This is the fourth novel that I’ve read by Helen Hardt and it will definitely not be the last. Helen Hardt has a way of taking a spicy romance novel to a whole new level by not only making the love scenes steamy but creating a story that you can’t get enough of.
I haven’t had the privillage of reading the other novels in the Temptation saga but that didn’t take away from this book at all.
In this novel Maria is a senior in high school and dating the quarterback. She is heading to college in the fall with him but can’t shake the feeling that something is missing between them. She likes him well enough but is not really in love.
Jefferson Bay is the black sheep of his family. He feels that he will never measure up to his older brother Wayne who is the apple of his grandfather’s eye so when his grandfather disowns him he makes sets off to make his own way. He runs with the wrong crowd and spends his time fixing his bike and working in a motorcycle garage.
When Jefferson and Maria see each other across the parking lot all bets are off. Sparks fly and it is love at first sight for both of them. After two passionate days and nights together Jefferson is already making plans for the future with Maria and that is something he has never thought about before with any woman he’s been with. Before he can set about creating that future for them Jefferson’s “friends” talk him into robbing his grandfather to get the inheritance that he was cheated out of when his grandfather disowned him. Things go horribly wrong during the robbery and a man ends up dead and Jefferson is arrested. Maria has found out she is pregnant and, thinking that Jefferson is going to jail, she seduces his brother Wayne and makes Wayne think the baby is his so that her child can have the Bay name and the future she can’t offer the baby on her own. When Jefferson finds out he gives up fighting and goes to jail for 30 years for a crime he never committed.
Thirty years later Jefferson is released from jail after DNA evidence clears him of the crime and he returns home to claim the ranch his brother left behind when he passed away. To do this he must confront Maria and their past that neither of them has been able to move past. Maria is still in love with Jefferson and Jefferson is still in love with her but will they be able to move past the secrets and betrayal that have tainted their story of true love?
I wanted to have sympathy for Maria in this story but I really saw Jefferson as the victim throughout the novel. I wanted to scream at Maria for immediately turning to Wayne to fix everything instead of fighting for the man she loved and defending him but I can see where she might have thought that wouldn’t work and she wanted to do the best she could for her unborn child. I liked the way things ended however.
I give this book four out of five stars.