Title: Built to Last
Author Name & Publisher: Aurora Rey (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: April 12, 2016 – 264 pgs
Olivia Bennett is on the tenure track at Cornell University, the resident expert on Southern women writers.
After moving to upstate New York from Atlanta, she falls in love with and purchases an old, run-down farmhouse. The only catch: she know s nothing about renovating a house, taking care of land, or snow .
Joss Bauer is a New York native who grew up in her family’s construction business. She has a soft spot for old houses, but no patience for overpaid debutantes who want to play at country living.
When Olivia hires Joss to do the renovations on her new home, the sparks fly, in more ways than one. It turns out both women have a lot to learn about life, love, and the meaning of home. But when a scandal threatens Olivia’s professional reputation, it puts her priorities and her new found love on the line.
Olivia buys an old farmhouse and hires Joss and her family business to help her renovate it. Joss is immediately attracted to this very feminine English professor but thinks she must be straight so doesn’t let on. Olivia is likewise smitten to the gorgeous builder and tries to be a bit flirty, but to no avail. Once it’s established that Olivia is not straight Joss has to get over her firm rule of not dating clients but she is so drawn to Olivia that she obviously has to give in.
The story is beautifully told and very romantic and I absolutely loved it. The two ladies have to get over a few hurdles to get to where they should be and the tension involved is just right. Joss once dated an academic who left her so that doesn’t help smooth the way for Olivia. She is also a bit worried at how quickly they are falling in love and spending all their time together. Olivia’s obnoxious colleague, Gerald, subtly putting Joss down at a party and then his ‘anonymous’ report to the University that Olivia was involved with a student put enormous strain on them.
The were very different types of people and had to find ways to deal with their different outlooks. This was dealt with really well and changes and accommodations by each character were well crafted. I really liked both of the characters. Olivia for her joyous, flirty personality and her sexy fifties-housewife look. Joss was more serious but very loving and sincere and I could just imagine how amazing she looked in her tool-belt! The steamy scenes were pretty much off the scale as I’ve come to expect from Aurora Rey. She really, really knows how to write them
Very sweet romance. In this book we see Olivia and Joss meet and the sparks are definitely flying!
I loved the witty banter and comebacks between the two women. I’m so glad we got to see their rocky start that turned into something mic more.
Olivia is such an interesting person, being brought up a distinct way and aspiring to stay as far away from that way as possible. I admire her for breaking the norm and being herself.
Buying a house is such a big deal and I love that she faced buying and remodeling it head on. I liked her spunk and playful manner, it breathed life into the book, especially when combined with Joss’s own variety of spunk. I enjoyed Joss’s family dynamic; they are a fun group. Would have loved to see more of them.
I felt bad for Olivia for the behavior of her family; however, I am glad that she was able to get through it and I am glad that she finally realized what she was doing to Joss. It would have been a shame to lose a woman like Joss. I had been waiting for the other foot to drop for a bit, but I am glad that they were able to work things out despite the breakdown that happened.
A lot of times a book with intimate scenes will have a good plot but poor execution; that isn’t what happened here at all. I thought the intimate scenes were tasteful and sexy. I loved going on their journey with them. I will have to look for other books written by Rey!
I really enjoyed this story. I’m a carpenter so I love any story that involves carpentry or renovations. It was fun to read along with the improvements going on in Olivia’s house. Joss sounds really sexy. Of course, so does Olivia with those vintage-style dresses and pin-up looks, so I’m really happy with this read. There were a couple of cringe-worthy things as far as the carpentry goes – really, Aurora? you had them scratch up the newly finished hardwood floors that quickly? ouch! – but mostly it just added to my enjoyment of the story.
Two things I would say I would’ve liked a little more about. First, Joss seems to have a big problem with the idea that erudite professors would look down on her. This sounds like a totally normal thing for her to feel, knowing how some white collar professionals react to the knowledge that someone is a blue collar worker. My problem is that she never really seemed to resolve these feelings. Yes, she loves Olivia, but she’s going to have to interact more with Olivia’s coworkers in the future and there doesn’t seem to be much growth as far as that issue is concerned for her. Second, the conflict at the end of the story doesn’t feel strong enough for the two women to become that estranged about it. I understand that Joss is upset by who Olivia has become, and Olivia definitely needed a wake-up call, but this is Joss’s first glimpse at stressed-out Olivia, and she needs to talk more about things before she starts issuing ultimatums. It worked for Olivia to stop and really take a look at what she was doing, but it just feels a bit contrived.
All in all, another lovely read by Ms. Rey. I’ll be looking forward to the next one.
Aurora Rey grew up in a small town in south Louisiana, daydreaming about New England. She keeps a special place in her heart for the South, especially the food and the ways women are raised to be strong, even if they’re taught not to show it.
When she’s not writing or at her day job in higher education, she loves to cook and dabble in country living. She lives in Ithaca, NY with her partner and two dogs.