Series: Take the Fall #1
Published by Loveswept Source: Netgalley
Genres: Alpha Guy, Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Military, New Adult, Romance, Second Chances, Small Town Romance
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As a teenager, Seth O’Connor went to jail for a crime he had nothing to do with. He took the fall to protect the girl he loved, but the cruel realities of prison hardened him. After doing his time, Seth shuts her out and enlists in the Marines—until his grandmother’s funeral forces him to come home and face Rowan Simmons once again. The woman she’s become puts all his high-school memories to shame, and Seth wants her more than ever. Can he be honest about why he denied her for so long?
After Seth pushed her away, Rowan swore that no man would ever hurt her again. But the boy who broke her heart has become a sexy Marine, capable of fulfilling her every desire—and now that he’s back in town, old feelings are simmering to a boil. Rowan wants to stay strong, even as her body surrenders to his expert touch. She only hopes that by taking him back, she can finally help heal the wounds that drove them apart.
This book starts off so heartbreaking! I mean seriously, all the characters are young and doing crazy things like street racing (I’m not ashamed to say I went along for a ride or to when I was young and naive) but instead of being able to grow out of the crazy behavior, they got into it with the wrong guy and said guy had a gun. When the fight is all said and done, Rowan (our heroine) loses both her boyfriend and her brother. No they didn’t die, but one went to prison and the other did some jail time and then was sentenced to join the Marines, her boyfriend goes off to be a Marine and he makes it clear he does not want her along for the ride. I just felt so bad for everyone right up front, but hey it means I was invested, and I like being invested in the characters.
So I love second chance romances, and I think I have made that clear over the years, so this story is right up my alley. And what worked for me in this book was how much you could really see and feel how much Rowan was fighting her emotions, trying to be strong, to make Seth believe she wasn’t hurt, I mean I was right there with her. Rowan had great sassy attitude that I really liked. I also really liked that after her boyfriend and brother went to prison she started a non-profit that helps ex-cons get work, I mean she could have just felt sorry for herself, but she went and tried to make other people’s lives better, can’t help but love a girl like that.
Seth, hmmm Seth. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I wanted to punch him. Sometimes I felt he was pushing too hard, without really making up for what he did to Rowan seven years before. I mean in a lot of ways I think he was just getting swept up in being around her again and how much chemistry they still had, and sometimes just forgot to address some of the issues that really needed to be addressed. I liked the give and take relationship he had with Rowan, I think that these two needed someone who would be able to see through each others BS and they totally do.
I liked how the book ended, it was satisfying. I liked the chemistry between them, although I’m not sure it needed quite as much sex as was in it, but it was hot, so I won’t complain about that too much. I liked that the author really made me feel like I was going along for the ride with Rowan, and I liked that.
“You want to drive?” I ask, trying to keep the excitement out of my voice. I don’t want to look like a complete tool in front of my girl’s older brother, but the last word cracks in my throat.
Embarrassed as hell, I cough, like something got caught and was responsible for my soprano warbling, and run a hand through my hair before I start over. “I mean, I guess I can.” I shrug. “Whatever, bro.”
Jase Simmons, two years older at nineteen, slices his gaze to me. I’ve idolized him ever since I spied on him in his garage with his hand up Melissa Layton’s skirt. He’d been fourteen, a juvie regular, and a freshman in high school. Melissa had been eighteen, a homecoming queen, and a senior, but from the way she clutched his shoulders and moaned his name—their differences didn’t seem to matter very much. If at all.
Luckily, he didn’t think I was a perv when he caught me snooping. Instead, he took my scrawny ass under his wing, kept me from being beat up by the other kids in the neighborhood, and taught me how to trick out a car.
He tosses me the keys, and I catch them. “Cut the shit, O’Connor, and get in.”
Grinning, I slide into the tricked-out sports car. The driver’s seat is all black leather, soft and supple. I run my hands over the steering wheel, gripping it once before letting it go.
Despite this being my first time up, I know there’s no way I won’t win. Tony Johnson’s car has nothing on Jase’s Mustang, and Jase has been coaching me in my ’98 Nissan. Come tomorrow, I for damn sure will be driving Rowan to school in Tony’s Camaro.
“You done feeling her up?” Jase asks, listening to the police scanner a friend of his holds. Yeah, street racing isn’t exactly legal. Okay, forget . It’s strictly illegal, and our asses could go to jail if we get caught.
But the thrill of it—the way my heart is pumping right now—there’s no way in hell I’m giving up my turn to race.
“Just getting to know her.”
“She doesn’t want you to know her. She wants to be driven.” He shuts the passenger side door. “So drive it like you borrowed it from a guy who will kick your ass from here to the Outer Banks if you wreck it.”
Blood drains from my face. “Don’t you mean it?”
“Hell, no.” Jase gives me a pointed look. “They’re waiting and betting on you to win.”
I glance out the window, watching as a group of people jostle for a front-row view as money exchanges hands. My stomach churns. I can’t let anyone down, especially not a crowd of people who don’t want to part with their money.
Sweat breaks out on my upper lip, and I swipe at it with my tongue.
A flash of sunshine catches my eye. My girlfriend, Rowan, stands directly in the middle. Her smile is so big that my heartbeat gets all crazy. I think I’ve loved Rowan for as long as I have known her. Considering that she punched me in the stomach in kindergarten for not letting her on the swing set first, that’s a long damn time.
“Staring at my sister won’t help,” Jase growls.
He’s going to kill me. “I wasn’t staring.”
Jase laughs. “Rowan told me the two of you are officially dating.”
Instead of replying to that right away, I start up the engine. It roars to life before settling in to an idling purr. Best sound on earth. An image of a nude Rowan flashes in my head. She moans my name. Okay, so second-best.
I can’t think of Jase’s sister nude or moaning while I’m sitting right beside the dude. Sweat gathers at the small of my back and I take a deep, sustaining breath.
“Rowan really said that?” I ask all nonchalantly.
“Yeah.” He rolls down the window and lights a cigarette. The end of it glows bright orange. “She’s got bigger balls than you.”
Pretty sure those balls are mine. That girl owns me. “I was going to tell you.” Putting the car into gear, I inch it forward to line up with the Camaro beside us.
Jase grunts. “After the wedding?”
I haven’t asked Rowan to marry me, but I can see it happening. After she’s done with college, and I’ve worked long enough at my grandmother’s auto shop to become a manager.
“I love your sister, Jase. She’s not just a—”
“You can stop at ” he says, cutting me off. “I don’t need to know any more than that. And since I haven’t heard you running your mouth about whatever extracurricular activities the two of you have been up to, I’m content to let you live.”
The phrase is implied. “I totally respect her.”
He slices his gaze to look at me, a smirk on his face. “Does that mean she’ll be a virgin on her wedding night?”
I almost choke. “Uh . . . ah . . .” Rowan and I have been having sex for five months now. I’m her first and she’s my second. Actually, she’s my .
Jase punches me in the side. “I’m fucking with you, but if you get her pregnant—then it’s a shotgun wedding. If you hurt her, then a bullet to the balls. You got me?”
I got him. In fact, I’m completely terrified of him. Most people I know are terrified of him. Except my grandmother . . . she loves Jase. So much so that he’s the head mechanic at her shop. He is an amazing mechanic. I’m pretty sure he can take an engine apart and put it back together in his sleep.