Leah has been grieving the loss of her fiancé in Afghanistan for the past year, and now she's determined to finally move on. Believing the best way to do that is to have hot sex with a stranger for one night, she signs up for the online dating service, 1NightStand, requesting that Madame Evangeline pair her up with someone who looks similar to her lost love.
Jackson Castillo is a hotel magnate, who contracts with Madame Evangeline to provide a place for the couples she matches to meet. He's a workaholic, who much prefers to choose his own women for an occasional dalliance, but after a bit of cajoling from Madame Evangeline, he reluctantly agrees to meet Leah but not to sleep with her.
To both their surprise, Jackson and Leah are instantly attracted to and feel comfortable with one another. Their one night stand goes much better than either could have hoped for, with both of them experiencing the best sex of their lives. But when Leah leaves the next morning without a backward glance, can Jackson find her and persuade her to let him teach her to finally feel again?
To Feel Again is the first story in Decadent Publishing's popular 1NightStand series. Each story in the series stands alone but has the common thread of one or both of the protagonists hiring Madame Evangeline, the owner of 1NightStand, a high-end, online, dating service, to set up a date for them that will end in a one night stand. The Castillo brothers, owners of a hotel chain that is contracted with Madame Evangeline to provide a venue for these dates, sometimes appear as well. In fact, Jackson Castillo himself is the hero of this first novelette.
In the series opener, our heroine, Leah, requests a one night stand on the one year anniversary of her finance's death in Afghanistan. She wants to be done grieving and move on and believes that having hot sex with a stranger for one night will help her do that. I wish the reader had been given a little more background on where Leah was in the grieving process and why she thinks this is the only way to move forward with her life, but I was willing to accept that this was her personal truth. I did like that Leah was determined and knew what she wanted but that didn't stop her from being more than a little nervous about the experience. I also liked that Jackson recognized this and was able to make her feel comfortable with him. For his part, Jackson only accepted the date as a favor to Madame Evangeline and because she twisted his arm a little from a business perspective. He went into it not intending to sleep with Leah, but all his good intentions flew out the window the minute he laid eyes on her. In the end, it was sweet that Jackson got offended when Leah walked out the next morning, and that he went after her, with every intention of bringing her back.
The author did a good job of expressing the sexual tension between Jackson and Leah, and I liked that they took some time to have dinner and get to know each other a little before going to bed. The love scenes were steamy, and I thought they had good chemistry together. However, due to the brevity of the story, I didn't find it to be 100% satisfying. The character, plot and romantic development are pretty minimal, but probably the best one could hope for in such a short story. Also, there are no unrealistic declarations of love (which is understandable given the nature of the story but still something I prefer to have in any romance), and the ending was more of an HFN than an HEA. Overall, To Feel Again was still a nice story and had some decent romance in it. At least, I found myself willing to buy into the idea that Jackson and Leah had a chance at becoming more to one another than just a one night stand even though we don't really get to see this play out. The writing itself was solid too, which was a plus, so all in all, I would call this a pretty good read. It has definitely left me open to reading more of the author's work and to checking out more of the 1NightStand novelettes.
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