Carly Denton has learned to keep her buttons and emotions firmly fastened. Her parents’ constant drama, and an unrequited crush on her brother’s best friend, taught her to keep her passion beneath the surface. But she can no longer avoid the one man with the ability to bring that passion to a boil…
Lucas remembers Carly as a freckle-faced tomboy—not a frosty woman who treats him like a burr under her saddle. But when they have to work together on a charity project, Lucas is shocked to find their bickering melt into some serious mutual attraction. He’s determined to show Carly that he’s the man for her, if only she’d learn to let loose.
Lucas is the last man on earth Carly should give in to. The freedom she finds in his arms has her feeling happier than ever, but is it enough to make her realize that the greatest risk isn’t losing your heart, but losing the chance at happiness?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
My introduction to Yates came by a rather roundabout way. Two moves ago, I had a small group of girlfriends who loved romance. Some of us were readers, some bloggers, some authors, some aspiring authors and we started meeting about once a month. Not on a set schedule but when we could all get away for an extended lunch. Conversations varied wildly at those lunches but they always included books. I came away from one of those lunches with the recommendation that I read one of Yates’ stories. Fast-forward a couple of years, I was at the huge book-signing/fair at RT 2013 and saw that she had a table with books. I remembered the past recommendation so I made it a point to swing by her table and purchase a book. I found within the Presents’ construct a story and a voice that I enjoyed so I went ahead and requested Unbuttoned for review. I have to say that I am very glad I received the initial recommendation and eventually followed up on it because Unbuttoned was a lot of fun to read.
Unbuttoned has one of my favorite tropes big brother’s best friend or best friend’s little sister depending on how you want to view it. Lucas and Carly grew up in the same town and Lucas spent a lot of time at the Denton house. Both families were dysfunctional and broken. Carly grew up in a house with an openly cheating father, a mother who was a drunk, continued to love her husband, and would have screaming fights with or about him in public. Lucas’ mother left her husband and son when he was young and his father became an alcoholic. As adults, the three carried scars from their childhood, which manifested in different ways. It was a treat to see two of the three help heal each other.
Carly had a crush on Lucas for as long as she could remember until she saw him in a rather compromising condition with a woman. That incident followed by seeing him with successive other women reminded her of her father’s behavior. The added feeling of her crush made her fear she was becoming her mother so in retaliation she tried to become the exact opposite. She lived a very proper, starchy, circumspect life keeping the impression of others always at the forefront of every decision. She also withdrew entirely from the closeness she shared Lucas and her brother to the extent of seeming cold and mean. Her reaction when Lucas called the impression of her behavior out into the open was priceless. I was able to see the person she had been before she restricted her living. I enjoyed watching Carly grow and open herself back to life bit by bit and they by huge leaps and bounds.
Lucas’ emotional journey wasn’t as dramatic or held front and center like Carly’s because he appeared to have made some transitions while Carly was ignoring him. To my delight, Yates did provide evidence of Lucas’ growth throughout the story because I find perfect characters rather boring. He certainly experienced some angst over getting involved with his best friend’s little sister and how he tried to hide what was going on. The true end to that argument between the two men was well worth the wait. It made the sense of transgression and yet the depth of his feelings all the more apparent.
Lucas also seemed to know every button to push in order to get a response from Carly. One of the scenes I enjoyed was about halfway through the book when he convinced Carly to take the direct route to look at the land offered for the charity project’s use. She took it a few steps further and only mentioned her concern about stepping in a cow patty (barefoot). I winced and had to lift my feet off the ground at the thought of running through a field barefoot but my first concern was prickers, biting/stinging creatures, and rocks and only later did the thought of cow patties arise. A product I am sure of growing up in a desert instead of a lush grassy part of the country. That scene gave me an idea of how the bond the three had growing up and emphasized the distance that existed at the beginning of the novella even more.
Overall, I enjoyed Unbuttoned the introduction to Yates’ Silver Creek world and I look forward to reading the next installment. She provided humor, tension, smexy-times, twisted family dynamics, and a re-enjoyment of life. As much as I enjoy reading a story if I feel cheated with a weak grovel scene or the lack of a needed grovel scene my entire reading experience is sullied. Yates provided a great public moment/grovel by the heroine which, given her temperament at the beginning of the novella really showed how far she came.
I give Unbuttoned a B