After the Hurt by Shana Gray
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: March 29th 2016
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Pepper Chapman refuses to throw in the towel. Six months ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life. Blinded by grief after her mom’s death, Pepper abandoned the man she loves. Now she wants a second chance at everything she gave up: strong hands driving her to ecstasy . . . a deep voice whispering naughty promises in her ear . . . the future they’d planned since they were teenagers. So Pepper comes home looking for forgiveness, ready for a new beginning—if he’s willing to give her a shot.
Retired MMA star Tank Sherman may be used to low blows, but Pepper’s emotional sucker punch left him reeling. Trying to ignore the pain and forget the pleasure of her body beneath his, Tank is prepared to ring the final bell on their relationship. Then Pepper shows up out of the blue, radiating pure sex. But Tank won’t let himself get hurt again, and that means resisting the heat that still burns between them. Because if he takes Pepper back, he knows he’ll never be able to let her go again.
Six months ago Pepper’s mom died and she was swallowed up in grief which is completely understandable. One day not long after that she just up and left her life. She left her boyfriend, the restaurant they were opening…everything. She ended up coming to know herself in a different way and seeing how another part of the world lives. This was very good for her and she feels like she’s ready to face her old life and see if she can integrate that life with the person she is now. She also wants her boyfriend, Tank, back but as she never contacted him in the entire six months she was gone, the chances of him taking her back are incredibly slim.
Tank sees Pepper for the first time and is sucker punched. He can’t believe how good it is to see her but he’s determined to get her out of his life asap. He started the restaurant that they had planned together and had made it a success. Yes, technically she owns half of it but it’s really his baby. He decides the best way for her to be gone is to buy her out and send her on her way. She says she has no money so this will be good for her, he thinks, as will be a good way for her to start a new life – away from him. The problem is that while he’s deciding all of this Pepper is living in one of the apartments above the restaurant and integrating herself into the restaurant and his life. The longer he’s around Pepper the harder Tank finds it to keep his anger and the less he wants her to leave.
Ok, I get why Pepper left, I really do. She was beside herself and her life wasn’t right. She wasn’t handling things well and needed to get away. Totally understandable. To get up and leave without telling anyone that you’re going or where you’re going or how long you’ll be gone; to not call anyone the entire six months you’re gone – that just doesn’t seem right. When I read about and saw Tank and Pepper together and felt his anger and hurt over her leaving as well as seeing how much she claimed to love him, I just couldn’t understand how she could do it much less come back and expect everything to be A-OK. Uh, no.
Tank truly loved Pepper so I got why he started softening towards her but the whole time I was telling him to stay away and make a clean break. Yeah, he didn’t listen to me apparently because the pair ended up getting together.
The story was done well despite the strange premise of the book. I liked Grey’s writing style and it was easy to read. I wish that we could have gotten more background on Tank and Pepper’s relationship prior to her leaving but it is what it is. There was also a small (very small) suspense aspect of the story but I wish it hadn’t been there – it was just page filler imho. Overall a decent read but definitely not a favorite.
Rating: 3 out of 5