Judith’s review of All or Nothing (The Alpha Brotherhood #2) by Catherine Mann
“I can’t sleep with a man who keeps secrets.”
Despite the warnings that he would break her heart, Jayne Hughes fell for the bad boy. And Conrad Hughes, casino magnate, did just that with his absences and lies. Now she’s ready to move on, but her husband has other plans….
Conrad’s undercover work for Interpol destroyed his marriage. When Jayne comes to Monte Carlo seeking a divorce, he launches an all-out assault. Seducing his wife back into his bed is child’s play; earning her trust is another matter. Yet Conrad knows the odds favor the house. And he has no intentions of losing.
My experience with Catherine Mann novels leads me to believe that a reader who really enjoys romance fiction will seldom if ever be disappointed with one of her stories. This short novel is no exception. The marriage which holds center stage in this story is in deep trouble and has been for years. Husband and wife have not even communicated directly with one another and even though divorce papers have been sent back and forth across the Atlantic, the impasse continues. Conrad can’t even face the idea that Jayne is wanting out of their marriage, even though he knows that his own double life is at fault, his unwillingness to trust her or share all the facets of his life even when told that it was acceptable to his intelligence handlers. And Jayne, who continues to love Conrad, who wants so badly to find a way back into a good and happy marriage relationship, believes that the shadows that are wrapped around her husband and what he may or may not be involved in, are the poison that will ultimately break them apart irrevocably.
This story is about the loss of trust, the futility of trying to build a relationship on a foundation of duplicity and half-truths. It is about two intense people who freely admit that they are attracted to one another like steel to a magnate, but they both know that something–more than one thing, actually–has to change. Even in his darkest moments when he doubts he can ever win her back, Conrad refuses to give Jayne the divorce she seeks and woos her with every creative thought and idea that he can manufacture in a mind and heart that are deeply in love with his estranged wife.
It’s a wonderful love story even with the adversarial content and a reader will find that the emotions go from hope to despair more than once. Yet one finds herself pulling for these two, hoping against hope that Conrad can finally put Jayne first, can opt for living happily with the one woman he can love forever, rather than choosing the excitement and adrenaline rush of the espionage world into which he delves from time to time. I think readers will have to agree that this love story is intense, the characters clearly drawn and shaped, the story holding the reader’s interest to the point that one can, from time to time, find oneself perched on the edge of the chair. While not a true “suspense” novel, there is that tentative and precarious nature to the Hughes marriage and it is that intensity that drives this story forward to its conclusion.
I hope you will seek this book out and enjoy it as much as I did.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.