After Loving You is Easy, I didn't hesitate to grab this next book, but what's funny is I didn't even realize they were part of the same series until I sat down to read it. As in the previous book, Neve and Rory “meet” through a pen-pal program while he's deployed, and their friendly letters quickly take a turn for steamy. But things don't go quite as planned when he's home on leave, and he's left with a lot of explaining to do.
The chemistry between these two is off the charts, so it kind of makes sense that they find themselves getting hot and heavy in a storeroom in the back of his family's pub. However, their tryst ends on an ugly note when a woman claiming to be Rory's fiance catches them together, and Neve is completely mortified by the whole situation. Not only did she get it on with him in a smelly old closet, but it looks like he's been lying to her all along.
Fortunately, there's a reasonable explanation for the whole mess, though Neve doesn't make it easy on Rory. He heads back off to war for a few more months while she stews in the aftermath of her “mistake,” but once he's home for good, Rory wastes no time in trying to clear things up. Neve's situation by that point isn't ideal, as she's suffering from an infection after donating bone marrow, and she has little choice but to accept Rory's help, much as she'd like to keep pushing him away.
The path of their relationship is intriguing, starting off too strong, falling apart, and then slowly building back up as they really get to know each other. Neve's got plenty of issues due to some reckless behavior and bad decisions in the past, and it colors her view of any future for herself. On the straight and narrow now, she's determined to take her dance career straight into Cirque du Soleil, but ugly pieces of her past keep showing up and breaking down her self-respect.
Rory, for being such a great guy, also has plenty going on with his PTSD, but he's falling for Neve wholeheartedly, and the idea of her leaving to follow her dreams is the worst kind of quandary for him. He doesn't want to get in the way of her career, but he wants her to choose him. The real issue, though, is simply Neve's view of herself.
Like the book before it, All I Need is You was nothing like I expected, but the very flawed characters and totally human screw-ups were what made it so great. Neve's past isn't pretty, but it's also not unheard of. And Rory can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth, even when all he wants to do is be the man Neve needs. I also loved that he's not exactly tall, dark, and handsome at 5'4″, though he's definitely got the alpha & hot thing down. This is one series that turns the usual romance trope completely on end in the best possible way.