She was the youngest sister that at 15 did a lot of growing up. She lost her dad at 10, her big sister at 15 and a sick mom. But the worst was the man who married her, got heart pregnant, left her in New Orleans to fends for herself. She did things to survive but met a wonderful man who she married. He died and she has to face all of her past and age the man who wronged her.
I read this book as part of the "The Contemporary Collection Volume 2" bundle in 2014. I downloaded this one so I could listen to the audible version and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Much more than the first time. I think mainly because I appreciated all the complex secrets much more and I wasn't expecting much of a romance (there wasn't much romance). Here is my review from 2014 but honestly the book is worth reading:
"+++Spoilers+++ This story had a lot of potential but I feel that it got bogged down in melodrama. Our h in this story is older and widowed. The H is the son of her late husband. There are a lot of tacky details attached to the h's background and the 'ick' factor of her late husband not only visiting her and ogling her when she was a stripper but he married her when she was 15 or 16. The h cheated on her late husband with the H and then her husband ruthlessly made sure to separate them after that. All in all a bit disturbing in many way."
Riva Staulet, a wealthy widow and savvy businesswoman, knows a secret from long ago, one that could shatter lives, perhaps her own, if she reveals what she knows. The man who destroyed her sister’s life, the one now running for governor, could possibly ruin her own hopes, dreams and perhaps even her life. Riva’s mysterious, sharp minded, good looking stepson, Noel Staulet, has his own secret—he’s been in love with his lovely, sophisticated stepmother for many years, but that’s all the more reason why he tries to avoid her at all costs. That was then; this is now. Together again, Riva and Noel make great business partners, as they always did, but their roles are about to change in a way that neither expects.
Dark secrets from the 1960s still simmer beneath the sands of time after decades of stillness. A smooth-talking, corrupt politician that Riva knew earlier still wants her, but she can’t afford to let him use her again, not now, not ever. LOVE AND SMOKE releases the fire that bursts into flaming passionate love triangles and an intriguing plot line that doesn’t slow down from page one until the end of the book. Interesting characters with strong motivations make LOVE AND SMOKE another A+++ read from bestselling author, Jennifer Blake.
This is an FANTASTIC Book. This is a MUST READ. This book is a Page Turner. This Book will make you cry, but a couple of parts will make you laugh. Will read more of her books. You WILL NOT WANT To PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.
Love and Smoke is steamy alright, fascinating story, complicated plot, great descriptive writing. However, the romance between the main characters, Riva and Noel, is seriously lacking in warmth. They have passion enough, the few times they are together, but the side character of Dante is far more intriguing. He has laughter and kindness, and his romance with another character was so much better. We never get to know Noel well enough, and Riva doesn't know him that much better than we do. Blake gives more insight into the workings of Gallant's mind than Noel's - the villain has a lot more presence. The dramatic subplot endangering the main characters is a lot more compelling than the central romance. Noel has looks, nobility of spirit, and exaggerated martyrdom, but his character is not magnetic. ...