Lori Brockton suffered a brutal attack two years ago and finally emerged from being a virtual recluse to return to work in the family's brewing company business, determined to learn every aspect of its operations. A year later, their newly-hired business manager sees her and is immediately seduced at first sight by the vulnerable and still rocky Lori. They become seriously involved and after a year, Eli Buchanan, the new brewmaster they recruited, sets off a puzzling attraction as his bad boy reputation and behavior is everything Lori wants to avoid. She has her perfect man so why is she drawn to someone else for any reason?
I normally avoid stories involving love triangles because someone inevitably ends up hurt and I end up feeling bad about it at the end of the book. While I certainly experienced some emotional turmoil, this was one ride I'm glad to have taken. Lori's inner conflict about Garrett and Eli at first seems a bit selfish. Garrett really seems to be the perfect and ideal lover and I was confused as to why Eli was even a consideration. But then, there are things Garrett does that make you question whether he's devoted to the point of being "stalker-ish" and Eli starts exhibiting his Nordic god-like qualities. Later, you start seeing more depth in both of them and you're emotionally torn all over again.
The messiness of their situation was so very real with no one "bad guy" that crystallizes to make the solutions easier. That's the point with this story. I was emotionally ragged throughout as I sifted through the complicated layers of each of the characters. Lori begins as a somewhat tragic figure who evolves into someone I thought was being incredibly insensitive and unfair, then back to being someone I empathized with completely.
The beginning was a little bumpy for me as the time periods moved back and forth and I had some problems anchoring. However, the story is so well crafted, providing three points of view with pretty smooth transitions as I never felt lost in understanding whose perspective I was reading. There were a couple of occasions where the timing could have been better but this was a complex undertaking of an incredibly compelling story about three very interesting people I found myself caring an awful lot about. There were moments I found myself hoping for the possibility of the three of them making it work! (No, it's not that kind of story, though the steam is most definitely HOT.)
I loved both Garrett and Eli and ultimately understood Lori's struggle, believing she deserved both of them.I could not put the book down and, yes, I had some sadness at the outcome but was completely taken care of by an ideal epilogue. I loved, loved, loved this book and still haven't let the characters go. And, by the end, I got the significance of the title and the wordplay...it will make me feel really good every time I see it going forward. I'm rating it 4.5 stars and highly recommend it for the quality of the story, writing, depth of characterization and, ultimately, the romance.
(I received an ARC from the author)