~ Kelli's Review ~ 3.5 stars
They gave her a great life and a great education. Wilson attended a prestigious boarding school from the ripe age of 8. Unfortunately both of her grandparents passed away during her senior year of high school.
Without anyone to guide her, she is bound to run into some situations that she isn't adequately equipped for mentally or emotionally. One of these situations goes by the name of Max, also known as her government teacher Mr. Goldstein.
I am not really sure which side of the fence I'm leaning towards with this book. While Wilson's story held a lot of premise, I don't feel like it was delivered or developed as much as it could have been. The dynamic between Wilson and Max felt very middle schoolish for a teacher/student relationship. Wilson's immaturity for situations earned quite a bit of eye rolls from me because she would blow things way out of proportion! I have hopes that their relationship dynamic will grow and improve over the next books.
“Is that how you see me—as your government teacher? Because if I saw you as a student I wouldn’t be here right now. When I look at you I see the girl I want to be with. Have since the first day you walked into my room.” He stared at me through the huge mirror above the sink; pain was etched in the stress lines of his face.
There was something safe about the mirror; I didn’t crumble in his pain.
“I know where I’ve drawn my line. There’s nobody I’ve felt this way about in my entire life and I’m scared. Scared of what you might think, how it all feels, and I’m scared of being hurt. Max, seeing you with that girl—hurt.” Tears sped down my cheeks, “Why do you want to be with me?” I whispered. I was seventeen and inexperienced; she was his age and worldly.
“You really don’t see it? When I am with you I can’t keep my head from swimming and my heart from pounding so hard it feels like it’s going to burst from my chest. You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life. You are so smart; I finally feel alive when I am with you. I want to be with you because nobody has ever made me feel the way you do.” He stood behind me, his body pressed against my back.
Chained by unfortunate timing and restricted by society’s expectations, every choice Wilson and Max make becomes pivotal to their future together.
Eager to take their relationship to the next level, Wilson returns to Aspen with Max to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. When an uncontrollable situation leads to a split-second decision, both will be tested like never before. Butterflies will soar, hearts will clash, and Wilson’s relationship with Max will spin into a silken cocoon with choices that seem too impossible to overcome.
Could it be…uncovering the deep ache that lays dormant in their hearts will become the real threat to their forbidden love? Or will the pressures of keeping their relationship a secret be too much to bear?
~ Kelli's Review ~ 3 stars
If drama and angst are what you are looking for, this series is for you. Unfortunately, I prefer my books to have a little less "Jerry Springer" and a LOT more romance.
This book picked up where Almost Eighteen left off. Max and Wilson are anxiously awaiting her 18th birthday so they can finally be together. (This was one of the issues I had, I don't think sex should have a best by date on it, but that's just me.) There is a lot of build up and fooling around until Wilson's birthday of course, that was decent but a little repetitive for my tastes.
Now Wilson rubbed me the wrong way in Almost Eighteen, but her choices REALLY bothered me in Eighteen At Last. I think she really messed up and crossed an unforgivable line or two that did nothing to improve my opinion of her. I think Max has potential and could do much better. Again, that's just my opinion.
I was hoping to see more of the teacher-student dynamic and was disappointed with the lack of interaction inside of the school. It seemed to be more of an immature relationship issue story instead of a hot for teacher book.
Overall, it has its good points, but to me they are over shadowed by all of the teenage angst. I will give Beyond Eighteen a shot because it did leave at a cliffhanger and I am curious to see where this is going to go.
He (Max) reached for me and pulled at my sweater. As he caught me by my bicep I felt his heat scorch my skin. I froze, unable to continue down the hall; he wasn’t letting go. He pulled me back and turned me around. I spun to him, my hands balanced on his chest. I didn’t look up at him.
“Wilson, don’t do this,” he whispered. I took a deep breath and lifted myself onto my tiptoes. My head rose and I met his salty, lost lips. I pressed against his mouth, my tears flooding down my cheeks meeting our goodbye kiss. He pushed for more, but I pulled away; a cold, damp chill poured into the space between us.
“Goodbye, Max,” I choked as I turned and walked away from him.
I felt Max’s eyes burning across my back. I knew he was watching me leave. I didn’t want to glance back, but I did. He looked shattered. I caused a huge wreck—one big enough to alter our worlds forever.
Max Goldstein has been confronted by death, betrayal, and unwanted expectations. He must work to find the delicate balance of a love that has been tested and a family that has been broken. Returning to the warmth of Wilson’s arms, he finds the only place he can be truly healed. Unfortunately, teetering on the edge of losing everything he’s ever wanted, Max must make decisions that pull at his sense of responsibility and push at his desire to protect the life he’s found with Wilson.
When Wilson Mooney is thrust into adulthood, she never expects her childhood demons to come knocking. Struggling to balance the delicate nature of her relationship with Max and the burning sting of betrayal; Wilson realizes she must dig deep within her soul to find forgiveness. Will she allow circumstances out of her control to shape her future? Or will she find the strength and maturity to go beyond eighteen and have the life she desires with the man she loves?
Will Wilson and Max ever get to have their happily ever after?
“You like that?” Max answered as his fingers moved faster between my legs. All I could do was nod. I didn’t want to climax this way. I didn’t want to reach the top without him. I wanted to feel him. I wanted us to climb there together. But it was too late. He had me riding the wave of euphoria as it became something instinctual, carnal within me. I was about to explode when he stopped, pulled his hand out from my panties, turned me around, and kissed me hard as he shuffled me over to the bed. The back of my legs met the edge of the mattress. His arms that were once wrapped protectively around my back were gone before he pushed me back onto the bed.
“Tell me how bad you want me. Tell me how much you need me,” Max narrowed his emerald eyes. His tousled black hair was a perfect mix with his eyelashes as he blinked.
“I need you. God, you don’t know how much I need you to make love to me. Please make love to me,” I breathed as I lifted my hips and pulled my panties down to my ankles.
Max slipped his hands around his waist, and in one motion, dragged off his pants and boxers. He leaned over and grabbed my feet, pulling them off the bed, which caused my lower body to collide with him.
“I’m going to make love to you real slow,” he sighed before he pulled my ankle up to his lips. Our eyes met as I watched him drag his lips down the inside of my leg to my knee. Goose bumps spread across every inch of my flesh as the edges of his hair tickled and poked at my skin. My nipples erect, my hips automatically swayed as the space between my legs begged for him, any part of him. I reached out for something, meeting only air; my fingers stretched to tangle in his thick onyx hair. I just needed to pull him down against me.
God, I want to tell him he’s my…everything. He is the salt in my ocean, the sweet dream that saves me from nightmares, and the breath that feeds me oxygen.
Gretchen happily lives in Northern California with her amazing husband, their three terrific boys, her talented mother, one goofy black lab, one crazy kitty, and eight happy chickens. Even though it sounds like it, she doesn't live on a farm.
Interview Questions from Fans of the Wilson Mooney Series.
You asked…and they answered…I caught up with Wilson Mooney, Max Goldstein and Max’s mom Nancy Goldstein in late September.
Now that The Wilson Mooney Series has wrapped up and finally come to an end, people are curious about what’s going on in the lives of some of their favorite characters.
Wilson, Max and Nancy were gracious enough to sit down and answer your questions. They opened up with some real honest responses, let their guards down to some pretty vulnerable moments, and spoke candid about some really tough events in their lives.
Wilson, will you ever ski again?
Ahhh, no, I don’t think so. Wrecking on a bunny slope is one thing, but then to be dragged down the hill behind a snowmobile? Let’s just say, it wasn’t my sport.
Max. Did you hesitate to give your job up for Wilson?
Not for one second. I’m not saying that I didn’t love my job. I loved being a teacher. I valued the dedication and time that I put into it. But when I thought I was going to lose Wilson, nothing else mattered to me. I can always find another job…I won’t find another Wilson.
And Wilson, did you contemplate telling Max not to leave his job for you?
Well, at first I was totally shocked! As stupid as this may sound, I never thought about him ever being anything but a teacher. He’s very passionate about teaching, so when he told me he resigned, I worried that he would resent me for having to make that decision. I won’t lie, it scared the hell out of me.
Max. What was it about Wilson, in detail that allowed you to display your feelings for her? I mean, you obviously had them, and we are aware of when you made them known. But you were risking SO much. What was it about Wilson that made you sure enough of her and your feelings for her to make your feelings known, to her, and you family and ultimately, everyone?
I think it was Wilson’s spirit; her determination to turn her life into something more than a victim of her circumstances. When I would watch her move she’d own her space, if that makes sense? She seemed so sure of herself. Even if it was bullshit, she never let on…not to me. So, I needed to know her; I wanted to have that part of her that made me feel alive again, complete. Was it a risk? Sure, but to me…the idea of never taking a chance with her, outweighed the risk of losing everything I had. I think I’ve paid enough in my life, for not making my desires known. I wasn’t gonna make that mistake again.
Max: BOXERS? BRIEFS? COMMANDO?
Wilson: Was there an instant attraction to Wayne?
Well, come on, who wouldn’t wanna look at him. He’s gorgeous. No, really, I like Wayne, he is super sweet, and I hope he finds a nice girl. I was feeling it for Max, when I met Wayne. Isn’t that just the way it works sometimes? I wasn’t looking then suddenly, pow…all these guys are interested. The last thing I heard about Wayne was that he moved to Tahoe in California.
Wilson.. When you meet Max's family you felt an instant bond. Why do you think you felt so connected?
Hmmm, good question. I think I bonded with Nancy immediately because she was the mother I never had. She was the stability and strength I longed for but never got from my birth mom, Candi. I think the bond that developed between Frank and I stemmed from the desire to have a father figure in my life. If I could picture anyone I wanted for my father it would be him. Even with Max telling me how much pressure he got from his dad…he still had a dad. When I’m with Max’s family, I feel like I finally found home.
Max.. What made you finally give Wilson your phone number?
I grew a pair; no, just kidding. I can’t tell you how many times I rehearsed in my head, how I was going to make a move. I was scare shitless. No really, I kept looking for moments where I could slip her my number. Even though she’d flirt with me, I was concerned she didn’t feel the same way, and I didn’t wanna come off creepy or anything. So that day Calvin had called me and was telling him about how her grandfather just passed away, and how she was all alone now. He was so tired of me talking about her, he said, just give her a note with your number, tell her if she needs to talk, call you. Changing my name on the note to Matt Gladstone…well, that was my idea.
Wilson.. Do you think the bond between Max's mom and yourself will be the same?
I sure hope so. I love Nancy, and even when I was hurt by her words, she wasn’t saying anything but the truth at that time. Nancy really is an amazing woman and we grow closer every day. I adore her.
Wilson: What's it like to kiss Max?
I knew this question was coming. Wouldn’t you like to know! LOL...No, seriously, kissing Max is like being swathed in my favorite blanket. He’s the perfect warmth, with just enough chill. He’s a hint of Aspen, with a splash of California. When Max presses his lips to mine, and his scent swarms around my head, all the sparks going off in every inch of my body collect low in my stomach…Truthfully, Kissing Max feels like I’m home. Yeah, he’s my home.
Wilson and Max. Since skiing and ice skating never seem to work out well.. Have you thought of vacationing somewhere sunny?
Wilson: Ah, yeah, I want to go to Hawaii, Max keeps saying it’s overrated. He wants to take me to the Bahamas, we’ll see.
Max. Who is Matt Gladstone or how did you come up with that name?
I knew this question was going to come up. It was my attempt at being sly, and if Wilson would have got it sooner…She would have known it was me, my initials, as someone else’s name. Matt Gladstone, didn’t exist.
Ms. Goldstein.. How do you feel about Max dating Wilson?
Oh, gollie, a question for me. Heavens, I’ve been so wrapped up in listening to Maxi and Wilson, I didn’t realize someone would want to ask me anything...so, how do I feel about Maxie and Wilson dating? I couldn’t be happier. Wilson makes my son happy, I couldn’t ask for a better fit for my son and I absolutely adore her. Sure,
Were you hurt to find out that Max and Wilson lied to you?
I’ve put my foot in my mouth before with some of the things I’ve said, but it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt by the way they went about their relationship. Under the circumstances, I understand why they did it. I wasn’t happy, but I understand.
How are you doing since you husband’s death?
Thanks for asking. Some days are harder than others. I have good and bad moments. Some days I miss him so much I can’t get out of bed, and there are days where it’s the exact thing that gets me up in the morning. It can be lonely, thinking about little things only he and I shared, and not having anyone to talk about them with. I’ve had to adjust to life without him and that is so hard. But I am determined to be here for my family.
MAX: What attracted you to Wilson...her being your student and all?
I remember the very first time she walked into my class…my world stopped. She walked up, slid into the seat directly in front of me. I remember tripping over my words and wondering if she could see my heart slam in my chest. It was instant for me. It was like…my life came walking into the room and announced…I’m here! I know that sounds corny, even unbelievable. But it’s true. She has this confidence about her, a strength that I was instantly drawn to. She wasn’t like any other girl I’d met before;she seemed so much older than her calendar age. Even women I met closer to my age didn’t hold a match to Wilson. I don’t know…could it have been that we both had a broken past that needed to healed? Maybe…but when she showed up in Aspen…I knew it was meant to be.
Max: What's the last song you listened to on your ipod?
Run Right Back, by The Black Keys.
Wilson: If you really loved Max how could you have kissed Nick WTH were you thinking?
Well, obviously I wasn’t thinking and I love Max more than anything in this world. All I can say was that I was pretty messed up, scared, and got caught up in the whole lot of bad…fast. It’s not an excuse, I made a terrible mistake.
How are you going to build that trust back?
Well, one moment at a time. Max is my first real boyfriend, first real love…hell, he’s my first real everything. So I hope with time, conversations, and understanding, hopefully, he will grow to trust me again.
Max.. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I actually love to cook, and because Wilson hates it…it works out perfectly!
So if it works out perfectly, what is your favorite thing you like to cook for Wilson?
Breakfast in bed!
Max.. Do you think your father would have been more understanding about your relationship with Wilson? Or would you mom have handled it better if your father hadn't just died?
My dad would have been pissed at me for upsetting my mother and hurting my career. But, with that, he already had a soft spot for Wilson. I guess I’ll never really know. And I truly believe that my mom would have handled the whole situation better if my dad hadn’t died.
Max, can you forgive Calvin for his betrayal about your relationship? with Wilson?
Yes, I have. Cal doesn’t handle pressure very well. He tends to fly off the handle…a lot. But we talked and well, he’s my brother.
Gretchen, what inspired you to write Wilson Mooney?
I was in a real emotionally heavy section of Hindsight is 20/20 when Wilson came busting into my head…and from that day forth, I had to write her story. It was such a light moment…I had to find out what was going to happen to her and I am sure glad I did.