When Lucy accepts a house-sitting job from the wealthy family for whom her mother is the maid, she expects a lazy summer filled with reading, time alone, and easy earnings. What she doesn't expect is for the guy next door to mistake her for anything other than the help — or to romance her to the point of falling head over heels.
But... While I loved the story, there was one point in the book where I really, really wanted to punch Lucy in the face for being a complete imbecile — and it wasn't because of the whole “I'm pretending to be someone I'm not” scenario.
Before Lucy really even knows Gabe, he's asking to come over to her place late at night, which has her immediately wondering just what he expects from her. Her reasoning for deciding he's perfectly safe? This “logic”:
"Okay, I'm being ridiculous. What is this guy going to do to me? He's gorgeous. He could have anyone he wants. He's just looking for an escape from his family."
Really? REALLY?!? So because he's gorgeous, he's harmless? Good-looking guys never hurt women? That should make it really easy to stay safe. Just avoid the ugly dudes, and crimes against women will cease to be a problem. Sure.
Judging Covers: The cover for the previous book in the series struck me as utterly boring, but this one didn't really strike me as anything. Does that mean I'm just used to the look now?
The Verdict: We met Gabe in Fair Game, and as Shep's best friend, he seemed like he could be a lot of fun, so I was interested in getting his story. Like Shep, he's loaded and as brought up in a world of privilege, but in In the Dark, we see just how limiting that world can be.
Gabe's parents are forcing him to do family time over the summer, so he and his sister are camped out in their luxury vacation home and trying to break the boredom. And it's not just that he's more interested in hanging out with his friends than with his family; it's that he's being dragged along for fancy dinners and black tie affairs and expected to make nice with whatever shallow young women are deemed suitable for someone in his ritzy social circle. So when he spots the gorgeous girl next door, and she turns out to be genuine and different than the girls he usually meets, he's immediately intrigued.
Lucy is used to getting by with virtually nothing. Born to a teenage mother who has since gone a little overboard in trying to keep Lucy from making the same mistakes she did, Lucy's life has been a series of struggles and going without. The house-sitting gig seems like easy money, and she doesn't really mean to pretend she's one of the wealthy people who live there, but since she'll probably never see Gabe again, she doesn't bother correcting him when he assumes she's just like him. But what starts out as a bit of innocent fun quickly grows into real feelings.
These two are absolutely perfect for each other, the very epitome of opposites attract. Lucy's thrifty, focused on her future, and used to working hard for everything she has. She's nothing like the girls Gabe usually finds, and everything about her personality (not to mention her looks) attracts him. Gabe, on the other hand, is used to having everything handed to him, but it doesn't mean he necessarily enjoys all the other trappings of wealthy society life. In fact, his rich boy issues have made him rather selfish and disconnected, but with Lucy, he finds something worth enjoying. Their chemistry is ridiculously hot and makes for some awesomely steamy scenes. But they also have fun together, and their teasing and banter kept me turning the pages as fast as I could drink in their story.
Of course, their summer fling is supposed to come to an end when summer does, but things don't quite work out that way once they discover they're attending the same college. And while Lucy certainly has feelings for Gabe, her insecurities have her running the opposite direction when she sees him. Surprisingly, Gabe was the one who fought to keep her from walking away, and I loved the way he just sort of threw caution to the wind and gave her a chase. But Lucy isn't exactly who she's allowed Gabe to assume she is, and when the truth comes out, the timing couldn't be worse. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that while I expected that rather standard turn in the plot, I did not expect it to play out quite the way it did. In the Dark, for all its standard romance novel direction, surprised me, both with the depth of the characters and their realistic reactions to things. Things didn't feel like they happened just for drama's sake or to advance the story but rather because that's how people of that age in that situation would truly react. And of course, since the characters were so great, it was impossible not to root for them. Gabe and Lucy's story is a pretty classic romance trope, but it's also fresh and believable.