Reviewed by Kini
This time, she’s calling the shots.
Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he’s been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy’s determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she’ll finally be able to move on.
In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.
Tessa Bailey writes top-level dirty talking heroes. Seriously, she is the queen of filthy talking alpha heroes. The characters in her books tend to be a little younger and verge on being New Adult, so I haven’t been making them top priority. I am so thankful for Mandi nudging me to read this for review. This book was really, really good.
Bailey excels at the sexy times- this book was no different and it had a surprising amount of emotional depth. Not that her other books don’t have emotions but Elliott, our hero, has suppressed his feelings and emotions for so long that when it finally surfaces it is just amazing. And heartbreaking. And wonderful. Elliott is the head coach of a college football team, he is also a widower, parent, and a devout Catholic who frequently prays after sex. Y’all- Elliott is kind of effed up. And I LOVED him. I have so many Elliott quotes. Here’s one to help you understand his internal struggle.
Therein lay the issue, didn’t it? Always had. When he looked at Peggy, he felt too damn much, making her a constant reminder of how little he’d felt for someone he’d sworn to serve. In the eyes of God. He would never forgive himself for that.
See, I told you. He’s tortured. You know I love a tortured hero.
Our heroine, Peggy, is returning to her alma mater, where Elliott coaches, for alumni weekend. She is considerably younger. They started their relationship when Peggy was still a student and this just adds to Elliott’s torture. Peggy is back because she wants to move on from Elliott. We get peeks into the past with flashbacks of their previous time together. They really enhanced the story and helped me to connect with Peggy and Elliott.
Peggy has issues of her own as she struggles with who she is and her place in the world. She is on a road trip with her siblings after having recently lost their mother. When Peggy left three years ago, she didn’t want to go. But being back, she is immediately drawn to him. Yet she also knows he’s probably not good for her. Here’s some of Peggy’s struggle.
But until now, she’d never actually wanted to get over Elliott, had she? No. No, getting over him would mean shutting off her center of gravity. Pretending she’d never felt the organ race out of control in her chest, just hearing another person’s name. Who would want to forget that kind of insanity?
So we now know that both of our main characters are not over each other. Of course they engage in dirty, hot sex. In one flashback scene he spanks her and then he uses a Sharpie to sign his name on her butt. And the epitome of Tessa Bailey smutty talk right here-
“I’ve done a lot of things backwards,” he said against her ear. “But licking your pussy isn’t one of them.”
His lips traced the sensitive skin of Peggy’s neck and her damn legs actually started to shake. “It occurred to me earlier when you were kneeling on the bed in that skirt…” A long, growling suck of her flesh. “That I haven’t had my tongue in your cunt since you were a cheerleader.”
Elliott finally come to his senses on how amazing Peggy is and how he wants to make it work. When Elliott to go all in, he goes ALL IN to earn Peggy’s love. It was fantastic to read. I feel like this exchange summarizes their pain and need for each other.
“Tell me you missed me.”
Elliott’s head snapped up, his gaze homing in on her, disbelief crackling like a fireplace fire in his expression.
“Miss you?” He grated the incredulous question, dropping his mouth to her temple. “You left me without a soul. I can barely remember the days since you left. They passed without me feeling a single thing. Because you are feeling for me. You’re the only thing that keeps me from being numb. Twice in my life you’ve turned me back into a living, breathing man, and missing you… missing you, Peggy, doesn’t even begin to cover it. You revive me.”
This book is part of a series and stands alone well. I haven’t read the previous two books. Two of Peggy’s siblings come up in passing, but I didn’t feel like I was missing much. They are no longer on the road trip. However, she is still traveling with her brother Belmont. He is quite broody and mysterious and Bailey did a fantastic job of piquing my interest in his story.
The one quibble I have with this book is Elliott’s daughter Alice. For me, she bordered on being a plot moppet. Alice is 12 and deserved more attention than Elliott gave her. She came off as slightly lacking in dimension and true purpose. Overall this did not take away from the other goodness happening in the story.
I’ll go Peggy style and use a baseball metaphor and say that Bailey knocked this out of the park. Get the book for the sexy talk and stay for the emotional journey. I hope you will not be disappointed.