Review ~ Bad Boys Break Hearts by Micalea Smeltzer

Bad Boys Break Hearts (The Boys, #1)Bad Boys Break Hearts by Micalea Smeltzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in Micalea Smeltzer’s The Boys series, but the second book that I have read. I quite enjoyed Mascen and Rory’s story, seeing as they had a connection from when they were young. They started off a little rocky, with both characters unable to admit that they knew each other as children. Mascen began as mean and rude, and I loved the way that Rory would fight back and put him in his place.

Considering what Rory had been through, she had grown into a strong and independent woman. She was determined to keep Mascen away but he slowly worked his way back under her skin. He insisted on her accompanying him home when she would stay on campus alone. The connection was growing between them once again.

Mascen was finding his own way but struggled with most of his relationships, particularly family and friends. He didn’t know how to deal with his feelings, even with his father. He was drawn to Rory and didn’t know what was growing between them or how to deal with it. I enjoyed how this story slowly unfolded and how much Mascen grew throughout the read and how close they all became.

Title: Bad Boys Break Hearts
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Series: The Boys #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Published: May 24, 2020

Mascen Wade, star pitcher of the Aldridge University baseball team, is a lot of things.

Hotter than sin.
The campus’s reigning bad boy.

We knew each other once upon a time, but even if I’m named after a princess, it doesn’t mean my life is a fairytale.

My plan is to keep my head down, get my degree, and leave this town.

But the moment Mascen Wade recognizes me all my carefully laid plans come crumbling down. He’s decided he wants to make my life a living hell. But I’m not so easy to push around and won’t put up with his bully playground antics. Too bad for me I’ve never been able to resist him.

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Audiobook Review ~ Dangerous Beauty by J.T. Geissinger

Dangerous Beauty (Dangerous Beauty, #1)Dangerous Beauty by J.T. Geissinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first in a three-part series, and when I found it with free narration in KU you bet I snapped it up. Evalina’s story was slowly revealed throughout the read and my heart ached for what she had endured and escaped. She was finding her own way but was constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting to be snatched back up again. I liked seeing her interact with Nasir, and she slowly let her guard down a bit. However, he has his own agenda which is slowly revealed. Soon these two had decisions to make and it was hard for Evalina to trust the few people around her.

This was a good start to the trilogy. J.T. Geissinger introduced us to characters that I wanted to know more about and built a dangerous world that you can’t help but be immersed into. Aiden Snow and Lidia Dornet were new to me narrators and I feel that they did a great job at delivering the story. Admittedly, I have only read the first book in this series, and I need to get back into it to see how the story continues to unfold.

Title: Dangerous Beauty
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Series: Dangerous Beauty #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published: March 26, 2019

A beautiful fugitive. A hot bodyguard. A high-stakes game of temptation.

For Nasir, former Special Ops military man and bodyguard, his new job seems like an easy-money gig: trail a Russian mobster’s runaway wife in Mexico, enjoy the sun, observe, and report. Just one rule: don’t get too close. But it’s all Naz can do not to watch the alluring dancer’s every move. A closer look is irresistible—especially when she’s in trouble.

Evalina escaped to the island getaway to live an untraceable life—as far away from the past as she can get. But Eva can’t ignore the dark, muscled stud who rescues her from a drug gang. He says he’s an ex-cop on vacation. When providence throws them together time and again, Eva thinks it’s all a beautiful coincidence. Now she’s giving in to a strange new sensation: trust.

But Naz has a mission to accomplish and a secret to keep. Eva has her share of secrets, too. And as the heat flares between them, Naz knows that trust could become the most dangerous impulse of all.

***Part one of a three part series.***

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Audiobook Review ~ The Best Laid Plans by Karla Sorensen

The Best Laid Plans (The Best Men, #1)The Best Laid Plans by Karla Sorensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a bittersweet read. I loved getting to know both Burke and Charlotte; they were only brought together due to the deaths of Burke’s best friend and his wife. Charlotte was hired to restore the house that was left to Burke. Things didn’t start well for them, as Burke really didn’t want anything to do with the house. Overtime he had to make decisions regarding the house and soon he had an interest in it as well as Charlotte.

Tension certainly was high in the carriage house that they had to share, and I could see they were falling for one another. Burke was still focused on getting back to football, but he was beginning to have doubts. Charlotte was very passionate about the work she did and loved having Burke there too. I loved her grandmother; she was very quick witted and offered advice to keep Charlotte on track and her heart open.

This was a cute read and despite the circumstances that brought them together, it was quite a light and entertaining read. I enjoyed the narration by Connor Crais and Vanessa Edwin. They were easy to listen to and told Charlotte and Burke’s story perfectly.

Title: The Best Laid Plans
Author: Karla Sorensen
Series: The Best Men #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 3, 2023

A tough-as-leather football player. A happy-go-lucky historian. It’s love against all odds in a warm and emotional romance about found family, friendship, and the restorative powers of the heart.

Former Dallas football player Burke Barrett is weathering a lot of changes. He’s retired from football. He’s mourning the loss of his best friend. And now he’s been bequeathed a dilapidated house in northern Michigan he doesn’t want. To his surprise it comes with a long-legged, blindly optimistic renovation manager with big ideas for Burke’s inheritance. She’s passionate, irritating, and irresistible.

Restoration expert Charlotte Cunningham is used to rough exteriors. This surly client, with his stubbled jaw, towering physique, and inflexible attitude, is worth smoothing over. The attraction sizzles, and a proposal is in order: a romantic tryst to relieve the tension. No strings attached. A safe bet for both of them since Burke is prepared to renovate, sell, and move on.

A pet project with an end date. Does that go for love too? Burke must decide what he really wants and what he’s willing to risk. He should know by now that the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat.

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Audiobook Review ~ Hot Mess Summer by Melissa Foster

Hot Mess SummerHot Mess Summer by Melissa Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first read I have jumped into by Melissa Foster. I quite enjoyed it; I liked that the characters were a bit older and had lived a lot of life. Nicole was a newly divorced, successful author, needing to get her muse back and decided that a new town on the beach would do that for her. She was able to make all new friends and find the muse, as well as a new guy who – like her – wasn’t looking for a relationship either.

I enjoyed the interaction between Nicole and Declan. They really were fun together. Declan was such a nice guy, doing anything for those he cared about – anyone could rely on him. They had so many adventures together that made me smile… especially the Girl Scout cookies incident. My heart swelled for them both, they deserved true love and a proper chance at happiness. They both grew a lot through the few short months that they were together, even at this later stages of their lives.

I enjoyed the narration by Ava Erickson and Aaron Shedlock. They both told the story perfectly, and I was easily swept away with how they portrayed the characters. I will be on the lookout for more reads by these narrators, for sure. Melissa Foster capivated with her words and I will definitely pick up another read of hers in the future.

Title: Hot Mess Summer
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 17, 2023

Who buys a cottage in a New England fishing village on a whim? A stressed-out, twice-divorced romance writer and single mother looking for a fresh start, that’s who. Despite what my besties say about my three-year dry spell, I’m not looking for a man. Or drama. Or sex. I’ve got enough on my plate with writer’s block and a daughter who refuses to grow up. Community. That’s what I need. Unfortunately, it seems the universe has other ideas. Either Chatemup, Massachusetts, has a serious shortage of single women, or I’ve become a hot mess magnet for the male species.

At least I’ve found one funny, good-hearted friend: fish peddler Declan Miller, my brainstorming adventure buddy who stirs my creative juices. I’m his Writer Girl. He’s my Dimple Dude. Just scruffy, granite-chested, deep-voiced, ex-military brawn who happens to be—oh, Nicole, what are you doing to yourself?—stoking a long-neglected fire without even trying.

A self-confessed hot mess, divorced single dad Declan is too old for relationship games. Not interested. Same here. So why do I keep thinking about him? Preferably naked. Because I’m a hot mess, too? At least he’s inspiring me to write. If only real life were like one of my novels. At least then I’d have a better idea of how this was going to end.

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Review ~ Sick Hate by J.A. Huss

Sick Hate (Sick World #2)Sick Hate by J.A. Huss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s been 2.5 years since I read the first book in this series, so I was pretty excited to get into this one. Some of my memories of the first book were a little blurry, but I was soon caught up in the opening chapters. I liked seeing the perspectives of Maart, Irina and Eason. I could see that the relationship between Maart and Irina were strained over time and they were functioning in the world apart.

Determined to track down Irina, Eason had a purpose, and having the challenge was good for him. I liked that they had a lot in common and they bonded due to their pasts. It wasn’t easy for either of them and they had both struggled to find their place in the world, but seemed to function better together. Their connection grew slowly which turned into great chemistry, despite Irina trying to deny it. Eason showed Irina what she was missing out on, he gave her a lot of first experiences.

This read didn’t have the same impact as the first book. It felt like it was a fill in read before the third book comes. It was set seven years after the first book, and it was more like us getting to know the characters when they are older and meeting Eason. It has set us up for the third book, so it will be interesting when all the characters reunite (which was hinted at in the EOBS). I wasn’t blown away by this read, but it was still good.

Title: Sick Hate
Author: J.A. Huss
Series: Sick World #2
Genre: Dark Romance
Published: September 12, 2023

I should’ve hugged her more. I should’ve loved her more. But the truth is, I couldn’t. Even after we were free, I couldn’t love them like that.
Because I could never shake the feeling that each time they walked away from me, it would be the last time I saw them.
The only way I knew how to show them I cared was to train them. And once I forced Irina to stop training, I didn’t have another way to love her.
I just didn’t know how. So I made her leave.

I was supposed to die nine times already, at least.
The nine ghosts of my opponents follow me around like reminders. Their gaunt faces, their expressions of pain, the fear in their eyes when they realize death has come for them. They have stuck with me all this time.
I’m not supposed to be here. I was supposed to go out fighting.
So I am doing nothing now. I am just existing. I am just doing it thousands of miles away from where I started. And I am doing it alone.
Then I meet a man I could fall in love with in a blink.
And I have to make a decision.
Should I blink?

Every morning there is a choice. To get up, or not.
That’s my choice. To go on, or give in.
And on most days—recently, at least—I get up and go on.
But it’s never gonna be enough. Ever.
Just breathing is hard.
Then I meet a girl who is so incredibly sweet. So perfect, and pretty, and innocent that the pain in my chest fades when she’s around.
Until I find out who she killed on that fateful day seven years ago.

Written by New York Times bestselling author, JA Huss, Sick Hate is story of love, lost and found, starting over, and learning to let go and live on. It is the second book in the Sick World Series.

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Review ~ First Comes Revenge by Penelope Bloom

First Comes RevengeFirst Comes Revenge by Penelope Bloom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book that I have read by this author, and I was quite excited to get into it. It had a good premise, and I was looking forward to where it was going. It started really well, and I laughed through moments where other moments I was saddened for Charli. She managed to get herself into a tough relationship with someone who didn’t value her when Jameson stepped into her life. He did everything he could to help her.

I liked these characters; they were sweet together. Jameson was determined to get his business back on track but started to develop deeper legs for Charli. Charli’s family and friends were quite funny, but I felt they went over top with some things. I found some parts a bit silly, but it kept in with the lightness of the story. After a while I started to skim the story, I started to lose interest in how it all unfolded. I wasn’t that invested in it.

Title: First Comes Revenge
Author: Penelope Bloom
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 8, 2023

I can explain why I’m hiring male strippers.
I can explain the want ads for saucy male companionship I’m posting.
I can even explain pretending to date the city’s most notorious playboy.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but mine is going to be spicy, sizzling, and hilariously humiliating.

My ex, Vaughn, cheated, stole from me, and worse. I refused to be the lovable, heartbroken heroine who hides under a pile of tissues and ice cream pints. Oh no, not me.

So when the universe offers me the perfect crescendo to my plan, I know I can’t refuse. Jameson Wolfe, Vaughn’s arch-nemesis and business rival, wants to help me get back at my ex.

We’re going to fake falling head over heels for each other and then rub it all in Vaughn’s face.

Jameson has his own agenda that I should probably, maybe definitely, be worried about. But how wrong could this go?

Jameson might be the city’s most notorious playboy, dangerously handsome, and filthy rich, but he’s practically allergic to commitments. We’ll emotionlessly fake date for a few weeks and cap it all off with an appearance at the company Halloween mixer.

I’ll be in a sensibly scandalous costume with my arm wrapped around Jameson’s. Vaughn will go nuclear, and then we can all ride off into the sunset. Separately.

Sure, Jameson isn’t the terrible jerk his reputation makes him out to be. And yes, I may find myself enjoying our fake dates more than I ever expected. But it’s going to be fine, even if I find myself asking 'what if' when I’m supposed to be thinking 'no way.' The plan is still going to go off without a hitch.


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Review ~ My Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden-Mills

My Darling BrideMy Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden-Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I have read one of Ilsa Madden-Mills books and My Darling Bride was a good one to get into. It was amusing to watch them meet for the first time, and seeing how Emmy fled when frightened. It was only a matter of time before they crossed paths again. Graham was on a path back to playing football, but he would do anything to help his brother, and he felt Emmy would be the perfect person for the plan.

Things between them moved quickly after that and the chemistry between them was building quickly. Emmy had been through so much in her life and it built her into the sweet and caring person she was. She went above and beyond for her family and friends. Graham had support from his brother and his relationship with his father was strained. But I could see him fitting into Emmy’s world easily.

This book really makes an impact on you. Ilsa Madden-Mills touched on a topic that no one should have to go through, and I thought that she did it well. The characters were easy to like, but at times I felt that the story didn’t flow easily into the next part, but overall it was quite the enjoyable read.

Title: My Darling Bride
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: December 5, 2023

In a sizzling romance that sparkles with wit and depth, two wounded souls meet by chance in the desert and agree to get married, and their lives will never be the same.

On a normal day, Emmaline Darling isn’t a car thief. She’s just a simple girl who runs a bookstore and adores cats. But when she’s stranded in the desert and needs to get away from her dangerous ex-boyfriend, she picks her only option: swiping the keys to a famous football player’s Lamborghini and speeding away.

Football star Graham Harlan is in chaos. First he took a hit on the field that left him with a near-death experience, and now he’s promised his brother he’ll get married to secure the family inheritance. Trouble is he isn’t even seeing anyone.

Then a mystery woman steals his car. With his usual stubbornness, he tracks her all the way to Manhattan and gives her an ultimatum: marry me or I’ll press charges.

Her choice is obvious, only neither of them expect the sparks that ignite between them.

As the end of their arrangement looms, will Graham take a chance on love or let his darling walk away forever?

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Review ~ Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score

Rock Bottom GirlRock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Lucy Score’s writing and I was so excited to get into this read. I fell in love with the characters and it was a true romantic comedy - I swooned and laughed my way through this book.

Marley was such a likeable character and a lot of us older readers are able to connect with her. She was bullied a bit through high school, and even twenty years later seemed lost, but coming home seemed to have grounded her. She had some self esteem issues, but genuinely didn’t care what people thought. She was making her own path through life. I liked that Marley was able to address issues from her past and did not back down. She was amazing for her team and they also made an impact on her.

Jake though… I loved him! He was just what she needed. He was the elusive bad boy from her past, but he was such a kind soul. He had cemented himself into the town and was well liked by all.

Honestly, this book was addictive and I enjoyed how I was drawn into the world. I was hooked by all the characters I met, especially one of the secondary characters, Libby. She certainly gave as much to Marley that she gave to her. Their banter cracked me up. The chemistry between Marley and Jake was sizzling, and it was amusing to see them both fall for one another.

Title: Rock Bottom Girl
Author: Lucy Score
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 6, 2019

“You may be faking the relationship, but you’re not faking the orgasms.”

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year.

Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students?

Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy. When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship.

Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Warning: Story also includes a meet-puke, a bouffanted nemesis, a yard swan and donkey basketball, a teenage-orchestrated makeover, and a fake relationship that gets a little too real between the sheets.

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Review ~ Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley

Flirting With Forever (Dirty Martini Running Club, #4)Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in this series that I have read and it was quite enjoyable. The gorgeous tattooed artist sure found his match with the column writer who specialised in romance and sex!

I enjoyed meeting Dex and to see him settle Nora down. Neither were looking for anything serious, but I could tell these two would be hot together. I liked how they slowly became friends and Nora built a relationship with Dex’s daughter, Riley. Nora helped Riley through some moments that made her become more confident. Dex and Nora had issues in their pasts that deterred them from relationships, but the more time they spent together they slowly fell into one. There were a few sizzling moments, and a couple of hot-headed moments, but these two were perfect for one another.

The heading says that Flirting With Forever is a hot romantic comedy, but I thought it was more a hot romance. It wasn’t really a comedy, more sweet than funny. There wasn’t a time I recall laughing out loud. Overall, it was a fun sweet read.

Title: Flirting With Forever
Author: Claire Kingsley
Series: Dirty Martini Running Club #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 16, 2023

He’ll break all her rules

Nora Lakes is sophisticated, successful, and happily single. Career problems aside, her life is fine the way it is, thank you very much. Sure, her best friends are all moving into a new season of life—full of husbands and babies and white picket fences. But that’s not what Nora wants.

Neither is the gruff, tattooed guy next door.

Tattoo artist Dex St. James has enough trouble on his hands without the distractingly beautiful woman next door. Being a single dad to a teenage girl is no joke. The last thing he needs is a flirtatious new neighbor who makes his blood run hot.

He’ll just avoid her. She’s not his type anyway.

But Nora and Dex can’t seem to stay out of each other’s way. Between a pesky nocturnal visitor, Nora’s blossoming friendship with Dex’s daughter, and their undeniable chemistry, that up-against-the-wall, brain-melting kiss was probably inevitable.

Nora has rules when it comes to men, and she has her reasons. Dex threatens to break every last one of them. She doesn’t want forever. He won’t settle for anything less. But when these two collide, the result is fire.

And maybe even forever.

Author’s Note: opposites attract in this fun, swoony, single dad romcom. A smart, sassy woman meets a rough-around-the-edges tattoo artist with a heart of gold. Daddy/daughter moments, all the banter, neighborly shenanigans, a meddling family, badass lady friendships, and a hero who’s determined to fight the heat between them—until he falls first.

Flirting with Forever can be read as a stand-alone.

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Review ~ Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Something WilderSomething Wilder by Christina Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a lot a of Christina Lauren’s books and this read was a little different from what I expected. It had the second chance romance building, but they also threw a suspense element into the story as well. The treasure hunt storyline was a lot of fun and watching Lily and Leo reconnect was sweet, as they both had not really got over what they lost.

Their relationship from ten years ago was intense - it was hard for them to get past it and to forgive one another. Since then, they had both suffered and gone through so much, and moved on as best as they could. Lily was reluctant to let Leo back into her life as she’d been so sad and lost after Leo left. They still had a strong connection, and I could see that Leo was a patient man.

The treasure hunting and suspense kept me on my toes. I didn’t realise the story would take that kind of turn so the surprises kept coming. This duo delivered the story perfectly, ans I was captivated until the very end!

Title: Something Wilder
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: May 17, 2022

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

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Review ~ Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy

Good Girl Complex (Avalon Bay, #1)Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book consumed me! I read two thirds of it one day then could not sleep that night as I wanted to know what was going to happen next between Cooper and Mac. It was fun to watch these two characters who were from different worlds mesh together. Although their initial meeting began as revenge for Coop, it was not long before I saw that he had genuine feelings for Mac. He helped her open up and become her own person, and making decisions herself.

They both had parental issues - both being used by their parents, but I could see that they wanted to thrive without them. Coop had his plans and I liked how focused he was. Mac was agitated with college and I could see a new light in her when she made some changes.
Coop and Mac were so sweet together. It wasn’t always smooth, and Coops secret festered throughout the read. They bonded so well and at times they clashed in big ways, but they were a sizzling couple together.

Title: Good Girl Complex
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Avalon Bay #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Published: February 1, 2022

She does everything right. So what could go wrong?

Mackenzie "Mac" Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It's exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents' insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac's had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn't just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he's been keeping from her threatens the only place she's ever felt at home.

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