Purchase on Amazon: Tempting Cameron (Lone Pine Lake)
Tempting Cameron: A Lone Pine Lake Novel #2 by Karen Erickson
Book Description (Amazon)
The girl next door never looked so good…
For Cameron McKenzie, Chloe Dawson has always just been his younger sister Jane’s best friend—a pesky annoyance who followed him around and acted like he hung the moon. It isn’t until Jane’s wedding to her firefighter beau Chris that Chloe reappears in his life…and she isn’t pesky or annoying anymore. In fact, the beautiful Chloe tempts him beyond reason. But Cam knows he’s damaged goods—not nearly good enough for Lone Pine Lake’s resident good girl.
Chloe’s always dreamed of a future with the dark, brooding Cam, and after they share an explosive kiss, she wonders if her dream could be coming true. Cam’s never stuck around his hometown for long, though, so she makes him an offer: one sweet summer romance with no strings attached. This good girl’s ready for an adventure…one that just might end up lasting a lifetime.
If you are looking for a “feel good” light romance, then this is a book you’ll enjoy. The story’s main conflict is whether Chloe Dawson can convince Cameron McKenzie to open his heart to her. Providing alternating point-of-views from Chloe and Cam gives readers an in depth look at the realities each face in life and their struggle to find love and acceptance from each other.
Cameron McKenzie left his hometown right after high school graduation, determined to escape the small town lifestyle that has always stifled him. His career as a freelance photographer has enabled him to travel all over the world, giving him an excuse not to have to return home.
While working as a war photographer in Afghanistan, Cam is wounded and his sister Jane’s wedding provides an opportunity to return home to heal the emotional and physical scars that plague him. It also provides an opportunity for him to realize that his sister’s friend Chloe is no longer “…the skinny, flat-chested girl with braces and glasses.”
Now, Chloe has blossomed into an attractive young woman, who in Cam’s mind is “…the epitome of the sweet beautiful girl who wanted it all.” That is reason enough for him to stay away from her. He isn’t the type for relationships, and he knows that, if he pursues Chloe, it will only end with her getting hurt.
It’s been years since Chloe has seen Cameron, but, when she sees him at his sister Jane’s wedding, she realizes she still hasn’t outgrown the crush she’s had for Cam since she was twelve-years-old.
Although she tries not to be obvious about her feelings for Cam, he is already aware of her attraction to him: “…he’d caught her more than once looking at him with an uninhibited, adoring gaze. As if she believed he could hang the moon and touch the stars.”
Cam is an enigmatic, mesmerizing character, whose quiet, sullen nature keeps most at a distance. He has a reputation as someone who runs; when situations become difficult, he leaves. However, through his point of view, readers are able to look beyond his aloof exterior to see a man who has been both physically and emotionally wounded.
Chloe is such a wonderful character. She’s kind-hearted, open, and giving to others. Her personality, as well as her status as an elementary teacher, has made her a beloved member of the community. Although she is relatively content with her lifestyle, she can’t help but feel that she’s missing out. She tells Cam, “…I can’t help the way I feel. Like there’s something deep within me that longs to be free. I want to explore, have an adventure, do something shocking…”
“She tasted of sunshine and innocence. And beneath that, an aroused sexy woman…she was temptation personified.” Yes, good girl Chloe becomes a temptation that he tries so very hard to resist. Being around Cam brings out an uninhibited side of her that others never see. When she boldly suggests that they could have an intimate adventure together, he realizes that. although he would enjoy a fling with her, he would ultimately leave again letting her and his family down.
The temptation to be with Chloe is so great that Cam forces himself to say hurtful, cruel things about Chloe’s crush on him to further discourage her. His callous words have the intended effect, and an angry, tearful Chloe leaves feeling utterly humiliated.
When Cam discovers that Chloe has had a car accident soon after she leaves him, he blames himself: “Guilt squeezed Cam’s heart in its ferociously tight fist. He’d made her cry with his rotten words that had been full of half truths. He was a complete jackass. And was most likely responsible for the accident.”
Interestingly, when Chloe awakens in the hospital, she is unable to remember most of the events leading up to the accident. Cam spends time with Chloe partly to assuage his guilt, and partly because he’s attracted to her. He knows he needs to confess what happened between them prior to her accident, but he keeps putting it off, telling himself he’ll wait until she fully recovers.
Although Chloe knows Cam will leave as he always does, she still propositions him for a summer romance, only she’s smart enough to know that becoming intimate with him will surely break her heart. Although Chloe is willing to jump into a “no strings attached” relationship with Cam, she does make the stipulation of no sex.
The plot of the story moves at an effective, smooth pace detailing the “adventures” of Chloe and Cam and their evolving relationship, which starts out with Cameron “courting” Chloe just like in the good ole’ days, where they just talk and smooch.
Their friendship deepens as they begin to confide their doubts and insecurities to each other. Chloe is patient, forgiving, and nonjudgmental, which is exactly the type of woman Cam needs, as he struggles with past emotional and physical scars. Yes, he does act like a jerk at times, but Chloe is always right there, persistent in tearing down the barriers he has erected to protect himself.
One of the most poignant scenes in the book is when Cam and Chloe are at their most vulnerable in deciding whether to take their relationship to the next level of intimacy:
“I need to know. Is there a chance I could break your heart, Chloe?”
She wasn’t sure how to answer. Her heart was already breaking for him…she was in love with him.
I break everyone’s heart…I don’t know how to stick anymore even when I want to.
“I could teach you.” If he turned her away now, she was done. She couldn’t face the humiliation of being so open with feelings for Cameron any longer if he shut her down. “If…if you want to know how.”
Without a word he moved over her, cupping her face with his calloused hands. “Every time,” he murmured, his expression grim, his gaze pained. “Every time I’m ready to pull back, you have this way of reeling me in.”
I loved seeing them both so open and honest with each other, without hidden agendas. The author shows the authenticity of their feelings for each other as they fall in love. Chloe and Cam are both dynamic characters each growing into stronger and more resilient because of the other.
Yet, how far can their relationship go, as long as Cam continues to hide the truth from Chloe? He knows he needs to confess, but now he is too afraid he will lose her, if he does.
When the truth finally is revealed, Chloe is devastated, thinking Cam has only been in her life out of guilt.
Can Chloe ever forgive him for what happened the evening of the accident? Or, will she even get the chance, since Cam’s first inclination in dealing with conflict is to run?
The author does an excellent job of showing the complexities of a real romantic relationship. One ultimate theme that emerged for me after reading this book —
Although this is the second book in the Lone Pine Lake series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.
I received an advanced review copy (ARC) of this book from the author through Entangled Publishing for an honest review.
About the Author
Music to Complement the Book
This one is for you Chloe!
Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side”
Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Other Books in the Lone Pine Lake Series:
Purchase on Amazon: Jane’s Gift (Lone Pine Lake)
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