In Ginger Jamison's erotic romance Liberty, the last thing the heroine Lexy Beecher wants is to see her husband Ryan back from war. The man who had beat her and belittled her and generally made her life miserable since she married him at seventeen is an unwelcome sight, but she knows it's a temporary situation, since she’ll be leaving him soon. Yet as she seems him first in the hospital, recovering from an explosion on the battlefield, and later at home, the man before her is a world aware from her abusive husband. This man looks like her Ryan for the most part, but acts like someone else entirely—someone who’s kind and cares about her. Despite herself, she begins to have feelings for him, the kind she never had for the earlier incarnation of Ryan.
“Thank you for taking care of me,” he said clearly, no hint of rasp, no sound of Texas in his voice.
The ice must have helped, but she barely processed his words because he was staring at her so intently. He was staring at her like he knew the naughty thoughts that had raced through her mind.
“You’re welcome,” she said dumbly.
She should have looked away but she didn’t. She couldn’t and it was a mistake because he grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. She didn’t even have time to react or maybe she didn’t want to react. His kiss was soft at first, just one pair of sweet lips stroking another, but then it changed, it become something more. He cradled her face in his hands in an act so purely sweet it left her breathless as he deepened the kiss. The tip of his tongue came into her mouth and she found herself responding, melting, relenting. His kiss was tender lips and a sweet wet tongue. It made her forget it all, forget that she was kissing a man she had hated for the past ten years.
What the hell am I doing?
Life is almost as confusing for the man everyone calls Ryan. His beautiful wife is afraid of him, offering him sweet kisses but shying away from more. Every time he learns about the reality of their former marriage, he becomes more and more horrified. Was he the one responsible for making Lexy’s life a living hell, or was another man? Does he belong in this unfamiliar place, or in some unknown one?
Still, even though Liberty, Texas, and its inhabitants aren’t familiar to him, he pushes himself to excel as a bookkeeper at a repair shop, while trying to perform a different kind of repair the relationship that’s new to him, but that’s on its last legs for Lexy. Jamison plays up the contrast between the instant love that blooms for the former soldier and the slow bond that forms for Lexy, despite her fears and uncertainties. It’s taken Lexy a long time to love herself enough to envision a new life, yet she can’t simply discount this man, new or simply renewed, who’s walked into her life and shown her a new side of herself.
She slid her body along his, bringing those beautiful breasts into contact with his chest. His nipples tightened with her touch. He hissed, involuntarily writhing beneath her so that her sex lined up with his.
She looked up at him wide-eyed, as if she hadn’t known that those two parts should come together but then she pushed back against him, her wetness rubbing against his jeans.
Take me out, he wanted to beg. He wanted to slip inside her wet warmth so badly, but he knew it wasn’t time. He knew that for now it was his job to put up with this torture for her pleasure.
The two tentatively start to get to know one another through soft touches and tender actions. He can’t tell her much about himself since he doesn’t remember, so all he has is the ability to show her what’s in his heart and try to prove to her he isn’t who she thinks he is. Yet the idea that he isn’t truly Ryan Beecher poses its own set of problems; if the man lying in her bed isn’t her husband, what is he doing in Liberty?
The horror of what Lexy went through as a domestic violence victim is hard to shake at times, for her and for the reader. There’s nothing the man sharing her home can do to erase those years, but watching him grapple with the damage that was done to her self-esteem and sense of herself as a woman, while she learns to both figure out and stand up for what she truly wants, is heartwarming. Their kisses are as tender as their lovemaking, the moments of intimacy sweetly interspersed with the drama of each of them figuring out just how much they can trust—and love—something they barely know. Liberty is bittersweet at times, as Lexy struggles to take care of her ailing brother and counteract her all the years she longed to escape, but seeing her blossom and open herself to new possibilities is a delight that made me eager to read the next book in the trilogy, Jericho.
Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) is a freelance and erotica writer, and editor of over 50 anthologies, including The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories; Only You: Erotic Romance for Women; Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission and others. She tweets @raquelita and blogs at Lusty Lady.