I love reading some romance during my morning commute. They are short stories, which I can finish by the time I reach the office, and they don’t require my full attention. After a few chapters, you already know how it’s going to end. So I went into the newsagent at the train station and picked up number four in the Hot Brazilian Nights series by Susan Stephens: Back in the Brazilian’s Bed. It was published back in 2015, the Dutch translation came out a year later, and I’m not sure why it was still at the newsagent this year. And a first print at that. But okay.
In the first chapter, we meet Karina. She is in her brother’s office, who is trying to convince her to take on a new job. Karina is one of the best event planners of Rio de Janeiro, and her brother wants her to organize the Gaucho Cup, which is the nation’s most important polocup. Her brother is in fact a polo player, and it’s his team mate Dante who will be hosting the cup. Karina will need to work with him to make this one of the best Gaucho Cups ever organized.
Of course, Karina already knows Dante. He and her brother have been team mates and friends for long, and in her childhood, she was crazy in love with him. That culminated in a fiery night after her 18th birthday party, after which Dante coldly dumped her. But that is not all that happened, but we don’t find out all the details much later in the story. As soon as Dante sets eyes on her again, his passion reignites and he is determined to win Karina back. Which she refuses, based on her secrets and their painful past.
The whole “mysterious past” was a bit too played out for me, it’s used as an excuse more than halfway through the book. So it got old quick, especially since we didn’t know what had happened as a reader either. And after the mysterious past, she stumbled into an abusive relationship, which again is not fully explained. It’s not clear at all to me what happened there exactly. I found that quite frustrating.
But besides that, I did like the relationship between Karina and Dante. They were too young when they first got involved, and they needed that time apart to grow up and become their own selves. Now they are ready for a meaningful, long-lasting relationship. At no point does Dante doubt what he wants, which is Karina back in his life. He doesn’t use any dirty tricks or doesn’t rely on miscommunications or misdirections to win her back. He says what he wants and he goes after it. But he also doesn’t push her too much. He uses the Gaucho Cup as a reason to keep her close yes, but he doesn’t push her in any other way besides that.
All in all, a good read. But a bit too heavy on the mysterious background and “I’m so damaged but I won’t tell you why”-stuff.