One Perfect Kiss: It starts with Attraction

One Perfect Kiss

One Perect Kiss square cover8Book 8 in the Hope series
Author Jaci Burton
Narrated by Allyson Ryan
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Sep 19, 2018
Running time 9 hrs 18 min

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

Josie Barnes has always craved a sense of home. She’s found that in Hope, Oklahoma—she bought a house, has a new job as an English teacher at Hope High, she’s made wonderful friends, and she’s taking in stray animals that no one else wants. Now she’s flirting with fellow teacher and hot high school football coach Zach Powers. But he’s almost too good to be true, and Josie learned long ago not to trust in the too-good-to-be-true, because it has always let her down.

A former pro football player, Zach had to pull back when a career-ending knee injury forced him to rethink his future. Now he’s happy calling plays as Coach. If he could just get Josie Barnes to stop benching his players for their poor grades, life would be perfect. Instead, she drives him crazy as the stern teacher at school and the sexy woman of his dreams outside of the classroom. He knows she’s been hurt in the past, but he wants to be that guy she can trust.

The one thing Josie has never been able to count on is the people closest to her. But Zach intends to show her that what they have between them is a textbook case of love.


My Take Oblong Shaped

I enjoy this series; it has heart-warming stories of nice people, a strong community and small town feel, relationships that build naturally, and really steamy romance. It also has a non-clique-like circle of friends which opens up when new people, like Josie and Zach, move into town.  

Most of the people in this group are in their late-twenties and early-thirties and a lot of them went to school together.  But, neither Josie or Zach did and their entree into the group seems to have been through the workplace.  Also, as a former pro-football player and the high school’s current, winning, coach he would be known in the friendly bar and restaurant  where the group hangs out.  I don’t think there’s a lot of ethnic diversity in this series, or it’s so diverse that everyone is taken for themselves and not their ethnicity or skin color.

Josie had a tough childhood due to her drug-addicted mom . Currently, Josie and her mother have a non-enabling relationship.  Growing up as she did she developed some amazing coping skills and got herself out through education and, largely, determination.  Never having had the ability to have pets she now has a cat and wants more. Her last relationship made her distrustful of men and relationships. this is an overused trope; and I have never in my life known anyone who was looking for a friends-with-benefits kind of thing.

One thing I noticed about the character is that she made assumptions about people but did not like it at all when others did the same.  She even tells Zach that people always assume addicts are going to rob them.

Zach, on the other hand, grew up with money and then made a good amount as a pro-athlete. He likes privacy, and is pretty sure he wants that kind of relationship friends in his age group are falling into; it’s not Zach who offers the obstacles in this relationship. Honestly, his only flaw may be that he is too hot and too nice — there’s no “bad boy” here.

But, relationships in romantic fiction often start with attraction and that’s how Josie and Zach start off. They and everyone else in the group see it and do not meddle! Josie’s no-strings policy is the major source of conflict. In this particular relationship the steamy bits are still respectful and don’t go into a book you would feel the need to hide in a plain-brown wrapper.

This is ” The Hope Series” and that implies a sort of optimism: that relationships will work out and addicts will successfully go into rehab. In the addiction/recovery process I like the positivity, but I also understand the wait and see way Josie deals with the recurring issues.

Allyson Ryan shows remarkable range for genders here.  Most of the characters are Southern so she doesn’t have to do a lot of others. Her voice for Josie’s Mother felt especially spot-on. 

I like this series, and while it follows a blueprint, it is also heartwarming while still hot and steamy in other ways.  It ticks off a lot of points in my list of what makes a successful steamy romance series.


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