Law of Averages is Wylie Kinson's second Ellora's Cave release, and I was squealing like a fan girl when I got a chance to read it. With a British rock star as the hero, I knew I'd fall in love with him even before I read the first sentence. I have a soft spot for sexy musicians. My high school boyfriend was a bass player, so you see where I'm coming from...
1 - I discovered Wylie Kinson as a fellow blogger. She's one of the Sexies at Six Degrees of Sexy, along with my fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada writer Renee Field, and fellow blog buddies Christine d'Abo, Red Garnier, Amy Ruttan and Robin Rotham.
2 - Even before I realized the crowd she hung with, I'd noticed her witty zinger comments at creative goddess Rhian's blog, From My Brain To Yours. When Wylie wandered over to my blog, I was thrilled to make such a wonderful connection. I was even more thrilled when I got a chance to meet Wylie face to face at the October 2007 meeting of the Toronto Romance Writers. What a joy to meet a blog buddy at long last.
3 - So how fabulous is Law of Averages? Read on, darlings.
Part of the Ellora's Cave Contemporary Short Novel category, the heroine is the manager of a world-famous restaurant who personally can't cook. The hero is a tattooed, eyeliner-wearing musician who shows up unannounced at the Bermuda retreat she's been sent to for some serious R & R.
4 - We meet Megan Frost, who worked ninety-three days without a break when the restaurant's executive manager had a double bypass operation. Her boss flew in from London to thank her personally, sending her off to her private home in Bermuda to recharge. Maybe even find herself a vacation fling.
5 - The Dark Angel of Rock steps off the plane and heads for the private home of his London financial advisor and school mate from Eton. He needs to take a breather before coming up with more material for another recording session, and his well is uncharacteristically dry. But his friend hadn't actually checked with his wife as to house occupancy. Gabriel Law - aka Dark Angel - discovers his hideaway comes complete with its own woman.
6 - Normally Gabriel would have turned in the doorway and fled. Normally he would have had to. He would have been chased by a rabid fan or instantaneously propositioned. But Megan clearly doesn't recognize him. And Gabriel can't resist the sweet allure of the chance to park the rock god and be himself for a change.
7 - I really, really love the way Wylie ties all of her scorchy scenes to Megan's and Gabriel's emotional states. Megan is so genuine, there's not one of her emotions that I couldn't relate to. Her encouragement of Gabriel when she thinks he's basically a working musician on the club circuit is so healing to a tired mega celebrity. And his desire for Megan is tied in every way with how she makes him feel, how she helps him to reconnect to why he became the Dark Angel in the first place.
8 - The sexual desire between Megan and Gabriel is as lush and exotic as their Bermuda retreat. It's not a competitive tension, but a letting-their-hair-down exploration by two hard-driven professionals. For Megan - Average Megan - this vacation fling with a gorgeous British musician with an even more gorgeous voice wasn't even on her radar. More touching for me is the acceptance Gabriel feels in her presence. His celebrity persona had overshadowed his own personality for so long, he hadn't realized it was missing in action - until Megan brings him out of hiding.
9 - Wylie's wit is sprinkled everywhere throughout this book. As in:
His chest was bare but for that line that gathered around his bellybutton and headed down the center before disappearing…
Don’t go there, Megan. Bloody hell! Read the book. Read the book! I’m reading my book. Dum de de dum de dum, just reading my book. Where the bloody hell was I?
Shit. Now her inner voice was speaking with an English accent.
10 - Wylie really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:
" 'I thought I heard you giggling. Were you reading?'
'No,' she said, wiping the water that had spewed out of her mouth in surprise. He heard me? Had he heard her whispering his name over and over like a stuttering parrot? Had he heard her murmur 'Megan Frost Law'? She watched him put the glass to his lips and decided to confess to the lesser of two evils. 'I was…oh God, if you really must know, I was imagining all the naughty, dirty, illegal-in-thirty-two-states things I wanted to do to your body.'
It was Gabriel’s turn to spew.
'Hell,' he croaked between coughs. 'I’m too old for this kind of teasing.' He grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her up onto the breakfast bar so they were eye to eye. Gabriel spread her knees and stepped between her thighs, leaning in close so their foreheads touched. 'You should have called for me. I would have happily added my suggestions to your list.'
'I gave you plenty of signals last night, Gabriel, but you didn’t touch me.'
'I was fighting with my conscience.'
'Oh? Who won?'
'You did.' "
11 - Wylie ties a Bermuda sea myth into the romance between Megan and Gabriel beautifully. It doesn't spin this contemporary into a sudden paranormal, but it laces the mystery and charm of the edge-of-the-Caribbean island throughout the book like an ocean breeze.
12 - Wylie captures perfectly the Cinderella moments that women dream about when Megan allows herself to be wooed by Gabriel. He takes her sailing on a private yacht which he explains away as a gift from the Bermuda homeowner. At first she wonders if she should pay for half of the cruise, seeing as he's only a club musician and all...
Most wonderful is the gorgeous bathing suit, gossamer cover and wide-brimmed hat he gives her to wear on the boat.
Megan’s heart started beating out a little calypso tune of its own as she walked toward him. The island, the outfit, the man, all brought out a confidence she’d never had. She felt as if she were dripping diamonds when she walked.
13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!
" 'Where have you been?' He actually looked worried, standing on the top step in the dark as she approached.
'You’re Gabriel Law!' she accused with pointed finger. She pushed past him and stormed into the cottage. She rounded on him. 'Why didn’t you tell me?'
'Well,' he began, walking toward her slowly and gently as if she were an atomic bomb, 'I believe my opening line was indeed, "Hello, I’m Gabriel Law." ' He took the wine bag out of her hand and placed it on the counter.
'Yes, technically,' she took a deep breath, 'but you should have said, "Hello, I’m Gabriel Law, better known as Dark Angel"!'
He winced. 'Ah, sorry. I assumed you knew. Most people do.'
'Oh they do not! How many people know Bono’s name — '
'Or Sting — '
'Damn you, Gabriel! Just stop it. You knew I didn’t know.' She wagged her finger at him. 'You purposely deceived me.'
She dropped her bags on the floor and put her hands on her hips. She felt so stupid! Stupid, stupid MEE-gan — brainless, naïve and completely gullible. He must be having the laugh of his life.
She took another deep breath and bit down hard, determined to stifle the tears that were making her throat tight. He reached out to rub the tops of her arms but she jumped back.
'Was this a game to you? Am I some joke that you and Grinder will have a good chuckle over? Really, Gabriel, I’m so disgusted I could spit!'
Her chest was so tight it was hard to speak. Or breathe. She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer so she ran to the bedroom and slammed the door. She barely made it before the sobs came. She held the pillow to her face so he wouldn’t hear her.
Bad choice. The pillow smelled like him.
When she’d typed his name into Google, she was shocked to see the header bar say 'Results 1–10 of 25,300,000 for Gabriel Law'.
That was the moment the dizziness began. Words swam in front of her eyes — Official Dark Angel Fan Club, Rough Cut Concert Listings, Gabriel Law, the Dark Angel of Rock…
Of course, his tattoo! The angel wing — and she’d been too thick to get it. She’d seen it on T-shirts and album covers, billboards! It was their trademark, like the Rolling Stones lips.
'Megan, can I come in?' Gabriel called through the door, breaking her out of her thoughts.
She quickly sat up on the edge of the bed and tried to swallow but the lump was still lodged at the base of her throat, making her sound like a frog.
'Bloody hell,' she heard him murmur behind the door. He came in anyway.
Damn Ash and Gemma for not having locks on their doors.
'Look at me.'
'No, I’m not.' Duh! He was standing in the room. He could see the damn tears. 'Well, yes, but not because of you.'
'Why then?' She lifted her legs and swiveled her ankles, showing off the attractive pink rash. 'Poison ivy. The pharmacist said I have poison ivy, probably from hiding in the bushes at the park, and it’s itchy and I’m miserable.' She put the pillow to her face and let out another sob.
Damn plants. Damn Gabriel.
He got on his knees in front of her and took the mashed, wet pillow out of her hands.
He lifted her chin with his finger so they were eye to eye. She was surprised to find her pain reflected in his tourmaline eyes. She sniffed.
'Please let me explain, Megan.' He slid his hands up her thighs, but it wasn’t an erotic gesture — more like one of a man clinging to the side of a lifeboat. 'I was ecstatic that you didn’t realize who I was. A little shocked, sure, I mean, I do have an ego — quite a huge one, in fact. But if you had recognized me, I would have had to leave.'
'Why?' she sniffed.
He let a few moments pass before answering, his eyes on his hands sliding up and down the outsides of her thighs. He took a deep breath and looked at her. 'Megan, I’m tired of all this. I’ve been touring and partying and trying to maintain an image for twenty years. I’m burnt out and I desperately need a change. I don’t want to be Dark Angel anymore. Do you know how long it’s been since anyone has called me Gabriel? Just plain old Gabriel?' "
- Wylie Kinson, 2008
Join me next week when I review Jennifer Leeland's Resisting Command. Following that, I'll be reviewing Fox's Bride by Amy Ruttan.