*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*
Actually, I wasn’t given this book to review. It was given as a gift by the author, who said I didn’t have to review it, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t resist.
Published: June 1st, 2013
The Virginity Mission – Cate Ellink
This is my second read by Cate Ellink. The first was A Real Online Fantasy in the Hot Down Under Bundle #3. Just like that one, this one is also in first person.
I’ve said it before, that I don’t normally read stories in first person, but I find that I don’t much mind it at all with Cate’s work. I get sucked into the story, fall in love with the characters and I forget about it being in first person.
The Virginity Mission is just what it sounds like. A mission to lose one’s virginity. Willow MacIntosh (Mac) is a twenty one year old research scientist fresh out of the university. She’s, you guessed it, a virgin… and she’s very unhappy with that fact. I can commiserate. Most girls I’m friends with lost theirs in high school. I didn’t lose mine until after I started college. I was a little older than Mac, but I totally can understand where she’s coming from. (Too personal? Sorry, not sorry)
Mac sets out to join a scientific expedition into the rain forests in Northern Queensland — in Australia. To be completely honest, I had to google maps Australia to see where everything was. I’ve never been there, so I know nothing. lol Anyway, back to the review. Mac applies and gets accepted to join this expedition to study plant life in the Aussie rain forests.
This is her first big expedition, six weeks out in the wild, and she’s instantly drawn to, and captivated by one of the army personnel that is tasked with loading all the gear for all the scientists into a truck. Her internal battle she has while she’s waiting in line to have her pack stowed is comical. She’s definitely attracted to this unknown man, and her brain wastes no time in telling her that her lusty thoughts are a waste of time.
Dear God, I’ve lost my mind.
I laughed out loud. I’ve said that same exact thing to myself in almost the exact same type of situation many, many times. Even though she’s convinced herself that she stands no chance with this guy, she still flips her backpack around so that the straps are facing towards the military men in hopes it’ll make his job easier. Not that it looks like he’s having that hard of a time. He thanks her, and her mind goes into hyperdrive. Does this mean that he maybe likes her back? He didn’t thank anyone else. What does it mean?!? Because she can’t help herself, Mac goes out of her way to secure two bottles of water and makes sure to leave one on the bumper of the truck he’d been loading. After this, she learns that there’s a strict no fraternization policy between the scientists and the army men. Scientists can hook up with fellow scientists (I think) but the army guys are off limits. Which sucks, because how is she supposed to ah… get rid of her pesky problem… now?
Later on in the day, after meeting the group she’ll be paired with for the next six weeks, she breaks away to hang out by the nearby creek (that I’m assuming is crocodile free). That’s when the man from earlier makes his appearance. He settles in on the creek bed with her and starts up a conversation. Mac’s been feeling a little self conscious since meeting the rest of her group — they’re all much more athletic than she is — and blurts this all out to this guy. He doesn’t make fun of her, but he does challenge her. Makes her rethink some of what she’s been thinking. She thanks him for the advice he shared and they finally share names. He’s finally not that army guy. He’s Jason. He makes his move, kissing her senseless but then pulling away… after making a remark about forgetting about the “no fraternization policy”.
Understandably, she’s confused. Why kiss her if he knows he shouldn’t? Because he couldn’t resist. Good answer, Jason. He’s a cheeky guy and I instantly liked him once more of his personality was shown.
Before too long, it’s time for Mac and her group to set out on their first leg of their trip. A three day hike out to a site to test out their camping and packing abilities before their really long hike. There’s a last minute tag along to their group, one of the men from the army wants to come along as they make their way to their camping area after their hike. No, it’s not Jason. I was sad too. It’s one of his guys though, Tim, who has noticed that something is going on between Mac and Jason, but isn’t sure WHAT exactly. All he knows is that Jason is acting different and Mac is the cause. So he tags along on their three day hike to try to figure it out.
Mac keeps mum about her attraction to Jason, and is fascinated that Tim is so curious. He leaves once they reach their waterfall camp ground, but before he goes, he makes a comment that he’ll report back that “they’re safe” and winks at Mac, clearly giving her a message that he’ll also be letting Jason know she’s okay. Poor Mac is still flabbergasted. Will Jason care? WHY would he care?
After they finish their little hiking trip and have arrived back at base camp, Mac goes to try to seek out Jason, but he’s always busy. She doesn’t want to get either of them in any kind of trouble, but she can’t help but try to see him. Their low-key flirting was amusing. He’ll catch her eye and send a wink, or a sexy grin. Other times he’ll walk past her and make sure to be close enough to brush her hand with his. Poor girl turns bright red whenever he does any of this.
The night before Mac and her group are set to go on their next trip — this one is for three weeks instead of three days — she gives herself one more try to find Jason. It’s here where we discover why he holds himself back from really flirting with her. It’s more than just the no fraternization rule. A “while back” he tells her that on one of these trips the scientists take that the army helps with, some of the lady scientists and army guys hooked up. Everything seemed like it was okay until after the scientists left and the women who’d been hooking up reported the men and complained about their behavior. Jason was also in charge during that trip, and because it happened on his watch, he was demoted in rank. He’s afraid that will happen again, and that’s why he hold himself back. Which is completely understandable. Shoot. Who wants to be demoted twice? Poor guy.
Even though it’s a risk, they share a few kisses in the dark as they talk and start to really get to know each other. They make plans for him to meet her (and her group) at the end of their seventeen day hike to where the mangrove tree’s they’ll be studying are located.
Can I just say, that I can’t even imagine hiking for ONE day let alone seventeen? There’s a reason why I sit at home and read books. I’m so not a girl that hikes. Or camps. Mac is WAY braver than I am.
Jason joins the camp at the mangroves the day after Mac and her group arrive (they actually hiked for eighteen days. *shudder* ) and Mac is STOKED. Unfortunately, there’s a problem. One of the ladies from base camp (the assistant quartermaster) came along on the trip with Jason…and it seems like Fiona has a sixth sense. She sticks close to Jason and will just appear out of nowhere. She’s like a ninja. A cock-blocking, kiss preventing ninja. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she was a nice lady, but both Mac and I were both happy to see her go.
Once Fiona is gone, Mac and Jason have more opportunities to sneak away from the rest of the group and fool around. Once they finally start to really fool around, things get heated pretty quickly (literally and figuratively — they’re in a hot tub), much to Mac’s delight. Well. They were getting heated until Jason pulls back before things can go too far. They all but stop once he finds out for sure that she isn’t experienced. Why do men do that? Once they find out you’re not experienced with the whole sex thing, it’s like you’ve thrown cold water on them. To be fair, some guys don’t mind… but the majority of them do. I just don’t get it.
Luckily for Mac, he’s willing to talk about it. Kind of. He wants to know why now and why him. After some discussion, and some light teasing from Jason…they seem to pick back off where they had stopped before, but Jason again pulls away before it can happen. By this point, Mac’s convinced herself that he’s just coming up with excuses and leaves him in the hot tub to go shower before retreating to her tent. Because Jason isn’t playing with her and is a good guy, he goes after her to apologize and explain his reasonings better than he was doing while they were in the hot tub. She still doesn’t like his answers, but also doesn’t want to get him in trouble. Damn the no fraternization policy.
Several days into their research trip, she finds out that the scientists that work on the mangroves full time are hiring. She makes a promise to herself to keep an eye out for the openings because she’s been loving researching and studying the mangroves so far, and can picture her doing this as a career. Jason and Mac manage to have a short moment alone before dinner, and he asks her to visit him after dinner if she can get away from her group without being seen. Of course she says yes.
FINALLY, poor Mac is getting what she’s been after. Jason goes out of his way to make it as special and nice as he can for her… even though they’re in the middle of nowhere. At the same time it’s everything she expected and not at all what she expected, but Mac couldn’t be happier.
Morning comes way too soon, and Mac has to sneak back to the tents before the rest of the group wakes up so that they don’t get caught. Getting Jason in trouble is NOT on her to-do list. Sadly, she’s not that lucky and runs into one of her group mates — a guy named Sam — on her way “back” from the showers. He’s curious and slightly suspicious about her being up and about so early, but she brushes it off. Or so she thinks. Sam appoints himself as her big brother and sticks as close to her on the trek back as he can. He’s guessed that something happened, but isn’t sure what. When he makes a comment to her in private about him being worried that Jason had been bothering her, Mac is quick to set him straight. She doesn’t tell him that they slept together, but she makes it clear that Jason was no bother.
Tim meets the group to take them back to base camp after they hike out of the rain forest, and makes discrete comments to Mac that Jason has been in a “mood” since coming back from the Mangroves. What happened?! She’s a smart cookie though, and keeps her mouth shut… but she’s suspicious that he’s guessed anyway. Tim invites her to come over to the army’s campfire after dinner, where she runs into Jason. Or — where he sees her and beckons her over. He tucks a newspaper under an arm and draws her away from the people around them, into the dark woods so that they can talk in privacy, but those plans get shot to hell when the expedition leader arrives and finds some of the army guys with women… and then finds Jason with Mac.
Jason passes her the newspaper and stands ready in font of the expedition leader, who’s not a happy person after seeing some “evidence” of fraternization happening. The women that are there with the men aren’t part of the scientist group (from what I gathered) so the policy doesn’t work on them. However finding Jason and Mac together raises his suspicions and he begins questioning them about what’s going on and why she’s there.
Mac’s a quick thinker and makes up a story that she’s just arrived before he did, and that she was trying to find out why Jason had given her the newspaper, but before they could discuss it, they were interrupted by the expedition leader. Jason has a good poker face, and the other man lets them have a few minutes to finish their discussion. She finds out that it’s from the mangrove scientists and has an ad for a job opening in it. She’s happier than I am when I get cookie dough, and tells the expedition leader what Jason told her.
He herds her away from the army men and interrogates her further on the matter, sure that she’s lying. She repeats herself again, explaining in further detail about how she’d talked to the mangrove scientists about wanting to work with them, and that the Sergeant was just being kind by passing along the newspaper so she wouldn’t miss the opportunity to apply for the job. He finally believes her, and she goes on to further clarify that she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble… that nothing had been happening besides her going to get the newspaper from Jason. Again, she’s believed and learns that he’ll just get a warning. His job is safe.
She gets busy with getting ready to make the journey back home, and isn’t able to see Jason again before departing the site. Once she gets home, she jumps onto the job application, not wanting to waste any time in applying. Both her mother and supposed best friend are not very supportive about her desire to get a job at the other end of the country (She’s from Melbourne, and she’s applying to work in Townsville. Don’t worry — I had to google maps where all this was). She’s different than she was before she left on this adventure, and she doesn’t let their negativity bring her down. She needs to do this. She needs to get this job and be able to stand on her own two feet.
Poor girl has to wait over a week before hearing if she got the job, but as soon as she learns that the spot is hers, her car is packed and she’s off like a rocket. Her mother cries, and her dad makes a speech along the lines of the baby bird leaving the nest.
Mac makes it to Townsville and finds her new apartment. She’s been given a couple of days to settle in before she has to report for her job, and she’s eager to look for Jason. The only problem is… she doesn’t know his last name or his phone number. That makes things a little complicated. The gatekeeper at the army barracks can’t help her without knowing the last name of who she’s looking for, so she’s turned away. A little disheartened, she starts her job without finding Jason first.
But, you know, this is a HEA so don’t freak out.
By chance, she sees a couple of army trucks pulled off the road and recognizes one of the men. It’s Tim! She quickly pulls her car over and flies over to where he is, happy to see a familiar face. Jason appears and all is right in Mac’s world. Their reunion is sweet and fun. They agree to take things slow, and learn more about each other, but they’re together and as Mac said…Mission Accomplished.
I think I’ve said this already, but I really enjoyed this one. I know I said I don’t like reading first person books, but I think maybe I’ve just ben reading the wrong ones? I don’t know. I’ve really liked the last two that I read (both by this same author). Cate Ellink has some other books coming out later this year and I’m awaiting their arrival impatiently.
10/10 would recommend this book.