Read with: Kindle for iPad
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Oliver Garrett
Heroine: Mackenzie Williams
Date of Publication: January 2, 2013
Started On: January 17, 2013
Finished On: January 18, 2013
Having a new Mayberry book come out is like receiving a surprise gift from a loved one. Having being away from the reading world for quite a while, I had almost forgotten about the Mayberry book that would be out early this year and discovering the fact that it was out already made my weekend! It has been so long since I have anticipated reading a book and got exactly what I bargained for when I made the purchase that in itself alone is enough to make me send a box load of smooches Mayberry’s way.
Oliver Garrett is on the verge of divorcing his wife Edie after 6 years of marriage. The way things had ended leaves Oliver reeling from the shock of betrayal and immense sense of loss, hurt and anger such that he doesn’t know how to overcome the constant voice of anger and frustration that is always at the back of his mind. It is to escape his tormented thoughts more than anything that he makes his way to the beach house of his late aunt with his dog Strudel in tow.
When Oliver introduces himself to his new neighbor Mackenzie Williams, his first impression of Mackenzie is hardly a favorable one, owing mostly to the standoffish manner in which Mackenzie treats his presence at her doorstep. Mackenzie is recovering from a horrific accident that had taken away from her everything that she had sacrificed her whole adult life for and getting back on her feet and re-entering the world that she had been forced to leave behind is what keeps her putting one foot in front of the other and pushing herself beyond her body’s limits.
Though Oliver and Mackenzie both want nothing to do with each other, Mackenzie’s dog Mr. Smith and Strudel both decide differently and it is through ‘misbehavior’ on their part that these two reluctant people are forced to interact with each other. And when disaster of a different kind comes calling, it is then that Oliver and Mackenzie discover that beneath their reluctance to be in each other’s company lies an attraction that is fiery, hot and undeniable coupled with many qualities that both of them find endearing in the other.
The Other Side of Us is by no means a light fluffy story of second chances and love that comes calling to make every single trouble fade away. Rather it is the story of two very real and relatable people who find each other at the lowest points of their lives, both of whom stumble upon a second chance at love; only if they are willing to trust each other and put in the effort to make it work, regardless of all the insurmountable twists and turns ahead of them.
I love how Mayberry brings her characters together, how she unravels the beauty of two people who are flawed, yet have all those redeeming qualities that makes you fall in love with them as you read along. Discovering each of Mayberry’s characters come to life is like unraveling a gift wrapped up in many layers, each layer giving away a hidden facet of its character that makes the gift that much more treasured. Likewise Oliver (be still my heart) is a hero that I fell in love with by the turn of the first page of the story. And yes, this is the unvarnished truth if you don’t believe me. Oliver is hard not to fall in love with. He has got the looks, the characteristics that makes a guy essentially alpha and endearing, both at the same time. And yes men of the world, you can be manly and alpha without becoming arseholes about the whole thing. And oh, how I loved his sense of humor, even his rambling thoughts at times giving me a reason to smile and grin in a way that just made his character that much more lovable!
Oliver hurts deep inside, though he might put up a facade of normalcy as much as he can for the benefit of the people around him. But when he is alone and when the thoughts of his marriage and the failure it had become starts haunting him, there is no escaping the emotions that blindsides him with a ferocity that continues to make him believe that he would never find a respite from it all. But slowly and surely, with Mackenzie entering into the realms of his thoughts, heart and life, Oliver starts to discover that there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mackenzie is the ambitious and driven sort of person who doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way – not if she can help it. She had made huge sacrifices for her career along the way and being sidelined because she is not physically up for the challenge just makes her want to push herself that much harder and forgo the limits of endurance that her body is yet ready to handle. And then along comes Oliver, and with him arises the thoughts and possibilities of a future that is for a different version of Mackenzie, a Mackenzie that takes each day as it comes, a Mackenzie that starts to dream of a different path to walk upon, with Oliver right by her side.
It is beautiful the way Mayberry can put so much heart and emotion into a story that I sacrificed my weekend sleep hours for in order to reach the inevitable happily ever after for two people who deserve that and so much more. What I love about Mayberry is the fact that she continues to touch subjects that are difficult to explore, such as Mackenzie’s journey towards recovery, a very real nightmare that Mackenzie lives through each day. And at the very end, when Mackenzie pursues Oliver and turns up at his doorstep, that was when the waterworks began that had me reaching for the tissues at my bedside. If I had already not being head over feet in love with Mackenzie, I would have fallen for her like a ton of bricks then and there, because she understood Oliver and empathized with him on a level that is a crucial factor if any relationship is to survive.
If not for anything else, the fact that this is the one book that I have read in ages that had me coming back for more is reason enough to say this is an outstanding read. This is a story that reaffirms the reason why I love the romance genre so much! The Other Side of Us is a story of second chances, yes, but it also shows that love finds you, regardless of the circumstances one may be in, and that if you are to grab your chance of happiness; a little bit of faith, a whole lot of love and a bit of hard work would get you there eventually. Kudos to Mayberry, for you have done it yet again.
Then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.
The world stood still. Her heart stuttered in her chest. She forgot to breathe. Then his mouth moved against hers and heat exploded in her belly and breasts and between her thighs. In that fraction of a second she knew how it would be between them – hot and wild and desperate.
He kissed her, his body shaking with barely controlled need. His hands covered her breasts, his fingers plucking at her nipples as he pressed his lips against hers. She’d never been so turned on in her life, every inch of her skin screaming to be in contact with his. Desire was an ache between her thighs, insatiable and demanding.
Mackenzie rode him with her eyes closed and her head tilted back. Her breasts rose and fell, rose and fell as her movements became increasingly urgent. Her watched her through half-closed eyes, his hands gliding over the warm silk of her skin, fighting the growing need to grab her hips and thrust into her soft, yielding warmth.
Finally it was too much for him and he gave in to instinct, driving himself into her, need an urgent tattoo in his blood. She gave a small, inarticulate cry, her head dropping forward, her hands clutching at his shoulders. He felt her pulse around him…and was gone.
“Once upon a time I used to think I was happy,” Oliver said after a moment of perfect silence.
She drew back a little so she could look into his eyes. “And now?”
“Now I know. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
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