on October 24
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Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl...
Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship--a job he desperately needs--awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.
When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.
FOREVER RIGHT NOW
✮✮✮ 5 STARS ✮✮✮
When one of your favorite authors writes a new book, as a blogger and fan you drop everything and free up time to read and review. I almost didn’t read this one, bad blogger and fan, bad. True story. But I came to my senses and I’m not above begging for an ARC, so that’s what I did.
We met Darlene in The Butterfly Project when she was at her lowest – an overdose that almost killed her forced her to take a hard look at her life, get clean and take charge of herself again. Two years without drugs, a boyfriend who doesn’t even have the cojones to dump her face to face and Darlene is ready for a fresh start in a city where nobody knows about her past.
“You’ll always be an addict. You’ll always fight that battle. But fight it with your best, most honest self, if you want a chance to win.” – Max
Darlene is a warm, sweet heroine with a super-soft heart. She is always friendly and tries to stay upbeat. Her new neighbor, Sawyer, is a jerk but she senses his exhaustion, the daily stress of providing for his daughter, studying for his finals and bar exam leave him on edge. So she does something that’s so inherently Darlene: she kills him with kindness, gentleness and care. She’s an absolutely endearing heroine who is constantly facing her demons but never lets them pull her under. It was incredibly sweet to watch her fall in love not only with the hero but also with his sweet, bright daughter Livvie.
Sawyer is a grump – that’s what stress does to him and it’s pretty understandable seeing how he cares for his daughter, who was just dumped in his lap by the mother, and trying to finish law school to give his girl a better life. But when Sawyer has to face his worst fears he becomes stoic and builds a wall of ice around him. Only those who know him well enough see it for what it is. He may act like a jerk and idiot sometimes but when all that falls off of him he is a beautiful man with a heart the size of Texas. The love for his daughter, how he handles her with utmost care and reverence, is so incredibly touching. And it wouldn’t be Emma Scott if Sawyer didn’t have a heart-breaking past.
“Law doesn’t have feelings. It has direction. It tells you where to go and what comes next.” – Sawyer
The first half of the story was not as angsty as I expected from Emma Scott but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because once you’re past that she cranks up the anxiety-slider and I got the familiar delicious squeeze in my chest, the one that has your heart beating in your throat. She builds up the chemistry between the characters at a steady pace but doesn’t give us the release we crave, no, she keeps on going, letting the sexual tension crackle until we are just about to blow. But that was fine with me – these characters really had to sort through a lot of baggage before they could focus on their relationship.
“God, Sawyer, the way you’re looking at me… If I could have just one moment, one feeling, and live in it forever, I would choose this one.” – Darlene
Emma is a masterful emotion conjurer. She has this way of tying you to her characters and making you care deeply about them. Those are big personalities with depth and layers. And that doesn’t just go for the main cast, the side characters all have a story to tell as well, so you wonder if they’ll be happy in the future, what life has in store for them. Max and Jax shine almost as bright as Darlene and Sawyer. And don’t get me started on the adorable Livvie, who took off with my heart and didn’t let go. Also, if you loved Zelda and Beck from TBP a much as I did you’ll be happy to hear that we get to catch up with them!
And then…then there is the twist that will make you fall in love with Sawyer even harder.
Again, Ms. Scott weaves a gorgeous story that shows her own heart beautifully. It is charged with emotion, kindness and sweetness. It’s true that we always measure authors against their best work and the Full Tilt Duet and The Butterfly Project still remain my favorite by Emma Scott – they play in a league of their own – but do not underestimate the power of this story and the punch it packs. This author isn’t one of my favorites for nothing and she made me fall in love with one of her stories yet again.
“A tornado, Darlene,” he whispered. “I’m swept up.”
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