Monday, October 6, 2014

Cara McKenna - Hard Time

Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.
Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.
When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.

Comment: I decided to get this book after seeing this post by Sonomalass in her blog. The second best reason to read other readers' blogs (after the enjoyment of their words of course), is to find out about possible titles that might be interesting for us to read too. After reading the post about this book, I decided I had to get it.

This is Annie Goodhouse's story and how she is starting a new job as part of her librarian duties to help inmates in a prison to study, to have access to books and some sort of education through the library. On her first day she's anxious but she can't help feeling something when she meets the eyes of one of the inmates. To follow, there's a routine of letter's exchange between them which increase their perception of each other until the day Eric says he will be out soon. How will things go when Eric is out and will Annie feel comfortable around him too?

I liked this book. I think it has a different enough plot to be interesting but still following certain rules to be likable to a romance reader. This isn't any exaggeration of what happens between people who correspond with inmates for whatever reason. In this book, the two protagonists meet in prison where she is going to do part of her librarian work and the relationship starts slowly and very innocent.
At first the interactions were controlled and expected until one day Eric asks her to write down something for a special person, because he has problems with writing well. From then on, their relationship changes and becomes more intimate while they never touch each other.
I liked the feel of sexual tension we would get from the scenes where they would be together in prison while she was doing her job but they couldn't talk, especially after we knew what had been read in the letters.
I think the author was clever in making the plot move forward through the letters because not only it allowed them to get to know each other better, but it also added to the feel of time moving forward. Being a non believer of insta-love or love at first sight in contemporary romances, I think the author's tactic worked quite well.

Things change when Eric is out and from then on, there's a different feel to the story, it stops being so easy and almost fantasy like, to address contemporary issues and personal ones too, after all their relationship wouldn't be easy to be looked at even if they felt like it all the time. I liked how things too their time. Everything that was happening took time, I'm quite pleased by how the author decided to make us see time passing, and decisions being thought of before anything happened for real.

Obviously, there are many problems to overcome before there's a HEA. I think the best part is how valid and expected all those issues were. I'm sure real people would be concerned, would have doubts like Annie did. And Eric seemed a little bit too good to be true, but respecting the romance side of things, I can accept his behavior and attitudes towards Annie as positive. Of course he had to have a problem, he was in prison after all, and his reasons seem opposition enough and why there's a conflict. If things were dealt well enough, for romance purposes yes, but realistically speaking, probably the issue wouldn't be solved like that, at least in the long run, people take time trusting and trust is a huge issue to deal with in this book.

Real life situations apart, the romance was hot, Annie and Eric forged a relationship with challenges but based on mutual knowledge, of sharing things, of talking before just assuming anything. Communication was well done in their interactions.
I liked the book, the characters and the unusual setting.. Hopefully, I'll try something else by her in the future.
Grade: 7/10

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