Just Kiss Me

Once Upon a Mattress

Touched by Fire

 
The Longest Night
by Kathleen O’Reilly
(Harl. Temptation #979, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-69179-3
***
The Longest Night refers to the night when Cassandra and Noah finally make love. If you like stamina and teasing and love play – this is definitely the story for you. This one scene lasted 15 pages. But it is not the defining storyline. The storyline is about love, not just sex, and the need to trust. And it takes a long time for Cassandra to accept those two ideas as truth.

Cassandra is well built and used to men ogling her. To deal with it, she has built a control demeanor that protects her from hurt. She engages in sex because that is what men want, but never with her emotions involved. Sex is purely physical and her rules make sure that is true. She demands no promises by either party, a medical inspection to ensure safety, condoms always and no monogamy. Her fifth rule is never spoken and that entails never spending the entire night – after all, no one can see her without her make-up or the illusion is ruined.

Cassandra is now at the stage in her life where this life is a little taxing. All of her friends have now gotten married (this is the last book in the Bachelorette Pact series) and she is feeling a little lonely. A man from her past, Noah Barclay, seems to be back on her radar screen. The only problem is Noah was one of the few who ever turned her down and that hurt.

Noah, you see, wants Cassandra and in fact has been having dreams about her for six months. But he wants all of her, not just her body. And having run into her again, he is determined to weave his way past all of her defenses. And he has a plan. He will tempt her with kisses but demand that she spend time with him, getting to know him and having a relationship with conversation, fun and making love…not just sex.

Complicating things are an old flame that Cassandra was engaged to for a short period of time, a hefty city contract that Noah wants for his business and this old flame has some say in, and Cassandra’s efforts to protect herself from hurt. The whole premise is interesting and generally maintained the interest of this reader. There are places in the story that I cringed when Cassandra was cold-hearted, but when she melted for Noah, it was clear to see her vulnerability and her reasons for acting the way she acted most of the time. While understanding her reason, it did not make it easy to accept her reasons, when I really contemplated it. Personally I had a tough time accepting that having sex with every guy who wanted to come on to her was a good choice. So, to enjoy the story, I did not spend time contemplating it.

Fans of the series will enjoy the visits with each of the other three bachelorettes turned brides, and for those of us who have never read one of the other tales, it is not really a distraction. Pulling in these other women helped to capture the real Cassandra that she let her friends see. Noah saw beyond her public persona and for that, he came off as a sensitive, loving and completely acceptable hero. At times, he almost seemed too good to be true, but there were just enough moments of angst that he endured to make it work. The biggest problem for me was that Noah, like most of the men in the story, seemed to be ruled by his libido. It seemed to be a narrow view of men, but again, if one did not spend a lot of time examining it, it could be ignored for the enjoyment of the romance.

Cassandra is intelligent and a diamond cutter in her father’s jewelry store. Her intelligence is clear to see and she generally acts like a woman who knows her mind. Noah is also smart and does not resort to he-man antics when he feels jealousy or anger. Their combination works well if you didn’t delve too deeply.

The Longest Night has a good storyline, a good couple that complemented each other, hot sex and good romance. It is a decent novel on the surface and should be enjoyed as just that.

--Shirley Lyons


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