Ally Blake – A Night With The Society Playboy

21 Jul

Blake, Ally - A Night wit the Society Playboy
GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Presents, 2008

SERIES: related to The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked Ally Blake’s voice in The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal and I wanted to read the story of the hero’s sister and his best friend.

She can’t say no to one more night…

Once Ava Halliburton shared a tender night of passion with Caleb Gilchrist. The next day, she left–not to return for ten years….

But now she’s home for a wedding. And Caleb’s the best man: richer and sexier than ever, with a playboy reputation.

Caleb still wants her. But Ava walked out on him, and he’s no gentleman. One night, and then he’ll be the one to walk away….

Ava Halliburton has a habit of running away. She ran away ten years ago when she couldn’t take it any longer at home. She doesn’t want to lead the kind of life her parents lead, especially her mother. “Stonnington Drive women believed in gin, tennis, and boarding school for the kids” (28). Her parents divorce made her wary of relationships and she’s also deeply hurt by the neglect her parents showed her. But she wants someone to love her and she leaves partly because she’s looking for that someone. Coincidentally, she then also ran away from Caleb.

Caleb is her brother’s best friend and lives in the same high society neighborhood as Ava and her family. The night before she wanted to leave home, they shared an unexpected night together. When Caleb asked her at the airport the next day to stay for him, she panicked even though she’d been greatly attracted to him for as long as she could think. To great is her fear to end up living her life like her mother. Staying with Caleb would mean just that.

For Caleb, that moment at the airport

At twenty-two, confused and smitten, and only hours after the most raw, tender, surprising night of his young life, he’d followed her to the airport, and five minutes before she was due to check in and fool that he was he’d asked her to stay for him.
And he’d been serious. In that crazy moment, he’d been prepared to throw away the thought of ever being with another woman if he’d been able to have just her.
[…]
And it had taken her about, ooh, half a second to refuse and take the flight. (14)

was a turning point in his life that made hims swear of romance and women who could touch him in any way.

Now it’s ten years later and Ava is back for the wedding of her brother. She’s also back because she’s running away from a difficult situation at Harvard. Going back for a few days seemed the lesser of the two evils despite that she couldn’t bring herself to visit her parents and her brother for ten years. She feels very down and unsure about herself and Caleb looks like he could boost her self-esteem.

Like ten years before, Caleb and Ava can’t stay away from each other. And so they fight with each other and needle each other again. And they kiss. Caleb wants to show Ava that he can be the one to walk away. Ava figures that, like she needs to come to terms with her parents, she needs to come to terms with Caleb to sort out the mess her life is and to be able to get on with it.

I’m partial to this kind of stories, the brother’s sister and his best friend, so I enjoyed reading this story. I especially liked the flashbacks to Ava and Caleb’s past and the beginning of the story. I thought there was a lull after the wedding (the chapters when they all unwrap the wedding presents). Ava and Caleb’s teasing seemed more silly than sexy to me there but later, the story picked up pace again.

Some things remained a bit unclear to me. Besides running away from her problem at Havard, Ava says she wants to come to terms with her past. But at times, she acted rather immature IMO when her parents were around. I get that she’s a very confused woman, it shows in her behavior to Caleb for example, but still. I thought the conflict between Ava and her parents, especially her father, would have benefited from more pages. I only realized very late that Ava ran away ten years ago (that her parents didn’t know it). Of course, this fact could have just slipped by me but it then made me wonder how Ava was able to attend the best schools and universities around the world. It didn’t help that my idea of what she ran away from at Havard doesn’t go further than knowing the bare bones. It made me ask if it was really worth it for Ava to come back to a life that had suffocated her at every turn in the past. And after all the drama of staying away for ten years, I thought the reconciliation between Ava and her father too easy.

But despite that, I don’t think I wasted my time reading this novel. I’ve said it before, I like Ally Blake’s voice. And while some sentences might be a bit clunky (see the airport quote), I also get paragraphs like this:

He closed is eyes, rested his lips upon her cheek for the barest amount of time and did his best not to breathe through his nose. But the second it occurred to him he couldn’t help himself.
With his first breath she smelled faintly of soap, of powdered make-up and of orange blossoms.
With his second he got schoolroom chalk, old library books, at the fresh-cut grass at that spot by the Yarra where they’d gone every day one summer holiday to play backyard cricket.
And finally, most strongly, miles of freshly vacuumed carpet beneath his his feet as he’d stood in Melbourne Airport’s International Terminal, completely stunned to realise that she was really leaving him behind and leaving his broken heart trampled beneath her feet.
He pulled away and the delicious scent of powder and orange blossoms returned, leaving him wanting more. (25/26)

A Night with the Society Playboy is a story about second chances and about a woman who set out into the world to find love and who, after searching and searching and failing to find it again and again, discovers love in her own backyard.

Verdict: I really would prefer to not give a grade to his novel because I can’t make up my mind. I think it’s a 3/5 and then I think that it’s me and not the novel. But then, 3/5 is not bad, it means it’s an okay novel, so I’ll stick with it. I’ll definitely continue to read Ally Blake. I really like her voice. She can be quite funny at times and for a Harlequin Presents, the stories I’ve read so far were rather modern in tone.

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