>> Sunday, January 13, 2013
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger - a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she's spent years planning.Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn't want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn't want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.Even Tom's stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can't stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?Lexie Marshall and Tom Geiger have the same plans for the summer: they're riding the TransAmerica trail, a bike route that will take them from one end of the USA to the other.
Tom is still in mental recovery from a really crappy situation, where he had to choose between his conscience and what was right, on one hand, and his family and a lot of people's livelihoods, on the other. He chose the first option, and the results were explosive. Since that happened, he's been working in a bike repair shop and living like a hermit. His bike ride will be a continuation of that, just him, his bike and the road, and this is something his sister, the only member of his family who still speaks to him, isn't happy about. It's not so much the physical danger (as Tom notes, he is the serial killer type most people are afraid of encountering on the road), but the fear that the solitude will dig him even deeper into his hole. Unbeknownst to him, Tom's sister has a look at people advertising for a companion for the trip, and arranges for him to travel with one of them.
That companion is Lexie, advertising as "Alex" Marshall, to avoid creeps. Tom isn't happy to discover the riding buddy he's been pressured by his sister into accepting is a woman, since now he feels dutybound to find her a substitute companion before taking off to do his own thing. Plus, Lexie's his polar opposite. She's chatty and gregarious, and she's also planned this, her dream trip, to the most minute detail. She's got rules and she's got gadgets to tell her exactly what she should do in each circumstance. She's also got an imaginary husband, the perfect way to make sure she won't sleep with Tom, whom she recognises immediately as an emotional danger.
But of course, as they spend time together and get to know each other, Tom's determination to palm Lexie off on someone else wanes, and she begins to regret that imaginary husband.
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm amazed that it was Knox's debut. Her writing is smooth and accomplished and flows beautifully, and her plotting and pacing are (apart from a slightly abrupt ending) perfect. It's a 100% character-driven romance, which works so well because these are interesting characters, with issues that make sense and provide a reasonable, believable conflict. These two felt real, and seeing them interact was fun. They're not perfect and each have their annoying things, but Knox made me believe it was much more than simple chemistry between them (although there was quite a lot of that as well!), and I was fully engaged in their relationship. It changes slowly, starting from a point where they don't particularly like each other, through liking to love, with no out-of-character jumps in its development, and I loved every second of it. Plenty of memorable scenes, too (if I say "hot sauce challenge", I'm sure everyone who's read this will know what I mean!).
I also loved the setting and biking bits. Even though I haven't ridden a bike in years and years and I'm not particularly interested in doing so, I completely got what Tom and Lexie loved so much about it. Obviously, my ignorance of the subject means I can't really tell you whether Knox gets her details right, but it certainly felt as if she knew what she was talking about and had a real love of the sport. Tom and Lexie cover a lot of ground, and it was fun visiting as well.
So, a solidly enjoyable book, and I can't wait to see what more Knox writes. She's already published another one (which I bought as soon as I finished this), and I'll be reading that very soon.
MY GRADE: A very strong B+.