Just This Night is my first book by Mari Madison, as well as the first book in her new Exclusive Romance series. I enjoyed this story a lot and read it in one sitting. I liked the characters and didn't want to put this book down. I did have a few issues with the last half of the book that kept this one from being a five star read, but other than those this was a great start to this series. Beware of spoilers below, as some of what I had problems with is hard to be vague about. I wanted to state what I had an issue with and there really is no way to avoid spoiling a few things when doing so.
Jake "Mac" MacDonald is starting his life over after his wife betrayed him and their 4 year old daughter by leaving them behind. He left Boston behind to head to California to be closer to his sister and landed a job as a news photographer. His brother-in-law drags him out to a club and though he isn't looking for a relationship, he figures being with a woman couldn't hurt as long as it's just for one night. But he quickly learns that his one night stand is actually his new partner at work. Elizabeth White was looking for her own escape for one night, but because of the awkward situation they find themselves in she vows to make the best of it and to put the attraction aside. But when someone starts sabotaging them and puts Beth in danger, she knows that he is the only one she can trust.
I really liked both Mac and Beth. They were great together, and I really believed in their connection. These two had a ton of chemistry and I loved how well the hit it off right away. They were funny and the ease with which they were able to talk and joke around right from the start showed how special what they had was. I also really loved Jake's daughter Ashley and how well she clicked with Beth also. They were adorable together, and seemed to really enjoy doing things together also.
The biggest problem I had with the last half of the book was the amount of drama there was. Some of it seemed to work, while some of it didn't for me. I expected Jake's ex to come back in the picture, but I didn't expect the reaction we got from him. It bothered me and I didn't like how far things got out of hand. I understood his motivation for his actions, but at the same time I didn't agree with what he did. He could have done so much else, and I felt like it really sort of cheapened what he had with Beth. Especially when as soon as the ex was gone and out of the picture things went immediately back to how they were before with Beth. I didn't care for that at all. Things felt rushed after that, and I honestly didn't like how quick Beth was to just act as if nothing had happened. He was just trying to make a go of it with his ex and his daughter, and not only do you accept him right back but agree to marry him? It felt unrealistic and frankly made me question everything about both Jake and Beth that I thought I knew. I had seen their connection and feelings, and loved them together. But I just felt like everything had been brushed under the rug and that these two had too easily forgotten that he had basically jumped from Beth to his ex, and back to Beth again with little to no time in between. If it hadn't been for that happening, I honestly would have given this book 5 stars. But I just couldn't get over that, and unfortunately it happened at the end of the book so that is the last thing the reader remembers. I really did love the first half to three quarters of the book as well as the characters (even with Jake's actions) though and I will read more from Mari Madison in the future. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, and I think if you are a fan of contemporary romance this is one worth giving a shot. Jake, Beth and Ashley's story was one that I enjoyed and I think a lot of readers will also.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**