Graduate student Autumn McShane has had her share of heartbreak. She's been abandoned and betrayed and she lost her beloved mother in a tragic car accident five months ago. That loss damaged her body and fractured her spirit but she's learning to recover, until her ex-boyfriend returns to town, intent on making her life miserable.
Declan Fraser hates her ex as much as Autumn does, but the last thing she needs is to put her trust in the hands of another man, especially one like Declan: his hard body and lulling Irish accent makes more than a few girls weak-kneed. The talented rugby player is rude and sarcastic, with tattooed, muscular arms and a cocky attitude, but he's the only one who can help Autumn win an ill-advised bet that, if lost, could cost her more than she's willing to pay. The reluctant alliance between Declan and Autumn stirs up cravings she doesn't want to admit, but Declan is a hard man to resist.
Just when Autumn starts letting down her carefully constructed walls to the sexy bad boy, he betrays her when she needs him most. Autumn suspects Declan has secrets, and she is determined to uncover what drove him away from her, even if that means fraternizing with the enemy. But will the truth return Declan to her arms or add to the scars on her heart?
Wow! What a spectacular novel from author Eden Butler! She gutted me from the very first page, patched me up, gutted me again (a few more times,) and ultimately put me back together and left me with a sense of peace and hope.
The story starts out with Autumn, who is in a car accident, in which she loses her mother. It’s a miracle that she’s alive. However, she has no family. Her father walked out on their happy family when she was 14 without any explanation. Thankfully she has some awesome friends who help her to heal and move forward with her life.
Next, we learn that her boyfriend of 2 years, Tucker, left her a year ago to try out for Rugby Nationals. He was a bit controlling and tried to make her go with him without taking in account of what she would be leaving behind. Since she wouldn’t go, that was the end of their relationship. Or one would think…he tries to sweep back into her life like he isn’t a complete asshole. However, the wreck changed Autumn. She isn’t the meek girl she once was. She’s strong and now sees him for who he is, controlling and self-centered.
Ahhh…Declan Fraser. They meet when he drunkenly tries to kiss her. This hunk of a specimen is an expat from Ireland and has just joined the rugby team. He is rough around the edges and stubborn, but underneath the smirks and attitude he is sensitive, protective, and loving. The two become closer and sparks begin to fly. Even though Autumn tries to keep him at arm’s length, he convinces her to go on one date with him. What a date it is…SWOON!!!
As if dealing with all of this isn’t enough, poor Autumn’s father returns and wants a relationship with her. Though she wants to hang on to her anger, her friends convince her to hear him out and give him a chance. They start forming a relationship, even though they avoid talking about why he left. Once the subject is finally breached, it is one heck of a twist that I totally didn’t see coming.
While Autumn’s life seems to be going in the right direction and she is finally getting some of the happiness she deserves, Tucker is not having it. He tries and tries to get between her and Declan, and for a while it seems he does. He holds something over Declan that causes them to break up. She becomes determined to find out what this secret is. When she finally finds out, her world once again turns upside down. Will the secret keep them apart and ruin their chance of a happy ending?
I felt every heart wrenching moment of this book, and I loved it. All the characters are so awesome and well rounded. This is a heartbreaking, beautiful story about loss, love, hope, forgiveness, and strength. It is an AMAZING 1st book of a new series. I CANNOT wait for the next one!
I run the tap and splash water on my nape not really paying attention as the door swings open. When I return to the mirror, Declan stands behind me.
“I really don’t have time for this.”
“No, you don’t. Uppity bollocks is waiting for you.” The heat from his chest warms me, settles into a hum that shoots straight to my stomach. He watches my reflection, eyes down cast, cool. I don’t like that expression or how his indifference seems to be forced.
“What happened to not reliving the past, McShane?”
I wad up the paper towel and toss it in the trash, glaring when Declan traps me against the wall. “Please leave me alone.” He doesn’t speak. When I move to the right, he follows, arm stretching out to stop me. His fingers trace the high arch of my cheekbone, down my chin to rest at my bottom lip.
“You can’t go with him.”
“Why the hell not?”
Declan’s forehead rests against mine. He’s so close that I can see his throat working, the pulse speeding on his neck. When he doesn’t answer, I push him away, intend to leave, but his hand slams the door closed. The lock clicking sounds against the cold tile floor.
The wall against my back is cold, uncomfortable, and I grope for the lock, eager to escape the imposing way Declan watches me, absorbs my features. When I touch the door, he reaches out, one arm on each side of my head. “He’s not the one, love. You know that. Deep in your gut, you know it isn’t Tucker.”
“Then who is it?” I can’t help saying. “It’s not you. You’ve told me that a thousand times. This…thing, this whatever we had, is over.” He starts to argue, but I stop him with a quick shake of my head. “No, Declan. It was your choice.” I want to know, God how I want a plausible excuse for his rejection. Was everything I felt between us a lie? Was I misguided in thinking every touch, every kiss was forced, not at all real? His collar is stiff with starch when I curl it in my hands. I inch my fingers up to rub against his bottom lip and notice his chin shake, the quick blink of his eyelids.
There is a moist gleam in his green irises that I know comes from more than just the beer he drank. “I wanted you so badly. I still—” when my eyes slam shut, Declan inches forward, his fingers fanning down my neck. I stretch, pull back from his touch, but he’s so close, his breath a warm hint over my collar. “You rejected me. I’m not going to play games with you anymore.” “I can’t…if you knew—” There it is again. The long withheld mystery that he can’t talk about. His “not a wife, not a family, not dying” secret that isn’t his to tell. I won’t let him keep doing this to me. “Help me understand then.” An inhale against my shoulder as he rests there and the tremors in his hands, his shoulders move me back into the wall. “You don’t know how hard this is for me.” His hair brushes my cheek when he raises back up. “I want you. God, do I want you.”
“Declan. Please. You have a girlfriend. You shouldn’t say things like that when you have Heather.”
“How do you know about her?” he asks, refusing to budge when I push on his chest.
“Was I not supposed to find out? She threatened me to stay away from you.”
Declan rubs his shoulder and I instantly miss the heat from his chest. The break is momentary. He adjusts his stance, returns his hand to the side of my face. “We’re not together. I don’t want her, Autumn.”
I try to leave again, but his grip is unyielding and my efforts to walk away are weak at best. I could leave. I could easily slip from him and he’d likely let me go. But his eyes have me locked, frozen to my spot. His gaze goes everywhere; on my mouth, staring, as if he wants whatever mad things he’s thinking to break free from his mind. But I’m not a mind reader and I can’t do this. Not anymore.
“Tucker’s waiting for me.”
“No.” He slaps his palm against the wall next to my head and leaves his hand there. “Don’t leave.”
I stare at the sharp point of his nose, the small frown that parts his mouth, anywhere but in those brilliant green eyes. When he doesn’t budge, the anger bubbles again. I am frustrated and eager for him to understand how much he has hurt me. Tucker hasn’t tried touching me, not since that first date weeks ago, but Declan doesn’t know that. To his eyes, we are together. That unsettles him. I won’t tell him the truth; it’s a commodity that we both use in this push and pull game. I’m not stupid. I know whatever Tucker is holding over Declan is the reason he walked away from me. Still, I want Declan to hurt, to suffer like I have, to understand what it feels like when I think of him with Heather. It’s a small lie, but cruel enough to make Declan’s heart quake, an echo of the pain he’s caused me.
“I’m going with him, Declan. I’m going out with Tucker. I’m going to have dinner with him. I’m going to dance with him. I’m going to let him hold me.” His eyes flash and he pulls his hand away from me. “And when the night is over, I’m going to let him kiss me, let him touch me if he wants. I’m going to do all of that because he wants me and he isn’t afraid to show me how much he wants me. Because he isn’t a coward.”
Declan slams his fist against the wall and I don’t even flinch. I knew it was coming. I take a step away from him and he reacts instantly. His hand on my arm, pulling, my shoulders back against the wall, his voice angry, deep. “Does he touch you like I do?” He presses against me hard and I close my eyes, inhaling to settle my pounding heart, to ignore the way my body aches, how everything in me tells me to hold tight to him. “Does he kiss you like I do?” Declan doesn’t wait for an answer. He takes my face again and kisses me. His tongue slips into my mouth, and I let myself enjoy the feel of him against me, the sound of his moans vibrating in his throat. He won’t give me space, even as I angle my face away from him. His body is firm over mine and in that moment, I hate him. I hate the way his arms cage me to the wall. I hate how my heart races, how my body throbs with his scent, with the taste of him. When I close my eyes again, another attempt to block out all the sensations he raises in me, Declan grabs my chin. “Look at me,” he says, his voice firm, even lower than moments ago. “Fecking look at me, Autumn,” he whispers.
Eden Butler is an editor and writer of New Adult Romance and SciFi and Fantasy novels and the nine-times great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her affinity for rule breaking and rum. Her debut novel, a New Adult, Contemporary (no cliffie) Romance, “Chasing Serenity” will launch October 2013.
When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, thinking up impossible plots, Eden edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football.
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