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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Return of the Renegade by Carole Mortimer

The Return of the Renegade by Carole Mortimer
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (134 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Physiotherapist Stephanie McKinley has always admired handsome actor Jordan Simpson. So she's shocked when her latest client turns out to be the dark-eyed superstar. Except now she's faced with the man behind the famous facade—Jordan St. Claire, wealthy aristocrat!

Recuperating from an accident at Mulberry Hall, his extensive family estate, Jordan isn't suffering in silence. Roaming around the mansion, he's like a sulky—but deadly attractive—beast! Albeit one who's about to unleash Stephanie's reserved sensuality once and for all….

I so enjoy a book about a woman who not only won’t feed into a man wallowing in a pity party but gives him tough love with a side of sass and vinegar.

The first inkling I got that Stephanie, the heroine, was not a push over was in the first chapter. The author did a wonderful job of laying the groundwork for what comes after. I got a kick out of the snappy repartee between the heroine and Jordan, the recalcitrant hero. When he realizes exactly why she’s there in his house, the fireworks start and Stephanie still didn’t budge an inch. I have to respect a woman like that because when Jordan gave her such a hard time she gave it right back. To spice up the personal conflict is the fact that she also has had a serious crush on Jordan for years. Her now being in the presence of the man in the flesh put a delicious and sensual spin to her verbal sparring with him and the dialogue between the two was a high point for me throughout the book.

Jordan’s point of view allowed me to see a man who at first was self absorbed and grouchy as a bear turn into a man with a goal. So what if his goal is to get rid of the pesky heroine? It got him moving and talking and doing things he hadn’t done in a long while, like thinking deliciously naughty thoughts about Stephanie. Those thoughts had a natural progression until he was moving more than just his bum leg. I liked having his side of things because he really wasn’t being arbitrarily resentful or resistive to what the heroine was there for. I believe pain clouded his judgment and the most clarity he had in the early part of the book came from his tart and snappy conversations with Stephanie. He’s a man who thrives on challenge and eventually she becomes the ultimate motivation to change a great many things in his life.

Behind every good man is a great woman and this book certainly proved that.

There were only a few secondary characters but what there were certainly stirred the conflict pot. Stephanie has a burden to endure on top of Jordan’s cantankerous ways and her sister, Joey, tries to help out. Lucan, Jordan’s older brother, only helped by putting oil to fire. Jordan’s other brother Gideon provided some unexpected moments of embarrassment and yet even those served a purpose. Then there was the pseudo-villain in the story. It’s hard to take umbrage against a villain who was also a victim.

It’s a fun time when Jordan finally has his hard fought way with Stephanie. I liked how Ms. Mortimer built up the tension throughout so when they finally succumbed to their attraction, it was combustible and explosive making for an entertaining read. I thought it was well written and in just the right amounts.

The resolution of one of the conflicts was sweet. Not that the heroine initially thought so, but I certainly did. Even Jordan’s dilemma was put to rest by following his favorite physiotherapist’s orders and he was man enough to say so. I liked him for that too. Another aspect that I found amusing was Jordan’s split personality issues. That was a nice touch.

The Return of the Renegade had me grinning ear to ear throughout most of the tale. I was fanning myself from the heat buildup for the rest. I had a wonderful time watching Jordan and Stephanie fall in love. It was fun, amusing, entertaining and I couldn’t put it down. The happily ever after was satisfying and even included a surprise for the unsuspecting heroine. There is so much to enjoy and according to the book, the fun’s not over. Lucan and Gideon are next in line for love and I couldn’t be happier. Ms. Mortimer has created characters that I truly want to know about and I can’t wait.