When Sydney Morrison learned the dark truth about who she really is, her whole world turned black. Tormented by her identity and deeply depressed, she confides in no one, not even her hot and adoring best friend, Henry.
Henry doesn't know the horrible secret of Sydney's past, but he does know about the epic crush she has on her famous writing teacher, Professor Sparling. Convinced she doesn't stand a chance with the professor, Sydney is shocked when he takes a special interest in her. The two begin a torrid online affair that pulls Sydney out of her shell and makes her feel desired and daring. And as Sydney tumbles into a journey that's erotic beyond her imagination, her relationship with Henry gets complicated.
Then Sydney's darkest secret begins to hunt her down just when she thinks she's escaping it. Suddenly nothing is what is seems to be and Sydney finds herself torn between truth and love.
Goodreads Link: When It's Love
This book had a lot more twists and turns than I excepted...which I loved. I was fully prepared for a sinfully hot affair between Sydney and her sexy English Professor, but it turned out to be much more. There were so many deeper elements to this story other than a student/teacher affair. I love when I get asked to review a new author's book and stumble upon an amazing treasure! You can tell right from the beginning that Sydney's story had a darkness to it. She didn't dress up or really have any friends except Henry. She was quite literally a beautiful wallflower waiting to have love make her blossom. Sydney had harbored an intense crush on her English Professor, but of course never imagined it would actually manifest into anything. The last day of the semester was here and she was filled with a bit of sadness that she wasn't ever going to see her sexy prefessor again. When she got home she had received a very unexpected email from said professor, which gave her a much needed lift to her deflating spirit.
"Call him Paul? No way. I can't think of him as Paul. Not yet, at least. Part of the appeal, after all, is the fact that he's my professor. I bet he'd like it if I dressed up as a schoolgirl in a teeny pleated, plaid skirt. I'm sure he would teach me a lesson or two!" -Sydney
Sydney continues a back and forth chat with Professor Sparling, that quickly takes a scorching hot turn to sexy town. In the meantime, she gets much needed advice from her best friend, Henry. They have been friends since she started college. Despite their closeness, she has still not divulged her deep dark secret past that brought her there in the first place. Henry accepts her as is, and loves her still. Sydney begins to get little hints of her relationship with Henry beginning to change as she continues with her email affair with professor sex appeal. She becomes more confused as things begin to escalate with both Professor Sparling via email and her conflicting thoughts of Henry.
"If he were going to be jealous of someone it should be Professor Sparling, who is the only man I've fantasized about in years. But I'm getting carried away again with my thoughts of Henry. I remind myself that Henry has zero reason to be jealous of any man in my life. He and I are not a couple. We've never even talked about getting together. We have always and only been best friends." -Sydney
One steamy photo shoot led to the wall of Sydney and Henry's friendship to come crashing down. She had an assignment from Professor Sparling, to send some sexy pics and Henry graciously volunteered his services. Wowza, that was one sizzling loin burning interaction! They had officially changed their relationship, but neither of them were too concerned because their bodies were drawn to each other like magnets, and they couldn't fight the pull any longer. Henry had loved Sydney from afar for a long time, but he knew she wasn't ready to have any sort of relationship because of her past.
"I'm leaving an ecstatic realm and coming back to reality, but it's not the same reality it was a few hours ago. I feel different, like I was the filthy window of an abandoned house that's been reoccupied, and now I've been washed sparkling clean. I feel reborn. I feel free." - Sydney
You can see how much of a change Henry has helped Sydney achieve with his affection and love. They fall right into a wonderful sync, like they have just been unknowingly waiting for all their stars to align. It feels so right for both of them. Even though, Henry was pretty much a wam-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy before, he is more than happy to have Sydney as his girlfriend. He was just passing time with all the others...always waiting for Sydney.
"You're the most beautiful thing on earth, Sydney," he says as his eyes slowly scan my body. "Do you have any idea how much this intimacy with you means to me?" -Henry
Well, things seem to be going fantastic right? That is until her past comes crawling back into her present, no matter how much she has tried to keep it burried. That isn't the only thing that comes in to reek havoc on their newly blossoming love. Sydney discovers that Henry has committed the ultimate betrayal. Her trust and new found confidence has been thrown out the window by his betrayal. Can Sydney forgive his actions and somehow come to terms with the reasons behind them?
"I know I did something wrong," he says. His face is etched in sorrow, and my heart is cracking as I look at him. I concentrate on "stay," willing my brain, voice, and tongue to work together and utter that one single word. But when I open my mouth, nothing happens. The word sticks in my throat like a swallow that never goes down."
Even though I hate endings that leave me desperate for more, I thought Emma ended this book perfectly...leaving you wanting all your burning questions to be answered in the next book. It isn't a crazy cliffhanger that has you screaming and shaking your fists in the air, but leaves with just the right amount of angst. This book is pretty much promoted as a hot student/teacher affair and that alone should reel you in to reading it, but it really has so many more levels that make you appreciate it so much more. It is really well written and I have to tip my imaginary hat off to Emma Lauren (which is something I don't do very often). The next book is sure to be filled with just as much, passion, angst, and self-discovery. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to my fellow readers. Eagerly awaiting the next book, When It's Over, coming in May 2014!
4 out of 5 Sizzling, Heart Palpitating, Invigorating Stars!
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In the mall Henry moves behind me and puts his hands over my eyes. “I have to stop you from going to Footlocker for your clothes,” he jokes. “And you can’t go to North Face either. No more fleece, my friend.”
“Please, Henry,” I fake whine. “I just need one more really sexy oversized gray sweatshirt.”
Henry doesn’t take his hands off my eyes. I’m leaning my back into his chest (he’s got a great chest!) and we’re shuffling our way along, the scents of both fragrances for sale and food court hotdogs wafting through the air. It kind of makes me want to puke. “I hate this mall,” I tell Henry.
“You just be quiet now,” Henry says.
Two minutes later Henry turns me to the left and pulls his hands off my eyes. We’re standing in front of Oui, an overpriced Midwestern chain store that sells Euro-style clothing to young women in Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio, who want to dress like they live somewhere else.
“Eeeek,” I squeal. “I’m not shopping at Oui!”
“Oh yes you are,” Henry says. “And I’m paying.”
The lights in Oui are too bright and the techno music is loud. I can’t believe this is where Henry has brought me to shop. The store is crammed with dozens of versions of the little black dress – backless, sleeveless, lace, A-line, ultra-mini, chiffon, spaghetti straps, you name it, Oui has it. There is a rack devoted to white tops, a section of loud prints, an entire wall shelved with folded jeans, and a special Christmas table covered in red and white cashmere sweaters and accessories.
A tall, elegant woman in the ultra-mini little black dress comes over to us. She flips her silky black hair back revealing her right ear whose length is covered in piercings, all tiny silver hoops, like a spiral notebook. She flashes Henry a smile through her full lips. She’s wearing deep red lipstick, fishnet stockings and fierce black pumps that accentuate her long, sensual legs. In her heels she’s Henry’s height. She looks more strip club than Cherrywood Mall. But I guess that’s whatOui is all about, trying not to be Cherrywood Mall.
“What’s up, Marina?” Henry says. He steps away from me and opens his arms to give her a hug. He pulls back without taking his hands off her waist and eyes her up and down. “You look great,” he says, staring a little too long for someone offering a greeting.
It dawns on me that Marina is probably one of Henry’s one-nighters. He likes to call them disposable babes. He knows it makes him sound like an asshole, but I don’t think he uses the term with anyone but me. It’s one of our many private jokes. Henry and I always laugh about his disposable babes, but I’ve never been face to face with one before. I’ve heard plenty of details, most of them so repetitive I wouldn’t know one babe from another. The amazing thing about Henry is that no girl seems to mind being his disposable babe. He has a solid reputation as nothing but a player, and girls still want him. His mother and I are the only females consistently in his life.
Marina does a little twirl for Henry, still flashing that huge smile. “You really think I look great?” she says. “I feel like I’ve gained so much weight.”
“Never! You couldn’t,” Henry says smiling back at her, slouching a bit with his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. His blue eyes are studying her closely. “You could never look anything but great.”
I get a sinking feeling while Henry admires Marina and I can tell by the way he’s looking at her that I should get out of here, so I spin on my heel and run out of the store. As I exit, I’m overwhelmed by the food court hot dog smell and now I really think I’m going to throw up. “Sydney!” Henry calls. “Come back.”
Henry runs out after me. “What’s wrong?” he asks.
“Nothing,” I say. And I mean it. Nothing is wrong. I just don’t want to shop in Oui and I don’t want to watch Henry pick up chicks in the mall. Those two things do not constitute something being wrong. If that’s the case, though, why do I feel the beginning of tears stinging my eyes? Why am I choking back a sob? I’m behaving like a jealous girlfriend and it’s truly embarrassing. “I’m sorry, Henry,” I say. “I think I’m distracted by the Sparling emails. I’m not feeling like myself. I should probably get home and figure out how I’m going to reply.”
“Not yet,” Henry says. He grabs my hand and drags me back into Oui without letting go until he’s pulled me all the way to the dressing rooms in the back. When we get there, an entire rack of clothes is waiting, along with a bench piled high with jeans and sweaters. “Everything here is in your size,” Henry says. He explains that Marina is an old friend from elementary school. “We’ve known each other forever and I called ahead, described you to Marina, and asked her to prepare items for you to try on. I knew you’d be short on patience.”
I bite my cheeks to suppress a smile over Henry’s thoughtfulness. “I’m sorry…” I say. “I thought Marina was one of your, you know, babes.”
“And if she was?” Henry says raising one eyebrow. “Would that bother you?”
“Of course not,” I say, but I’m pretty sure I’m lying and I don’t understand why I feel this way. Henry and I have been friends for years. I’ve never been jealous of his sexual escapades.
Henry comes close to me and whispers in my ear. “Marina would never go for me, but she might go for you,” he says. “In fact, I know you’re her type. She loves blondes.”
I feel my cheeks turning red. “Oh!” I don’t know what else to say.
Just then Marina appears. She points at a black leather chair next to the three-sided mirror. “Sit over there, Henry,” she says. She gestures for me to enter the fitting room with a long mirror. “I’ll bring things to you one by one. Tell me when you’re ready.”
“I’m ready,” I say.
“You should take off those sweats first,” she grins and steps out of the room.
“Um, OK,” I say feeling awkward and shy. I pull off my depressing clothes until I’m standing in nothing but my white cotton panties and my hideous bra. Marina is going to nickname me grannyboobs when she sees it. “I’m ready,” I say again.
Author Low Down:
Emma Lauren has lived in Texas and Michigan. She met the man of her dreams when she was only 18, and 7 years later she married him. They now have three rambunctious kids who keep Emma on her toes. Emma loves animals, romantic stories, 80s music, chick flicks, and cupcakes. When she's not writing she's probably doing laundry.