Series: Ribbon Ridge #6
Published by Avon Impulse Source: Author
Genres: Small Town Romance, Second Chances, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Millionaire/Billionaire Hero
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USA Today bestseller Darcy Burke concludes her Archer family saga with a second chance at first love…
Everyone thought college sweethearts Bex Holmgren and Hayden Archer were headed for the altar… until a tragic accident sent young Bex running from a future she wasn’t ready to claim. But when she’s offered her dream job at Archer Brewing, Bex can’t pass up the chance to reconnect with the big, crazy family that once welcomed her with open arms—and the one man she’s never stopped loving.
When he returns home after a year in France, Hayden is less than thrilled to find his ex-girlfriend working for his family’s company. He’s finally moved on, and being around her rekindles long-buried feelings he’d rather ignore. But Bex isn’t the same girl he knew—she’s more mature, more beautiful, more tempting than ever—and he can’t resist the pull of the intense passion he’s only ever shared with her.
Have five years changed them enough, or are they doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? The only thing Bex knows for sure is that for her, Hayden is still the one.
I really like this series, I will admit there is a HUGE cast of characters that can sometimes be overwhelming, but at the end of the day I really love every book I have read from this series. The series itself follows a rather large family, they are prominent in the area, well off, but still very humble. Except life isn’t completely perfect for them, one of the family members killed himself and the series is basically how the family comes together after this tragedy. I was really looking forward to this book mostly because you never really get to know much about Hayden until this book, I mean we know he went off to France to pursue his dream of making wine, leaving the family business behind, but other than that, not much.
So when the book starts we meet Bex, who is back in town before Hayden is. Bex left town after her breakup with Hayden, they both seemed to want different things back then, she wanted to leave for a bigger city, and he wanted to stick it out with family obligations. And then tragedy struck, and their relationship just never recovered. But Bex is back now and not only that she is working for the family’s brewery, which is basically her dream job, but she is beyond nervous about what’s going to happen when she sees Hayden again. I think I identified a lot with Bex, I could certainly understand wanting to move to a big city, and I could understand how being with someone with such a close and large family could be overwhelming. I also think she was really young when Hayden and her broke up and they both had a lot of growing up to do. I do have to say I felt like she was pretty mature about the situation and she tried to do her best to make things easiest on everyone. She was just a super likable person who you couldn’t help but pull for.
Now Hayden on the other hand had me lovin’ him one minute and then wanting to shake him in the next. I think it was really great that he went to France to follow his dream, I think it gave the space to get perspective over the loss of his brother and what happened with the breakup, but more than that it gave himself time away from the family to really come into his own outside of them. So much of his identity was wrapped up in the family and what he thought they needed him to be that he never really came into his own until he left. But once he is back there were a couple of times where I felt like he really didn’t handle things all that well, and sometimes when you are reading the book from his POV I couldn’t help but occasionally be annoyed at how insecure he is in his head, or how he almost makes seemingly innocent statements into digs at him.
The one thing I will say is the pull between Bex and Hayden is palpable. I wanted them together right from the beginning of the book. Sure they have a lot of issues to work past, but you can tell that these two really care about each other. They had some seriously hot scenes between the sheets, but more than that dynamic to them. Personally I liked Bex a little more than I liked Hayden, but together they just worked. I love the way these books are written, it’s just so easy for me to get wrapped up in the story and the family that I really want to go back and read all the book from the beginning.
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Bex bent over and pulled at the strap on her shoe. With a flick of her fingers she freed her poor right foot and exhaled with relief. Moving on to the left, she tugged the strap back. Only the little metal toggle wouldn’t come out of the hole. It was stuck. Crap.
She worked at it for a minute and, when too much blood had gathered in her tipsy head from being bent over, she sat back up with a huff. Standing in front of her was Hayden wearing a perplexed half-smile.
She groaned. “Yes. My strap won’t come loose, and I’m dying to get this shoe off.” She brought her foot up to show him.
He leaned forward. “I see. Here, let me see if I can help.” He sat down in the chair Maggie had vacated. “Give me your foot.”
She envisioned handing him her severed foot like she would a hammer or a pen and promptly giggled.
His eyes narrowed briefly, and damn was it sexy. “What?”
“Nothing. Just buzz giggles.”
He smiled. “I remember those.”
That’s what they’d called them in college. The uncontrollable laughter at things that maybe weren’t that funny unless you were under the influence of alcohol.
She lifted her foot and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Putting it on his lap seemed too . . . intimate. But the table was too tall and there wasn’t another chair in close proximity.
He solved the problem by gently clutching it and setting it on his knee. Not quite his lap. This was okay. Safe.
Until he started in on the strap. His fingers grazed her flesh, sparking all sorts of inappropriate yearnings. She willed him to hurry up before she did something stupid. Like moan.
“Wow, this is really stuck.” He frowned at her. “Your foot’s kind of swollen.”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious. It’s hot, and I’ve been on my feet all day. I wonder why.”
“Well, I’m going to have to tighten it”—he did just that as he said the words, making her cry out—“to get it off.” The strap came free, and he tossed the shoe aside. “Better?”
His right hand was still on her foot, his thumb gently caressing her reddened flesh. Did he realize what he was doing? That he was stroking her? He couldn’t possibly know how it made her feel, how she wished he would slide his hand up to her ankle, keeping up the massage, and to all points north of that.
She tried not to sigh and completely failed. “Yes, thank you.”
Like his brothers, he’d ditched his coat. He’d also completely removed his tie, and his shirt was unbuttoned at the neck with the sleeves rolled up. Both places bared tanned flesh that contrasted sharply with the pure white of his crisp shirt. He wore a bracelet on his right wrist—brown leather with a slender silver rectangle.
God, he was sexy. Had he ever been this sexy?