Title: The Learning Curve
Author: Christy Gissendaner
Published in March 2008 by Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Mercedes Kelley was a woman who was not interested in the mundane things of life. She was happy, or so she claimed, even though her family and friends keep nagging at her to move on with life. Finding a man, having a family, and settling down are not particularly high on her list of things to do now. Besides, she cannot seem to bring herself to find any who interest her in an “I wanna be married with children” kind of way. Right now, she wants nothing more than to write a book, with romance as the topic. Unfortunately, she knows nothing about romance, sex or anything remotely like that, she has no experience. She has four chapters written, but is now suffering with a colossal case of writer’s block, and decides that what she needs is a one-night stand. It is bad enough she is twenty-five years old, and still single, at least according to her mother. Sadie, the name she is called by family and friends, also has an awkward secret or two, and one in particular that not even her very best friend since childhood, Jessie knows. It is the one that makes her “man hunt” a gamble, and also makes it a miserable failure.
Sadie has her reasons as to why the co-workers in the office are not aware of the friendship she and Jason hold. She has confided in her assistant, Bethany, a sprightly eighteen year-old who seems older than her years at times. She has earned her degrees, and worked hard to get where she is, and she knows she was hired for her skills. However, her childhood and growing up with Jason Bradshaw is not something Sadie wants everyone knowing about. She is aware of the gossip that could ensue, and the problems it could cause if her co-workers knew she and her boss have always been close friends. Bethany thinks otherwise, and there is no dissuading her from thinking Jason loves Sadie. Friendship, and their working relationship is the biggest reason why she would never think of going out with Jason, even though she does realize she finds him attractive, she would never make a move on him, besides, he is like a brother. Little does she know her revelations to him will set plans in motion on Jason’s part to conquer her reluctance to be a real part of his life. There are things Sadie wants, and right now, in her mind, Jason is not on that list….
Jason Bradshaw has loved Mercedes Kelley since they were kids, growing up together, skinned knees and all. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see him that way, and to him it is time things change. He always promised himself the time would come, and although his reputation is that of a real “horn dog,” it is not necessarily one he deserves. There are some things Jason will not do, but loving Mercedes like he does, he needs distraction, that is until he discovers her desire to learn about love. The one thing Jason never expected was to hear Sadie say was that she is a virgin, and she wants to find a man to have a one-night stand so she can learn about making love. Jason decides this is the perfect opportunity, and is determined this is his chance to show Sadie his feelings for her in hopes she can and will reciprocate. If he has his way, she will be his for more than one night. There is no time like the present for him to make his move, especially as Sadie revealed her bombshell secret to him. Not even his sister Jessie knows about Sadie’s virgin state, and it made Jason’s mind up for certain. Not only will Jason accommodate her as a true friend should, but if he has his way, once he gets Sadie into his bed, she will never leave it, ever.
Time may not be on his side, but he understands a certain amount of patience is needed. What Jason doesn’t’ expect is Sadie’s outright rejection of him as her lover as well as her friend. Even though it hurts, he realizes what she is doing. Drawn to the end of his rope, he enlists the aid of Bethany, Sadie’s assistant, and from there things go from bad to worse. Between the two of them, Jason and Bethany can’t seem to figure out how to draw Sadie into their carefully laid trap. It is Sadie herself who gives them the ideal method of her downfall, and thus the grand plan is set into motion. Between Bethany’s hints and claims to Sadie, and the men Jason sets her up with for dates, his nerves are frayed. He knows time is running out. There has to be a way to make Mercedes see what is right in front of her, to make her come out of hiding, and let her feelings show. Jason is pretty sure she loves him, but is very scared to show it let alone express it in words, or even actions. It is time to bring out the heavy guns, and just hope that it all works out the way Jason wants in the end. After all, his goal is to have Mercedes, and he won’t quit till he as accomplished his goal.
In The Learning Curve, Christy Gissendaner is aptly named, and presents readers with a wonderful cast of characters, and as unlikely as they may seem at first, each is searching for something special. In Mercedes’ case, it is Jason, but she just hasn’t a clue where her heart will lead. Sadie has a worse problem facing her, how to get what she wants without getting her heart broken. She is sure Jason’s reputation is well earned, and quite surprised to find out the opposite is true. The more she learns about him, the more determined she is to stay away. The more she stays away, the more Jason is determined to get her into his bed again and keep her there. He knows she has excuses for not wanting to be involved with him, but to Jason those are immaterial. To his way of thinking, Sadie is his, and the sooner she realizes it, the better they will both be, and the happier it will make them both. After all, Bethany has told Jason she thinks Mercedes loves him, she just doesn’t know it, or won’t recognize it as a truth.
From beginning to end, Mercedes and Jason fence and parry around the fact that they are in love, Jason trying to tell her, Sadie backing off and denying herself the opportunity of finding out. The give and take in this book is a delightful and confounding bit of tension between the characters. Both Jason and Sadie are almost larger than life, yet very down to earth people in unexpected ways. The reputation Jason has been given is more accurately bestowed on his older sister Jessie, and there are several time where that fact is brought home to her in their family dynamics and her own personal learning curve. Sadie’s learning curve comes harder, takes longer for her to accept until she painfully comes to realize that Jason is more than his mostly undeserved reputation, and a lot more to her as well. What ensues is a poignant love story with an ending that more than satisfies. The Learning Curve is definitely a book you will go back and read again, it is also one for your Keeper Shelf, and a definitely good read for those who like contemporary romance. It is available now from Aspen Mountain Press, so stop by and pick up a copy of The Learning Curve.
Yours in good reading,