s heartbreaking, as she has hidden herself away from the world in an effort to mask her vulnerabilities.

Lucas is far different in that he’s an open book and a loving person. He’s always helping others and wants to do right by those he cares for. As he starts chipping away at the wall Olivia has erected, he’s forced to face the insecurities and doubts he’s unconsciously created in believing she could never reciprocate his feelings. It’s captivating reading, and engages the attention from the beginning of the story through the end.

Those who love an old fashioned love story have to read Timeless Valentine. This is the first novel I’ve enjoyed by Ms. Ashgrove, but it certainly won’t be the last.