After Hours by Cara McKenna
ORDER A COPY: After Hours: (InterMix)
Publishing Date: April 16, 2013
Paperback: 284 pages
Rating: 5 stars
A dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man…
Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.
Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.
What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.
Erin Coffee is nervous about her new job. She has a shiny new nursing degree and the best job within a reasonable distance of her sister and nephew is at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital. Of course, the position wasn’t on a regular floor. Erin always finds a way to jump right into the deep end. She’ll be working on the locked floor with those patients with violent tendencies.
The first person she sees on her tour of the facility is a wall of a man, but thankfully he’s not a patient. Kelly Robak is there to keep the patients calm, but all he does to Erin is get her worked up thinking about what he could do with those great big hands of his. If only Kelly didn’t look like the type of man her floosy mother would have dragged home, Erin might be very tempted to check out if he was large everywhere else.
She can’t deny the obvious attraction between them and as she gets to know Kelly better, she finds he is not the cold, womanizer she keeps trying to make him out as. After a lifetime of trying to be the level headed one in the family, can she risk her heart and her trust to a man like Kelly?
This is storytelling at its best. I truly enjoyed watching this story unfold. There was no chase scene, no explosions, no serial killer, and even though I can’t point to anything specific that makes this story exception, I would say that this was simply an enjoyable, well written story. It was a story of two people meeting at work, getting to know each other both inside and outside of work and due to both of their bad childhoods, how they struggled with letting someone else into their lives and admitting they wanted more. Although the description lead me to believe that Erin will be in danger from someone at the mental facility, that wasn’t the case. So don’t waste you time waiting for the boogyman to jump from the closet like I did.
Although I was frustrated that neither Kelly nor Erin would do something as simple as ask the other if they wanted more, they stayed true to their written characters. Erin was used to being the dependable, rock for her sister and had a hard time allowing herself to lean on or trust Kelly to be there. He reminded her too much of the endless line up of men that her mother and her sister gravitated toward for Erin to believe he would want more than just the sexual conquest.
Erin has a Lizzie Bennett complex. She judges people on sight which is her fatal flaw and why she works against her own happiness. She decides what Kelly will want from her and creates shortcomings in him without giving him a chance.
This was a first person narrative, which is unusual for a romance book, so we are as much in the dark as Erin as to Kelly’s underlying feelings, and although he understands her standoffishness, you can see he was enjoying his time with her and was confused by her cold shoulder toward him.
I have been turned off by the contemporary romance selections for so long, gravitating to the more interesting paranormals and some historicals to break that up, but I am definitely enjoying this new New Adult/Intermix selection even it if is geared towards a younger crowd. The storylines have so far proven to be much more interesting than the bondage-loving billionaire and the accidental baby plotlines.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher.
In this scene Erin is getting basic training in restraining patients.
“You and you,” he said, pointing to a nurse and an orderly. They both looked a bit wary, but surely they didn’t share the fear that had me to unnerved—the fear of enjoying touching this brute far too much.
I watched as they ran drills with Kelly, and tried very hard not the think about getting drilled by Kelly. Then it was my turn, me and another young LPN. “Legs,” she said. We’d been taught to “call” our intended target, much like shouting “I got it!” in a baseball game to avoid colliding with one’s teammate. It meant I was on arms. Big huge scarred-up Kelly Robak arms. When the moment came to grasp them, my hands were nowhere near big enough to get a decent purchase on his obscenely thick biceps. Lordy me.
He went down pretty easy the first time, and if I wasn’t mistaken, he smiled at me. With the side of his face pressed to the mat, it was tough to tell.
“Enjoying yourself?” He asked, like he’d come upon me reading on a park bench.
“I am. Maybe I’ll order you a white wine, while you’re down there,” I said too quiet for anyone else to hear.
Now he was definitely smirking. “With a straw, I hope.”
Audra shouted her approval of our technique and we let Kelly go. We switched legs and arms, then it was time to rotate again. I was tiring, my back achy from all the bending, shoulders grinding in their sockets. This was a hard-ass job. A decent workout, though if dampened by the possibility of bodily harm.
“Let’s try some headlocks,” Audra said after a water break, some time later. We’d just rotated back into Kelly’s tutelage and I eyed his arm yet again, imagining it clamped around my windpipe.
“Trainees, attack your trainers, and trainers, break free in slo-mo.”
I swallowed as Kelly turned to me first. With me at five-three and him at least a foot taller, it was easier said than done. I’d look less like an attacker than a scarf.
“You want a stepstool?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not that short,” I said as I circled around him. “You’re just way too tall.” I looped my arm around his neck, having to press my chest flush to his back to reach. Goddamn, he was warm. And hard. And huge.
I felt his hand on my forearm, demonstrating for the other trainees in my group. His fingertips seemed to dawdle at my wrist as he spoke, casual as a woman might caress a garment at a store, admiring the fabric. Surely I was imagining that.