Tag: Contemporary

Review: Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely

Posted August 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Holly
Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Zachary Webber
Series: Ballers and Babes #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 306
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.

Don't let the fact that I'm the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I'm only a player on the field. I've kept my pants zipped all season long because nothing's more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner's recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who's dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.

She's my best friend's sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don't even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she's my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we have to keep up the act while he's negotiating my contract.Violet takes one for the team and pretends to be mine, but our boyfriend-girlfriend scrimmage quickly turns into a full contact sport, and I want it to go into overtime. The problem is--I've been riding the bench for years.

How can a guy like me, who finally has a chance to prove his worth on the field, convince the girl she's most valuable to his heart?

*MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY is a brand new standalone sports romance written in the guy's POV!*

Most Valuable Playboy is the first book in Lauren Blakely‘s Ballers and Babes series. I listened to the prequel novella last week, which is told solely from Violet, the heroine’s, point of view. This is told solely from Cooper’s point of view. This is an Audible Escape (formerly the Audible Romance Package) find. It was a cute, light listen. I really like Zachary Webber as a narrator. He did a great job with the story.

Cooper is finally where he wants to be professionally – the starting quarterback for the San Francisco Renegade’s NFL team. He was a first round draft pick, but he ended up sitting on the bench while the man he thought he’d replace continued to dominate. He has some big shoes to fill, and his entire career is riding on him doing well this season, especially since his contract is up for renegotiation. When the owner’s sister gets a little too handsy and makes it known she wants more than a platonic date when she wins him in a charity playboy auction, he asks his best friend’s little sister to rescue him. He’s known Violet since second grade, they’re great friends and both know the score. So he has no trouble asking her to play his girlfriend for the rest of the season to keep the owner’s sister away.

I’ve come to expect a fun, easy to fall into story from Blakely, and she easily delivered here. Cooper and Violet’s friendship came through well, and I loved how they came to know each other in a more intimate way. I liked the progression of friends to lovers and how the fake relationship turned into a real one. Violet was a lot of fun, but I think I got more out of the story for having listened to the prequel novella, Most Irresistible Guy, first. It gave me a better understanding of where she was at with Cooper and why she agreed to the charade.

There isn’t a ton of football in this book, but there was enough with the team and coaches to make this feel like a well-rounded story. I’m looking forward to the next book.

If you’re looking for a sweet, fun romance, this is the one for you.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Ballers and Babes

four-stars


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Buddy Review: Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn

Posted August 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Beginner’s Luck by Kate ClaybornReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Beginner's Luck by Kate Clayborn
Series: Chance of a Lifetime #1
Publisher: Indie, Lyrical Shine
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 246
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When three friends impulsively buy a lottery ticket, they never suspect the many ways their lives will change—or that for each of them, love will be the biggest win of all.

Kit Averin is anything but a gambler. A scientist with a quiet, steady job at a university, Kit’s focus has always been maintaining the acceptable status quo. A sudden windfall doesn’t change that, with one exception: the fixer-upper she plans to buy, her first and only real home. It’s more than enough to keep her busy, until an unsettlingly handsome, charming, and determined corporate recruiter shows up in her lab—and manages to work his way into her heart...

Ben Tucker is surprised to find that the scientist he wants for Beaumont Materials is a young woman—and a beautiful, sharp-witted one at that. Talking her into a big-money position with his firm is harder than he expects, but he’s willing to put in the time, especially when sticking around for the summer gives him a chance to reconnect with his dad. But the longer he stays, the more questions he has about his own future—and who might be in it.

What begins as a chilly rebuff soon heats up into an attraction neither Kit nor Ben can deny—and finding themselves lucky in love might just be priceless...

Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn is the first book in her Chance of a Lifetime series. This series follows three friends who bought a lottery ticket together on a whim..and won. The first book follows Kit Averin, a scientist who bought a house to make a home for herself since she grew up without any roots. Her hero, Ben Tucker, is in town helping his father get back on his feet after an accident. His work, as a recruiter brings him into Kit Averin’s life when he is chosen to try to recruit her away from her current job and move to Dallas, Texas to work for his company. Their romance starts off with a bunch of complications but the attraction sizzles and doesn’t go anywhere so of course their story jumps off on a promising note.

Rowena: Alright, what did you guys think?

Holly: I had a really hard time getting into this story. I don’t know if it was the writing or the story itself, but it was really easy for me to walk away from. I did eventually get into the story, but I have to admit I didn’t love it.

What about you?

Ames: It was the same for me. I was about a third of the way into the story before I felt a connection with the characters and the story.

Rowena: Yeah, I felt the same way in the beginning too. I don’t think it took me quite as long as it did for the both of you to connect with the characters and the story but it was low key slow to start. I did come to really like both main characters and all of the side characters (except Ben’s best friend, Jasper).
Ames: Jasper pissed me off too! However, even if Ben told him why Kit wasn’t interested and how NOT to try and sway her, I don’t think his character would have listened. Jasper wanted results ASAP.

Holly: I agree about Jasper. He would have gone ahead no matter what. I wonder if we’ll see a book for him in the future?

Rowena: Yeah, Jasper needed to go. I didn’t care for him at all…even when Kit shows up in the end and he tried to be all concerned about Ben. I was like, boy bye.

Holly: There isn’t a lot of hope for Jasper as far as I’m concerned.

Rowena: I liked how nerdy Kit was and how adamant she was about planting roots where she was. Considering how she grew up, I thought she did well for herself.

Ames: I did like that Kit was a scientist. It was different from a lot of the heroines I’ve been reading lately.

Holly: I liked that Kit was a scientist, too. But that aside, I didn’t really care for her. There was something kind of off-putting about the way she acted, especially toward the end. She made her decision to not hear Ben out as an act of self-care, but she really just came off as selfish. I understand why she was hurt, but all along it was about her. I feel like she didn’t look outside herself enough, didn’t focus on Ben enough.

Rowena: I do agree that Kit wasn’t nearly as forthcoming about herself, her past, her background and all of that with Ben and that could have come off as being selfish but I didn’t think she really had anything to apologize to Ben for. Maybe for not hearing him out when the shit hits the fan, but considering most of their relationship was spent with him consistently trying to get her to see how better off she’d be working with his company, I wasn’t mad at Kit for the way she reacted to all of that. I thought it made sense that she thought Ben was guilty of everything she thought he was guilty of.

Holly: Actually, you know what I think it is? I think it’s that Ben acknowledged to himself and to her that he made mistakes. He apologized and tried to make things right with her throughout the book. Kit never did. She didn’t seem to have the same sense of contrition that he did. Even at the end, when she shows back up unexpectedly, she never really apologized. He says he’s sorry and cuts her off, and she never really bothers to try to make it right. They just leave it there. If that makes sense.

Ames: I can see where both of you are coming from. Kit did withhold a lot of her past from Ben and I felt that left things unresolved for me when they finally got over themselves. Kit did take a leap and make some changes so I liked that about her character. She was afraid of change but after freaking out about it she used her logical brain and acted. LOL

I loved River and Ben’s dad. The secondary characters in this book were great. And I liked the salvage yard and how Ben was into historical objects.

Holly: I really liked Ben’s dad and River, too. And Sharon. She made me laugh. I didn’t ever come to like his mom or step-dad, though.

Rowena: So, do you guys think you’ll read the other stories in the series? I think I will, I’ve heard loads of good things about this series so I want to see how it all turns out. Kit’s brother Alex is the hero in the third book, Greer is his heroine. Are you guys surprised?

Holly: I’m definitely interested in Alex and Greer’s book. I’m not surprised at all that they’re ending up together. I’ll probably read the next book as well, because I’m kind of curious.

Ames: I’m not surprised that Greer is Alex’ heroine. I’m still going to read the other books in the series though. I enjoyed Clayborn’s writing enough and I liked the other two to want to continue on with their stories.

Rowena: As far as this book goes, I thought it was slow to start but I did end up enjoying it though, enough that I will be continuing to read more books by Clayborn so this book gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me, what about you guys?

Holly: I didn’t love this book. Though it did pick up for me in the second half I never fully warmed up to Kit. Plus, both of them frustrated me at times. I’m giving it 3.25 out of 5.

Ames: So slow beginning but there was a good story. I liked Kit although I found her a bit frustrating like you did Holly. I’m giving this a 3.75. I did enjoy it.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

Chance of a Lifetime

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen

Posted August 11, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Michelle Hazen is a new-to-me author, but I’m crazy excited for Unbreak Me. The early reviews have been great and the blurb makes me think this is my kind of jam.

Sunday Spotlight: Unbreak Me by Michelle HazenUnbreak Me by Michelle Hazen
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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A contemporary romance about a New Orleans cowboy battling systemic racism post-Hurricane Katrina and a woman recovering from a public trial following a sexual assault.

What could two troubled souls from different walks of life have in common? Maybe everything.

Andra Lawler lives isolated at her family’s horse ranch, imprisoned by the memories of an assault in college. When she needs help training her foals, she hires a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans with a laugh as big as the Montana sky.

LJ Delisle can’t stand the idea that Andra might be lonely—or eating frozen TV dinners. He bakes his way into her kitchen with a lemon velvet cake, and offers her cooking lessons that set them on the road to romance. But even their love can’t escape the shadow of what they've been through. Despite their growing friendship and his gentle rapport with the horses, LJ is still an outsider facing small-town suspicions.

Before they can work through their issues, LJ is called home by a family emergency. In the centuries-old, raggedly rebuilt streets of New Orleans, he must confront memories of Hurricane Katrina and familiar discrimination. And Andra must decide if she’s brave enough to leave the shelter of the ranch for an uncertain future with LJ.

Excerpt

She leaned against the refrigerator where it stuck out from the counter, and closed her eyes. She was not imagining the double meaning to his every word. Nobody’s mind was lower in the gutter than LJ’s. He was flirting with her, had probably always been flirting with her, according to her father. It was just a different brand of flirting than she knew what to do with. All possibility, no pressure. And he was certainly doing it on purpose. The man missed nothing. Not the tiniest flick of a horse’s ears, not the morning he brought her coffee because her belt had missed one loop on her jeans and he figured that meant she’d been in a rush that day.

What bothered her was how easy it was. He’d invited himself into her kitchen and her life from virtually his first day on the ranch.

“You took this job for the horses, right?” Her voice came out a little faint, and she opened her eyes to see him frown at her.

“I certainly didn’t take it for the pension plan.”

She bit her lip, hesitating. Watching her, his expression changed.

“Ah.” He laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself, darlin’. You were something else, riding that fancy stallion like you both belonged in the Olympics. But it was Taz who ran away with my heart that first day. That and all this.” He nodded toward the window. “Big sky full of second chances.”

Her stomach twisted, uncertain whether she was relieved or offended he hadn’t taken the job because he wanted to pursue her. Then the second part of his statement caught her, and her eyes narrowed.

“Do you need a second chance?” she asked slowly.

“Doesn’t everybody?” He flicked off both burners and stepped close to her all in one smooth movement. One hand landed on the refrigerator, above her head; one on the counter, next to her hip. He was near enough to let her feel his body heat, but not caging her in. She could step out from under his arm easily, and with a surge of her pulse, she almost wished she couldn’t. LJ stood so close his body was her entire world. Cozy but thrilling. She wanted him pressed against her so she could drown in that bizarre reaction, breathe it in and glory in it.

He ducked his head, his drawl a lower pitch than usual. “What’s on your mind, beautiful?”

She could only blink, as if steam were effervescing out of the air between them and she couldn’t quite see.

“You keep asking all these questions.” He licked his bottom lip, a quick slick of tongue over that mouth of his. “Why don’t you ask me what you’re really wanting to know?”

“The cooking lessons.” Her mouth was so dry she had to swallow before she could continue. “Was that flirting? Is that why you offered in the first place?”

His hand dropped, the inside of his wrist warming her shoulder as he opened the fridge. Taking her other shoulder, he spun her around. “See that?”

She stared, puzzled. Milk, orange juice. Cheese and eggs and containers of leftovers and some lettuce that was starting to go off.

“That’s what a fridge is supposed to look like.” He let the door fall closed. “I like you.”

She didn’t move. He was right behind her, the closed fridge giving them no excuse to keep looking in its direction. They were too close for anything except hugging, her bottom so near the front of his jeans that she couldn’t even shift her weight without touching him. This was the point where she should pull away.
He tapped one finger against the fridge door. “I would have done that much even for somebody I didn’t like. As for the rest?” His knuckles skimmed down the back of her arm so lightly that the rough yarn of her sweater woke up her entire body, her skin rippling with goose bumps. “Now that might be flirting.”

“Might be?” she asked breathlessly.

His breath stirred her hair, as if he’d bent a little closer. “Depends on if you want it to be.”

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Michelle Hazen

Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem. Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back.

She has written most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.


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Buddy Review: The Prenup by Lauren Layne

Posted August 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Buddy Review: The Prenup by Lauren LayneReviewer: Ames & Rowena
The Prenup by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 11, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 254
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars

My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother's best friend. I haven't seen him since.

Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her. Enter Colin Walsh, her brother's quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape.

He's far from Charlotte's dream guy but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte's inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.

Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months.

Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning...

Ten years ago, Charlotte Spencer married Colin Walsh so that she could get her trust fund and so Colin could get his green card. It was a business transaction and nothing more so when she moves across the country, to San Francisco and Colin stays in New York, they move on with their lives…only they never divorced and when she gets a call from Colin, out of the blue, she finds out that her brother (and Colin’s best friend) put a stipulation in their prenup, that the only way that they could get a divorce was if they lived together for three months.

That’s how Charlotte finds herself once again living in New York with a stranger of a husband and a lot of time on her hands to figure out a new direction in life.

Colin and Charlotte weren’t expecting the sparks to fly and they weren’t expecting a strong friendship to blossom and they were definitely not prepared for the onslaught on feelings to come on but this is a Lauren Layne novel so of course, there would be hella sparks and hella chemistry and just all-around great, great writing.

Rowena: Let’s get this show on the road, shall we? What did you think, Ames?

Ames: Ok I thought this book was really cute but I just have to get my one beef out of the way right away – I wanted some of the story from Colin’s POV!! I think that would have upped my enjoyment factor by a bunch. However, even being told from Charlie’s POV, I liked this. It was light and fluffy and I just whipped right through it.

What did you think?

Rowena: I really, really enjoyed this one. I thought that the story could have definitely benefitted from having Colin’s POV but I really connected with Charlotte’s character so I wasn’t too bummed about it. I did wonder why Colin did certain things and what he thought about things at certain parts of the book but overall, I thought Lauren Layne did a pretty bang-up job of telling us Charlotte’s story.

I will admit that in the beginning, I didn’t think I was going to like Charlotte all that much. I thought she was a bit of a snob and the way that she was with Colin in the beginning (even though come to think of it, Colin was just as much as snob as she was) had me rolling my eyes but all of my hesitations in liking Charlotte melted away after that first conversation with her brother. When she finds out about her misstep with Colin in the beginning and then immediately jumps into trying to apologize and make things right, I warmed up to her and I liked her right on through until the end. She also ended up being my favorite character in the whole book.

Ames: I was the same! I thought Charlotte was going to be vapid and vain but she was so strong. She was independent and gung-ho. She freaking started her own company when her own family wouldn’t support her.

I liked the back and forth between Colin and Charlotte. It always seemed like he was able to one-up her but she was stubborn. I like how their relationship progressed. I had hints of the Proposal when they were getting questioned by immigration around the validity of their marriage. If only they flew to Alaska in the middle of all that. LOL

Rowena: Yes! Charlotte was super strong and I really enjoyed seeing her growth over the course of the book. She was just a great heroine and she led an interesting life and the stuff that came out of her mouth, always had me laughing. She just seems like she’d be so much fun to be around. I loved seeing her reconnect with people from her past but I also really loved her relationship with her friends and coworkers back in San Francisco. She was just all around, a great character that I was happy to get to know.

Hahaha, oh Alaska.

I would have loved this kind of scene, haha.

I really liked how their romance came to be. I liked seeing them grow into their feelings but I think I would have been happier if we got some scenes with Charlotte’s brother, Justin. I would have loved to see them interact with him, with both of them having different relationships with him. I did really love Charlotte’s parents and seeing Charlotte reconnect with them had me all emotional. I cried a lot reading this book and I think it was because I really missed my Mom while reading about Charlotte getting to know her Mom again…as an adult. And when her Mom showed up in the end? Oh man, I loved it.

Ames: I was pleasantly surprised at the depth this story held, beyond just a romance. I liked how her relationship with her parents was mended, especially with her mom. And I liked that Charlotte put Colin’s happiness ahead of her own. You don’t really see that too often in the circumstances Charlotte found herself in.

Overall I really enjoyed the Pre-Nup and Lauren Layne definitely hit this one out of the ballpark. She’s one of the most consistent contemporary romance authors out there. 4 out of 5 from me!

Rowena: From beginning to end, I was invested in what was going on in this book. Seeing Charlotte mend her relationship with her parents, especially her Mom, really got to me. I really connected with Charlotte because even though she was super successful on her own, there was still room for her to grow personally and I loved seeing it. Like I said earlier, I was really emotional reading this book because it made me miss my own Mom and when Charlotte’s Mom shows up, in the end, to be there for Charlotte and tell her that she’s being an idiot, I just loved it so much. They came so far from the day that Charlotte took off for the West Coast. Lauren Layne did her thing with this book and I appreciated the hell out of it. This one gets 4.75 out of 5 from me.

Final Grades

Ames: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.75 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young

Posted August 1, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha YoungReviewer: Holly
Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #5
Also in this series: On Dublin Street , Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2), Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street, #3), Before Jamaica Lane, Castle Hill, Fall From India Place, Fall From India Place, Fall from India Place , Castle Hill, Echoes of Scotland Street , Moonlight on Nightingale Way, Moonlight on Nightingale Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, On Hart's Boardwalk (On Dublin Street #6.7) , On Hart's Boardwalk, Down London Road
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Dublin Street comes a seductive story of forgiving the past and making up for lost time.…
Shannon MacLeod has always gone for the wrong type of man. After she drifted from one toxic relationship to the next, her last boyfriend gave her a wake-up call in the worst possible way. With her world shattered, she’s sworn off men—especially those of the bad-boy variety.Cole Walker is exactly the sort that Shannon wants to avoid—gorgeous, tattooed, charming, and cocky. But his rough exterior hides a good man who’s ready to find “the one.” He’s determined to pull Shannon from her self-imposed solitude to win her heart.As Shannon opens up in the face of Cole’s steady devotion, the passion between them ignites to blazing levels. But when Shannon’s past comes back to haunt her, her fears may destroy the trust Cole has built between them—and tear them apart for good.…

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on Oct 15, 2014.

I fell in love with Cole in Down London Road. I’m so glad he got his own book. He was everything I expected. I wasn’t sure what to make of his heroine at first, but she ended up being his perfect match.

Shannon moves to Edinburgh to start over. She’s had a pretty rough go of things lately and she needs a change of scenery. She applies for several jobs but the only interview she gets is at the tattoo shop INKarnate. When the owner offers her the position she’s thrilled to have found something so quickly. But she’s also terrified of accepting. Tattoo shops are bad boy hangouts and she’s a bad boy magnet..and not the good, sexy kind of bad boy, either. The lie, cheat, steal and beat on you kind.

When she meets Cole, the shop manager, she’s dismayed to feel an instant attraction to him. He doesn’t help things by coming on to her pretty strong. The last thing she needs in her life is another player like Cole. She wants to avoid him as much as possible, but when she moves in with another tattoo artist from the shop and gets pulled into their friend circle, it’s really hard. Cole won’t let up until she eventually slaps him down, hard. Then she realizes she made a mistake. Cole isn’t a player like all her exes. He’s actually a pretty great guy. And while she isn’t looking for a relationship – she isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to trust a guy again – she knows she has to make things right with him. Except once she does, once she lays out her secrets to him, Cole becomes even more determined to have her. Keeping him at bay isn’t easy, but she knows she has to. Because the alternative is opening her heart, and she just can’t do that.

This isn’t what I expected from Cole’s book. First, I thought it would be from his point-of-view. Second, I thought there would be more angst on his side of things. At first I was disappointed in the direction Young went with the story, but as the novel progressed I realized it was played just right. Though Cole had some drama growing up, he had strong role models in his sister, her husband and their circle of friends. He was firmly grounded. Had Young made up some kind of angsty drama for him, I would have been disappointed. His pursuit of Shannon early in the book was almost uncomfortable to read about, since we saw it from her perspective and she wasn’t exactly charmed (or, more to the point, didn’t want to be). Once she bares her soul to him, though, I thought he treated her exactly right.

“Delicate, beautiful, fragile. I want to protect you while at the same time I want to shatter you,” he murmured against my lips, “but only in the best way possible.”

The way he acted toward the end frustrated me, but knowing where he came from (based on the way he was raised in Down London Road) made his actions tolerable. Shannon had a great amount of inner strength. Despite her family turning their backs on her and mistreatment by former boyfriends, she was determined to get back the girl she used to be.

Tears stung my eyes, and my mouth trembled as I glared out at the city. If it was the last thing I did, I would buy those acrylics and use them . . . and somehow, hopefully, along the way I was going to find the girl I’d lost because of him.

I had a lot of admiration for her. Especially as her relationship with Cole developed and she owned her behavior. She had the occasional setback, but she was quick to admit when she was wrong.  That isn’t to say she didn’t frustrate me at times, because she did. I wanted her to see how great Cole was sooner, and then to give in to the inevitable between them immediately. That wouldn’t have been realistic based on her past, however.

Shannon’s friendship with her roommate (a tattoo artist at INKarnate), Rae, as well as the relationships she develops with her other co-workers was great. It was good to see her spreading her wings and getting back out there. I always love it when the heroine has friends outside her relationship. Speaking of Rae, I really loved her. She was bold and brash, yet compassionate and caring when she needed to be. That didn’t stop me from being seriously pissed at the way she acted toward Shannon during the main part of the conflict. I’m not going to go into a huge rant here about it, but..I expected better from her. There’s a surprising amount of humor laced throughout. Shannon has a great sense of humor. There were times, especially when dealing with Cole’s family, that I was literally laughing out loud.

“Jo, sheathe the mother- bear claws.” He said it in such an authoritative tone I wasn’t surprised when she snapped her mouth shut. Cole’s fingers tightened their hold on my waist. “Shannon is my business, not yours.”

“And you’re my business,” she argued, glowering at me.

Awkward. ” Everyone stopped talking and looked at me.

I blanched.

“Did I say that out loud?” Cole nodded, shaking with amusement. Joss, Hannah, and Liv burst into laughter and even Jo’s scowl cleared as her lips twitched.

Speaking of Cole’s family, it was really great to see his interactions with Hannah and the rest. His relationship with Hannah had come under fire in the past, so I wondered how Shannon would deal with it. Her quick acceptance of their friendship was great, as were Cole and Hannah’s reactions to it.

I couldn’t imagine anyone being mean to Hannah. She was so lovely. “Why would she start on Hannah?”

Cole grinned. “You like Hannah, don’t you?”

“Eh, yeah. She’s a pregnant superwoman. She’s a teacher, she’s a mum, she’s a stepmum, she’s a wife, and she’s smart and organized and caring and somehow manages to be all those things while looking absolutely amazing. I kind of want to be Hannah.”

All-in-all, this was a great addition to the series. Cole was everything I expected him to be, and Shannon’s personal growth, as well as their developing relationship, really pulled me in. This book is emotionally charged, funny, sweet and full of depth. I couldn’t put it down.

4.25 out of 5

On Dublin Street

four-half-stars


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