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Friday, August 2, 2013

ARC Review: Unexpected by Maisey Yates

Having thoroughly enjoyed UNBUTTONED, the sexy novella that kicked off Maisey Yates’s Silver Creek small-town contemporary romance series, I was really looking forward to reading the next full-length entry into the series. In UNEXPECTED, Ms. Yates puts a unique spin on the intimate strangers trope (with a dash of kind-of-secret-baby) to craft a sensual, emotional story with two great characters loaded with issues that’s thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying.

Heroine Kelsey Noble is the odd woman out in her family, having traded her rural Oregon town for the city and the burning desire to marry straight out of high school for a university education and a job as a syndicated health & wellness columnist. When the book starts, she’s at her youngest sister’s wedding, tired of fielding questions about her nonexistent love life and marriage prospects after catching her then-fiancĂ© in bed with another woman. Six years ago. Not feeling particularly favourable toward the male species but desperately craving a family of her own, she finally decides to brave her family’s inevitable disappointment and (secretly) have a baby on her own. Enter sexy-as-sin cowboy hero Cole Mitchell, a man who’s come out of a hellish marriage and has no interest in children of his own. A clerical error at the fertility clinic where his ex-wife had made him bank sperm for their future children has made him the unwitting father of Kelsey’s baby. His sense of chivalry and need for order won’t let him turn his back on his unborn child, so Kelsey relocates to his eastern Oregon ranch temporarily so they can get to know each other and figure out how to co-parent their future child. Throw in a healthy dose of pregnancy hormones, a scorching sexual attraction they try their best to ignore, and a boatload of relationship issues on both their parts, and the forced proximity of the ranch makes for a powder keg of drama—and fun for us readers.

And, boy, is there drama, and a satisfying amount of growth in both Cole and Kelsey on their journey to the HEA. Kelsey has lived her whole life feeling like she doesn’t belong, striving for independence where her family is stalwartly traditional, and feeling the disapproval of her parents and her hometown for the choices she’s made and where her life is going. The mere idea of telling her parents she’s unmarried and pregnant (by choice) terrifies her, and the fear of that disapproval and disappointment is a key part of what makes her such a relatable character. Who hasn’t strived to meet a goal of personal importance and worried about the outcry from friends and family? On top of that, the debacle of her only serious relationship has left her with lasting insecurities about herself, her sexuality, and romantic relationships. Spending time on Cole’s ranch and falling for him helps her find where she belongs and makes her finally realise that it’s okay to be her ‘real’ self and not try to be what she believes other people expect her to be.

And, oh, Cole—he’s equal parts sweetheart and hot mess. Being the oldest of three and having lost their mother at a young age, he’s always had a strong sense of responsibility and doing the right thing. A disaster of a marriage and the discovery that the father he’d admired and modelled himself after was not all he seemed have turned Cole’s life upside down and left him soured on relationships and with no sense of self. He needs things neat and organised to feel any semblance of control—and in the situation with Kelsey, that involves marriage (with commitment rather than love) so he can always be there for her and the baby. It’s both heartwarming and hilarious to watch him stumble through several proposals as a convenient solution to their situation before seeing him shake off his fears and hang-ups and do it for real. All that (somewhat misguided) nobility and determination to resist the sexual attraction he feels for Kelsey in order to not complicate an already-complicated situation further makes him both swoon-worthy and realistic as a character. Cole and Kelsey are an excellent reluctant couple that will have you rooting for a HEA, and once they finally give in to their attraction, the love scenes are delightfully steamy!

Overall, UNEXPECTED is a great addition to what is shaping up to be a great new small-town contemporary series. With a great balance between heartfelt emotion and humour, tight prose, snappy dialogue, and a great sense of community and family, it definitely delivers on the promise that was evident in UNBUTTONED and makes for a great read. Cole’s geeky younger sister Lark is a delightful character, and I’m looking forward to reading her story next!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


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