I love a good contemporary romance, and this book is a perfect example of why I love them so much. In fact, I loved both books I’ve read by this author, and can’t wait to read her new release, Just Say Yes. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I’ll next review Wish You Were Here, after I re-read it (no hardship there, believe me).

This is the story of Emma Tremayne, an erstwhile Londoner exiled to Cumbria due to circumstances mostly beyond her control (well, except for a tossed smoothie, but who’s counting). Emma finds herself the PR person in the local tourist board of Bannerdale, a picturesque town, complete with lakes, mountains and plenty of wayward tourists and locals lost in the hills, needing to be rescued by the Bannerdale Mountain Rescue Team. Will Tennant is a member of said team. He’s also a philanthropist, entrepreneur and a hottie.

Emma’s task is to raise funds for a new base for the Rescue Team. Her idea is to get those mountain men to pose for a nude calendar, the proceeds of which will be used to help fund the base. Emma and Will butt heads immediately on the idea. Will’s resistant, but agrees to become Mr. July.

This sets up the story of these two individuals. Ms. Ashley layers these characters with back stories that pretty much keep them apart for most of the book. The sexual and emotional tension is so high that you just cannot stop turning the pages. What happened to Emma and her last boyfriend and her boss to make her so distrustful of men and so reluctant to get involved with a client? What happened to Will and his former fiancee to warrant his reputation as a serial seducer? Can we believe what we first hear about him, or is this man more than what he seems, in a good way? Will these two get together and stay together? And is there another love scene (sorry, had to ask)?

Ms. Ashley writes Emma as a strong, independent woman with a vulnerability born of her experience that makes her insecurity so believable and so pathetic at times that we can’t help but feel sorry for her. Will is edgy, secretive and so magnetic as he decides to let go of his past and take a chance on a new relationship, afraid of getting hurt, but not being able to help himself. We are let in on Emma’s past fairly quickly, but Will’s remains a secret until the last quarter of the book. This allows us to experience that boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back formula that is so necessary to a good romance. It’s the plot device that keeps us hooked. And it makes that last page so darn satisfying.

Ms. Ashley can tell a contemporary story. Her writing is descriptive, and her dialogue is crisp and very, very funny in places least expected. Will’s calendar picture and Emma’s response to it was priceless. And there was one line about a beeper in a pocket that had me laughing out loud.

Read this book. If you are a fan of contemporary romance, you won’t be disappointed. Emma and Will had me at hello.

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