Jordan Parrish is a hard-edged attorney who doesn't believe in true love and happily ever after. After being used as a pawn in her divorced parents battles with each other, who would? Instead she parades a steady stream of bad boys in and out of her bedroom to keep the loneliness at bay. But she didn't know exactly what she was missing until the ultimate nice guy invades her life, making her realize that she was never truly content.
Will Masterson is an Irish transplant to Texas. He's lived in the states for years and fits right in, but misses his big family back in Ireland. He's a talented carpenter, fixing up an old house which he hopes to one day share with the woman of his dreams and a bunch of kids. Will thinks he wants a woman like his friend's wife, Marly, who is the ultimate housewife. Or at least he does until he meets Jordan at Marly's Thanksgiving celebration. The sharp-tonged lawyer is nothing like Will's dream girl, but she intrigues him in a way no woman ever has before. He sees the loneliness and sadness in her heart when no one else does, and he longs to show her that love is real and that men can be trusted.
As they grow closer and discover a passion for each other they never expected, both Will and Jordan must reevaluate their plans for the future and decide whether they can give up their long-held expectations to make room for each other in their lives.
Midnight Surrender was by far my favorite novella in the Midnight Kiss anthology in which it is found. Unlike the other two stories in the book, which take place over two days and one week respectively, this one is stretched out over the entire holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending on New Year's Eve. This extra time made a huge difference in making it a lot more believable. The ending also felt more solid to me, much closer to the HEA I crave, instead of the HFN that the others had. Even though the hero and heroine were very different, I felt a solid emotional connection between them, and can say without a doubt that they'd made a definite relationship breakthrough by the final pages. I could certainly see them being happy together for a long time to come, whereas the other stories didn't leave me with that feeling.
Jordan and I couldn't be more different if we tried. I'm a hopeless romantic, while she believes that true love doesn't exist and that marriage is an outdated institution. She's a hard-edged, high-powered attorney who thinks and acts more like a man, while I'm more like her friend, Marly, a homemaker (turned writer) who's more of a girly-girl. She's a wild party animal, while I'm a definite homebody. She seduces men with her feminine wiles, runs through them like tissues, and then after a night or two of fun, tosses them out like yesterday's news, while I'm a long-term relationship person. Normally, this kind of personality disconnect would be a big detractor for me, because I have a hard time relating. In fact, she's extremely similar to the heroine of Victoria Dahl's story in this same anthology, who I didn't get at all. However, Jordan differs in that Jean Brashear made her characterization deep enough that I could understand where she was coming from even if I couldn't necessarily relate. The author also managed to make her sympathetic. Jordan was the product of divorced parents and was always the rope in their tug-of-war with each other. Even though she doesn't realize it, she's the proverbial lonely individual in a sea of people, which is something that Will recognizes in her right away. Although she has an acerbic tongue and butts heads with Will right from the start, he intrigues her and challenges her in ways no man ever has, which makes her responsive to him. And last but not least, she shows her vulnerability by trying to stay away from him, believing that she's not the right woman for a man with as good and kind of a heart as he has. She also grows and changes throughout the story, which made me believe that she'd finally turned over a new leaf and was willing to work out her differences with Will. So in the end, even though Jordan wasn't 100% relatable to me, which is why I dropped a half star off the rating, she did make a fair bit of sense to me. That, in my mind, is the mark of a good writer.
What really made this story come alive for me was Will. He's an absolute dreamboat, a man who has a soft spot for lost souls, whether they be human or animal. He sees straight to Jordan's heart right from the start, and in many ways, understands her better than she understands herself. I love that he respected both her and himself enough to not allow her to treat him the way she treats all the other men in her life. He keeps her just a little off balance, guessing and intrigued, instead of jumping right into bed with her. In fact, he refuses to make love to her on more than one occasion, because he wants all of her and not just a one-night stand. Although Will doesn't initially view Jordan as the woman of his dreams and believes that their relationship is temporary, his expectations change very quickly as he finds himself falling more and more in love with her. No matter what stage their relationship was at, Will cared enough about her to want to teach her that love does exist and that a man could be trusted with her heart, which is very romantic to me. Although Jordan is used to being in control in everything, he never allows her to get the best of him and pushes those boundaries of control just a bit. He's easy-going and patient with her, more amused by her barbs than angered. Will is sweet, and loving, and gentle, definitely more of a beta hero, although he can get a bit jealous on occasion and has a touch of alpha arrogance that I actually found charming instead of annoying like I usually do. On top of all that, he's a talented craftsman who is a true artist in woodworking. There's just something sexy about a man who's good with his hands. All of his qualities put together made Will a near-perfect hero for me.
With this being my first read by Jean Brashear and the other two novellas in this anthology being just OK for me, I honestly wasn't expecting much when I started reading, Midnight Surrender. I'm so pleased, though, to find that it surpassed my expectations. Based on this taste of her work, I'd say that Ms. Brashear is a good writer who is very talented at developing her characterizations. Between her making me like a heroine who I didn't fully relate to, her creation of a to-die-for hero and some truly romantic and emotional moments, and her leaving me with a satisfied feeling in spite of the story being short, I'm eager to find out what else she can do. Therefore, I'm happy to say that Jean Brashear has definitely earned a spot on my authors-to-watch list.
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