I'm so excited, you guys! I haven't given anything five stars in nearly two years!!! Contrary to some BBA belief, I really, truly hate not loving the books I read. So I'm beyond giddy that I loved this book so much.
This book is the very antithesis of all the crap I keep complaining about in the romance genre. Ben and Samantha are two very well drawn, fleshed out characters. The did a lot of talking. Not just about themselves, but about everything. All before ever laying a finger on each other! I never had to wonder why or how they could possibly be in love. I didn't have to wonder how they could possibly have an HEA when they have nothing in common but sex. No, they built a relationship, a friendship, a foundation for a love and romance from the very beginning (okay, not from the very beginning, they had an acrimonious first meeting and had to get over that disastrous event first). I loved their banter and the way they joked around with each other. They were really fun to read! The only thing I could have asked for is some more of the conversations on page. Sometimes it would shorthand: 'they talked about favorite books, etc.' and I would have liked to have seen more of it actually happen. And, of course, I loved the dog Tramp.
Then when they finally did have sex, much later in the book, it was actually satisfying. Balogh built up the sexual tension along with the relationship and that is what makes a romance novel sex scene worthwhile. Not all the gratuitous, empty, right off the bat sex we see so much of. And it didn't take over the story when it happened. It became a part of their relationship like all the other elements, we still got to see them as the couple we had come to know.
I've read/listened to this series out of order and was worried after listening to the first book even though I liked the second book, which I had read first. I'm glad there seems to be an upward trend and I hope it keeps up through the rest of the series.
There was a really short novella at the end of this book that took us back to the second book when Vincent's female relatives were trying to marry him off. It is the story of the girl, Philippa, they brought to stay with them hoping he'd offer for her and instead she caused him to run away. It's the story of why she did what she did. It was short and sweet and I liked the insight to a kind of toss away character from the second book to show she wasn't an awful nitwit.