Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter
Series: Original Heartbreakers, #5
October 31, 2017
Reviewed by Tori
“How did I resist you?”
“I don’t know. It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries.”
Jude Laurent survived a negligent childhood and a war-torn battlefield only to lose it all when his family was killed in a car accident. After his discharge from the military, his best friend Daniel Porter convinces Jude and their buddy Brock to come home with him to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma and to start their security business. Jude is a walking time bomb-barely living as he can’t get past the guilt and anger over his losses. Only one woman tempts him to rise from the depths of his despair and that is the one woman whose choice of employment offends him.
Ryanne Wade is just trying to make an honest living. Having inherited her bar from her stepfather, she just wants to preserve his memory while saving up for her trip around the world. Having sworn off men, Ryanne finds herself willing to break her vow of celibacy with the sexy and oh so emotionally unavailable Judd.
When Ryanne and her business is threatened by a local mob boss, Judd snaps to attention vowing to protect her at all costs. But when their hearts get involved, he’ll have to learn to let her go if he wants to keep her.
I am a sucker for antagonistic romances and this one certainly delivers on that note even if only one ½ of this couple is antagonistic and the other half is just plain determined. Can’t Let Go is the fifth in Showalter’s contemporary romance series-The Original Heartbreakers. Set in the neighboring town of Blueberry Hill (I always get hungry reading this series), Showalter once again gifts readers with an emotional, humorous, and sensual romance built on love, loss, hope, and second chances when a damaged war veteran and widower reluctantly falls for a beautiful bartender. Delightful antagonistic chemistry spits and sparks as Showalter slowly builds this couple’s relationship. A dash of suspense adds some zing to the story.
Jude and Ryanne’s journey is an emotional one as their growing attraction to one another forces them to face their fears head-on and exorcise the ghosts around them. Both are stuck in the past though Ryanne is able to compartmentalize her feelings far better than Jude. An external force provides a bit of suspense and pushes them together. I enjoyed their interactions once they call a truce. Ryanne loves to poke the tiger and you can’t help but laugh as she flirts and teases Jude to distraction.
Day one was all about the hair flip. Slow, sensual and just like a shampoo commercial.
Day two, she practiced her shimmy. Any time she had an opportunity to shake her butt, she shook her freaking butt.
Day three, she focused on her cleavage. Or rather, she made certain Jude focused on her cleavage. She wore a low-cut top, her breasts pushed up until she was pretty sure she’d asphyxiate.
Day four, she put her finger to her mouth at every opportunity. A lick here, a nibble there.
Day five, she forgot to wear a bra. Oops! […]
For day six, she decided to up her game, and wore a short skirt but no panties. Walking to her office, when no one else stood in the hallway, she accidentally dropped a pen and bent down to pick it up. Her phone buzzed, but she didn’t check the text until she sat behind her desk, no cameras nearby.
Cowboy: I think you dropped something else.
A laugh bubbled from her. Grumpy Jude Laurent had just teased her sexually!
Showalter takes her time with their romance, moving slowly but with a purpose, though they engage in a sexual relationship rather easily on. Readers need to remember their foreplay started a book or two ago. The chemistry between them is hot and heavy with lust and tension-made more so by Jude’s reluctance. The witty banter between these two contrasts perfectly with the serious subject matter and thick emotional undertones.
‘Had anyone loved life with such abandon? Part of him hated her for that.’
A strong and personable cast of secondary characters (some new and some very familiar faces) provide Jude and Ryanne with a strong support system at their back with humor and compassion. From their besties to family, to the local bar patrons, Jude and Ryanne are blessed or cursed with a number of people who want them both to be happy. They aren’t offered instant solutions but rather plenty of advice, opinions, a few metaphorical shakes, and a shoulder or two to cry on.
“Very subtle, Mr. Porter […] but I’m on to your tricks.”
“I told you to call me Virgil, son. And FYI, I have no tricks. I just wish you’d use your outside voice so we could hear your conversations better.”
We learn more about Jude’s deceased wife and Judd’s life with her. I liked that Showalter doesn’t make her a villain or a saint in order to create even more conflict.
I did have some issues with the romance. Some obviously manufactured conflicts and miscommunication litters storyline as did the HUGE MASSIVE foreshadowing that pretty much told you what would happen-just not how. The two steps forward and 5 steps back dance because of Jude’s internal struggles becomes a wee bit monotonous as time passes while Ryanne’s occasional emotional grandstanding annoys. I also took issue with Ryanne’s description of Jude’s penis.
Apparently, it is the width of Ryanne’s wrist and so long that when erect, it pops out the waistband of his jeans. Really? Now, in erotica and erotic romance, this isn’t all that rare. Penis’ are large, in charge, and practically sentient. But in rom com, I expect a bit more realism. The average rise on men’s jeans is 8.5-9 inches. The average woman’s wrist is 7 inches. So Jude’s penis, in theory, is around 10-11 inches in length and 7 inches in circumference.
WHAT? NO. *crossing legs tightly*
The ending comes as no surprise with our couple jumping their relationship hurdles, defeating the bad guys, and looking positively towards their future.The resolution of the main conflict wraps up the story nicely and helps to pave the way for book six-Can’t Get Enough-set to release December 5, 2017.