Series: #2 Hard Feelings
Published by Intermix
Released on March 4, 2014
I picked this one up because I loved the first book in the series and came back for more. You know? I’m beginning to sense a pattern with these books. These couples don’t make the path to love easy. It’s sassy, sexy, angsty, sad, heartwarming and many other things, but it is sure as shooting not easy. It challenged me to stick with these two people to get their chance at romance and I’m glad I did. Worth it.
So yes, this is the second book in a series and it has a very loose tie to the first book, but it can function as a standalone or be read out of order before going back for the first one. Other than the novella following this one that is strongly tied to this book, I think this looser connection is going to be the pattern.
About the summary then…
Meagan Mitchell is turning thirty and this thought is depressing to her because she had a five year life plan and thirty was the deadline. She doesn’t have a happy little home with husband and baby with not even a hint of these things in her future so no, the plan didn’t happen. And its her own fault because she keeps choosing the carefree, bad boy types to hook up with, but this is unacceptable. She still wants her happily ever after so its time for Life Plan 2.0 and that is Operation Mr. Safe and not Mr. Wild or Mr. Happy for Now or Mr. Bad Boy.
After a pity party mourning her lost chance with a guy who picked someone else and her pending loss of her best friend who is getting a new duty assignment to Ft. Benning in Georgia, her best bud busts her chops and tells her to join her. Meagan agrees and knows it’s a good idea when she gets a look at the new apartment they are to share and getting an ER nursing job at the base hospital. The only fly in her ointment? Airborne Jumpmaster Captain Reed Porter her next door neighbor and former one night stand. How painful that while he likes what he sees when he looks at her, he doesn’t remember her and how frustrating that he is threatening to blow her new mission to find Mr. Safe right out of the water.
Reed is an adrenaline junkie in all aspects of his life- a thrill seeker. He can’t believe his luck to end up with the gorgeous, sexy Meagan for a neighbor. But then she puts him at arms length and firmly into the friend category after sending him signals that she’s into him as much as he’s into her. He wasn’t planning anything permanent, but hey, he still has plans for something. If he can just figure out the mercurial Meagan who gives him the come hither and then avoids him like he did something to upset her when he didn’t do anything only to see her running off with Ryan on date after shoving him into the friend category.
In keeping with her new life plan of finding Mr. Safe, Meagan has to ignore her attraction to Reed and maybe take up with that nice Dr. Ryan who is interested. It gets harder to resist when Reed doesn’t give up even though he honors her rules. They share a take out meal, white water rafting, drinks with Reed’s friends and then she agrees to join the party at a lake cabin for the Fourth.
The weekend trip is the turning point. Meagan and Reed both cross the lines they made for themselves and end up breaking apart a good thing that leaves them both miserable. They don’t want the same things and it drives a wedge between them.
So the plot on this one was pretty much focused on a shaky romance and two flawed characters who needed to deal with their pasts before they could move on. It was a messy thing and required a great deal of patience and trust that the two people would get over their hang-ups (and they are not silly little ones for the most part) and take a chance. Meagan is undoubtedly the worst offender even though Reed’s issues might have been a tad more traumatic.
Meagan started off as a character I didn’t like for roughly the first third of the book. My first intro to her left me feeling like she was just this whiny, woe is me type whom I couldn’t respect. Then shortly after that she started lying about her feelings and her desires, denying and playing games out of selfishness with Reed which hurt him and he didn’t deserve because he was nothing but good to her and respected her boundaries. Thankfully, her best friend called her on her crap. Gotta love brash, feisty, tell it like it is Eva. She’s the real heroine in this one in many ways. I started warm to Meagan when she stopped playing around with Reed and came clean about stuff so he would understand what was going on. I really liked it when she shut down her fears and just gave things a chance. She was fun and sassy and not as staid and safe as she tried to convince herself and others. But this doesn’t last. Now at this point, I wasn’t thrilled with what she was doing, but at least I could accept why so I kept rooting for her even though she was breaking my heart and Reed’s. Something sad happens and it echoes something that happened in her past and she just couldn’t cope. I wish she would have given Reed a chance to step up, but I understood why she didn’t because he had given her reason to doubt his staying power if things got too real between them.
This leads me to talk of Reed. It was quite clear in the beginning that though he puts on this face of having it altogether and oozing confidence that it is all a way to run from something in his past. He keeps stuff rushing past him fast so he doesn’t have to stop and think. This does not make him reckless on the job with the men in his care nor does it make him careless in his tentative relationship with Meagan.
It gives him a different outlook on the world that isn’t necessarily wrong the way he tells it to Meagan when he is trying to get her to loosen up and live a little.
Reed lifted the corners of his mouth. “It’s why I do everything. If it doesn’t make you hold your breath and shut your eyes the moment before you do it, then it’s not worth doing.” He winked and turned back around and started walking toward the parking lot again. “What’s better than feeling your heart’s beating so hard in your chest that you can’t breathe, feeling your adrenaline pumping through your veins? It’s the unknown- it’s the rush,” he said as Meagan stepped up next to him, her body so close that it was hard for him not to reach out and touch her, just for the sake of doing so. p. 101 Reed to Meagan, Feel the Rush
Reed lifted the corners of his mouth. “It’s why I do everything. If it doesn’t make you hold your breath and shut your eyes the moment before you do it, then it’s not worth doing.”
He winked and turned back around and started walking toward the parking lot again. “What’s better than feeling your heart’s beating so hard in your chest that you can’t breathe, feeling your adrenaline pumping through your veins? It’s the unknown- it’s the rush,” he said as Meagan stepped up next to him, her body so close that it was hard for him not to reach out and touch her, just for the sake of doing so.
p. 101 Reed to Meagan, Feel the Rush
Reed is on a steady path of growth as the story unfolds. It was hard when he honestly thought he was no good at relationships or that it was impossible for him to do love, but I will give him credit for being honest and not leading Meagan on. His past was really crushing him. I loved it that Meagan was able to be the catalyst that brought him some healing and that she changed his mind.
Now, I’ve given the impression these two could get really frustratingly angsty and all that-and they did, but there is also another side to their relationship or should I say two other sides. They are wildly passionate for each other. Can’t keep their minds off each other, their hands and generally other body parts too. It was quite obvious that no matter how much denial they fling up or how often they skitter away from each other that they are in love. Alongside the burning passion, there is a playfulness to their relationship.
I laughed at things particularly this scene where Reed visits one of his injured jump students in the hospital at the time Meagan comes in to check on him and they get up a light flirtation over cheesy come-on lines.
“Did you really just fist-bump over a pick-up line? You two are something else.” “And you can do better?” She arched her brow and meeting Reed’s eyes with a challenging stare. “I’m here now aren’t I? Now you’ve got two wishes left.” “I do believe we’ve met our match.” Brewer said, p. 55 Reed, Brewer and Meagan, Feel the Rush
“Did you really just fist-bump over a pick-up line? You two are something else.”
“And you can do better?”
She arched her brow and meeting Reed’s eyes with a challenging stare. “I’m here now aren’t I? Now you’ve got two wishes left.”
“I do believe we’ve met our match.” Brewer said,
p. 55 Reed, Brewer and Meagan, Feel the Rush
All in all, I loved the feeling of satisfaction that comes from going through so much with a pair of characters and seeing it through to an end that left us all elated and happy. I eagerly look forward to Eva and Trevor’s story (okay, I am dying of curiosity and anticipation so good thing it’s already out).
My recommendation is for those who enjoy contemporary romance, but specifically those who enjoy difficult, playful, and scorching hot romance.
My thanks to Penguin group and to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.
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