Rekindled (A Silver Creek Romance)
InterMix / June 18, 2014 / $2.99 digital
Lucy Ryan got everything she thought she wanted, going from high school queen to Manhattan trophy wife. But none of it was worth staying in a loveless marriage. So now she’s back in Silver Creek—with no money and no place to stay, applying for a job cleaning someone else’s house. And her potential employer is the last person she ever expected to see again.
Mac Denton can’t believe the mean girl who once tormented him in high school is now his housekeeper. He looks forward to making her squirm for a few days before she runs back to her rich husband. But Lucy has changed, and he is surprised to find himself attracted to the beautiful, courageous woman she has become.
Lucy is finally ready to go after what she really wants from life. And what she wants more than anything is Mac. But is Mac ready to truly forget the past and embrace the future?
Thomas Wolfe’s memorable line “you can’t go home again” conjures up nostalgia, memories, and feelings of what-might-have-been. One interpretation is that once a country mouse leaves small-town roots behind and embraces a sophisticated city mouse lifestyle, neither the mouse nor the home are ever the same. Furthermore, any attempt to recapture, reframe or re-address youthful foibles is doomed to failure. Romance novels, however, do not embrace this approach.
As difficult as divorcée Lucy Ryan knows it will be to return home with her tail between her legs, “she’d kept feeling the pull to home. To a chance to start back at square one and figure out what had gone wrong. To take different steps this time.” Maisey Yates’s Rekindled is a small-town romance that evokes the spirit of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Ain’t She Sweet. It pairs Lucy Carter, née Ryan, a former high-school mean girl, with Mac Denton, the boy to whom she was the meanest.
When Lucy returns home to rural Oregon from New York City, she brings only her expensive designer clothes. Her wealthy ex-husband Daniel Carter insisted on an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement and the psychological abuse Lucy endured during her marriage made her wary of confronting him over money. With her self-confidence in shreds, Lucy knows she has to get away. Penniless and unwelcome at her parents’ house, Lucy needs to get a job and a place to live. Stat. Her first job interview couldn’t go much worse.
Lucy stopped breathing when the front door opened. Oh Lord. It was Mac Denton. As if her humiliation couldn’t be any more acute. As if life had thought all of the sewage it had already rained down on her needed a cherry on top. Mac Denton was the cherry. And not in a good way. Well, maybe someday you’ll be cleaning my floors. Echoes from that long-ago yelling match in the halls at Silver Creek High School sounded in her head.
Maisey Yates sets the scene so well. Lucy’s life in New York City was filled with luxury, servants, and objets d’art. Mac lives in a streamlined, masculine house where “the only décor had antlers.” Instead of art on the walls, Lucy looks through the vast picture windows at a beautiful view, “mountains still capped with snow, marbled blue and white in the distance.” Lucy has no work experience, but as she tartly points out to Mac, when he interrogates her, she’s in no position to quibble over the indignities of applying for a housekeeper’s position.
She looked far too expensive to be applying for a position as his housekeeper. It had been his first thought when he’d seen her. Well, his second thought, after he’d done a little appreciating of her figure and just how the black jacket she was wearing conformed to it.
Maybe once in high school she had shouted at him that his mother cleaned her floors, but in order to eat and sleep, she’ll swallow her pride, gladly. There’s no room for worry about humiliation in Lucy’s mind. On a gut level, she knows she has to reclaim her self-confidence through grinding it out—and earning a pay-check is the first vital step.
Although Mac doesn’t know the history of Lucy’s abusive marriage when he hires her, he can’t help but notice how different she is from the cocky, cruel, sometimes captivating high school diva of old.
This Lucy was a very different Lucy. She was brittle. Like a thin sheet of ice. Cold, hard and very delicate. He had the feeling that if he pushed too hard she might break. Ten years ago he would have liked to watch her break. Would have relished the revenge. It felt different now.
Mac remembers Lucy as a girl with a sweet face and a sour personality. Not even a little bit tart. Seeing her every day, he starts to think about her differently, “wondering if she tasted as sour as she seemed, like a green apple, or if she was sweet like she looked. Like a peach. Oh, dammit.” Lucy’s beauty aside, Mac has a rather ineffectual June Cleaver in his house, baking with a string of pearls around her neck and pushing a vacuum wearing a pencil skirt. It’s a credit to Mac’s innate kindness that he chokes down hard pasta with a sauce that owes more to a can than a recipe.
When Lucy slowly starts to share some of her past, he understands that there is something more important than money to Lucy—that she has been starved of love and affection. When he looks more closely at her, he sees the lines around her mouth and the shadows beneath her flat, haunted eyes.
What is needed to break through this flat line of discouragement and despair? Yates keeps it real. When life serves you up an inedible pie crust (because Lucy is on a steep pastry-making curve) you dig out the filling and ignore the crust. Baby steps perhaps, but Mac tells Lucy it’s time to break out and take some risks. Listen to the Pied Piper himself:
“There are perks to being a little bit lawless.You seem like you might be a little lawless yourself.”
She froze mid-chew. “Do I?”
“You left your husband, even though the decision was unpopular.”
Eating pie filling is the domino that slaps down the barriers between them and Mac and Lucy gradually begin to open up to each other. Lucy’s parents are cold and dour and Mac’s folks are a mess. His mom “sacrifices her happiness” to love a man who’s a skirt-chaser. Mac’s solution is not to be a jackass for love. And when Lucy asks what he does instead of “having real relationships,” he lets her have it.
He should walk away. He should not say what he was thinking. But he did. “I have sex,” he said, the words coming out raw and harsh. Just the way the kiss he was fantasizing about would be. “Sweaty, hot, unattached sex.”
From a conversation to a clinch and an awkward first kiss, our employer and his employee start to refine their outside-of-work-hours relationship. Once the match is lit, everything’s in play. Mac may think he needs to defend Lucy’s honor but she’s having none of that, saying “I want to do what I damn well please!” Lucy wants “something for her” and she gets it:
Rough, hot hands slid beneath the hem of her top and she couldn’t hold back the groan that escaped her lips. She didn’t care about being proper, or demure, or anything right now. Because this was about her. Her and no one else. Mac’s body was a carnival. And she so badly wanted to ride.”
The sex is great—which is not surprising—but the aftermath is where Yates weaves in her trademark sexy humor, giving us two people who are exploring not just each other’s bodies, but also revealing their foibles and secrets.
He bent at the waist, muscles shifting beneath smooth golden skin, and started collecting their clothes.
“Yours, I think,” he said, handing her the black lace bra.
“Unless you have a little secret you haven’t shared with me.”
“Not that kind of secret.”
“I can handle a little kink,” she said, hoping to use humor to diffuse the knot of emotion that was tightening in her chest, binding up her heart and lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
“Oh, can you?”
“I think so.”
“You think so?”
"To date, the kinkiest thing I’ve ever done is have sex with you in broad daylight against a wall.”
“We may have to work on that, Lucy.”
“You’re assuming I want a repeat performance.” She did.
“Yeah, I’m cocky like that.”
So funny and yet fraught with sexual tension. Once will definitely not be enough for this couple. They have a world to explore between them. Like when Lucy sees Mac behind frosted glass, taking a shower, she opens the door:
His body all naked and wet, water drops tracking over muscles. And his hand wrapped tightly around his very large, very hard—she knew from experience—erection. He dropped his hand to his side, his eyes wide, his expression almost comically shocked.
Lucy calls Mac selfish and tells him she thought he was saving that for her. But Mac fires back, saying, “You think you can play games with me like that?” Just like The Little Engine That Could that persevered when it came to climbing a steep mountain, our Oregon girl steps up with, “I think I can.” Rekindled is a sweet, sexy story of two people who re-write the story of their past.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Rekindled by Maisey Yates, available now:
Janet Webb aka @janetnorcal has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. When I rediscovered the world of romance, my spirit guide was All About Romance's Desert Island Keepers — I started with the “A” authors and never looked back.