ORDER A COPY: Echoes of Scotland Street: An On Dublin Street Novel
Publishing Date: October 7, 2014
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
You couldn’t help but fall in love with young Cole in Down London Road. Now Cole Walker is all grown up and it’s time for him to find true love. In an interesting twist, the story is told by Shannon as she overcomes past traumas and re-learns how to trust the man in her life.
At first, I thought that this book should have been told by Cole, but telling this story from the point of view of Shannon was an interesting choice since we were already familiar with Cole and this gave us an insight in the mind of Cole’s love interest. Yet, I did find myself constantly thinking, “But it’s Cole. Cole is amazing. Don’t be stupid.”
Shannon MacLeod knew that the turning point in her life occurred when she was only 15 and she took the wrong turn. Instead of staying to talk to the boy who lived next door to her grandmother’s house, she got in the car with her then boyfriend which lead her on a journey of losers and abusers. His name even sounded like the name of a hero, Cole Walker.
We flash forward nine years and Shannon has to get away from her family in Glascow and she decides to return to Edinburgh where she had spent time with her Grandparents long ago. She walked into INKarnate to apply for the receptionist position and never expected to once again be face to face with Cole Walker, or that he would have grown up to be so incredibly hot. But the one thing that Shannon is determined to do right this time is to avoid tattooed bad boys at all costs. The last one she dated was the worst of all. He abused her physically and mentally.
Cole comes off as cocky and aggressively flirtatious to the wounded Shannon, but from prior books we know that Cole’s role models are all confident men who were outrageously flirtatious with their women. He will of course learn to be overly demonstrative to a woman he is interested in. But not knowing Cole the way we do, Shannon is turned off by his focused attention.
After several hours of heightened sexual tension, Shannon fears that she new found willpower will breakdown and she goes on the attack letting Cole know that she isn’t interested in being with a player like him. Her verbal attack brings back memories for Cole echoing the years of verbal abuse he was subjected to by his own mother.
Intervention on Cole’s behalf by Hannah, Shannon’s coworker/roommate Rae, and just about every other character we’ve met so far convinces Shannon just how wrong she is about Cole.
Except by the time Shannon realizes that she has misjudged Cole, he has decided that no matter how attracted he is to Shannon, Cole refuses to ever be subjected to verbal abuse again and he won’t entertain a relationship with a woman who would be just like his mother. In this story, it is Shannon who is going to have to work hard to reclaim Cole’s affection. If Shannon wants any chance at a relationship with Cole, she is going to have to spill all the secrets she has carefully hidden away.
I really enjoy this series, and you can’t help but love Cole.
In Fall from India Place, I had a little issue seeing young Hannah all grown up and having sex and being a bit of a bitch. It might also be that Hannah’s story jumped back and forth from child Hannah to adult Hannah. Maybe it was because we were used to grown up Cole from Fall from India Place who is now BFF with Hannah so we were eased into grown up Cole being all sexy and sweet. All I know is that I was all in on Cole having his HEA.
We like Shannon because she’s a nice person who has been hurt many times. We hate Shannon because after a string of losers, of course she decides when she meets Cole that she’s going to use her brain instead her heart. But she in fact hides behind her fear and treats our Cole badly.
I highly recommend the whole On Dublin Street series. Some of the stories are better than others, but Cole’s story is one of the top of the list.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I’d only been standing at the bar a few seconds when a bartender freed up and took my drinks order. I was in the middle of trying to think of ways to resist the attraction to Cole when I felt eyes on me. I turned my head to the right and found two guys around my age, maybe a little older, smiling at me. Although I glanced away quickly, my noticing them seemed to invite their attention.
They slide their drinks down the bar and came to a stop at my side. I very deliberately ignored them. It didn’t deter them.
“Having a nice night?” the one closest to me said.
“I’m Gordon. This is my mate Barry. What’s your name?”
I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to encourage them. As it was I could feel their eyes crawling all over me. I was wearing jeans and my olive green cami and matching cardy. My makeup was subtle, and I was wearing flat-heeled boots. There was nothing about my appearance that screamed I was out on the town. I had no idea why I’d attracted their attention, and frankly I didn’t care. There was nothing that turned me off more than guys who sat at bars and constantly hit on anything that moved. There was a desperation about it, a soullessness, that the romantic in me revolted against.
“Oh, come one, we’re harmless, sweetheart,” the other one said.
I frowned. “I’m not interested.”
The one farther away shrugged and began to retreat, but his friend actually moved close to me. “Sounds like you’re having a bad day. I’m a really good listener.”
I snorted. “All evidence to the contrary.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m not interested.”
He laughed, like I’d said something funny. My eyebrows drew together in confusion.
“You look like that actress,” he said, shifting even closer. “That Australian actress. You look like her when she was younger. I had the biggest hard-on for her.”
Before I could follow up my look of disgust with a verbal “get lost,” a sudden heat engulfed me and a shadow fell over me. Two strong, tattooed arms caged me in as they came to rest on the bar at either side of mine, and a hard chest pressed against my back.
I relaxed immediately and glanced up over my shoulder at Cole’s handsome face. Currently it was turned away from me as he glowered at the persistent barfly.
Although the friend instantly backed up even farther than he already had done, the “good listener” just stared dumbly at Cole.
Cole raised an eyebrow at him. “What part of this doesn’t say ‘fuck off’ to you?”
The idiot studied Cole for a moment as if he was considering ignoring him, and then his brain finally seemed to compute what his eyes were telling him. Cole was bigger and much, much scarier than he was. He lowered his gaze. “Sorry, mate. Didn’t know she was taken.”
He shuffled off down the bar, already searching the pub for a new target.
Cole bent his head, his lips brushing my ear. “You okay?”
Unable to form a coherent sentence with him pressed up against me, I nodded.
Seeming to sense that, Cole hesitated a second. “Am I making you uncomfortable?”
My pulse raced with that feeling of anticipation I’d had earlier. “Yes. But not like you think.”
I heard his sharp intake of breath and braced myself.
His lips were at my ear again. “Do you want me, Shannon?”
My legs began to tremble. “Yes.”
Cole exhaled, as though he was relieved, and to my surprise he buried his nose in the crook of my neck, relaxing into me. The scratch of the bristle on his cheeks against my skin caused tingling in all my feminine places. He breathed me in and lifted his head just as the bartender served up the drinks.
It broke the moment between us.
Cole stepped away from me and I shivered at the loss of his heat.
ORDER A COPY: Fall From India Place
Publishing Date: June 3, 2014
Paperback: 294 pages
Rating: 4 stars
When Hannah Nichols last saw Marco D’Alessandro, five long years ago, he broke her heart. The bad boy with a hidden sweet side was the only guy Hannah ever loved—and the only man she’s ever been with. After one intense night of giving into temptation, Marco took off, leaving Scotland and Hannah behind. Shattered by the consequences of their night together, Hannah has never truly moved on.
Leaving Hannah was the biggest mistake of Marco’s life, something he has deeply regretted for years. So when fate reunites them, he refuses to let her go without a fight. Determined to make her his, Marco pursues Hannah, reminding her of all the reasons they’re meant to be together.…
But just when Marco thinks they’re committed to a future together, Hannah makes a discovery that unearths the secret pain she’s been hiding from him, a secret that could tear them apart before they have a real chance to start over again.
It has been seven years since Nate won the heart of Olivia in Before Jamaica Lane and we find Hannah Nichols all grown up and finishing her first year as a probationary teacher. Sunday dinner at her parents house has gotten even more crowded over the years with all her friends and family now bringing their children with them.
When Mum needs Hannah to clean out her old room so they have room for a crib, Hannah stumbles over her old diaries and a picture of the only boy she has ever loved, Marco D’Alessandro, and it sends her on a painful trip down memory lane. They first met when she was 13 and he was 15. The upperclassman protected her from some bullies after she missed her bus and afterwards he took it upon himself to walk her home each time she missed the bus. As they walked and talked, their friendship grew and Hannah’s schoolgirl crush deepened into a young woman’s first love. But it was the night that Hannah gave her virginity to Marco that tore her world apart. Marco walked away from her that night and returned to America taking her heart and all her girlhood dreams with him.
Hannah spends most of her free time with her new best friend, Cole Walker. After Marco left town, Hannah and Cole grew closer. Hannah only wishes that there were the kind of sparks between her and Cole as she felt with Marco. In fact, Hannah hasn’t found anyone who makes her feel even half of what she felt for Marco.
Morning over the loss of an old love is depressing enough, but to run into him once again after reliving the hurt knocks the wind out of Hannah. She never expected to ever see Marco again in Scotland, but when she finds out he returned more than four years ago, it shatters what is left of her heart. She felt abandoned before but now she can add betrayed to that list as well.
Marco has grown up during his time away from Hannah. The young man who felt unworthy of the beautiful, smart and too young Hannah is gone and the man before her hasn’t forgotten his own feelings and how much Hannah meant to him. He never planned to walk back into her life, but now that he has seen her again, Marco can’t stop his desire for a second chance to win the heart of the only woman he has ever loved. Both the boy he was and the man he is now, know there is no other love for him like Hannah and this time he won’t walk away from her.
But Hannah and Marco are both hiding secrets from their past that could destroy any future they can have together.
I always have a hard time with a series when we have a young characters now grown like Hannah and Marco. It takes me a while to get with the program since part of my brain is still looking at the little kid they were. Seeing them as grown ups who have sex takes me a while. (Yes, my kids are in trouble.) Just like in Until Fountain Bridge, Hannah uses her diary entries to fill us in on our past with Marco from before and after we left her in Nate and Liv’s story.
For the most part, I liked young Hannah and Marco better. Being friends with Marco made Hannah more confident but she was always outspoken with the quiet and reserved Marco. To Marco, Hannah’s friendship and dedication gave him a comfort he couldn’t get from his own family.
Grown up Hannah was holding on too much to her feelings of anger and betrayal. Marco had definitely matured and apologized and no matter that her family and friends all told her how good they were together and how she should give Marco a second chance, she kept jerking him around. Marco would jump through hoops and Hannah wouldn’t stop her bitchy behavior.
Young Hannah was a very likeable character throughout the series and you can understand that her heartbreak could change her, but she needed to either decide to give the guy a chance or walk away. I didn’t like that they kept having sex and she would toss him out, over and over again. Take him back or lock your door. Marco was a responsible and caring kid, who had self-esteem issues and he grew to became a responsible and caring man who finally thought that maybe he was worthy of Hannah. Hannah continuing to jerk Marco around just knocked Hannah’s character down several pegs to the point that I almost had no more pity for her pain.
Cole Walker has grown up into an impressive man, and I am looking forward to his book which is next.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My gaze snapped back to Marco.
A double date.
I was going to be sick. Or I was going to kill him. We were only a few feet from the table when we drew Marco’s gaze. His expression softening at the sight of me until his eyes dropped to my hand in Cole’s and that expression instantly hardened.
He was on a double date and I was with a friend and he was pissed?
“Marco.” Cole greeted him pleasantly. “Just wanted to come over and apologize for…well, you know…” My best friend looked at the pretty blonde at Marco’s side. “I hope I’m not interrupting your date.”
Marco’s eyes clashed with mine and I knew he was definitely irritated with Cole. “It’s not—”
“We shouldn’t have interrupted.” I was studiously avoiding Leah’s burning gaze as I tugged on Cole’s hand. “We’ll let you enjoy your dinner. Cole.”
Cole gave Marco a tight grin before sliding his hand around my waist and leading us to the waiting hostess. As soon as she delivered us to our table, Cole sighed and said, “You’re shaking like a leaf.”
“I’m trying not to kill somebody,” I said through clenched teeth. “Let’s just go home.”
“Fuck that.” Cole let the anger shine from his eyes. “He can’t do this to you.”
“He’s not. I am. I’m doing this to me,” I muttered angrily. “I’m sending him mixed signals, he’s sending me mixed signals. It’s a whole bunch of fucked-up mixed signals. And I really just want to go home before I end up doing hard time.”
Cole leaned into me, pressing his forehead against mine so I had nowhere to look but in his eyes or at my feet. I chose his eyes. “I’m sorry for taking you over there. But he knows that no matter how mixed up you are, underneath it all you love him. And he’s here on a bloody date? I wanted to shake him up, not you.”
“You’re not fine. You’re trembling.”
“I’m trembling with anger. Cole—”
He cut me off by cupping my face in his hands and pressing a soft, sweet kiss to my lips. When he finally pulled back, I stared at him wide-eyed and more than slightly alarmed. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Reminding him he hasn’t won you yet and unless he fights harder he’ll lose you to someone else. He doesn’t need to know that someone will never be me, sweetheart.” He grinned unrepentantly.
I loved my best friend. Totally. I leaned up and pressed another soft kiss to his cheek. “You’re the best, but part of the reason I’m so messed up is because I don’t want him to fight harder. I want us to be over. I just don’t know how to let go.”
Cole leaned into me again, lips almost touching mine as he said quietly, “You need to stop lying to yourself, Hannah Nichols. You love him. You know you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in such a state.”
Before I could respond in the negative, a shadow fell over us and we pulled slightly apart to look at our right and into Marco’s furious face. Anger danced in his exceptional eyes and it was all directed at Cole. “You’ve got two seconds to move away from her before I fuck you up a million times worse than I did at the site.”
Congratulations to our giveaway winner: Lauren
ORDER A COPY: Before Jamaica Lane (Dublin Street)
Publishing Date: January 7, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.
Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.
The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever.
Nate and Olivia are good friends who like to hang out, watch movies, crack jokes and just spend their free time together. Olivia spent her most of her teens years caring for her dying mother so she didn’t have that period of her life to experience flirting and boys and sex. Now she is in her mid-20s, inexperienced and uncertain of her own attraction to men. Olivia is a librarian at the college and is attracted to one of the post-grads who comes to her help desk. Every time she sees him she gets tongue-tied. She enlists the help of her womanizing friend Nate to help her learn to flirt, and Nate teaches her to be comfortable with her own attractiveness to men.
As the time comes to turn the flirting practice into reality, Olivia realizes how uncomfortable she is with her lack of sexual experience (she only had one lover/one time and it was BAD). She again turns to Nate to show her how to please a man in bed.
Although the practice sessions with Nate gives her the experience she desperate wanted, it also solidified her initial attraction to Nate and turns it into love. But Olivia knows the reason behind Nate’s decision not to have relationships with women. He gave his heart to his childhood sweetheart and watched her die of cancer at a young age. He never intends to feel that bond with anyone else.
Olivia needs to make a break from her practice session with Nate before she loses her heart completely, but it might already be too late.
I have loved this series, but I think this might be my favorite couple. Nate and Olivia are just so much fun together and you can see just how perfect they are together as a couple. When they add sex to the relation, their passion for each other burns bright. But you know with Nate’s background, what will unfortunately be coming down the road for them.
God, I love a good friends to lovers story, and this one included a bit of a twist. Usually the friends decide to risk the friendship for a romantic relationship. In this story Olivia wants Nate’s help in being more comfortable with men and after becoming more comfortable after a practice kissing session, Olivia makes the leap asking Nate to show her her to please a man in bed. Although they both show some hesitation about ruining the friendship, they are both interested in the prospect of sex, so those concerns take a backseat to lust.
Even though their practice sessions last for weeks and they are absolutely perfect together, Nate does eventually freak out about his own feelings for Olivia, and gives her the “you know I don’t do relationships” speech. But watching him try to win Olivia back makes for a great story as well. You have to give kudos to Olivia for having the strength to keep pushing Nate away, even though you know she doesn’t want to, but being with Nate has now given her the self-confidence to know she wants to be someone’s love of their life, and not a settled for second best to the ghost of Nate’s first love.
I will definitely be giving this one a re-read when an opportunity arises.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“You already know I lack confidence because of my minimal sexual experience, but…I also just don’t…don’t feel sexually attractive.”
His silence drew my gaze to him. He was looking at me incredulously again.
He put his beer down and planted his palms on the counter like he meant business. “Let’s start with how you don’t feel sexually attractive.”
I gulped. “All right.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
I jerked back at his curse, confused by the angry tone of the question. “What?”
“Get up,” he replied sharply. “Come on, get up.” He rounded the kitchen counter and walked past me.
I got up slowly, wondering what the hell I’d done wrong.
Follow him…all right. My legs trembled when I realized I was following him into my bedroom. With my heartbeat pulsing in my throat, I was unable to speak as I stopped in my doorway and gazed at him.
He stood before my full-length mirror and gestured to it. “Tell me what you see.”
I swallowed past the heartbeat. “Nate…” I took a step back and my movement shot him into action. Lightning-quick, he had hold of me and was tugging me back into the room with him until he’d maneuvered me in front of the mirror, while he stood looking into it over my shoulder.
“Tell me. Trust me.”
Taking a deep breath, I let my eye focus on my reflection, sweeping them over my face and then down my body and back to my face again.
“I see…I see an average-looking woman with…” I shrugged, so embarrassed it wasn’t funny. “With fl–flabby arms, a belly pouch, and a fat ass.”
When my answer was met by silence I finally gathered the nerve to look up into the mirror to Nate’s reflection. He was glowering at me again. “Anything good?”
I glanced back at my face. My eyes were as always, the only thing I liked. They were striking eyes, inherited from my dad. Usually, pale hazel, with so many flecks of gold they appeared golden in a certain light. We both had dark lashes that set the color off. We’d been told on more than one occasion, and by quite a few folks, that our eyes were exotic, almost feline. My dad worked his eyes. They were flinty and perceptive in his ruggedly handsome face. On my average face they were the only thing to enliven my features. “My eyes,” I whispered softly.
“That’s a given, babe. What else?”
Tense, I searched for an answer and then said carefully, “Okay, my skin. I have good skin.”
Nate smiled encouragingly at me. “You’ve got gorgeous skin.” He heaved a beleaguered sigh. “Let’s tackle the other stuff.” I was pretty sure he then muttered under his breath, “Crazy fucking women,” before he took hold of my arm. “Where are these flabby arms of yours, then?”
Skin flushing the color of raspberries, I pushed the fat around my tricep.
I was rewarded with a “what the eff?” look by Nate. “That’s not flab. It’s skin. Look, you’ve not got any definition, but you’ve also not got flab. Rule number one…”
I nodded at him to go on, my eyes wide, eager to learn.
“…don’t use the word ‘flab’ around a guy you want to shag. Now, if a guy’s like me he can get past the self-consciousness and decide to think it’s cute, but there are loads of guys out there who don’t think it’s cute. They want a confident woman in their bed. I don’t know if this library guy is one of those guys, so we’ll play it safe. No more flab talk.”
For some reason that really made me want to giggle, but I also wanted Nate to know I was taking this seriously, so I pinched my lips together and nodded.
I blinked in confusion again. “Next?”
“The supposed fat arse?”
The touch of Nate’s hand on my ass caused me to jump about ten feet, but he didn’t let go, smoothing his hand over my butt and giving it a gentle squeeze.
Whoa, okay, then.
My skin was prickling and there was a suspicious fullness in my breasts and lower belly that I adamantly tried to ignore.
“Not fat.” Nate leaned close to my ear, speaking in a low voice that did nothing to abate the physical response of my body. “Curvy. And I’ll let you in on a wee secret: there are still men out there that like a woman to be soft under the hands, to have curves, hips, tits and arse.” he tapped my butt gentle with the palm of his hand. “It’s a good arse, babe. I don’t want to hear you refer to it as anything else.”
Shock rooted me to the floor. It wasn’t just the very cool things he was saying; it was the rush of tingles that shivered through me as he caressed my butt and moved his hand upward, siding it under my T-shirt, and around my waist to caress my stomach. I sucked in a deep breath.
There was no ignoring the fact that he was turning me on. I really needed him to not know he was turning me on.
Nate unwittingly saved me. His hand dipped downward, shaking me out of the little sensual haze he’d put me in when I realized when he was heading.
For my belly!
I clutched at his hand to stop him, but when our eyes met in the mirror his expression was admonishing. He gave me a little shake of his head. “Let go, babe.”
I shook my head back at him.
His expression instantly softened at the panic in my voice. “Trust me.”
ORDER A COPY: Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
ebook: 97 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.
After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again.
Joss has kept everyone at a distance since she lost her family in a car accident. If you don’t get close to anyone, you can’t risk losing them. Braden Carmichael is a man who gets what he wants and he wants Joss. Now that he has her, he wants no walls between them. Braden insists that he will always be there for her and she can always trust in him. So for the first time since lost her family she has opened her heart and has taken the risk of loving him and his family.
As their connection grows, they believe they will be ready for the hurdles life will throw at them. Yet, as they begin their married life, they may not survive their first challenge.
A misunderstanding has created a gulf between them. What they need most is to talk out the situation. But Braden is shutting her out and Joss is loving faith in him.
Neither one will listen or even talk, since each fears that the other is ready call it quits. These two people who thought love would overcome fear must learn that this is a war they will always fight or they will lose what is most important to them.
It is always great to go back in a series to a favorite character. I hope more authors will start doing this. On Dublin Street was a great story, and Braden and Joss made a wonderful couple.
This short story is shows us that a HEA is not that simple. Joss has issues trusting people and letting them into her heart. That doesn’t go away once we hit The End and our H/H admit their love. So when Joss falters under her old feelings of fear of losing someone, she is surprised that Braden isn’t there to catch her. Braden is dealing with his own fears at Joss’s reaction to some news.
While they are both wrapped up in their own reaction and their fear of hearing what the other has to say, their whole relationship is slipping away from them. They will both need to learn to conquer their own fear and have the courage to listen to their partner’s fear or their marriage won’t survive longer than their honeymoon.
I also want to give another thumbs up on this series to Samantha Young. Her presentation of the last short story Until Fountain Bridge was very creative in writing style and this short short was a great example that just because we hit the HEA, doesn’t mean life becomes all wine and roses.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
He was beautiful.
Just looking at him caused a different kind of ache inside of me.
This was a man who’d fought long and hard to keep me, even when I was bent on self-destructing us. This was a man who understood I could be difficult and stubborn and a little bit irrational (okay, maybe a freaking lot irrational), and still loved me. I wasn’t the best at expressing my emotions. I’d spent so long guarding them so I wouldn’t be vulnerable to heartbreak that even now I wasn’t the gushy, emotional type of girl who could tell her boyfriend every single day that she loved him.
But Braden knew I loved him.
Sometimes I wondered, though, if he knew how much. I wondered if he knew that just watching him sleep made me scary happy, breathless even. I wondered if he knew that he was absolutely, without a doubt, everything to me.
Usually that wasn’t something I’d want anyone to know because it meant admitting it out loud, and if I admitted it out loud and then lost that person, then I couldn’t pretend I’d never felt so much for them in the first place. But that was the old me. Dr. Pritchard, my therapist, wouldn’t be happy with me if I held on to that kind of thinking.
I wouldn’t be happy with me.
I snuggled a little closer, just needing to feel the heat from his body against my skin. My eyes dropped to his mouth, his beautiful mouth, which said and did a lot of nice things to me.
I was everything to Braden. I knew this because he told me so. He never made me doubt how much I meant to him.
“Is there a reason you’re over there and I’m over here?” he suddenly muttered, his eyes still shut.
I’d jerked back at the sound of his voice but was now smiling as I slid closer. “You’re awake,” I whispered, wrapping my arm around his waist, entwining my legs with his as he draped a strong arm over my back and snuggled me against his firm chest. I sighed. Content.
“I’ve been awake for the past ten minutes waiting for you to get your arse back in beside me.”
I snorted at his disgruntled tone.
His warm hand slid down my back, caressing my butt before smoothing back up my spine.
“You get what you needed to get down?”
“Mmmhmm. Finished my chapter.”
“Good, babe. Now go back to sleep.”
I smirked against his chest. “Okay, caveman.”
A minute or so passed and just as Braden was drifting back off I whispered, “You’re my everything. You know that right?”
His arm tensed around me at my words and then I found myself pushed back, his eyes boring intensely into mine. After searching them, his sleepy mouth curled up at the corners. “You don’t need to sweet-talk me to get sex, babe.”
My eyes smiled. “Well that kind of knowledge could have saved me months of uncomfortable expressions of love.”
Wide-awake now, Braden tightened his arms around me and as he flipped onto his back, he hauled me with him so I was sprawled across his chest, my legs straddling his hips. A note of seriousness entered his gaze as he drew his thumb across my mouth. A shiver rippled through me and I loved that he excited me so much. “I know how you feel abut me. I feel the same way. You never have to worry that you don’t tell me enough, okay?”
There he went again, being all perceptive to the point of being creepy psychic mind reader guy.
“You’re creepy psychic mind reader guy.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Creepy?”
“In a hot way.”
“There’s a hot way to be creepy?”
“Slide your hand south and creepy will certainly become hot.”
Braden’s teeth flashed in the dark, his wicked smile jump-starting my heart.
ORDER A COPY: Until Fountain Bridge: (InterMix)
Publishing Date: June 18, 2013
eBook: 111 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Ellie Carmichael had a crush on Adam Sutherland, her brother, Braden’s, best friend, for years, and although Adam treated her with proprietary concern he made it clear he thought of her only as a little sister.
Over the years, as Ellie’s crush develops into love, her romantic idealism makes it difficult for her to move on. To make matters worse, as she’s gotten older, Adam’s attitude has changed toward her. His affection for her is now joined by attraction, but his loyalty to Braden, and his fear of losing the only family he has, stops him from claiming Ellie the way she wishes he would.
But one night his attraction is put to the test, and as much as Adam would like things to remain the same everything changes between them in a simple brush of the lips.
Soon lust, love, jealousy and heartbreak combine to force change upon their relationship… and Adam discovers the hard way that life is too damn short to spend it on regret.
Samantha Young’s hit novel, On Dublin Streeet, first introduced us to Braden’s lovable sister, Ellie Carmichael who has been in love with Braden’s best friend, Adam Sutherland for years. We caught glimpses of their behind the scene romance while Joss and Braden had the spotlight.
Now with the help of some flashbacks, we watch Ellie and Adam take the spotlight and show us just how their years of friendship and affection turned into love and passion.
This was an enjoyable short story and a very clever way to bring us back to their beginning. As Ellie moves into Adam’s apartment, she decides that she wants to give her diaries to Joss to use to write her next book. Adam walks in on her looking through her piles of diaries. Ellie begins the story by presenting him with her diary entry from age 14, when she first turned her affection for her big brother’s friend into a young girl’s first love. They then discuss monumental moments throughout the next few years and Ellie pulls out those important moments from her diaries.
Adam is given a deeper understanding of Ellie’s feelings for him and how his support and his neglect effected Ellie and certain choices she made in her life.
It was a very clever way to keep us in the present and show us things which were only hinted at in the background of On Dublin Street. Samantha Young has a great writing style. She has written more than I have had a chance to read, but I have enjoyed all the stories I have read so far and am looking forward to more.
Received a review copy from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
“Come here, sweetheart.” Without asking, he pulled me into him and I immediately nestled my cheek against his chest and held tight, trying not to cry.
“So where is this little shit?”
I pulled back from him, suddenly wary now that he was here and obviously furious. “What are you going to do?
“Sixteen.” He curled his lip in anger. “I can’t hit him, but I can scare the absolute fuck out of him.”
Braden and Adam cursed a lot, and had no problem doing so in front of me. Mum would be furious if she ever found out how much they cursed. Luckily for them, it had been drilled into me since the age of zero that you didn’t curse in front of Elodie Nichols, and I’d never repeated the words Braden and Adam used around me. To be fair, they limited their expression to the basics–I’d heard way worse at school. Today in fact, and they’d been directed at me.
I felt my eyes start to water again. Adam saw and his eyes narrowed.
“Els, where is this boy?”
I sighed heavily. “Around the back of the building, behind the lunch room.”
“Right.” Adam strode in through the gates and I hurried after him, ignoring the curious gazes of my fellow students, and the excited chatter as they guessed that Adam was here on my behalf and that something was about to go down.
My cheeks burned with embarrassment, while my heart pounded in anticipation for a little retribution for the worst morning in the history of my entire school career.
When we rounded the corner of the building, Adam stopped and stared into the crowd of seniors. The fourth and fifth years gradually turned their heads toward us, their eyes widening at the sight of me with Adam.
“Which one?” Adam asked flatly.
“Brian is the one with his blazer tied around his waist.”
“The tall, blond kid with the bottle of juice in his hand? The one that looks like a prick?”
“That would be the one.”
“Little…” Adam growled under his breath and marched toward Brian, who dropped his drink and clenched his hands into fists. Brian’s friend nudged him and he turned around to face Adam. Brian instantly paled at the sight of him.
Adam approached and towered over Brian. He tilted his head, so his face was close to Brian’s and whatever he said made the seniors around him grow wide-eyed.
“Well?” Adam suddenly asked loudly.
Brian mumbled something.
“Louder, you lying little shit.”
“I didn’t have sex with her!” Brian cried. “I didn’t touch her…” He turned and caught sight of me watching and his eyes seemed to plead with me to call Adam off. “I’m sorry!” he said. “I lied, alright!”
A murmur from the crowds drew my eyes past Brian to the lunchroom doors, and my stomach dropped when I saw Mr. Mitchell standing there watching Adam. Adam must have seen him too because his head came up. He didn’t however, back away from Brian.
“Who are you?” Mr. Mitchell asked in a belligerent tone as he walked toward Adam. “You’re not allowed on school grounds.”
“I was just heaving a word with Mr. Fairmont here. We’re all good.” Adam shrugged as if he wasn’t a twenty-one year old who’d just gotten through threatening a sixteen-year-old.
“Brian, are you okay?” Mr. Mitchell asked.
“Uh, fine, Mr. Mitchell,” he took a step back from Adam toward the safe proximity of the geography teacher.
“Adam!” I called out, wanting him gone before he got in trouble.
I drew Mr. Mitchell’s gaze and his face clouded over. “Miss Carmichael, you know quite well you aren’t allowed visitors during school hours.”
“Sorry, Mr. Mitchell.”
“I’m just leaving.” Adam shot Brian one last warning look and then turned and casually strode toward me, taking his time. Adam didn’t like to be told what to do.
When he reached me, he put an arm around my shoulder and had me walk him back to the school gate. No one said a word as we passed.
They were all looking at me as if I was extremely cool. I mean, I must be if I had Adam Sutherland’s arm around me, and he’d shown up at school to scare the truth out of Brian.
I grinned and Adam caught it, his soft laughter making me all warm and fuzzy.
“Feel better?” He asked as we came to a stop.
“Yes. Thank you.”
“What were you doing at a party on a Saturday night?”
I frowned at his proprietary tone. “I’m fourteen, Adam. It was a friend’s birthday. Anyway, I didn’t know seniors were going to be there.”
He nodded. “Just be careful.”
“Yeah.” I lowered my gaze, feeling bad that he’d been dragged into my teen drama.
“Come here.” Adam pulled me to him again and pressed a soft kiss to my forehead before he hugged me close. Now that I wasn’t bemoaning the stress of my morning and crying on his chest, I was suddenly fully aware of being crushed against him. He smelled amazing, and his body was hard with lean muscle; it felt good against mine.
A weird, tingling feeling erupted in my lower belly and my skin suddenly grew incredibly flushed.
I jerked back and tried to cover my awkwardness with a tremulous smile and a goofy wave.
ORDER A COPY: Down London Road (On Dublin Street)
Publishing Date: May 7, 2013
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.
But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.
Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.
When we first met Johanna Walker in On Dublin Street, she comes off as a gold digger, going from one rich boyfriend to another, and even ready to jump in and grab up Bradon if Joss wasn’t interested.
In Down London Road, we learn that Johanna is the daughter of an abusive father, and an alcoholic mother, and everything she does is for the benefit of her little brother, Cole. Since her father long disappeared and her mother always in the bottle, Jo had to drop out of high school at 16 to get a job to pay the rent and buy food. Because Jo didn’t finish school, she works very hard at two part-time jobs. With her lack of education and through years of mental and physical abuse from her parents, she doesn’t believe she is worth much. She believes that the only thing going for her is her good looks, and the only way that she and Cole will do more than just survive in the poor end of Edinburg is for her to put her good looks to work and find a rich boyfriend who will bring them financial security.
Yet in always looking first at the pocket book of future dates, she is perceived in a bad light by those around her. Joss and Johanna have since become friends and Joss is aware that she misjudged Jo. When Cam MacCabe comes into Johanna’s life, he takes one look at her on the arm of her rich boyfriend, and immediately decides that she is out for all she can get. After getting a job at Club 39 working with Joss and Jo, Cam finally learns the real Johanna Walker and encourages her to believe in herself. He especially wants her to dump her rich boyfriend and give in the pull they have for each other.
With Cam in not only her life, but becoming a close friend to her brother, Cole, Jo can finally see a life worth more to her than just being arm candy to some rich guy, and she stops trying to be the perfect girlfriend, and begins to become someone she wants to be, but when you finally live the life you’ve always wanted, the risk of losing it all can be so frightening.
A brilliant follow up to On Dublin Street. Johanna doesn’t come off as a very likeable character in Book #1. We believe her to be a bimbo looking for a meal ticket, but like Joss, we get to know her better and begin to understand what her young life has been like and why she feels the need to seek out rich men. Just like us, Cam walks in to the story and misjudges Jo and is actually quite nasty to her for the first quarter of the book and we hate him for it, although when he finally apologizes for being such a jerk, it is eloquent and heartfelt. At this point, we start to root for Cam and Jo to be together.
I truly enjoyed the characters and the story in On Dublin Street, so I don’t know why like a teacher with her red pen, I started this book positive that it could not be as good as On Dublin Street, and I was ready to point out all the similarities to Book #1 or all the clichéd romance plot points. As I read, the discussion in my head was a bit like this…”This guy is an ass**le…ooo, nice apology.” “Oh, that’s the stupid mistake that’s going to ruin it all…oh, that was a smart way to deal with that.” “There is NO excuse for that…oh, yeah I see where that could be misconstrued.”
All I can say is, nicely done, Ms. Young. Nicely done. An A+ for you.
And it didn’t hurt that I could picture Jude Law bringing in an incredible Cam MacCabe performance.
I can’t wait to see who is next in this series.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
The empty flat directly beneath my flat didn’t appear to be empty anymore.
The door to it had been thrown open, and I watched wide-eyed as two guys carried a coffee table up the last few steps and onto the landing.
“You hit the leg.” The extremely tall, dark-haired guy in a rugby shirt smirked at his companion as they leveled out on the landing.
The other guy was a little shorter, with broad shoulder and messy dark hair squashed under a beanie hat. When he turned to smile cheekily at his friend, I knew I was in the presence of a player. The guy was gorgeous and that smile told me he knew just what to do with it. “He’ll never notice.”
“There’s a bash in the wood.”
“Ach, it gives it character.”
I took another step down and my movement drew both of their gazes. I felt an uneasy squirm in my stomach as I glanced at the open door to the flat. We had a new neighbor. A new neighbor who would have to endure my mum’s wailing drunkenness.
The beanie hat guy grinned appreciatively at the sight of me, his eyes drinking me in from my boots to my head. I flicked a quick look at his friend and discovered I was under his smiling perusal too. My automatic flirt kicked in and I gave them a half smile back and a wave of my fingers. “Hey.”
Beanie Guy adjusted the weight of his side of the coffee table as he asked, ”You live here?”
“The flat above you.”
He made a huffing sound and shook his head as he stared at his friend. “Cam’s always been a lucky fucker.”
I instantly tensed at the name.
“What’s taking so long?” a deep and very familiar voice asked from inside the flat.
My mouth was already falling open when Cam stepped out of the flat to greet his friends.
“Cam?” I squeaked in disbelief.
Startled, Cam looked up at me, astonishment slackening his features. “Jo?”
“Eh…” The tall friend’s head turned form me and Cam to Beanie Guy. “The lucky fucker already knows her.”
I ignored them, my heart hammering in my chest now as my eyes pinned Cam to the landing. He stood before me in one of his worn T-shorts and jeans, his engineer boots on, his hair a mess and his eyes dark with lack of sleep. Despite his obvious tiredness, he seemed to hum with an energy that sucked me in. When he stepped into a room, you felt his vitality, his strength. There were few people in this world who had that kind of presence about them, Braden Carmichael was one. Cameron MacCabe was definitely another.
And he was moving in the flat beneath mine?
I couldn’t get my pulse to slow at the thought of Cam being so close to all my secrets and shame. “You’re moving in?”
His eyes flew past me to the floor above us. “You live here?”
The rocks settled heavily in my stomach. “The flat above you.”
“Jesus.” Cam sighed, seeming as unhappy about the revelation as I was. “Small world.”
More like small city. “Very,” I murmured. How had this happened? Did fate just hate me? Of all the coincidences in the world, why did I have to be landed with such a huge and very crap one?
“Eh, this is getting heavy,” Tall Guy complained, nodding at the coffee table.
I eyed the size of his biceps and doubted he found it at all heavy.
Cam gestured to the flat. “Take it in, guys. Thanks.”
“No, no.” Beanie Guy shook his head, smirking, his eyes still on me. “First introduce us to Miss Scotland.”
I felt my cheeks heat at the compliment, hating that it somehow added substance to Cam’s opinion of me.
Cam’s body tensed and he crossed his arms over his chest. “Just take it in the flat.”
My God, I was so unworthy that he couldn’t even introduce me to his friends. Ignoring the hurt that had gripped my chest, I smiled at Beanie Guy. “I’m Jo.”
Beanie Guy and Tall Guy’s mouths dropped open. “Jo?” they asked in surprised unison…as if they’d heard of me.
My brow puckered in confusion as I slid a questioning look at Cam. His whole body was rigid now as he gave his friends the tiniest shake of his head.
His friends didn’t take whatever hint Cam was sending them. “Jo from the bar, Jo?”
Cam had spoken about me? I shifted uneasily, not sure in what light I’d been painted. “That’s me.”
The two of them grinned and Beanie Guy gave me a nod of hello. “I’m Nate and that’s Peetie.”
I eyed the tall guy incredulously. “Peetie?” Not the kind of name you’d expect from someone of his size.
Peetie had a nice face, friendly and open. “Gregor. My surname’s Peterson.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Cam’s told us all about you, Jo.” Nate continued, avoiding Cam’s glower.
Feeling a little shaken that Cam had spoken about me to his friends and far too curious about how he’d spoken about me, I decided it was time to move along so I could wrap my head around the fact that Cam was my new neighbor.
Come to think of it, he had been speaking to Joss about finding a cheaper flat.
Again…of all places, why did it have to be in my building?
I decided to pretend like I didn’t care what Cam had said. “Well, don’t believe word of it.” I ignored Cam as I passed him, and smiled at his friends. “Cam has the unfortunate habit of forming an opinion before he really gets to know someone.”
Nate nodded, “Yeah, he told us what a remarkable dick he was to you.”
That stopped me in midstride, and I twisted around to stare at Cam.
He shrugged at me, his expression still deadpan. “I told you I was sorry.”
My eyes swung to his grinning friends and then back to him. “Well, then, I guess I might actually believe you now. Neighbor.” And with a nod of good-bye to them all, I started descending the stairs carefully.
“That’s Jo?” Nate asked loudly, as I disappeared from view, his voice carrying all the way down to me, and I couldn’t help but prick my ears up to listen.
“Shut up,” Cam hissed. “Let’s get the rest of the stuff in.”
“Christ almighty, you weren’t kidding, were you? How fucking long are those leg?”
“How can you stand it, mate? If you’re not having a crack at her, I am.”
Cam’s growl reverberated down to me. “Get in the fucking flat!”
His door slammed and I jumped, stalling on the last landing. What the hell had all that meant? What had Cam said about me?
Our giveaway winner was Aisha M. Congratulations!
ORDER A COPY: On Dublin Street
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publishing Date: December 31, 2012
Paperback: 336 pages
Rating: 5 stars – A MUST READ!!!
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare… Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.
Jocelyn Butler’s world went spinning out of control when she lost her parents and her baby sister when they were killed in a car crash. Since then, she has made sure to keep people at a safe distance where she doesn’t have to get too attached or care too much. She never wants to feel that pain of loss ever again. In fact, she has moved from the United States to Scotland to get away from all the painful memories.
When her former college flatmate moves to London to pursue a career, Joss is left to find a new place to live. She goes to Dublin Street and meets Ellie Carmichael, a girl so unlike Joss, that they can’t help but get along. Where Jocelyn keeps her life and herself closed off from others, Ellie is vivacious and friendly.
After moving in, Jocelyn has a very revealing meet with Ellie’s brother Braden…after she steps out of her bathroom quite naked.
Although Braden usually has a leggy, blonde supermodel-type draped on his arm, he can’t stop thinking of the petite, curvy and quite prickly Jocelyn and he is quite determined to become more than just friends. Jocelyn has no interest of having a relationship with anyone who could possibly hurt her. So when Braden suggests that they quench the fire between them with just a sexual relationship, no strings attached, Jocelyn decides to go along with it since she can’t stop thinking about getting her hands on Braden. She’ll get a taste of Braden without the having the mess of emotions.
What Jocelyn doesn’t realize is the Braden wants so much more from Jocelyn but he is willing to worm his way slowly through her defenses because he can see that there is so much more to her than she sees in herself.
Everything is going so well until tragedy tries to work its way back into Jocelyn’s life and she once again tries to lock her heart away from the pain. But those who have come to love her will not let her go without a fight.
I LOVED this book. It was absolutely extraordinary. The characters were so well-written and enjoyable. I loved how Braden doesn’t let Jocelyn push him away. Although a man who is so pushy and domineering would probably annoy me in real life, I loved him in this story and how he brought Jocelyn back to life; as well as his sister Ellie, who even the antisocial Jocelyn couldn’t deny feeling a deep affection for her.
The storyline was so compelling and the characters were so enticing, I just didn’t want the story to end.
The draw between Braden and Jocelyn was so sexy, whether they were in or out of bed. And the bedroom scenes were quite erotic, but not to the point of being obscene.
I can’t recommend it enough that you try this story! I had a review copy of this book, but have already picked up my own copy to keep because I will definitely be enjoying this story over and over again.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher. THANK YOU!!
Encouraging Craig was a bad idea. We’d always joked around but tonight he’d crossed the line and I’d let him, and it was all because Braden was messing with my head. I hated the punch to my gut when I thought Donna was his date. I hated that he knew I’d felt something. I hated that I suspected he’d orchestrated the whole thing.
I had to find way to let him know once and for all that nothing was ever going to happen between us.
My eyes snapped up from their hook on the carpet when Su’s door opened, and I straightened, the butterflies in my stomach raging to life as Braden stepped inside and closed the door.
His eyes were calculating as they trained on my face, his features hard, clouded.
Braden looked pissed.
“What are you doing here?”
He didn’t answer and my eyes did that thing again…losing control, running down his body, taking in the stylish back crew-neck sweater and tailored black pants. The only accessory he wore was an expensive platinum sports watch. His understated style and the fact that he hadn’t shave in a few days added up to a very hot package.
I felt the squeeze right in the bottom depths of my body and my jaw locked. Why did he have to turn me on so much? It wasn’t fair.
Covering, I took a swig of my soda. “Well?”
“I don’t like to share.”
My eyes flew to his and if it was possible, he looked angrier than ever. In this tiny room, Braden was huge and intimidating, and the comparison between our sizes more notable. He could crush me like a bug if he wanted to. “What?”
His eyes narrowed. “I said, I don’t like to share.”
I thought of Vicky. “That’s not what I’ve heard.”
“Let me rephrase.” He took a seething step toward me. “When it comes to you…I don’t like to share.”
There was no time to process that. One minute I was staring incredulously up at him, the next the soda can was hitting the floor and my ass was on the desk as Braden collided with me. The heat and strength of him overwhelmed me as his large hand gripped the back of my neck and his other tugged my left thigh up, allowing him to push in between my legs and position me over the desk. His mouth crashed down on mine and the desire my body had been harboring for him for weeks took control of me. I clung to him, my hand digging into this back, my legs climbing his hips as my lips parted on an exhalation of relief that allowed his tongue inside my mouth to tease mine. The smell of him, the taste of whisky on his tongue, the feel of his warm hands gripping me tight it…it all overpowered me and I made this throaty sound I couldn’t control.
His kiss whipped out any memory of Craig’s.