by Ava McKnight, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.25, ISBN 978-1-59578-357-8
Roxy Shayne, our Shameless heroine, breezes back to Midnight, the Austin smalltown she made a dramatic flounce from ten years ago, if only to settle some matters that came up following the death of her estranged father. Waiting in Midnight is her old boyfriend Hunter Reed. However, as fun as their reunion between the sheets can be, she intends to just collect her money and return to Paris as soon as possible. Alas, her father's will demands that she spends twelve months living in the old man's house or Roxy will not get a cent. You know how the story will go, I'm sure.
While Shameless has a familiar storyline, I like the fact that Roxy has a valid reason to want to leave Midnight. Her relationship with her late father was such that staying in Midnight will remind her at every turn that despite the fact that she tried so hard in the past to escape her father, even from the grave he has finally succeeded in getting her back under his control. Roxy, in fact, doesn't care about the money. She stays because she is conflicted about her feelings for Hunter and also because she feels that she may as well help Midnight while she's staying with a few things that her late father neglected to do when he was alive. Roxy, you see, is a philanthropist finally coming out of the closet.
As for Hunter, I like how he understands Roxy's situation. This isn't some "big city is evil, small town is good" story. He realizes that the people of Midnight hadn't treated Roxy fairly in the past and she has every right to leave if she wants. He wants her to stay, of course. I also appreciate how Hunter always takes Roxy's side when it comes to her versus the world. He doesn't care what people think if he is seen hanging out with the former wild child of Midnight and he isn't afraid to let other people know. In a way, that makes him the perfect boyfriend for Roxy.
The relationship between Hunter and Roxy feels pretty solid due to their shared past and the fact that Hunter never lets what other people view Roxy as to get to him. I have a pretty good time reading Shameless. My only quibble with it is that it is too short for my liking, with the length of the story - or the lack of it, in this case - preventing the characters from being developed as much as they could have been. Still, Shameless manages to hit the right spots where I'm concerned.
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