Happy (now belated) birthday to Kate Stewart and her latest book, The Real. If you’re looking for your next emotional read, look no further. Kate’s got you covered.
The Real by Kate Stewart
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: April 12, 2018
Format: eARC, 374 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
They say it happens when you least expect it.
It did for me.
It started the moment I saw the simple message pop up on my computer screen:
Cameron’s Mac: Hi.
And when I met the eyes of the gorgeous man messaging me from across the coffee shop, I never thought my reply would lead to the most intense, sexual, and passionate relationship of my life.
We both agreed to check our bags at the door and put our future hopes and aspirations on the table.
I fell in love with his no holds barred attitude, sexy smirk, and undeniably good heart . . . and for a while we forgot about our baggage. We happily tripped over it to get to the other, neither of us willing to show the contents of our pasts in the off chance it could ruin us.
We built our love on a foundation of gray.
It was life in black and white that threatened to tear us apart.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Cameron’s Mac: Hi.
I looked above my laptop and took a deep breath before I accepted his invitation.
Abbie’s Mac: Hi.
Abbie, he’s going to wear your skin! I tried to ignore my inner voice.
Cameron’s Mac: I saw you with the homeless guy.
Abbie’s Mac: Ok?
He took a sip out of his Real Men Love Pomeranians mug and shrugged before he typed.
Cameron’s Mac: So, that was nice of you. Most people in the city just walk on by.
Abbie’s Mac: Oh. Most people do walk past Bennie. But he’s different and I’m not most people.
He lifted a brow and bit his lip.
Cameron’s Mac: I see that.
Cameron’s Mac: Want to have your next cup with me?
Say yes, say yes! It’s only coffee!
Abbie’s Mac: No, thank you.
His brows drew tight with his frown.
Cameron’s Mac: Sure? How about some breakfast?
My pulse raced with the memory of my last reaction to that type of attention and the consequences, and I answered without another thought.
Abbie’s Mac: No, thanks.
His chuckle was deep and covered me, even across the space between us. He bit his full bottom lip as he typed, his smirk still intact.
Fuck. Me. Damn it, Abbie!
Cameron’s Mac: Well, I guess today is not my day.
Abbie’s Mac: That’s all you’ve got?
I had no clue why I sent that message . . . why I was bothered that he didn’t try harder. Just that fucking smirk. It was sexy as hell.
He read my message and shrugged as he typed.
Cameron’s Mac: You seem to enjoy coffee. I don’t have an agenda. You’re beautiful, I noticed. I wanted to drink coffee with you. You said no. I’m going to scrape up the rest of my pride now and head out.
He closed his laptop and stood while I deflated. Damn it. He was being nice. Since when are guys just . . . nice?
Am I a man hater? Have I become that woman?
I spoke up as he slipped his computer into a worn leather bag.
“I’m sorry,” I offered in quick apology. “I was expecting some horrible line or screwed up proposition. The web, messaging, anything that has to do with technology has been hazardous for me. I’ve seen enough unsolicited dick pics for a lifetime. I was just being cautious.” And that was the truth. But I’d said it aloud in verbal vomit. Did I really say “dick pics” out loud?
He chuckled again as he looked down at me from where he stood, then grinned.
“Today isn’t the right day.” The husky baritone of his voice matched the silky hue of his eyes, which seemed to darken as he looked me over.
“No?” I asked in a whisper as I sized up his six-foot-plus frame and imagined the possibilities.
“No,” he said. “Maybe we can not have coffee again sometime?”
He’d tapped out with a simple ‘no’ from me. He couldn’t have been that interested in the first place.
I couldn’t deny the disappointment welling up in my ovaries.
“Okay.” I lifted the last syllable when he didn’t press further.
Cameron pulled out his wallet and set some money on his table then walked over to mine and did the same.
“At least let me buy your next cup.”
After setting the bills down, he stood over me briefly and I caught his scent—purely masculine. I inhaled as much as I could without being obvious. He didn’t smell like a psycho.
Cameron picked up his man–bag while I pictured running my fingers through his messy, inches thick, dark-brown hair.
Don’t let him leave. Tell him you aren’t that big of a bitch. But that would seem desperate. You aren’t desperate. But you are horny. Omg, are you horny??
As if reading my thoughts, I caught another flash of his teeth and had to bite my cheek to keep my reaction in check.
“I’ll see you.”
“Yeah, see you. And thanks,” I said to his retreating back, an octave louder than necessary. “For the coffee,” I added. Outside the window, Cameron bent and exchanged words with Bennie before sticking some cash in his hand.
Well, Abbie. Guess you’ll just have to wait until the next time you roll out of bed and a beautiful man hits on you. Should happen again, you IDIOT!
Once again, my hesitance had cost me. And I couldn’t help but feel like this time it cost me big.
Sagging into my seat, I continued to stare in his direction, watching those broad shoulders walk out of my life.
While I’ve only read a couple of Kate Stewart’s books, I’ve come to realize reading them is an experience. And it’s one that consumes me. From her words to her characters to their stories, I find her books all encompassing and they take over my world until I’ve finished reading. And, often well after when I still can’t get her characters out of my head. The Real was no exception.
I love a good epistolary novel and The Real took it to another level with the messaging via their computers, when they were face to face. I’ve read plenty of books where the main characters communicate using letters, emails or text messages, but this was a first. It was fun and quirky and a great way for Cameron and Abbie to meet. I adored these characters, too, even though I suspected Cameron was keeping secrets. (A secret which, by the way, I totally guessed before reveal.) No, I won’t tell you what it was. What I will say is that it’s in that moment where the book moves from a cute and sexy romance into something a whole lot more. I was 1000% invested in Cameron and Abbie as a couple and, while I was a bit mad at him, I still hoped they could find a way to make things work. (Even when things looked pretty bleak.)
I’m not going to say anything more because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Just know you’re in for a bit of a ride with The Real. It’s worth all of it in the end, though. The character development, the story and ALL THE FEELS made this one one of my favorites of 2018 so far.
“Your bitch face reads ‘Abandon all hope. You can’t stick your penis here.'”
“She likes caramel lattes, men who know the clitoris isn’t a fictional character, and real Christmas trees.”
“You’re a wonderful kind of crazy. You’re all fire, you know that? And you look fucking beautiful.”
“A kiss can be an introduction, statement, and a promise. I plan to make all three when you let me.”
It was his name that wrote itself across my heart; it was his eyes that spoke to my soul.
Have you read any of Kate’s books?