Georgeanne Howard, charm school graduate and Southern belle extraordinaire, leaves her fiance at the altar when she realizes she just can’t marry a man old enough to be her grandfather, no matter how rich he is. John Kowalsky unknowingly helps her escape, and only when it’s too late does he realize that he’s absconded with his boss’s bride. At the height of his hockey career, this bad boy isn’t looking to be anybody’s savior but his own, no matter how beautiful this angel may be. But a long night stretches ahead of them–a night too sultry to resist temptation.
When Georgeanne and John meet again, she is on her way to becoming Seattle’s domestic darling and he is past his hellraising days. But he is shocked to learn that their single unforgettable night in paradise produced a daughter, and he is determined to be part of her life. Georgeanne has loved John since the moment she jumped into his little red Corvette seven years ago, but she doesn’t want to risk her heart again. Is he really a changed man? And will he risk the wrath of his boss, and one final chance at glory, to prove that this time his love will be everlasting?
This is one of my all time favorite Gibson books. Everyone talks about her other hockey books, but this one gets overlooked far too often. I adore John and Georgie both.
The heroine isn’t shown in a very flattering light at the beginning of the novel. She’s getting ready to marry a man 50yrs her senior for his money, can barely read and looks like a centerfold pinup. Gibson really makes her a truly sympathetic character, though. She isn’t the type to feel sorry for herself, or wallow in her misery. She puts on a positive attitude and tries to make the best of whatever bad situation she finds herself in. Because of the way she was raised the reader can really relate to her, even though it doesn’t seem like it in the beginning.
John has his own demons to face. He’s struggling with the pain of losing his wife. He drinks too much in the beginning, and is selfish and rude a lot of the time. But he grows a lot over the course of the novel, too. He puts his life back together and deals with his issues as best he can. Because Georgie left his boss at the alter, John is put in a sticky position. He must choose between his career and her. In the beginning that’s not a hard choice to make, but as the novel progresses it becomes clear that his feelings for Georgie and her daughter are stronger than he imagined. His internal struggle was at times amusing and frustrating, but I loved him for all the thought he put into it.
John’s relationship with his daughter was yet another high point in the novel. He’s a man’s man. Whenever he’s thought about having children, they’ve always been male. He has no idea what to do with a girly-girl who loves makeup, dresses and all things female. Some of the best scenes in the novel are with him and Lexie getting to know each other. I loved that he really tried with her. He wasn’t disappointed about having a girl, or trying to force her to accept him – he made a real effort. It was also very amusing to see how well she played him. Smart girl, our Lexie.
The secret baby plot is one I enjoy but only if it’s done well. It isn’t done well very often. Gibson is one of the few who can make it work well. Which she did here. I completely understood Georgeanne’s reasons for not telling John about their baby. Even though I hurt for him, knowing he missed so much of his daughter’s life, I couldn’t be angry at Georgie for not telling him.
That’s not to say I wasn’t annoyed with both of them at times. John could be a complete jerk at times, and Georgie was stubborn and almost too-independent. But even though I got frustrated every now and again, it was never enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story.
The short secondary romance between Hugh Minor, one of John’s teammates, and Mae, Georgie’s best friend, seemed kind of superfluous. I enjoyed it at first, seeing small glimpses of them together, their bickering and attraction. But there wasn’t enough time spent on them to make the relationship believable. One minute they were arguing and the next they were in love. It didn’t work.
Overall this is a very emotionally compelling novel, but also laced with humor and tenderness. This is Gibson at her best.
4.75 out of 5