Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance (some scenes definitely R rated)
One night they can’t forget…Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.
One love they can’t ignore…
Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.
…And only one chance to get things right.
Unpredictable, Yet Satisfying Plotting: I don’t know how Viv/Diana does this, but she always manages to plot her novels so that I can’t guess what’s happening next, but when it does happen, it makes total, perfect sense for the plot and the characters. It helps that her writing totally draws you in and makes you forget everything but what’s going on right then. Masterful!
Romance Novels FTW: Coming to One & Only as someone who has never read a romance novel, I was expecting a lot of sex, not very much plot, and definitely not a lot of well-drawn characters. Even though I knew it was Diana/Viv writing, I still couldn’t get over my own stereotyping of the genre. Guys, I was so wrong. One & Only is definitely more about the characters and their own searches for identity than it is about sexytimes, and I was so impressed by this romance that I went and read a few more over Christmas (stay tuned for reviews!).
Sexytimes: Speaking of which…when there are sexytimes, they are HOT. I was blushing for a lot of the book (especially when I was reading in a coffee shop!), but the good thing is that none of those love scenes felt over-written or purple. They definitely feel earned.
Real Science: Remember how I said I didn’t think Diana/Viv could fit in scientific themes into a romance novel? WRONG. Tess and Dylan are hardcore science geeks – there are words and ideas in the book that I hadn’t even imagined. It’s clear that Diana/Viv did her research, and it was really cool to learn about bioengineering in the midst of a steamy character novel. That said – don’t get scared off by the science if you’re not into it – the book will guide you through it.
Reunion Story: I should mention that I’m well aware that Diana/Viv LOVES reunion stories. This is her best one yet. I really felt that the break from the beginning, where Tess and Dylan are young and trying something new to when they’re older and more mature, worked SO well. I was so invested in them at the beginning, and the reunion only intensified that connection.
Realistically Awesome Secondary Characters: One thing I really appreciated is that Viv/Diana never writes characters that are cardboard cut-outs – there’s always more to them than just Shallow Rich Girl, or Sassy Best Friend. They always have backstories, and they always feel real. You’ll particularly appreciate finding out more about Hannah, the More-Than-Meets-The-Eye Shallow Rich Girl who is Tess’ half-sister (and upcoming star of book two in this series!).