Tag: Nicole Helm

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm

Posted August 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole HelmReviewer: Tracy
So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp., Lyrical Press
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Wrong guy. Wrong situation. Might be right.

Free of her overbearing family and their dreams, not hers, Kayla Gallagher is living for herself instead of for her clan's successful restaurant. Step One: finally make her move on Aiden Patrick, the bad-boy son of Gallagher's long-time repairman. Too bad Aidan’s taciturn older brother shows up instead . . .

As the “responsible Patrick,” Liam has always made a conscious choice to do the right thing. He likes fixing things for people—whether it be a broken appliance or a bad situation. Which means he can’t just brush off the quiet Gallagher. Clearly, she needs a shoulder to lean on. But suddenly a shoulder becomes so much more, and Kayla isn’t the quiet little girl she used to be. She’s a vivid, down-for-anything woman showing Liam several sizzling ways to put passion first . . .

As things heat up between them, Liam’s family threatens to come apart for good. The only way Liam can set things right means giving up Kayla. But she’s not about to take no for an answer—or let their chance for something sweeter than desire crash-and burn without a fight.

Kayla has always worked for her family but she decided she’d been treated badly one too many times and quit.  Unfortunately she’d not really done anything since then.  She sees her old crush Aiden Patrick one day and he’s excited to see her.  Aiden asks Kayla out but when it comes time for the date Aiden isn’t around – is supposedly dealing with something – and asks his stoic brother, Liam, to go tell Kayla that he can’t make it.

Liam heads to the bar and ends up talking to Kayla (who’s pissed about Aiden) and even though they don’t touch each other that night they eventually start a relationship.  They’re so good together but Aiden is pissed at his brother for taking “his girl” and complains to mommy – who asks Liam to give Kayla up to keep the peace in the family.  Liam has to decide if he will go with his family’s wishes or stay with the woman he loves.

This was a pretty cute book.  It seemed to be a pretty fast read as Liam and Kayla get together and things move along at a pretty fast clip.  I liked Liam and Kayla together so reading their romance was a treat.

I hated the way that Liam’s family treated him – mostly his mother and brother.  Kayla hated it too and it was really the only thing they got into arguments about.  When Liam’s mom asks Liam to give her up because of Aiden, I was madder than a hornet! What mother does that?  Ugh!

Anyway, the romance was cute and I liked the characters in the story.  It was a pleasant read and I definitely liked it better than book one in this series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: So Wrong It Must Be Right by Nicole Helm

Posted February 22, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: So Wrong It Must Be Right by Nicole HelmReviewer: Tracy
So Wrong It Must Be Right by Nicole Helm
Series: Gallagher & Ivy #1
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

It’s all fun and games until fantasy gets real . . .

At twenty-seven, Dinah Gallagher thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s having mind-blowing online sex with a man she knows nothing about and fighting for her rightful place in the family business. Part of that battle means expanding their century-old restaurant by getting the stubborn urban farmer next door to sell them his lot.

But Carter Trask is tired of being pushed around—especially by rich families like the Gallaghers. All he has left is the little farm he’s scratched out of his grandmother’s yard. At least he can blow off steam with the anonymous woman he’s been emailing for the past eight months, who makes his every sexual fantasy come alive—even if it’s only online.

When Dinah suddenly realizes that Carter’s gardens look just like some of her mystery man’s photos, she can’t resist trying to turn her dreams into reality. Against his better judgment, Carter joins in the game. But in real life, passion has a way of becoming very complicated, very quickly. And sometimes the wrong choice can turn out to be oh so right . . .

Dinah Gallagher has had one thing on her mind her entire life: be the Director of Operations at Gallagher’s Tap Room and all the other businesses that the Gallagher’s have their hands in.  Right now she’s working for her Uncle who is the DoO and he’s a complete bastard.  He wants to buys the house/farm nearby and turn it into a parking lot/farmer’s market but the owner refuses to sell.  Dinah believes that if she can get the owner to sell her grandmother, the matriarch of the Gallagher family, would make her DoO.  She heads over but Carter Trask is totally stubborn and refuses.

Dinah heads home looking forward to some online sex with the man she’s been having it with for the past 8 months.  They fool around as their alter egos D & C but something sticks in Dinah’s mind and she looks at his blog again – the way they hooked up in the first place.  She takes a look and realizes that the pictures that C has online of his farm look exactly like Carter Trask’s farm!  She heads to Carter’s and confronts him.  They are shocked but soon decide that they can have sex for real as D & C and leave Carter and Dinah separate.  That doesn’t exactly work and soon feelings are involved which muddles everything.  Can these two supposed enemies be able to work out a relationship when there’s so much against them from the start?

This book had a good premise.  Those who are supposed enemies but trying to make a relationship work.  Something always gets in the way and it did in this instance too.

Dinah and Carter dislike each other intensely but D & C are fine in the bedroom.  They tried so hard to have one or the other but of course no one can live their live their life like that.  Eventually the two parts of their lives had to come together and when they did they had to work out how what they were going to do about it.  I liked the compromise that they made and how they worked with each other to find a common ground.  I guess what I really didn’t like was Dinah.  They were good together but she made me absolutely nuts.  That woman needed a club to the head to knock some sense into her.  She lost her cousin/best friend because of her stubbornness and she still pushed forward to get what she wanted.  I couldn’t really reconcile her work self with her off-work self.  They were such polar opposites that it almost didn’t seem like the same person.  The ending of the book when we got the solution to everything wrapped up with a bow was completely rushed imho.  It was a decision made and then the end.  It definitely felt like there was something missing.

Overall I enjoyed the book but it certainly wasn’t fabulous for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Blog: A Fresh Start with Nicole Helm (+ Excerpt)

Posted June 22, 2016 by Rowena in Promotions | 0 Comments

Today on the blog, Nicole Helm will be talking about fresh starts and starting over new. She’s also sharing an excerpt from her book Ignite from the Firefighters of Montana series published by Tule Publishing. Check it out!

Ignite by Nicole Helm
Firefighters of Montana #3
Releases on June 21, 2016 by Tule Publishing

Lina McArthur has spent her life in Marietta, Montana, in the shadow of her doctor father. But now that she’s finally broken free and moved away, she is determined to figure out who she is out of her scrubs. Then she meets the first man to ever tempt her to let him take them off…

Dean “Ace” Clark has been on the run from a troubled and tragic past. When a work-related injury sends the smoke jumper to the hospital, his wounds are tended by the beautiful Dr. McArthur. Just one problem. He knows the McArthur name, and she’s connected to the past he desperately wants to stay one step ahead of.

Ace has never been afraid to jump into a dangerous situation, but falling for Lina might just be the biggest leap of courage he’s ever faced..

Have you ever dreamed about starting completely over? New life. New name. Whole new identity. Growing up, I moved a lot, and got somewhat obsessed with the idea of fresh starts. A haircut to start the new year, a fresh notebook for every new story idea. I was always certain that a new thing could possibly change my life. I didn’t go so far as to create a whole new identity, but that idea of a fresh start was one I held onto a long time.

On top of that, I always loved stories where people assumed different identities, or police detectives went undercover as someone else, or soap opera villains who turned out to be some long lost other character. It’s a fascinating prospect becoming someone else.

While I was writing IGNITE, I finally got to explore what it might be like to have a completely new identity. And what better identity could a man trying to get away from his past choose than a smoke jumper who fights fire that destroys and makes new all at the same time?

My hero ran away as a teen and started over with a new name, a made up life story, and for a while it works out just great, but nothing is ever as easy or simple as we think it’ll be. Because that thing I learned was there are no fresh starts, and you always have to face the things you thought you’d left behind.

Have you ever dreamed about becoming someone else? Starting completely over? Did you have a new identity plan?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

Excerpt

Lina McArthur studied the screen of her rolling computer station, noting the patient’s information before entering the exam room. It hadn’t been a particularly busy day in the ER—late afternoon rarely was, here. Considering she’d come from the tiny town of Marietta, Montana, Kalispell was something of a change. Sure it wasn’t New York City, but it was still busier than she had been used to during her residency with Marietta Regional.

Possible concussion wasn’t exactly a gunshot wound, but it was nice to be here, to work somewhere outside the sphere of her father’s influence. She’d only been with Kalispell Regional for a month now, but living on her own, being out of the McArthur spotlight in Marietta, it was everything she’d dreamed it could be.

She stepped fully into the exam room to find a large man sprawled out on the exam table. He was wearing pants that had large tear down the side, which revealed a long if not terribly deep scratch. The pants and the loose-fitting T-shirt he wore were covered in a streaky black substance that appeared to be smoke or soot of some kind.

He had black smudges on his face as well, though mostly at his hairline and under his stubbled jaw. Someone had cleaned and bandaged the scrapes across his cheek, but the nurse had informed her that he didn’t need any stitches.

“Mr.…” She wasn’t sure why she paused over the last name. It was a very common one and just because it happened to be the last name of her best friend didn’t mean anything. She’d just been thinking about home and Marietta, and Jess was one of the few things she missed.

Besides, the brother Jess was looking for might have the last name Clark, but his first name was not Ace like this gentleman’s. It was a coincidence and silly to think otherwise.

If there was one thing Lina McArthur was not, it was silly. “Mr. Clark. I see you took a little bit of a tumble. Can you tell me what happened?”

“You mean the same story I already told the nurses? Each and everyone who came in and asked me the same damn question?” His voice was deep and edged with total irritation.

“It’s important we all get our story straight,” Lina replied, doing her best to keep her tone equitable. The hardest part of being a doctor for her was bedside manner. Especially being in the ER where people tended to take out their fear and nervousness on her. But she hadn’t made it through med school and residency in a hospital dominated by her larger-than-life father without learning how to plaster on a fake smile. “If you could just explain to me what happened and where you’re hurt.”

“This is so unbelievable,” he grumbled, sitting up straighter in the bed and glaring at her with a sharp, blue gaze.

Blue eyes, just like Jess. And half the rest of the population, idiot. “Mr—”

“Listen, lady, I have better things to do than sit in the ER telling a million people the same story. I was hurt. As I can walk, see, and think, I’ve deduced that I’m fine. No medical degree needed.”

Surly, her absolute least favorite type of patient to deal with. Probably because she’d be the same if the situations were reversed. She hated repeating herself, hated waiting. Patience was not her virtue.

It didn’t appear to be this man’s either. Though he didn’t fidget, his blue eyes were nearly vibrating with a kind of restless irritation. His jet black hair was unruly, though not too terribly long.

He didn’t even look a thing like Jess, why did she keep wondering over his last name? It would be too crazy of a coincidence.

Besides, he’s hot.

Neither here nor there, brain.

“I’m sorry you’re frustrated, Mr. Clark,” she said in the most cheerful voice she could muster. “But this is procedure, and the sooner you cooperate the sooner we can release you. Now, please explain to me what happened.”

“I’m a smoke jumper,” he grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest.

His arms were also streaked with black—smoke apparently. They were also…yum.

Argh. No. No thinking patients were hot.

“Small fire and I got caught up in the wrong wind. My chute got twisted and I landed hard, hitting my head on a tree. I’m a little banged up and apparently I lost consciousness for a second or two, but obviously I’m fine.” He swept a hand down the front of himself.

She didn’t allow herself to peruse. Oh, yes, he is fine. “How long were you out?”

“I’m not sure. The guys said a couple seconds. But the medic checked—”

“Obviously, the medic thought you should come to the ER. Have you had vomiting, nausea, change in vision?”

“Why don’t you ask the eight hundred people who came before who’ve already asked me that, lady?”

“Doctor. I am a doctor. Right now I am your doctor. So, stop calling me lady.” Once she said the words, she winced. She wasn’t supposed to snap but, oh, how she hated to be called lady or girlie.

His gaze sharpened, but his mouth, which had been screwed into a scowl since she walked in, curved upward. It was surprisingly potent, his smile. She didn’t trust it all.

“Pack a little bit of a punch for such a tiny package, don’t you, doc?”

“I’m not a package,” she replied, curling her fingers around the edges of her computer cart. “And I don’t pack any punch. I am a doctor.”

He sat up on the exam table, looking her over with a certain kind of…interest. Interest that made her feel very nearly jittery. Nervous. She’d never cared to feel either. Especially in the presence of a man who clearly thought she was something he could play with.

Lina McArthur was not toyed with. She scowled as she realized the voice in her head sounded far too much like her own father to make her comfortable.

Of course, that had always been because of who her father was, who her family was—the not being toyed with. While some people at this hospital knew of her father’s stellar medical reputation, his influence didn’t quite reach here. She’d been treated differently since moving here in that she hadn’t been treated differently at all, and it was nice to blend in. To not feel like she had to live up to the McArthur name.

That didn’t make men any easier. They were still as baffling as they always were. She slumped a little behind her cart, typing his explanation into the computer. “I’m going to examine the bump.”

“Are you now?”

She wanted to stutter at the lazy way he drawled that, but she schooled her tongue to behave as she stepped toward him. “Did you come into contact with any fire?” she asked, unable to stop looking at him. Which was…ridiculous. So, he was hot? She’d seen attractive men as patients before. But…there was something different about him. Something affecting. And pretty. And muscles.

“No, where I jumped, the fire’d already been put out. This is all old ash.”

“Ah.” Her hands wanted to shake, but she focused on the task at hand. Bump. Concussion symptoms. Deciding if she’d recommend a CAT scan.

“Ever jumped into a fire, doc?”

“No, my job is to heal fools who think they’re immortal.” Oh, that was not bedside manner.

But he laughed and something about that sexy rumble while she was gently parting his hair made her brain malfunction. Completely. She didn’t even remember what she was doing.

Focus. You’re a doctor. You’re a McArthur. The bump wasn’t alarming, and the placement on his skull made it unlikely he had internal bleeding, with no ill-effects this far after the original accident.

“So, what’s the verdict, doc?” he asked, his voice a low, silky murmur. “Do I have a week to live?”

She dropped her hands and took a few steps away from him. Okay, maybe she scurried away from him. “You probably suffered from a concussion. Over the next few days you may get a nasty headache. You’ll want to avoid any screen time—TV, phones, computers. No contact sports, or, I assume, jumping out of planes.”

That knocked all the silky ease out of him and he sat up straight. “Fire season starts this week, aside from training I have to be ready to—”

“You’ll have to miss it. For a week.”

He scowled and jumped off the bed. “Like hell.”

She shrugged, making sure to keep the computer cart between them as she typed her recommendation into his chart. “Sorry, buddy. That’s how this works.”

“I don’t think you’re sorry at all, Dr…” His gaze trailed down to her name tag, and she was sure it was her imagination his eyes took a little detour over her breasts because not only were they the opposite of impressive, but her coat covered them up fairly well.

“Dr. McArthur,” he said, as though…stunned. As though he didn’t just know of the name, as though he knew the name. Intimately.

Then his gaze returned to hers and she knew… He knew her name. He knew her family. And his last name was Clark.

It couldn’t be, but it had to be. “Your name isn’t Ace at all, is it? It’s Dean. Dean Clark.”
Ace held himself very still. There’d been a few times in the past few years someone had been looking for Dean, and he’d managed to throw them off the scent. It helped that most of the people who looked for him had a picture from when he’d been sixteen. Tall and wiry, a sneering, angry, gangly thing.

He hadn’t been Dean Clark in ten years and he didn’t plan on going back now. Ace Clark was charming, fun-loving, and an integral part of his smokejumping crew, even if he could read the suspicion in his new captain’s eyes. The rest of the guys liked him, trusted him. Mostly.

He’d embraced the life he’d made up. Even rented a place in Kalispell and stayed year-round. He’d given up Dean, and he hadn’t looked back.

Damn McArthurs, always sticking their noses where they didn’t belong. How had he run into one here? And a doctor to boot. A doctor telling him he couldn’t work for a week? The season was just starting.

He wasn’t going to sit around twiddling his thumbs if there was a fire. It had taken him twenty years to find a purpose, the past seven to work his way up to jumper.

A McArthur, of all people, wouldn’t muck up his plans. “I don’t know a Dean, lady.” It wasn’t as easy to lie to this woman as the people who’d come before. Who the hell knew why? Maybe because the McArthur name had thrown him for a loop, a painful reminder of the sister who he’d had to leave to save, or maybe it was because this woman’s dark blue eyes were sharp and intelligent.

He didn’t know what kind of relationship she had with his sister, but considering the McArthurs had taken Jess in once he’d finally smartened up and hightailed it out of Marietta, he figured this woman knew his sister well enough.

Which meant he had to get away from her ASAP. Jess couldn’t know he was here. He might have gotten his life together, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t always two steps away from blowing it all to hell again.
Jess deserved better. That was why he’d left her. So she’d stop hurting herself over the likes of him.

“Yes, you do,” she said, her voice steady and sure.

He needed to make her scramble again, so he forced himself to smile, to admire the shape of her because it made her cheeks turn pink and the otherwise solid, capable doctor demeanor fade into someone shifty and nervous.

He had no idea why the nerves were attractive on her. Usually, he liked a woman with a little more experience and a lot more overt interest in him. Easy women who knew what they were getting into. Temporary fun.

She was none of those things. And she’s a McArthur. Keep your head together. “I got a…second cousin or something named Dean, I think.” He shrugged, offering his mastered empty-headed smile. “Wouldn’t know him if I saw him though. It’s been ages.”

She frowned at that and he didn’t think she believed it without reservation, but it hopefully put enough doubt in her head she wouldn’t go spouting his whereabouts to her family.

Please, fate, be on my side for once. “Now, can I go?”

“I’ll have to print out your release papers, and the patient tech will come in and have you sign a few things.” She watched him with a brow furrowed, an intense, considering expression on her face. It did nothing to quell his interest in the sharp-mouthed doctor.

The name McArthur should.

Yeah, it should.

“A second cousin named Dean?”

“Yes. Somewhere in Montana, though I don’t know if it’s anywhere around here. My parents weren’t particularly close with his. I grew up in Oregon.” The lies were always easy, if only because, as a kid, he’d pictured a life as someone else. Anyone else. Ace Clark, smokejumper and not a total life failure, worked for him.

It damn well wasn’t going to come to an end because of a McArthur. Even if she was too attractive for his own good.

He and Jess had been with a foster home outside of Marietta when Jess had started dating one of the McArthur kids. Dean had only ever met one of the McArthurs, and only once. He’d broken his wrist trying to sneak out of the foster house, and the formidable Dr. McArthur had treated him, asking if he knew Jess.

Dean had lied, because Dr. McArthur had made it abundantly clear he would view Jess’s relation to him as a mark against her.

So, Dean had done his level best to get kicked out of another foster home, get his ass on the road, and leave Jess to a life that gave her a chance at something more than they’d ever had. More than he ever thought he’d be able to have.

He didn’t know much about this McArthur woman except she was one of them, and a doctor.

And hopefully at least a tiny bit gullible.

She studied him for the longest time and he pretended like he was the man he’d invented. Carefree, life-of-the-party Ace Clark. Lazy smiles, relaxed demeanor. None of the go-to-hell tenseness that had made up his life for the first twenty-some years.

He locked away all the irritation, the disgust at being in room with a McArthur—especially a pretty one—forced away any softening memories of his sister who’d been the only one in his life who’d ever tried to do right by him.

Much like fighting a fire, he couldn’t worry about more than the moment. More than the challenge in front of him. First, the jump. Then the landing. So, right now, all he could focus on was being unaffected.

“Well, print those papers, doc. I’ve got work to get back to.”

Her considering look sharpened into disgust. “If you care about the health of your brain, you won’t jump or do anything with high impact for a week, Mr. Clark.”

He grinned, couldn’t help it, and she must have read at least a portion of his thoughts because she blushed. Damn if he didn’t want to stick around and make her blush a few more times.
Not in the cards. Right. “I’ll see what I can manage.”

She rolled her eyes, but she clicked something on her computer than pushed the whole cart to the door. She looked back once, giving him a once-over that wasn’t nearly as interested as he’d like it to be. No, it was dissection. It was could you be Dean Clark?

“Why’d you say McArthur like it meant something to you?” she finally asked.

“You ever heard of Colin McArthur?”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “No.”

“He was a famous college football player who became a smokejumper. He’s a legend—big story in some big magazine years ago. There was a documentary about him. Thought you might be related.” He’d always thought quickly on his feet, thanks to dear, old dad’s equally quick fists and threats.

She didn’t say anything after that, simply wheeled out of the room. Ace allowed the easy smile to leave his face, to acknowledge some of that riotous fury inside of him, the tense fear she might say something to Jess. That this might be over.

“No, it isn’t over.” He’d finally built himself a life. He wasn’t going to upend this one—not because of anyone else.

Surely, since she’d left, she’d let it go, and if she didn’t… Well, he’d figured out how to deal. He’d roll with the punches. He always had.

He waited around for the interminable time it took the patient tech to go over the insurance and billing paperwork. Finally, they released him and he was allowed to walk down the corridor and out into the waiting room.

That’s the last time I set foot in the Kalispell Hospital. He’d find a way to make sure if anything happened on a jump again, they’d take him somewhere else once they got him out. Anywhere else.

“Hey, Ace, what’s the verdict?”

Ace stopped short, not realizing Sam had stayed. It had been hours now, and as much as it had surprised him the new captain he didn’t particularly care for had driven him here, he was downright shocked Sam had stayed. “You didn’t have to stay, captain.”

Sam shrugged. “You were out cold for a good minute. Wasn’t sure they’d let you drive out of here.”

“She didn’t say anything about driving.” He scowled at his discharge papers. He could refuse to give them to Sam, he could lie, it wouldn’t be the first or last time, but he found he kind of did care about the health of his brain. “But I can’t jump for the next week.”

“Sucks, man.” Sam commiserated, walking out of the hospital next to him. “We’ll keep you busy.”

Ace eyed Sam. It was hard to trust people, always had been, and losing Russ last year… Well, Russ was the first person who had trusted Ace with something. Who’d believed in him. It had been a blow and Ace had been unfair to his replacement in the interim. Maybe not consciously, but this kind gesture meant he saw it pretty glaringly now.

Maybe he should rethink that strategy. Sam had changed things up, but he was a good guy. Someone to trust. “Thanks. For staying.”

“Anytime.” They climbed into Sam’s truck, but he didn’t start the engine right away. “I mean that seriously, Clark. Anytime.”

Ace wanted to laugh. Sure, bury the hatchet with the new boss when a woman who threatened his real identity had just called him on it.

But he’d come too far, built too much. He had a place to belong, so he just had to come up with a plan. A plan no big-nosed McArthur could ruin, no matter what she told Jess.

Ace didn’t allow himself to think of his sister. Not as anything other than a problem to avoid. He watched the highway pass and focused on his lies instead.

Series

About the Author

Nicole Helm
WEBSITE || FACEBOOK || TWITTER || PINTEREST || INSTAGRAM

Nicole Helm grew up with her nose in a book and a dream of becoming a writer. Luckily, after a few failed career choices, a husband, and two kids, she gets to pursue that dream.

Nicole lives in Missouri with her husband and two sons, and writes her novels one baby’s nap at a time. She’s slightly (okay, totally) addicted to Twitter, loves watching the St. Louis Cardinals, and her dream is to someday own a barn.


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Guest Review: Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm

Posted November 5, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Too Friendly to Date by Nicole HelmJen’s review of Too Friendly to Date (Bluff City #2) by Nicole Helm

One little white lie–one big explanation!

Okay, pretending her sexy boss is her boyfriend is more like a huge white lie. But electrician Leah Santino will take the risk. If her parents think she has someone, they won’t go back to smothering her, and they can all be a family again.

Problem is, Jacob McKnight isn’t just her boss; he’s her friend. And faking a relationship when the Santinos come to visit means those sparks she’s always tried to ignore are hotter than ever. This thing between them is starting to feel real, but Leah has a very good reason to stay independent. Unless that’s one lie that’s outlived its purpose

I usually adore a good friends to lovers story, so I picked up Too Friendly to Date. While I did have a few issues, it was still a fun, touching read.

Leah Santino is a tough, no nonsense electrician who needs a big favor from her boss, Jacob McKnight. (Actually, “boss” is a little misleading, because Leah also has a small financial stake in the restoration company where they all work, though Jacob does still head the company.) Leah wants Jacob to pretend to be her boyfriend when her estranged family comes to visit. She had some serious, life threatening health problems as a child, and as a consequence her parents are overprotective and worried about her. She made up a boyfriend so they wouldn’t stress about her too much, but now that they’re coming to visit she needs to produce a man! Leah and Jacob have always had a competitive, snarky relationship despite a sizzling, unacknowledged attraction. When they’re forced to pretend to be in love for a week, their attraction, and secrets, bubble to the surface.

I love, love, love the interactions between Leah and Jacob. Leah is tough, sarcastic, and confident. She’s clearly great at her job, and it’s neat to see a heroine who’s a skilled tradesperson. Jacob is a funny, genuinely nice guy. He’s strong enough to stand up to Leah, but he doesn’t have a problem with her strength either. Their dialogue sparkles with humor, and the sexual tension and depth of emotion between them is wonderful. Here’s an example of a moment right after Jacob confesses something major to Leah:

But she wasn’t letting go of his arm. Her hand held him there in a tight grip. And that meant he couldn’t step away, and it meant stepping closer was too tempting to resist.

Her eyes didn’t leave his, and she didn’t move away. They just…stood there, and all he could think about was last night when he’d kissed her. A nothing kiss. Seconds at most, born of some weird frustration and none of the heat or sparks he felt standing right here, right now.

He could kiss her this time and it wouldn’t be veiled in pretend, and it would be a hell of a lot better than a peck in the dark.

But in the heaviness of the moment, he couldn’t force himself to act, thinking or not. It felt too important. Everything between them felt too important to complicate with a kiss.

Leah and Jacob are desperately attracted to each other, both physically and emotionally, but they are afraid to step over that friendship barrier. Plus, they each have their own personal obstacles holding them back. But they understand each other in a way no one else does, and that ability to be real, to be honest, is as appealing as it is scary. Seeing them come together despite all that was lovely.

As with most Superromances, there are plenty of Big Issues in this book. I appreciated the way Leah’s past was handled. I actually have a sibling who had a different but serious, scary health issue as a child. Having a sick kid puts intense strain on a family. It is easy to understand how it could rip everyone apart and make Leah act out. (And as the healthy sibling myself, I could also relate to Leah’s brother’s complicated mix of concern and resentment. I’m hoping we might get his story in the future, too!) I also liked that Leah’s overprotective mom isn’t a villain. In the end, we can see that she really is trying to let Leah live her life, but it’s hard for a parent who’s almost watched their child die to ever let go of the fear of losing them.

While the “pretend boyfriend” thing is a little silly, I bought into it because it really did seem like her parents would only be appeased if she had someone to care for her. I couldn’t buy into the abruptness of the resolution, though. Leah never confesses to her parents that Jacob wasn’t really her boyfriend, and given that he’s presumably going to be around permanently, that seems a pretty major omission. I thought her mom’s turn around was also too quick and came without more push back from Leah, which I wanted to see. Moreover, I didn’t feel like Leah and Jacob spent enough time discussing her health issues. Before he really knows all the details and the implications, he’s already signing up with her for life. I felt like they both owed it to each other to lay everything on the table first. I could believe that would happen off screen, but I wanted to actually see more of the resolution.

The end of the book didn’t quite maintain the same depth the rest of the book displayed, but seeing Leah and Jacob together was enjoyable enough to overcome some of that.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Harlequin Superromance. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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