Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: He smelled like an invitation to sex and tasted like candy. Good Lord but that man knew how to kiss.
Hope Donnigan is finally getting her life together. She has a job she enjoys, good friends, and is taking a break from all the Mr. Wrongs in her life. Unfortunately, her mother is determined to fix Hope’s life, despite what Hope wants. When her mother’s interference goes to far, Hope tells her she is already dating the perfect guy for her. Now, she just needs to find him.
J.T Webster has crushed on Hope Donnigan since meeting her at his sister’s wedding. When she asks for his help to get her mother off her back, J.T. jumps at the chance to spend more time with her. Not looking for anything serious, a fake relationship with benefits sounds like the best of both worlds. Except, now he wants to make it real.
“You shine when you’re happy, you know? It’s like you bring out the sun, and I get all warm, basking in you.”
Marie Harte has become my go-to author for blue collar romances with heroines and heroes who live, laugh, and love hard. Humorous, playful, and sensual; her deceptive small-town romances start out with a casual air of a lightweight contemporary only to deepen into a weighty story of love and growth as Harte digs deep into the lives and insecurities of our hero and heroine. Using issues that readers can relate to, Harte builds a hot and steamy romance that blends perfectly with the world she has created. Every series mildly interacts with the others, keeping readers in the loop while introducing new characters and scenarios.
Heavily character driven, this family oriented installment is firmly built around our protagonists, Hope Donnigan and J.T. Webster. I haven’t read the first two books in the Donnigan series but I am well acquainted with the McCauleys and Websters. I was so happy to see J.T finally get his story. His deep love for his family solidified his permanent position on my book boyfriend list. Likened to “the Rock” in terms of looks and brawn, J.T. is a sexy tattoo artist whose legendary antics aren’t as scandalous as his sister likes to think. Charming, witty, and gorgeous, his smooth moves hide a heart of gold. A serial dater, he just likes to have fun and isn’t looking to play house with anyone in the future.
Hope looks like the girl next door but can go bad when necessary. A blonde bombshell, she just wants to find her dream guy with the option for kids in the future. Having spent a long time looking for love in all the wrong places, Hope is finally settling down though not in the direction her family wants which is causing a lot of friction.
Fake relationships can be tricky. You have to not only make the reasoning behind it viable but produce just enough chemistry to catapult it from fake to real while allowing the characters to grow and work through their issues at a reasonable pace. J.T. and Hope are the most adorable lovey-dovey fake couple ever. Though seemingly very different on the outside, their similarities become glaringly apparent as the story reveals. I love watching them go out on “not dates” and slowly fall in love as they get to really know one another; despite their insistence that neither was looking for anything permanent. Witty conversation and internal musings reveal their attraction to one another and open the doorway for a much deeper connection.
“We used to joke around, pretend that we weren’t as close as we really are. You see, when you’re new to falling in love, it’s scary to let yourself be vulnerable with another person.”
As always, Harte does a wonderful job of building the romance amongst the backdrop of our couples personal issues. The humor flows through effortlessly; helping to keep the story on track and provide entertainment. Harte takes her time addressing the issues and providing legitimate results. It’s an emotional journey for them both of them and nothing is guaranteed. J.T. uplifts Hope by showing her he likes her just the way she is while Hope shows J.T. relationships don’t have to be destructive and he is worthy of love and Their smoking hot chemistry is felt from page one and Harte amps up the heat with plenty of sex and dirty talk. I like a couple who are well matched in bed and who enjoy sex and aren’t afraid to let the neighbors know. :) J.T. has a very talented mouth and uses it on Hope on every chance he gets.
“Lay back in bed and spread those pretty thighs. We have a lot of no-sex to get to.”
The McCauleys, Websters, and Donnigans are out in full force as they offer advice, threats, and the occasional insult to our couple and each other. All their energy and enthusiasm adds to the story’s appeal as they keep you giggling with their antics. I loved meeting J.T.’s employees and of course, seeing more of Liam and Del. Colin is always a treat and thank goodness Rena and Heller seem to be moving forward. I hope they get their story soon. I wasn’t as enamored with Hope’s family but maybe they will grow on me.
As always, Harte delivers what she promises romance wise though the supposed suspenseful conflict fell flat and added nothing to the story. Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more about this melting pot of families and friends in the future.