Saturday, September 10, 2016

Challenged by You

Title: Challenged by You

Series: Love in the City #5

Author: Steph Nuss

Release Date: Sept 1, 2016

Paige Abram never faces a problem she can’t solve until her high school sweetheart comes back into her life, and she’s bombarded with memories of their relationship. His presence is almost suffocating, but he’s still just as beautiful as she remembers.

His heart beat differently after its first love.

The moment Drake Wilkins sees her again, the numbness he’s felt since he walked away disappears. 

But she’s not the same girl he fell in love with back then. She’s colder, not as easy going; she’s a complete stranger now.

Her heart nearly quit after its first loss.

When a funeral has them returning to their hometown, a secret she’s kept from him all these years is revealed. She expects him to push her away but he doesn’t; he tests her just like when they were kids.

Their hearts resuscitate, but in the city, their love will face its biggest challenge of all: survival.

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The next day after work, I walked into Jones Jym in complete awe of the place. It was an athlete’s dream workout facility—even better than the one I frequented during college ball. It had multiple floors of equipment and machines, and several trainers on staff. The place buzzed with people who were eager to sweat away their workday. Since moving to the city, I’d yet to find a gym to join, and a guy at work named Owen had given me the name of the gym he and several of his athletic clients used.

I signed up and paid the membership fee. The lady at the front desk gave me a keycard and all the necessary information that came with becoming a member, and then she had a young guy give me a tour of the place. It wasn’t until we got to the floor with the pool that I recognized the body swimming toward the other end.

Paige was doing laps in a one-piece black swimsuit. Seeing her in the water reminded me of the times
we spent swimming and the bikinis she used to wear, especially the ones I enjoyed taking off of her.

“Dude,” the kid said, shaking his head. “Don’t even bother. That lady is like the ice queen around here. She specifically requests the pool to herself, and the only reason she gets it is because she’s friends with the boss.”

“I see,” I commented, never taking my eyes off her. Ice queen, huh? That was a new nickname for her I hadn’t heard around work yet. “If you don’t mind, I think I can take it from here. I appreciate you showing me around.”

“Just doing my job.” He shrugged and picked up a few towels that had been tossed to the side before
heading toward the door. “Have a good day.”

“You too.”

I was alone with her. It was like one of my teenage wet dreams come to life all over again: Paige all wet in a swimsuit. Except this time, she was in a one-piece that covered way too much of her, but I really didn’t mind. The suit molded to her, showing off her excellently toned body and how much she still cared for it.

As she swam toward the end of the pool nearest me, I walked to the edge and squatted down to watch
her. She pushed harder and harder through the water, kicking her legs and pumping her arms fast
toward me. When she got closer, instead of somersaulting against the wall and pushing back to the
other end, she reached for the edge and accidentally grabbed my shoe.

“What the hell?” she sputtered as she removed her goggles and moved into a standing position. She
brushed her hair out of her face and peered back at me with a pissed off gleam in her eye. “What are
you doing in here, Drake? I requested time in the pool to myself.”

“I know,” I said, smiling. “But I was getting the Jones Jym tour since I’m a new member and when I saw you swimming, I thought I’d say hi.”

She rolled her eyes and ticked a brow up at me. “You joined my gym?”

“I didn’t realize it was your gym. I thought it was open to everybody.”

She sighed. “You know what I mean. How did you know I worked out here?”

“Well, if you must know, I asked Owen his opinion on the gyms around the city, and he suggested this one. Your name was never even brought up.”

“Goddammit, Owen,” she muttered under her breath loud enough for me to hear.

Amused, I stepped back as she lifted herself out of the pool. I admired the body that I missed in an
unhealthy manner, feeling suffocated in my three-piece suit as my eyes roamed. She grabbed a towel
and started to dry off, and all I could do was stand there and watch. Her suit dipped low in the front,
exposing the contours of her breasts, and it was cut high on the thighs to show off her legs and the
cheeks of her taut ass peeking out the backside. It wasn’t like the one-piece suits with the ugly floral
prints. No, this black beaut was one I imagined myself stripping off of her in a slow, seductive manner until I had her begging me to get her out of it.

“Don’t,” she stated harshly, knocking me back to the present.

“What?” I asked, confused as I refocused my attention to her face, where her eyes were narrowed on
me, brows furrowed in annoyance.

She used to love it when I watched her like this.

She wrapped one towel around herself and knotted it, and then proceeded to wring her hair out with
another towel. “You don’t get to look at me like that anymore.”

I cocked my head to the side and shot her a mischievous smile. “Do you realize what you’re wearing?
How am I supposed to not look at you in a swimsuit? Do you remember all the good times we had with you in—and out—of a bikini? Because I do.”

“I can tell.” She nodded toward the slight bulge in my pants and tossed the towel in the used barrel.

Slipping her feet into a pair of sandals, she threw her bag over her shoulder and made her way over to
me. She tugged on my loosened tie and pulled me forward with a playful smile lingering on her lips as she ran her fingers over the silky material. “I remember that one night we decided to go skinny dipping,”

she stated, her voice taking on a sensual tone that hypnotized me. “You helped me out of my suit, taking your sweet time untying the strings and sliding my bottoms down my legs, and then you took off your shorts.” She laughed softly and then shoved me away from her. “But the water was so cold that your genitals shriveled up to unnoticeable proportions.”

“Hey, it was really fucking cold!” I exclaimed defensively.

Reaching for the door, her laugh turned devious. “Don’t ever interrupt my swim session again, Wilkins.”

“Don’t act like that’s the only swimming memory you have, Abram!” I called back.

Like hell I was going to let her have the last word. One glance at my groin, and I knew the skinny dipping story still had the same damn effect that it had back when we were kids.

Fuck. Getting her back was going to be more of a challenge than I thought, but I’d endure every
embarrassing story she recalled about me if it meant hearing her laugh like that again.

This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. I have been anxiously awaiting Paige's book. I have read every single book in this series and always cover to cover in one sitting. I love Steph's writing style and have fallen in love with every character in the Love in the City gang. 

Challenged by you is the story of Paige and Drake. Drake is new to the gang, but not new to Paige. He is a huge part of her past, one that she isn't so sure she wants to reconnect with. Seeing Drake brings up pain that no one wants to experience once, must less twice. 

Paige Abram is the one character I couldn't wait to find out more about. Based on what I know from the previous books; she's sweet, smart, has a great career and is very guarded. I NEEDED to know her secrets. I had to know what was going on with her because I knew it had to be something big. I just wasn't expecting how big. My heart broke for her. Tears. I'm talking ugly cry, can't see my kindle, crocodile tears. Now I get it. Now it all makes sense. 

Drake Wilkins has become my new favorite guy in the group. I loved everything about him. He was sweet, sexy, and just an all around good guy. Drake was Paige's high school sweetheart. They broke up when he left for college. Drake hadn't seen Paige in years, not until he suddenly becomes her boss. 

I loved the dynamic between Paige and Drake. Their chemistry was off the charts and they just belong together. Everyone has that one person that means so much to you. Even if you haven't seen them in years, when you do see them, it was like no time had passed. While that was kind of the case here, there was also a big elephant in the room that Drake knew nothing about. I enjoyed watching their relationship play out. Yes, it was heartbreaking at times. But seeing how both handled it made me love both of them even more. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Paige and Drake both needed to take that one step. They needed to see that even though something so tragic had occurred, you can still move forward. 

The thing I love most about this series is that each book deals with a real issue. There are people out there that deal with these challenges on a daily basis. Steph Nuss did a great job of showing what it is like to live with these challenges. She shows that while they are a challenge, they can be over come. It give you hope and it gives you faith, that even though life is hard, there is a rainbow at the end of the journey. You can live happily every after. 

I highly recommend this series. While each book is technically a stand alone, as each book is about a different couple, I highly recommend you read them in order. Otherwise you will be a little lost, and you will have a lot of spoilers. If you haven't read this series, do it. You can thank me later.

Wanted by You (#1):

Carter was captivated by Ellyson Evans the moment he laid eyes on her, but she was the one girl who didn’t beg for his attention.
He wanted her.
Ellyson vowed to never fall in love, because love can destroy you, but then she met Carter Jennings.
She wanted him.
Unwilling to risk their comfortable friendship, neither confessed their desires.
Losing touch after college, a chance meeting reconnects them.
They want each other.
But love in the city is never quite that easy.

Fantasized by You (#2):

Celebrity fashion designer, Harper Jennings is only months away from turning thirty, and her dream of living a happily ever after has yet to come true.
She’s given up on her fantasy.
Personal trainer and gym owner, Maverick Jones isn’t thrilled about having a designer mentoring in his new clinic, but after meeting the brunette beauty face-to- face, he dreams of having his way with her.
He’s ready to turn his fantasy into reality.
But when their fantasies collide, love in the city becomes more complicated than they ever imagined.

Pleasured by You (#3):

One night of pleasure turns into a summer full of lust.
Fletcher Haney owns several businesses all over New York City, gaining him access to tons of beautiful women. He has no intentions of stopping his womanizing ways, until he sees her again.
She’s the ultimate heartbreaker he can’t forget.
Pastry chef bombshell, Bayler Jennings knows she can have any guy she wants, but when her only memorable one-night stand confronts her, she breaks all of her rules.
He’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em flavor she craves.
But as the seasons change, this two-of- a-kind pair fights falling in love in the city, and they’ll soon realize that with pleasure always comes pain.

Cherished by You (#4):

“Move in with me,” he said. 
Being cherished is how Tessa Wilder always imagined falling in love. But for years, she’s always gone for the wrong guys. Now that she’s fallen for one of the good ones, she fears rejection.
“I can’t,” she replied.
Justin Jameson quit looking for a woman after being used so many times for his brains. A bit of an introvert and completely oblivious to women’s advances, he can’t even see that his friend cherishes everything about him.
When Tessa needs a place to stay, Justin’s the first to offer her a room. Hearts are opened; feelings are ventured. They’ll finally know what it’s like to be cherished in the city until one moment threatens the relationship they’ve built.
“I can’t lose you.”

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Steph Nuss was born and raised in rural Kansas, where she currently resides with her black Labrador son named Gunner. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing. When she’s not immersed into the land of fiction, she enjoys listening to music that came before her time, watching movies and reruns of her favorite shows, and hanging out with her family and friends. She also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology that she’ll never use…unless she’s profiling her characters of course.

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