Series: The Danvers #6
Published by Penguin on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Ava Stone has spent her entire life looking over her shoulder—waiting for the past to catch up with her....After surviving a horrific attack as a teenager, Ava has never been able to truly overcome her fears. The incident was covered up by her family so she wouldn’t have to deal with it publicly—yet only one person understands what she had to endure in private: her brother’s best friend, MacKinley Powers, who found her the night of the attack. But even he doesn’t know everything—and she’s afraid to open up to him.Mac has loved Ava for most of his life—and being in close contact with her every day as head of security for Danvers International isn’t helping. In fact, it makes him realize the painful truth: He has to walk away to keep his sanity. But when Ava is forced to rely on the only man who has never let her down, can Mac break through the protective walls she’s needed for so long?
Oh, man. This book. This book! I didn’t realize this was book 6 in a series, but I’ve already bought the first five.
Ava Stone was brutally attacked as a teenager and she’s never recovered. She’s spent her entire life since the attack scared, hiding from everything and everyone. Including Mackinley Powers, Mac, her neighbor as a kid and best friend. She’s been in love with him for most of her life, but he was the one who found her after the attack, and she’s never been able to get past that. For his part, he’s been in love with her forever, too, but he’s never been able to forgive himself. He was waiting for her to grow up when she was in high school, and he thinks that if he’d acted sooner, he would have taken her to her prom, and she wouldn’t have been attacked. After her attack, she’s so different, and he blames himself, so he joins her brother in the military with her brother. After two tours, he’s home, but Ava is still just a shell of her former self. She’s not ready to date, and he’s not even sure she’d be interested in him if she were, so eventually he decides he needs to move on and starts dating someone else.
Obviously, this is the kick in the butt Ava needed to realize that she’s losing Mac. She gets a bunch of magazines with tips on how to win back a man and decides to make some changes in her life. What I loved about this is that while she got the ideas from the magazines, and they were fairly cliched (dress sexier, flip your hair around, etc) and some were outlandish (invite him to dinner at your house in skimpy dress, and half way through spread your legs and start touching yourself) she only tried the ones she wanted. She did start dressing sexier, but still in a way that made her comfortable. She wanted Mac to notice her, so she wanted to try something daring, so she found some things she was interested in. She convinced her friend, Mac’s co-worker Dominic to teach her to ride a motorcycle, which had the desired effect, she tried roller-skating down the street (the book takes place in Myrtle Beach, so it seems reasonable to me). Once. It did not go well. She goes zip-lining, and he freaks out when he sees her and tries to force her off the platform. Which actually annoyed me a bit. Zip-lining isn’t that dangerous; people do it all the time. It’s a pretty normal activity. He seriously freaked out. She wasn’t base jumping, for crying out loud. While she’s doing all this, she’s realizing how much she’s missed out on, and realizing that she never really dealt with what happened to her.
While I liked this side of Ava, I didn’t love the side of Mac it brought out. Like with the zip-lining. At one point, he was lamenting the Ava he’d known before her attack, and hating that she was still so meek and hid herself from everything, but every time she tried to do anything, he freaked out. Yes, she did fall, badly, while she was roller skating, but, seriously. Perspective, dude. She fell while she was roller skating. She didn’t break any bones, she was’t injured beyond some scrapes, she didn’t even hit her head. She’s fine. A few bumps aren’t the end of the world. The man did two tours in Iraq, but she can’t go zip-lining? This was the biggest reason I couldn’t go with five stars for my review. Mac really grated on my nerves in a lot of ways.
He wasn’t all bad, though. In fact, I really liked Mac. He was fantastic with Ava. Once they admitted their feelings for each other, he broke it off with Gwen, the woman he’d been dating, before anything happened with Ava. Once he was officially available, he was so good with her. He made it clear how much he wanted her, but let her take the lead and set the pace. He never stops being overbearing, but Ava does get better at sticking up for herself and calling him on it.
This one of those rare books where the cast of friends and relatives was genuinely great. I found myself laughing loudly often at some of their comments and antics. I’m looking forward to reading their books, too. This book was so good. I highly recommend picking it up immediately.