Unexpected Family, but this first book, His Wife for One Night, was a great, great read! It's not just that the romance works between the protagonists, childhood friends who marry out of necessity and do not consummate the marriage until one decides that it is time for a divorce, it is also that O'Keefe builds this story with characters that truly become three dimensional to the reader.
I love the premise of this story. Mia and Jack grew up together on a ranch, and they have been best friends forever. Jack married Mia when his crazy mother threw her mother Sandra and sister Lucy out of the property after her father died and Jack's alcoholic father, Walter, failed to stop it. Then as Mia took up the role of foreman in the ranch, Jack left to live his dream of bringing water to places like Darfur by using his engineering skills.
Mia and Jack see each other away from the ranch a few times throughout the years, and each time Mia is hopeful that Jack will see her as a woman, his real wife, that things will change between them, but that never happens. Not until she gives up. On that last meeting she asks him for a divorce and the two finally give in to their mutual attraction and end up having some explosive sex! It's one of those instances when you don't know what you have until you're about to lose it? That's what happens to Jack and it's not all about the sex for him either. Although he doesn't think he loves Mia at that point, he knows he doesn't want her out of his life. Mia on the other hand is done. She is a sucker for Jack and knows him better than anyone else. He is her friend, but she can't continue to hope. For her that sexual encounter was good bye and there is no more waiting or going back. And so the great battle begins.
Through the development of the romance the family history is explored, so that a secondary characters the family is important and the reader becomes invested in their lives, although truthfully the extent of their full history is not fully revealed until the second book, Unexpected Family. But His Wife for One Night is all about the romance and main characters.
I loved Mia. Mia is a strong heroine who develops fear of abandonment after five years of giving all she can to her marriage and a lifetime of loving a man damaged by childhood abuse, and clueless when it comes to recognizing her true feelings. And Jack? Well, as his life unravels -- both personal and professional -- Jack realizes that he must deal with the past in order to have a future and Mia is at the center of it all. Clueless? Yes. But smart enough to fight for what is important. I love this couple and the way O'Keefe makes her characters come alive with faults and strengths as they deal with the highs and lows on their way to happiness. I was truly happy when this couple's future finally clicked into place. Grade: B+