The Look Of Love (The Sullivans #1)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Chase Sullivan is part of a very big family. With five brothers and twin sisters, life has never been dull. A professional photographer, Chase is often charge with capturing the most perfect moments during many Sullivan family functions. It is after one of these functions, on a rainy night in California, when Chase finds Chloe Peterson who has run her car off the road.
Chloe has sworn off men. She’s had one very disastrous experience and she was just getting her life back on track before the past came back to haunt her. Now with very little money and a wrecked car, she’s forced to accept Chase Sullivan’s help even though getting into the car of a stranger on a wet and cold night is least what she wants to do. Chase takes her with him to his older brother Marcus’s vineyard – Chase’s destination. He has a fashion shoot to do on location there over the next couple of days and he assures Chloe that she’ll be safe and that she can stay as long as she likes.
Chase has played the field before but he’s ready to settle down now and one look at Chloe is all he needs to know that she’s the one he wants to settle down with. He’s immediately bowled over by her beauty and the bruises on her face stir in him a protective streak. All he wants to do is take care of her, although Chloe is prickly and obviously reluctant to get involved. Chase is a patient man though and he knows that Chloe cannot ignore the explosive attraction between the two of them forever. When she decides to let her guard down and trust again, he will be there to show her that she’s made the right decision. For now though, he’ll take the casual arrangement she is offering him, even though he’s dying for more.
The Look Of Love is the first novel in Bella Andre’s originally self-published 8 book series about the Sullivan siblings. The books are incredibly popular with something like 1.5 million downloads and now Andre has sold the print rights (while retaining the eBook rights herself) and over the next 8 months, each novel will be released by Harlequin. I love a good series, be it with the same characters or one where the main characters change with each installment and so I was keen to try these. Whilst I enjoyed parts of it, there’s no denying that other parts didn’t work for me.
I find it an almost insurmountable suspension of disbelief that a woman with clear abuse in her past, as Chloe has, would accompany a total stranger anywhere, but especially other than to the nearest hotel. Especially given as Chase basically falls in love with her the moment he sees her and takes no trouble to hide how much he wants her. Although Chloe halfheartedly seems to be uncomfortable, she’s apparently relaxed enough to masturbate in the Jacuzzi in her bedroom in Marcus Sullivans’s guesthouse – while Chase watches from the doorway. I found that scene a bit creepy. I like more of an attraction to be nurtured and built up before characters go barging into each other’s bathrooms and watching stuff like that. Bear in mind that they’d known each other only about an hour. If that. While I appreciate that Chloe has stamped down her sexual side for possibly many years during and after a failed marriage with a sexually uptight psychopath, the time to let go of that may have not been there and then. And when Chloe realises he’s watched her, she’s relatively unconcerned so I suppose I should be too but it was just all so weird. Instalove concerns me because to me it shows a lack of ability to develop a relationship between two characters. Just throwing them together and declaring them in love/the grips of an uncontrollable lust is, unfortunately, not enough skill for me. I appreciate being able to see the chemistry and feel it, not just being told it’s there from first glance.
What I did like about this book was the large family dynamic – all of the siblings seem fun (whilst being naturally, ridiculously good looking, successful and rich) and I liked the way they interacted with each other and also their mother. It made me want to read further into the series to find out more about each sibling in turn and see who they might end up with. The youngest, the twins nicknamed Naughty and Nice interested me – in this book they seem to have had a disagreement but neither of them want to say what. This is why I like series’, because there are threads that continue running on, even when the book has moved on to another pairing. As Chase and Chloe’s friendship/relationship progressed I found I began to like them more because they were actually getting to know each other. I will continue on with the series because I’m interested about finding out more but I do hope that other installments explore more of a connection between the characters and allow them to get to know each other. The next book is Marcus’s and there was quite a lot about him in this book which has made me curious to get to know him more.
I wavered with this one between a 6 and a 7 but in the end I went with a 7 because of the potential that was set up for future books with this one. It got all the introductions out of the way and so the next books will be able to focus on each character and their finding of love. I found this one a little too quick time wise for my personal preference but the sex scenes certainly are quite hot and that will win a few fans! I also liked the way that Chloe did re-embrace her sexuality with Chase, which had been suppressed so much during the time she was married. I just wish that a little more time was taken to really develop their connection and how they go into the relationship with different mindsets and how Chase works to prove that he can bring Chloe around to his way of thinking without causing her the pain and heartache that she has already experienced.
Book #129 of 2013
Q 1. What made you decide to pursue writing as a career?
I’ve been a huge romance reader all my life, devouring a book-a-day whenever I can. I was a professional musician for ten years (I played guitar and piano and also sang and wrote songs) until one day two fictional characters started having a conversation in my head. I wrote it down and then the next day when their conversation continued, I wrote that down, too! Before I knew it, I’d written my first romance. Two years later, I realized I needed to decide between playing/writing music and writing romance. It was an easy choice to pick books and every day I give thanks for having the most fantastic job in the world.
Q 2. Your success in self-publishing has been extraordinary. Could you tell us a bit about your publishing journey and how you ended up pursuing self-publishing?
Thank you! It’s been a very exciting journey. When I first began to self-publish in the middle of 2010, ebooks and digital readers were still fairly new. I was excited about the opportunity to write the books my readers had been asking for – and as soon as I self-published my first book, I was stunned by how much fun the process was. I had always wanted to write a big series of connected books about a family, so I decided in the summer of 2011 to launch my Sullivan series with 8 books about the San Francisco based family, The response from contemporary romance readers for these sexy, emotional stories blew my mind.
Once my Sullivan series took off in a huge way and sold more than a million copies as self-published ebooks – because of my awesome fans around the world! – I was thrilled to have the chance to work with Harlequin on the print launch of the Sullivans, starting with THE LOOK OF LOVE, FROM THIS MOMENT ON and CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE this summer.
Q 3. What do you think are the secrets to your success?
First and foremost, I have the best fans in the world! In fact, one of my readers just sent me a tweet to let me know that she gave the first 8 Sullivan books to her daughter, who is a new mother herself, for Mother’s Day. Isn’t that lovely?
Another one of my “secrets” is that I absolutely love writing and working on my new book. While I also really enjoy running my publishing business, I simply can’t get enough of laughing and crying at the keyboard with the heroes and heroines in my Sullivan books. I’ve spent the past two years with them and I hope to keep writing about Sullivans for years to come.
Q 4. Where do you find time to write, given that you design your book gorgeous book covers, respond to fans and are so involved with the publishing process?
Thank you for the lovely compliment on my digital book covers. You’re absolutely right that there are a dozen things on my To Do list that I could be working on every day, but the book always comes first. Only after I’ve met my page count for the day do I answer emails, chat on my Facebook page, make book covers, update my web site, make travel plans for conferences, etc.
Thanks so much to Harlequin AUS and Morey Media for allowing me to include some of the Q&A with Bella. Keep your eyes peeled for some of her other responses!