In between tours to Afghanistan, Army Ranger Finn O’Connor really needs to get his head screwed on straight; his parents were killed in a car accident during his last tour, so things are just different for him. He’s got a growing discontent with what he is doing with his life, even though he loves serving his country. It’s like something is just…missing. So he goes to the place where his family used to vacation, to see if he can recover something of himself–and make amends for a mistake in the past, with a beautiful young woman.
Sunny Ledbetter has escaped from the family business of running a kitschy old beach resort, and made a life of her own, but she’s back helping Mom and Dad for a week while they go on a cruise, when Finn shows up. These two have a past–he was her first lover, on that same beach twelve years ago, and she’s never quite gotten over the way he left her without a word.
These two talented people quickly realize that the old chemistry is still right there waiting for them; Sunny resists, because she has a life of her own, and Finn resists, because of what he’ll be doing next week when he goes back to work. They both think their lives have no room for the other. Sunny has a problem, though; an ex-boyfriend who thinks that the old resort would make him a fancy buck when he sells the property. He’s increasingly unhinged, though, and quite persistent when Sunny tells him to go away, even going so far as to send appraisers out. Finn watches over Sunny while she gets protective orders, and helps out with running the resort, as the heat between them gradually returns.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Rebel. The Harlequin Blaze line is all about the heat, but it’s easy to lose track of a good plot in amongst the sweaty bedsheets. Rhonda Nelson does a fantastic job of giving us a story that’s plausible and fun to follow, as well as some amazingly hot love scenes. Typically for the Blaze line, the depictions are explicit and frank–nothing is left to the imagination, at all.
I did find one fairly-major faux pas in this book. Our setting is Tybee Island, Georgia (Google map link here). One scene has Finn and Sunny walking hand in hand along white sandy beaches, while the sun sets into the ocean. Beautifully romantic, no?
…there is only one problem. There’s nowhere on Tybee Island, Georgia where such a thing is possible, unless the sun has decided to set in the east. The island is way too close to other land for a west-setting sun to appear to descend into the ocean, and if you switch to “Satellite” view, you can see that all of the sandy beaches are on the eastern face (the Atlantic Ocean side) of the island. Oops.
When I spotted that goof, it was a bit of a jolt for me, but aside from that one error, I was totally into the story and setting; the descriptions of the little cottages at the resort, the beach, and even the side story between handyman Tug and long-time resort-goer (and recently widowed) Martha Ann is rich and beautiful. I heartily recommend this enjoyable read.