24 September 2014

Hardworking Man by Kat Oliver

 There are few things in life more enticing than a hardworking man, especially when that man is heavy equipment service technician Michael "Jake" Jacoby. With some of the best hands in the industry, Jake spends his days breathing life into dead machinery. When he agrees to work on a repair and maintenance manual with a corporate-hired technical writer, he has no idea he’ll be reunited with Jessica Cooper, his post-high school fling. A misunderstanding throws a wrench in their initial meeting, but they soon pick up where they left off seventeen years ago—with Jake's touch keeping Jessica running on all cylinders.

While producing enough heat to weld steel, their feelings for one another quickly intensify. Tender and dominant, Jake is a study in contrasts, and his confident and protective nature make Jessica feel safe and adored. At the same time, her beauty, brains, and boldness fuel his passion. The more time he spends with her, the more he believes their reunion was no coincidence, but she's been hurt before. And Jake will need every skill at his disposal to convince her they're meant to be together.

When I think of contemporary romance, this is exactly the kind of book that I want to read.  It’s got a great plot with smart characters and great chemistry between the leads, which creates a realistic and fulfilling story!
This book starts out with two teenagers on a date.  Jake and Jessie have graduated high school.  Jessie is moving on to college; Jake is staying in his home town since he can’t afford to go to college.  Jessie always noticed the handsome, athletic and popular Jake, but he didn’t notice her until the summer after high school.  They go out on a few dates and then have a hot night together that neither one ever forgets.  17 years later they are reunited when Jessie is assigned to interview Jake for a technical manual she is writing.  She needs his help to be successful and be taken seriously in her chosen field, but she finds that the chemistry between them is still overwhelming and hasn’t lessened with time.  And Jake recognizes that what he feels for Jessie is worth fighting for.  Will she give in to him?  Can the magic of all those years ago translate into a real relationship?
I’m going to start off by saying that the plot of this books isn’t super original, but I found that it really didn’t detract from my enjoyment.  It’s well written, intense and SUPER sexy.  Jake is a perfect book boyfriend.  Gallant with integrity, intelligence and just enough intensity to make your toes curl, he is a great character.  Jess as a leading character was also refreshing.  She’s smart and sassy, with a mind for business and an intense drive in her work.  She wants to be the best and has always had a singular focus on success.  It’s interesting to see how she incorporates her feelings for Jake into her very orderly world. 
I also really liked that the characters in this book are older.  In their mid-thirties, they are professional, settled people who were looking for love. So much better than fresh out of college kids and vastly more relatable.
Overall, I thought this was an easy to read and enveloping story.  I may have sensed where it was going to go, but that didn’t detract from the ride at all.  I loved the characters and the story was well-written.  4.5 stars.

I have to start by saying that I am almost positive that the blurb has been revised since I initially signed up to review this book, and for the better. I recall thinking it sounded a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but I thought it would make for a rather entertaining read. The new blurb is a much better reflection of Hardworking Man as a serious romance – although the mechanical references certainly elicited some unexpected chuckles on my part.

During the summer after their high school graduation, Jake and Jessica spent a week together right before she left for college. Jessica was determined to make sure that she would not look back on their time together with regret and lived out her fantasies with him. For Jake, Jessica was the one who got away. While they didn’t pine for one another, they certainly remembered their time together. As such, Jessica wasn’t quite prepared to see Jake again when she learned that he was the tech she was going to be interviewing for the next two weeks. Once they both realized that the spark between them was still there, Jessica agreed to see Jake again as long as they could be discreet – being a woman working in a male-dominated industry, knowledge that she was sleeping with one of her interviewees, despite their history, could destroy her career. While they were discreet, they were most certainly adventurous. Boy howdy does Jake know how to get a woman’s engine going. The sex scenes are aplenty, pertinent to the storyline, and freaking HOT!!!

Ms. Oliver has written a sexy romance with an intelligent heroine and a Hardworking Man with callouses on his hands. I actually loved that Jessica was turned on by Jake’s job and the callouses and clinging smell of gas and grease that accompanied it. Not every leading man can be a business suit wearing billionaire or a bad boy biker, so Jake’s profession was a nice change of pace and added a level of realism to the romance that made it that much more enjoyable for me. I really liked Ms. Oliver’s style of writing and I look forward to reading more of her work.


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