Monday, July 1, 2013

CBR V Review #25-26: Just This Once & Just Good Friends by Rosalind James

I started reading the Escape to New Zealand series on a whim.  I finished my previous book and wanted something free from the Kindle lending library, something preferably silly and easy.  Romance novels set in New Zealand?  That was just what the doctor ordered!  I didn't even realize this was a series when I started the first one, but I can promise you I'll be reading the other two volumes before long.

The series revolves around the All Blacks, an institution in the world of rugby.  Each volume involves the life and romance of a player on the team, and I have no problem at all picturing each one of these very attractive gentlemen.  Just This Once is about Hannah and Drew.  Hannah is an overworked employee at a women's sportwear company.  She finally takes a much needed vacation - three weeks in New Zealand.  It's here that she meets Drew Callahan, rugby captain and superstar.  She has no idea who he is till much later, but she's smitten much sooner than she cares to admit.  Drew sees they have a good thing, and fights to keep her at his side.  Once Hannah heads home to her life, she has to decide if it's really worth living if all she has to come home to is more work.

Just Good Friends has a darker edge to it, telling the story of Kate and Koti.  Kate escapes to New Zealand with the help of Hannah to hide from her abusive stalker ex-boyfriend.  Gunshy about men in general, she doesn't know what to do about Koti, the playboy of the rugby team who has taken an interest in her.  The two spat every time they are together, but that kind of fire fuels them rather than detracts from their attraction.  Kate doesn't believe Koti can possibly be friends with a woman, and thus a bet is born - if Koti can be Kate's friend for six weeks without making a move on her, she owes him a big kiss in front of the rugby team's staff (Kate works in their accounting department); if Kate wins, Koti has to trade in his usual black wardrobe and wear a bright pink sweatshirt into the same office.  Both Kate and Koti have trouble keeping this bet as they grow closer.

I love these books.  James wrote them after travelling to New Zealand, and her research into the culture is obvious.  In addition to the appendixes at the back with all sorts of local terms and the like, the book is written so well in dialect that I could hear the New Zealand accents throughout.  I've always wanted to visit En Zed, so this was like taking a trip out there without the expense.  I definitely plan to read the other two, and any more she comes up with.

A must read for people who love romance novels and/or New Zealand!

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