I purchased this book a while back but never got around to reading it before now. I must admit that if it were not for Quirky Blind Date group, I would not have remembered that I own this book. I cannot believe I waited so long to read this book. Next to Me by Jodi Watters is the first book in the Love Happens series and it can be read as a stand-alone
What the story is about.
Ali Ross is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, but she knows she can only outrun her past for so long. To protect herself and secure her freedom, she believed her newest neighbour, Sam Gleeson, former army ranger, would make the perfect protector. To have him protect her, she plans to sleep with him and get him to care for her and he would be compelled to protect her. However, she will discover that best-laid plans often go awry.
Ali fascinated Sam Gleeson, former Army Ranger and co-owner of Scorpio Securities Inc., when he first laid eyes on her. Tired of short-term hook-ups he is looking to have a relationship that is built on substance and Ali may just be the perfect candidate.
Next to Me turned out better than I expected. I enjoyed every moment spent reading this title. I would not consider it to be unique, but I thought the story was well written. The story engaged me from the start and it got better with each page turn. Not only was it engaging it was suspenseful and perfectly paced. I enjoyed spending time with characters and sharing in their camaraderie. There were fun moments that had me laughing and by the time the story ended I was satisfied with how it all played out.
There was another story within the main story, but it had no bearing on Ali and Sam’s story. It was geared towards the work that Sam does as a security consultant. This too was nicely wrapped up and it in no way detracted from the main story.
The story reminded me that genuine love sees beyond faults and accepts a person unconditionally. It is told in dual third persons POV.
Although I did not agree with Ali’s actions, I understood why she felt she had to hatch this diabolical plan. I felt there were other ways to achieve her goal, but I guess she felt this way was the best. I refused to judge her because desperation makes people do irrational things. I empathised with the struggles she faced when she discovered that what she felt for Sam was the real deal. However, I found her actions frustrating as she had every opportunity to come clean but she failed to take it. Her fears and her struggles came through the pages of the book.
Sam is such a sweetheart. He is the type of man most women desires. He is intelligent, caring and protective. He certainly did not deserve the deception that Ali dished out to him. He knew she was hiding something, but he was willing to wait for her to trust with what had her so scared. That made me admired him so much more. He could find out all he wanted to know about her by conducting a simple search, but he decided to wait for her to come clean.
The connection between Ali and Sam was instantaneous, explosive, hot and passionate. This is one of those times when the insta- love connection works out well. They were in sync and it was evident that they cared for each other.
Overall, this was a satisfying read and one I would recommend to readers who enjoy romance filled with heat and suspense. I would definitely read more from this author.