Title: The Defense
Author: Stacey Lynn Schlegl
Published in February 2007 by Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
There was something special about Samantha, but she couldn’t see it herself. She was a woman caught in limbo, caught in a horrid place of self-recrimination, self-loathing, and fear. Sam couldn’t see her special she is because of past events, hurts that she shared with no one, not even her family. The clinic that she worked at in a part time capacity was her life, she loved the work, the people, and the fact she made and was making a difference. She was hiding in many ways, and even though she was a doctoral student in Psychology, she knew but denied her own problems. She hid well until a smart, cool, and very determined man named Bruce Yung came into her life. Samantha never knew how he felt about her, but being overweight, dressed in black, and plagued by a mother who put her down mercilessly because of her current situation was most debilitating. It managed to keep her in enough turmoil she never saw, or could really see what was and is in front of her. Samantha’s denial is getting ready to backfire on her, and in a way she least expects.
Samantha knows her weight is a defense, but until a certain conversation in an advanced psychology class brought her face to face with her own denial, did she finally accept the fact that she was hiding, was in that blissful but hurtful state of being. The fact she was paired with Bruce, a fellow graduate student, has repercussions she is truly not ready for, at least according to her. Sam is, however, being pushed in to a situation where she can no longer hold on to the crutches serving her so well until now, until Bruce. He was not going to let her get a way with anything like that and made it well known to her by his insistence she was beautiful, that he loved her, that he was attracted to her personality as well as her looks. Sam is not used to this kind of unconditional love, and when Bruce first claims her as a partner for a class project, she is totally unsure, nervous, and unbelieving of his motives. She has reasons for being this way, even though she recognizes her situation is a defense, and in more ways than one. She IS hiding, from herself, from the world, and from her mother’s hateful comments….
Bruce Yung is a man of wealth, tradition, and deep passions. He is an enigma to many who know him, and you might say especially to Samantha. He knows she wishes to shake him off, push him away, but he as watched her for too long, and now that he is free to pursue his own wants and desires, he is not going to let her go. Bruce senses something is terribly wrong with Samantha, and he worries. Since his engagement was broken, an event that relieved him greatly, he has waited for his chance to strike. When the suggestion was made about volunteering for shifts at the clinic where Samantha works as an employee and a volunteer, Bruce immediately appoints himself her partner, much to her chagrin. All Bruce can do when he sees her reaction is fight for her, for what he wants, and that is the chance to know her better, to see what makes Sam tick. He will not give up, and in spite of her efforts, she finds herself an unwilling accomplice to his plans.
Bruce knows Sam is fighting their mutual attraction, is totally denying the feelings now blossoming inside, but he refuses to give up. He has seen the real girl, knows something bad happened, and even through all this, he can still see the real woman inside the overweight woman, and still finds himself loving her beyond measure. Bruce sees through the self-doubt, the recriminations, and wants the woman he knows is there, not the sad and frightened soul presently inhabiting Sam. His Korean heritage aside, the demands of his family insignificant beside what he desires for Samantha, and to have with her, too. He has known for a long time she was and is a woman he could love. Determined to get the woman of his dreams, and set on his course, Bruce begins his assault on Samantha’s defenses, and win his place in her life, in her heart, and in her bed. He will accept nothing less than her love, and is going to do whatever it takes to finally see his heart’s desire filled.
Stacey Lynn Schlegl writes a mean story filled with excitement, suspense, and emotion. Her characters in The Defense make you believe in their existence, the situations ones in which the reader can envision themselves in, and see the repercussions. Samantha is a young woman who has been traumatized, and it has badly affected the way she sees herself, blinding her to what others might see. For Samantha, the problem has only been compounded by her mother’s scathing comments about how she used to look, and about losing weight, and the snickers she endures from other inconsiderate people. Bruce can sense it, see it, and loves her in spite of the problems her weight gain has brought. He has fought his traditional background, caving to neither family pressure, nor the demands of a would-be and very traditional fiancée. He sees Sam at work, in class, and as she volunteers, instinctively knowing Sam is the one woman with whom he can find happiness, and is disgusted with himself he did not move sooner. Now is the time to get her, to put plans into motion. With his former fiancée back in Korea and happily married in a traditional role, Bruce is free to pursue his own interests. In this case, his first and foremost interest is Sam, and taking her for his very own.
When Samantha realizes Bruce has his sights set on her, she doesn’t believe it, nor can she accept it as truth. She is scared, and rightfully so, but not for the reasons she claims. There are things in her past she needs to reconcile, things she has not dealt with and still influence her actions. The problems she throws in Bruce’s path are quickly knocked aside, and Sam soon realizes she is in real trouble. She finds she is attracted to Bruce, and panics because her efforts to push him away are not working. He invades her home, her heart, and her life, and suddenly she finds she has to come to terms with not only her present dilemmas, but also her past. Is she willing to face the terrors plaguing her, and what of Bruce? Samantha is about to find out, and The Defense will surprise you as well as Sam. I think this is well worth the time, and brings to mind all that life should be about. Sam and Bruce have to journey together to overcome the problems Sam’s past has caused for her, and maybe, just maybe Bruce is more than he appears on the surface. Be sure to stop by Aspen Mountain Press to see if Bruce and Sam can overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart, and to see if Bruce can get past The Defense.
Yours in good reading,