Restraint

Restraint - Charlotte Stein This is the second Charlotte Stein book in a row I've given a five star rating, but it's very different from [b:Deep Desires|16038875|Deep Desires|Charlotte Stein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348247303s/16038875.jpg|21813617] -- probably the only thing they have in common is they're both narrated in the first person by women. Our narrator here is Mallory, a sharp, funny young woman who had me laughing, as she tells the story of how her friend James ruined their vacation plans by inviting her worst enemy Artie. For some unknown reason, Artie just seems to loath her."'He looked at you weird one time. He probably had something in his eye!''Yeah, I think it's called "extreme contempt." ' "Things come to a head one night when Mallory and Artie wind up in a hot tub together. "It's beautiful, and the air is crisp and just a little cold… Nothing could be lovelier. So why doesn't he look like it's lovely at all? All he does is stare off at some indeterminate point, as though some indeterminate point annoys him an incredible amount. I can even make out that little frown-y crinkle between his brows, because of course the trees are such a pain in the ass. The softly falling night is such an inconvenience."When Mallory attempts to clear the air between them, Artie responds so nastily that she can't help crying… which sends him into a frantic apology and an unexpected, very heated embrace. And Mallory discovers that Artie's unpleasantness has been hiding a painfully repressed fascination."'Are you really going to make me say it?' he asks, and it's like I'm being cruel. He sounds almost tortured now, and that hand in his hair is making a fist - but I still can't help him. Even after he's said the words, I'm at a loss. 'You know. Your bosom.'I wonder if that Bible college he went to was in 1955."It takes some work to get Artie to let go… and both of them enjoy it thoroughly. I did too. I love large heroes and Artie is described in such a way that you know he really is large, not just the typical massive shoulders-trim waist you get in virtually every romance. And the cool, quiet demeanor that hides seething desires... woof!This is a fairly short story and takes place within just a week's time, so it's not a full fledged romance ending with wedding bells. But the ending feels happy and right.