Tina Morton had been water skiing on Lake O' The Pines her whole life. Vivacious and beautiful, she didn't expect to look death in the face today. But in a split second, that's about to change.
Powerlifter Joe Rustin is relaxing on the lake shore, when something prompts him to look out over the lake. A wave of horror rolls over Joe. A speeding boat is on a collision course with a dark-haired girl on skis. In a heartbeat, Joe is on his feet and in the water. Immensely muscled, Joe doesn't exactly float, but he knows he will save the beautiful skier or die trying.
Tina comes to in a hospital bed. Badly battered, she hardly recalls the accident, but she remembers the man who is waiting in the hall to see her. In the sterile atmosphere of the hospital room, they tentatively introduce themselves. Feeling so helpless, Tina clings to Joe. She desperately doesn't want her parents to see her like this. Tina isn't vain, but Tina's mother sees her mainly in terms of her appearance. With one broken leg and a deep gash on the other, she may never have the physical perfection she once had.
Joe visits Tina in the hospital every day for weeks. He tries to keep her hopes up, and the time they spend together feeds a growing attraction. Tina learns the how and why behind Joe's massive physique. He owns a gym called the Muscle Mill, and lifts weights competitively. When it's time for Tina to go home, it seems natural for Joe to be the one to help her. After all, he can carry her up the stairs to her apartment like a feather! They are friends, and have acknowledged their feelings through a few tender kisses. Yet, to Tina, something is amiss. Supremely confident in his profession, Joe treats Tina physically almost as if she were a china doll instead of a flesh and blood woman!
Joe definitely isn't used to talking about his feelings. It's been two years since he allowed himself to get close to a woman. He wants Tina in his life, but she doesn't know things about him-deep and painful things he doesn't want to discuss.
Joe begins to take Tina to the gym, and show her some things about weightlifting. He asks Tina to think about weightlifting-not for vanity, but to help her rehabilitation physically and emotionally. Joe does some lifting, and Tina can't help but be shocked when confronted with the sheer size and power of Joe in action. Joe can tell that feminine, petite Tina feels out of place in the testosterone-stoked environment of the Muscle Mill. They are at a fragile point in their budding relationship-will they be able to find a place in each other's world?
Tina decides to start weightlifting at the Muscle Mill, she is honest with Joe, she wants to be around him! They are growing closer every way but sexually. Tina decides she needs to give Joe an opportunity he can't refuse! She plans a getaway, back to Lake O' The Pines. Here, they enjoy their physical attraction throughout the day, teasing each other. Tina learns Joe became a weightlifter because brute strength was the only thing his father ever valued in his son. Tina feels empathy for Joe. Joe wants to be, and is, more than just a mass of muscle. As the day turns to evening, neither is ready to leave. They find a secluded area in the woods, and after being reassured that this is what Tina wants, they make love for the first time. And a second. But although Tina is ecstatic, she wonders why Joe is placing strange restrictions on himself when it comes to sex.
In the coming weeks, they face many trials together. Tina's boss at the boat dealership refuses to give her anything but a desk job, though she is well qualified for a promotion. And her mother doesn't think Joe is refined enough for her daughter. But Tina finds herself falling in love with Joe.
Then, a friend of Joe's makes an offhand remark about a "case," something that involved Joe! Tina reluctantly agrees to a friend's offer to do legal research and find out what happened. Tina cannot believe what her friend has to tell her-two years ago, Joe was charged with rape!
Shocked, Tina still clings to what she knows about Joe. That he is a good, and mostly gentle man. But she has seen the power within Joe explode on various occasions-how easy it would be for Joe to force himself on a woman, if he wanted to!
Now, Tina must tap her own power within and find the courage to face the truth about Joe's past. They say size doesn't matter, but don't tell that to Tina Morton. Not physical size, but the size of the heart.
This report prepared by Michele Crossgrove