Housebound, by Anne Stuart

>> Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Housebound, by Anne Stuart

The rest of the family was skating when Anne Kirkland met Noah Grant. He'd obviously been invited to New Jersey for the weekend, but by whom? Noah wasn't one of Anne's sister Holly's jet-set friends, but nor did he seem part of her brother Ashley's flamboyant entourage.

As Noah and Anne sat in the gracious house that was Anne's pride and joy, talking like old friends, she almost wished her family wouldn't return to unravel the mystery of Noah's identity...

Having met Ashley and Holly, Noah wasn't prepared for Anne. She was warm and kind, and he almost wished he didn't have such a hard job to do...
No, no, no, no! Who writes these blurbs? This describes something like the first 10 pages of the book, and inaccurately, at that.

Noah's been invited to Anne Kirkland's house for the weekend by her sister, Holly. To Anne, he's Holly's latest potential boyfriend, but in reality, he's there to evaluate the house as a possible purchase, as a favour to his former father-in-law.

The reason for all this subterfuge is that Anne basically lives for the house, and refuses to sell, even though there's no way she can afford to keep it. She plows all her money into it and yet, it's falling to pieces around her. Unfortunately for her (or maybe fortunately, actually), it only takes a majority of the owners wanting to get rid of the house for the sale to go through, and her father, sister and brother are in agreement.

When Noah shows up at the beginning of the weekend, Anne does confuse him with one of her brother's boyfriends (which means his first kiss catches her by surprise), but the confusion is cleared up when they get back, only a while later. This reveals a practically irresistible attraction between them, though, and that plays out for the rest of the book.

Noah is immediately very attracted to Anne, but he knows he should try to resist her because, when the truth comes out, she's going to be very hurt, and she'll feel even more betrayed if something has developed between them. As for Anne, she's engaged and knows she shouldn't steal her sister's guy from under her. And still they can't stop themselves.

I really liked Noah. Being an Anne Stuart hero, he has quite a bit of an edge, but he's one of the nicest I've read by her. He really does try to do the right thing about Anne, and is truly sorry that he's going to help hurt her, even when he knows he's actually doing her a favour. His torturedness (is that a word?) comes not from having done bad things in the past, but from the tragedy of losing a wife he adored. He's even an idealistic lawyer, who wants to leave corporate law and go back to work as a public defender!

Anne, as usual with this author, I liked a little less. I was just so impatient with her obsession with that house! It's very obvious to anyone that there's no way she's going to be able to keep it, but she just keeps on, even getting into debt to patch a few holes. I understand wanting to hold on to your past, but she crossed the line into idiotic, IMO.

These two have very real chemistry together, and Stuart was successful in showing the initial attraction turning into something more. A nice, low-key read. My grade: a B-.


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