Rating: 4 stars
CBR14 Bingo: Hot (hot features in the title, and a lot of the contents are also decidedly spicy)
Official book description:
For fifteen years, Shoshana Goldman has avoided her childhood synagogue. Her successful custom-furniture store keeps her busy enough, and the synagogue brings bad memories not peace. It will take nothing short of a minor miracle to change her mind.
Intrigued by her friends’ convictions that the new “hot Rabbi” is that minor miracle, Shoshana agrees to attend a service. It’s only one service, right? But meeting the new Rabbi changes everything.
David Freedman is settling into his new town and his new job easily. As a single dad and a Rabbi, his priorities are his daughter and his congregation. He doesn’t have time for romance, especially with the sexy pink-haired Shoshana whose tendency to say whatever she’s thinking is a breath of fresh air.
But his attraction to Shoshana is a distraction he doesn’t want to give up. He knows a romance with a congregant is a bad idea. So it’s a very good thing Shoshana isn’t a member.
As David and Shoshana grow closer, Shoshana’s troubled past threatens to destroy their happiness. Will David be the miracle she needs to live fully in the present?
There don't seem to be a lot of romance novels, contemporary and certainly not historical, that feature Jewish protagonists. I certainly can't remember reading many of them. The Jewish faith is pretty much front and centre in this book, what with the hero being a rabbi and the heroine being raised in the faith (she considers herself an atheist). This means there were quite a few words and terms that I wasn't immediately familiar with. Did it in any way impact my enjoyment of the book? Not even a little bit.
As well as being a really well-plotted and sexy book, I was surprised at how funny and emotional it is. Shoshana's dad reacted badly when her mother died, and as a result, Shoshana doesn't feel comfortable going to the local synagogue, even if it also means she's lost touch with a lot of people. She is convinced she manages fine on her own, running her family's custom-furniture business more or less single-handedly. Her entire social network consists of her two best friends and her loyal employee.
Her friends insist that she has to come and check out the new "hot rabbi" and Shoshana lets herself be persuaded. Shoshana and David, recently divorced and the primary caregiver of a little girl, form a pretty instant connection. David has been deftly avoiding all attempts to set him up, as he doesn't want to get romantically involved with anyone in his congregation. So the fact that Shoshana isn't part of said congregation anymore is perfect. They are both a bit flabbergasted at how quickly they seem to fall for one another but meeting this funny, intelligent, understanding and caring man brings up a whole host of insecurities in Shoshana, whose life is also further complicated when her loyal sidekick at work announces that he's quitting and Shoshana needs to learn to deal with the business side of her furniture shop in less than a month.
Confession - I know the author of this book and consider her a friend. That has not influenced my review (rather made it more intimidating to write, frankly) and I am only sorry that it's taken me so long to actually read and review this book. My friend wrote this clever, funny, sexy, and emotional book and published it and sold it and I'm so very proud of her. If I have any criticism at all about this book it's that it's a bit short, and I wanted to spend more time with pretty much every single character in it. Now I can look forward to checking out the next book in this series (about a hot lumberjack, who I think was mentioned in passing at least once in this book) and hopefully keep being amazed by Aviva's writing skills.
Judging a book by its cover: This book has more than one cover, but I prefer the one where you can see the protagonists more clearly (the other one has them in shadow, almost silhouetted against the cover). While I imagine Shoshana's hair as a bit curlier, and with several different shades of pink in her hair, I really like this cover.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.