**I received an advanced copy of this book from the published in exchange for my honest opinion.**
I’d like to introduce you to my new book boyfriend, Aiden Downey. Wait, what? He’s taken?
Damn, all the good ones are. Do you think Sadie would share? No? Can’t blame her, I wouldn’t either. At least I can console myself with the new print edition of Hard to Handle (March 25, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $6.00). Check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post for a chance to win your own copy (plus more goodies)!
Sadie Howard never dates a guy more than once-but Fate has other plans for her when it comes to Aiden Downey, the one that got away. Aiden loved her, left her, and broke her heart. Yet suddenly she’s bumping into him at every turn, driven to distraction by his wicked grin and rock-hard body. Now she can’t resist finishing what they started-as long as she doesn’t let herself fall in love . . .
TWICE AS TEMPTING
Aiden Downey threw away the best thing he ever had when he let Sadie go, and now he’s determined to win back the woman he’s always wanted. Sadie agrees to let him into her life-and her bed-as long as there are no strings attached. But Aiden’s not about to make the same mistake again. Can he convince her to take a second chance on a once-in-a-lifetime love?
Hard to Handle is the second complete book in the Love in the Balance series by Jessica Lemmon. Aiden and Sadie are introduced in the first book Tempting the Billionaire (Forever, Mass Market and E-Book), about Aiden’s cousin Shane and Sadie’s best friend Crickett. The story of Aiden and Sadie’s intense – and ill-fated – first love affair is told in the novella Can’t Let Go (Forever E-Book; $.99). Hard to Handle is the story about their second chance. Ms. Lemmon does an excellent job of filling in the blanks and providing relevant backstory so this book does well as a stand alone. But reading the others does mean more Aiden & Sadie (with a sexy side of Shane & Crickett).
To be honest, second chance love stories aren’t always my thing. In order for there to be second chance, there had to be heartache the first go round and that can skew my reaction to the characters’ relationship. Guess I just prefer a clean slate. Yet in this instance, I was thrilled to read about Aiden and Sadie’s second chance at love since they were given such a bum deal the first time. Aiden and Sadie’s separation wasn’t due to a misunderstanding or argument or betrayal. Aiden’s family needed him and, even though he felt an immediate and real connection with Sadie, he felt he needed to leave her behind as he traveled out of state to support his mother during her battle with cancer. There was no bad guy in their break up (as much as Sadie may have felt wronged); Aiden was in a difficult position and his decision was understandable, although regrettable.
Aiden and Sadie were a perfect match for me. Both had suffered heartache and loss, including betrayal at the hands of people they loved, yet each reacted differently. After sacrificing so much of himself for the benefit of others, Aiden is ready to take what he wants from life, finding what makes him happy and going for it – whether it be a future as owner of a chain of motorcycle shops or the woman of his dreams. Sadie takes that heartache and internalizes it; she closes herself off behind a tough-girl exterior and focuses on her career – as a sales rep for a motorcycle parts manufacturer. See? Perfect match.
Poor Sadie has had a difficult time with men in her life. She lost her father in a fatal motorcycle crash when she was young and she lost her fiancé to her own sister (a fact her family prefer she ignore). Aiden instantly crashes through the walls that Sadie has erected around her heart and that’s what made losing him the first time so devastating. By the time he returns, her emotional barriers are even stronger and her guardedness is the source of the conflict between her and Aiden.
The character of Aiden Downey was the star of this book for me. He’s a perfect balance of sensitive, heart-on-his-sleeve guy who is as sexy and ‘alpha’ as they come. Aiden is the kind of man who would do anything for his family – and has. Now he’s decided it’s his time to reach for what he wants. His optimism and honesty are refreshing – they’re also a little too much for Sadie to handle. His acceptance of Sadie’s total personality, her ambition and hidden vulnerability go a long way toward convincing Sadie to give them a second chance. The fact that he looks like Charlie Hunnam doesn’t hurt either 😉
I’ll wait here while you take a moment to drool…
**I found both of these pictures on author Jessica Lemmon’s Pinterest page. You’re welcome.**
Excerpt: (teensy bit NSFW)
“Sadie!” He caught her easily, snagging her elbow and pulling her into the one of the open, unoccupied rooms along the hallway. The room was dark, the only light came from the hall and sliced across the floor at an arc. Aiden steered her behind the open door, out of sight from any passersby.
He released her arm. She wouldn’t look at him. “Sadie.”
It took every drop of her dwindling courage, but she finally lifted her eyes to his.
“That’s it?” he asked, his mouth a grim line.
She blinked at him, feeling a flash of fear and regret that soon morphed into anger. “You asked, I said no,” she said, her voice shaking.
“Actually, you said you were sorry.”
She sighed. “I am.” Because she couldn’t marry Aiden. She couldn’t marry anyone. She was a hopeless wreck where men were concerned and—
“So my only options are to take you to bed or lose you forever?”
She blinked at him. “Are you quoting?”
“Maybe.” The corner of her lip tipped into a cautious smile. “Are those my only options?” he asked, his voice quiet.
“I can’t marry you, Aiden,” she whispered, closing her eyes so she wouldn’t have to look at the disappointment swimming in his.
She felt his hand caress her shoulder and a moment later was enveloped in heat as he stepped into her comfort zone. Only, when Aiden was in it, she felt more comfortable, not less.
“Okay,” he said, stroking her face.
She opened her eyes.
His eyes held no clue as to what he meant by that. “What?”
“Did you mean it when you asked me to take you to bed tonight?”
Her heart slammed into third gear. He wasn’t serious…was he? She made the mistake of challenging how serious he was moments ago. She’d been dead wrong. Now he was suggesting…oh. Wow. But that was before…before he’d proposed to her. Before he’d forced her into a tight, dark corner where she couldn’t breathe. “Aiden—”
“I want you to ask me again.” He walked her one step backward. Then two. She allowed him to advance until her butt bumped against the wall.
She shook her head, but there was no conviction in it.
“Ask me again,” he repeated, looking scarily serious. His hands were heating her hips through the material of her dress. He kept his stormy eyes on hers, refusing to allow her to escape. “But only if you still want me.”
Her breaths came in short pants. “I do.”
When he was this close, she couldn’t fight. But maybe…maybe she didn’t want to fight. Not about this. She wanted him; she hadn’t lied about that. And he’d be worth it, she knew. Being with Aiden here, or anywhere, would be better than going home alone and reliving the pain of turning him down. But Aiden wasn’t arguing about his proposal. Which made this decision that much easier.
Sadie licked her lips, took a breath, and asked the damn question. “Will you…take me to bed?”
His hold tightened on her hips. “Yes” came his gravelly response. “To bed.” He kissed her lips. “To your car.” He kissed her neck. “Up against this wall.” He leaned into her body, his erection pressing firmly against her belly.
My Rating: 4.5/5 bottles of polish for a real romance that’s not about dominance but equality and mutual need – while not sacrificing hotness factor. A rare treat.
About Author Jessica Lemmon:
Jessica Lemmon has always been a dreamer. At some point, she decided head-in-the-clouds thinking was childish, went out, and got herself a job . . . and then she got another one because that one was lousy. And when that one stopped being fulfilling, she went out and got another . . . and another. Soon it became apparent she’d only be truly happy doing what she loved. And since “eating potato chips” isn’t a viable career, she opted to become a writer. With fire in her heart, she dusted off a book she’d started years prior, finished it, and submitted it. It may have been the worst book ever, but it didn’t stop her from writing another one. Now she has several books finished, several more started, and even more marinating in her brain (which currently resides in the clouds, thankyouverymuch), and she couldn’t be happier. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want. (While eating potato chips.)
Where you can buy HARD TO HANDLE:
Forever Romance (Grand Central Publishing) is hosting a giveaway to celebrate the print release of Hard to Handle on Rafflecopter
Click on Giveaway Kitty for your chance to enter!
- 5 winners will win the first two books in the Love in the Balance series, TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE and HARD TO HANDLE, and an advanced copy of the last book, THE MILLIONAIRE AFFAIR
- 5 winners will win the first two books in the Love in the Balance series, TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE and HARD TO HANDLE
- Earn 1 entry for leaving a comment to this blog post
- See terms and conditions of giveaway for details