I loved this book! This is the third book I've read by Ms. Rendell and all have been major hits for me. This is Naomi and Ben's story. Naomi is a Junior philosophy major at Yale. She is invited to a masked party one night where she meets Ben. It is definitely lust and connection at first sight. They spend the night together and both know they want to see each other again, but a phone number mix up prevents it. That is, until Naomi meets the new headmaster of philosophy, Professor Ben Beck. Both are horrified to find that they are Professor and student and vow to not be together again. But they just can't help themselves. They have both formed a strong connection to each other, like nothing they've ever felt before. They try to stay apart, but both are miserable. So they begin sneaking around, despite suspicion from the crotchety dean, who threatens their careers. There is some push and pull and they both have to decide if they are willing to risk it all to be together. But it all works out in the end because they are soul mates and meant to be.
I love Naomi and Ben. They are both great characters. Ben is so adorably clueless at times. He is of the nihilist philosophy and never really believed in love. He was knocked off his feet when he met Naomi, utterly smitten from the very beginning. He adores her, worships her really. I loved the way he loved her. Ben is 38 and Naomi is 20, but he comes off as more like 28. He does not have experience with relationships and leads a kind of lonely life as a solitary professor. Naomi was just what he needed, a breath of fresh air. She doesn't come off as much younger than him either. To me, they were the same maturity. Naomi was smart, but funny and strong. They had amazing chemistry too. Neither Ben or Naomi feel like they fit into the academic world. They both feel like outsiders, Naomi, because of she grew up the child of a poor lobsterman, and Ben, because he doesn't feel qualified to be a Yale professor. But they found that they fit with each other perfectly. There is a very "Romeo and Juliet" feel to this book. Naomi and Ben felt like star-crossed lovers at times. They met and connected before they knew who each other really were and by the time they found out, it was too late because their feelings were too deep. They both fought it at times, because they both had so much to lose if they were found out, but it was impossible for them to stay apart. It was romantic and swoon-worthy the way they felt about each other and the way they found ways to communicate (hidden letters, etc.). I liked the way that philosophy was woven into the story, as well as the C.S. Elliot quotes too. I just fell in love with Ben and Naomi and the way they fall in love with each other.
While I loved this book, I felt the end was a little rushed. I needed more resolution after the main conflict. There was no discussion on the page when they made up and I needed that. There is an epilogue but it's really short and I needed more details. There is a HFN with no major commitments. I would have rated this one a 4.5 stars if it were not for the lack of closure. But I do imagine them living happily ever after because of the way they love each other, so it's ok.
But, despite all that, I did love this book because of the strong feelings it provoked from me. It's not perfect, but it made me feel everything Ben and Naomi felt. I love Nicola Rendell's writing. I just connect so much to her stories in a rare way. I love her characters and the chemistry and connection she creates between them. I have loved all 3 of her books and I can't wait for more!