More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Standard
Grade: B/B+
passion rating: hot
Dear Ms. Mayberry,
It’s always a delight to read your books. Your characters are interesting, multifaceted, (reasonably) ordinary men and women; your plots are touching without being tawdry; your love stories convincing and sexy. More Than One Night isn’t my favorite of your books—I had trouble with the heroine—but was an enjoyable novel and one I’d recommend to any contemporary romance reader.
Charlie (Charlotte) Long, is at 32, out of the Australian army after fourteen years, and ready to begin the rest of her life. On her first night of “freedom,” she and her friend Gina open a bottle of champagne and Gina toasts Charlie, saying,
“To the rest of your life. To having a home that’s all yours. To meeting a guy who doesn’t know how to field strip a Steyr F88 rifle and who isn’t going to ship out when things start getting good. And to never, ever having to wear khaki again.”
Gina’s been out of the army for a couple of years, has a good job, a sweet little house—Charlie is staying in her spare room—and loves civilian life. Charlie too is happy to move on and yet she’s anxious.
“She’d die before she admitted it to anyone, but rather than being excited by all the choices and possibilities that lay ahead of her, she was feeling more than a little overwhelmed.”
She’s got a nice place to live, she’s building up a business as a web designer, she has a fabulous friend—we all need a Gina in our lives–, but she’s quietly terrified. She tells herself
Stop freaking out. You can do this. How hard can it be? You find an apartment. You buy some furniture. You start a life. It’s not rocket science. 
It only felt like it.
Charlie, despite having been a very successful communications engineer with the Royal Australia Corps of Sigs, doesn’t have a lot of confidence. Oh she knows there are things she does well—she’s organized, intelligent, and ethical—but she sees herself as ordinary, plain old Charlie. And when I say plain, I mean unattractive, unsexy, and, in general, uninteresting to men. She’s never been in love, most of her sexual encounters have been awkward, her mirror is not her friend. Gina’s told her she’s crazy, that Charlie is lovely. But Charlie can’t believe it—really, Charlie won’t believe it. She’s sure she’s, to use a phrase from my grandmother, not much to look at.
On Charlie’s first night back, Gina gets the chance to prove Charlie wrong. Charlie and Gina have made plans to go to one of Sydney’s hottest restaurants but Charlie, whose luggage is missing, has none of her own clothes to wear. Gina talks Charlie into borrowing an outfit of Gina’s—a mesh halter and a pair of skin-tight stretch satin black pants. Charlie squeezes into the outfit, puts on some sexy makeup, and, once at the bar, is astonished to see guy after guy checking her out. She’s so stunned, in fact, she stumbles down a stair and spills a glass of red wine all over the white-shirted chest of an absolutely gorgeous guy. When she tries to apologize, he–Rhys Walker–tells her if she lets him buy her a drink, he’ll call it even. She can barely believe this beautiful man is flirting with her—which he very clearly is—and, after finishing her meal with Gina, Charlie decides to go for it. Usually Charlie listens to the voice in her head that tells her she’s just good, old, plain Charlie.
The voice was probably right. It had saved her from making a lot of bad decisions in her life, that voice. But she didn’t want to listen tonight. She wanted more of the feeling she’d experienced when she’d caught Rhys tracking her every move with his dark, heated gaze. For that precious handful of seconds she had felt powerful and knowing and invincible and incredibly sexy.
It might be an illusion—maybe even a delusion—but she wanted more of it. Even if it meant she was setting herself up to fail spectacularly.

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