Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.
Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.
If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…
“She’s everything I never knew I wanted. She’s everything I never knew I could have.”
It is truly rare to find a series that delivers so consistently and at such a remarkable level one book after another, each story unique, gripping, unforgettable, a series that never stops getting better and better. So it came as no surprise to me that this last (fingers crossed that it is not!) book would become my personal favourite of the lot. Reese and Ben’s story had all the magic of its ‘predecessors’—a strong, independent female lead; a charming, irresistible hero who changes his bad-boy ways for the woman he cannot stay away from; a whirlwind romance with all the right ups and downs to make us hopelessly addicted and clinging onto every single word. But this story had something more for me, an added pinch of angst that made me wholeheartedly invested in these characters’ ultimate happy ending. There is so much bittersweet emotion driving this story forward, so much hidden self-deprecation in these characters, all under the guise of fearlessness and over-confidence. Mesmerised by all the beautiful layers of this story, and once more, by this author’s inimitable trademark humour and flawless prose, I was in book heaven cover to cover.
“I was smart. Some may say I’m still smart. But I’ve made so many wrong turns along the way, I don’t know how many right ones it will take to course-correct.”
Reese MacKay has been a thorn in her social-climbing mother’s sight ever since adolescence, her rebellious, reckless shenanigans landing her in hot water time after time, and so we meet her in the middle of her latest trouble, at a police station, arrested for destruction of private property, her only hope of getting herself out of this situation being to call a man who raised her, but whom she hadn’t seen for nine long years, ever since he divorced her mother. But her ‘get out of jail free card’ comes with conditions—to come to work for him as a paralegal and start sorting herself out, away from the pain of her past and all the reasons she acted out in the first place. Six months later, she is on the cusp of getting a fresh start in life by starting her new job, in a new city, living with and working for the only quasi-parent who has ever seen her true potential. But during her twenty-first birthday celebration in Mexico, her last act as a careless youth, she meets a cocky playboy whose wide grin and steely blue eyes become her undoing. Their connection is immediate, their attraction indisputable, and yet all she walks away with is the memory of one embarrassing night spent in his room hugging the toilet bowl, too drunk to do much else. Two months later, that same cocky guy walks into her office, and he does not waste a second reminding her of their one disastrous night together.
“… I’m trying to control the hyperbolic flashback that took weeks to suppress… as the walking, breathing proof of one of my most mortifying nights stands in my office.”
Ben Morris is the confident new lawyer hired by Reese’s stepfather. His good looks and flirty personality have made him a hit with the ladies, something he did not mind in the least while working nights as a strip club bouncer to pay for his law degree. But his obnoxious swagger is only a playful façade he enjoys teasing Reese with, riling her up having soon become his favourite past time.
“Have you always loved yourself this much?”
“I had an awkward year in ‘ninety-nine, but I got over it quick.”
As they play a delicious game of cat and mouse, their daily interactions quickly blur the lines that Reese is so adamant to preserve, especially when her cheating ex-husband enters the scene and she needs someone to be her fake boyfriend. One kiss is all it takes for them to re-ignite the spark between them, something that no friends-with-benefits agreement can suppress. The more they pretend to be in love and the more they try not to fall for one another, the more they can’t keep their hands off each other.
“Reese, well . . . she’s all angry and fire-breathing bitchy until her lips find you, and then you’re sure she must have a cocaine-laced tongue because you can’t get enough of her sweet mouth.”
Reese and Ben are polar opposites in so many ways. While Ben is like a ray of sunshine any minute of the day, having been raised by a mother who loved and supported his every decision, and nurtured his interests in life, Reece has never felt that kind of unconditional love from a parent. She craves for someone to make her come first in their life, for someone to finally choose her, love her, make her their priority. Everyone who ever counted the most has always let her down, made her feel rejected and thus naturally distrustful of people around her. Ben is the first person in her adult life who makes her feel wanted, appreciated, good about herself. His cheerfulness and protectiveness towards her ground her and make her blossom as a person. Reese, on the other hand, is the first woman in Ben’s life to make him want to believe in something he has always looked at with disdain—love.
“I think Ben has a strange power over me— the ability to balance my chaos. And, the more time I spend here on the grove— in his life— the more I think that his entire world seems to stabilize me.”
A truly beautiful, light-hearted and yet deeply emotional story of two people quieting each other’s demons and becoming one another’s anchors in life—this is one of those books that warms you from the inside out and draws you to re-read it whenever you need a story to make you feel happy. From two charismatic leading characters to one of the most colourful casts of secondary characters I have ever encountered, this is a tale that shows the true meaning of family bonds as much as it is a love story, all laced with a delightful undercurrent of humour and wit. I am besotted, I am in awe, and I cannot recommend this book, as well as the series as a whole, highly enough.
“… if you have to fight over a guy, he’s not worth it. Go for the one who’s waiting for you.”
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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
Ten Tiny Breaths: My review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
One Tiny Lie: My review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Four Seconds to Lose: My review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
In Her Wake (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA (1 Sep 2014)
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Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.
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