I agreed to write a review of Take Me All the Way because I am fond of stories set in small towns. The town of Coral Cove is not unlike the small Florida town where I live. As expected, I liked how the residents care about one another and look out for their own.
Tamra and Jeremy are not as appealing as the rest of the townsfolk, at least not at first. He’s back from war; she was effectively abandoned by parents who carted her off to a commune as a child. They’ve both erected hefty barriers to keep anyone from getting too close. Sparks fly when they are forced to work together, and not in a good way.
I had a little trouble understanding how a man who is supposedly so broke that he must accept a room in the local hotel without charge and handouts of food can somehow afford gasoline for his truck and a cell phone.
But I digress.
Of course, the two eventually help each other learn to trust. The title is a big tip off as to how that is achieved.
I’ll never look at hammocks the same way again.
He was only vaguely aware of nearing a tall privacy fence, painted a weathered sort of white, before pass- ing through the open gate. He caught sight of Tamra’s legs and tennis shoes, too, and said, “Am I about to walk into anything?”
“No, you’re good,” she said.
“Where am I going with this thing? I want to put it down once.”
“Well, I haven’t had a chance to plan for this, so it might have to be twice—unless you want to stand there holding it while I think.”
“Nope,” he said, and let it drop right in front of him on the stone.
And then he took in everything around him. It was as if he’d entered a whole new world. One of lush greenery and bright blooms. Her entire backyard was a beautiful garden. “Shit, you weren’t lying,” he said without thinking.
“About what?” she asked.
“You could be a landscaper if you wanted.”
“Thanks.” She sounded shockingly bashful. It threw him, drew his gaze to her face.
She was actually blushing a little. He wondered why, but didn’t spend much time trying to figure it out as his attention was drawn back to the garden.
From the trees hung delicate windchimes and other pieces, all made of colored glass. He caught sight of a blue glass bird that seemed to be flying past, and numerous butterflies in yellow, purple, pink. From the ground sprung the occasional birdbath, and more pieces of glass mounted on wrought iron sticks—a green glass dragonfly, a row of glass daisies. In be- tween it all ran the stone path—it seemed to make a circle around the yard, and near the house, where they stood, it widened to encircle a large fire pit. Wooden chairs rimmed the pit, and farther back in the garden he caught sight of a hammock that looked like the perfect resting spot.
“This is . . . freaking amazing,” he told her.
“Yeah?” she asked. Again, she sounded so much more delicate than usual.
“Yeah.” He nodded, still taking it in.
The truth was, he kind of never wanted to leave. It was . . . the perfect place to be alone, the perfect place to hide.
And then . . . he understood. The same way he liked to hide—so did she.
When his gaze returned to her, he saw her differ- ently. He understood her better now—not completely, not by a long shot, but better. He’d sensed a certain beauty in her before—he’d witnessed hints of it want- ing to creep out from around her more rigid persona— but now he really saw it. Looking down at her, here, she was . . . prettier. Her eyes more innocent. Her lips fuller, softer. Maybe he was crazy, or maybe the late day shadows were playing tricks on him, but she was truly beautiful here in a way he’d never seen her look before.
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Soon after, she penned her first novel – nineteen notebook pages long. Since then, Toni has become a RITA-nominated author of more than twenty contemporary romance novels including her recent 2014 RITA nomination for Half Moon Hill the last installment in her popular Destiny series. Her books have received the National Readers Choice Award and the Bookseller’s Best Award, and her work has been excerpted in Cosmo. Toni lives in the Midwest and enjoys traveling, crafts, and spending time outdoors. Learn more about Toni and her books at www.toniblake.com.