Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Second Chance by Debbie Gould

       Title: Second Chance
              (1 Night Stand Series)
       Author: Debbie Gould
       Release Date: January 21, 2012
       Publisher: Decadent Publishing
       Category: Contemporary Romance
       Type: Kindle
       Ms. Gould’s Website

Lieutenant Colin Beckett, US Air Force special ops, lost his wife in childbirth while off on a mission. Two years later, he’s still trying to come to grips with the guilt that tortures him. And to complicate matters, he finds himself undeniably attracted to his wife's sister, Emily. Struggling with his desire, he tells himself he doesn’t deserve a second chance with such an amazing woman.

Emily wants Colin in her life and her bed. Enlisting the help of Colin's teammates and Madame Eve's 1Night Stand dating service, she plans to prove to Colin he can have everything he lost once again.

Will their one night lead to the happy ending she longs for or the loneliness he thinks he deserves?

“There my girls are.”
Emily’s heart kicked into double time. Scooping Isabelle up, she jogged across the beach and threw herself into Bobby’s arms, giving him a ferocious hug.
“Oh, we’ve missed you.” She glanced over his shoulder, hoping Colin had come with him. “When did you get back?”
Bobby took the little girl from her, threw her straight up in the air, caught her, and then swung her around in circles. Isabelle squealed in delight.
“Last night.” Bobby tossed the little girl onto his shoulders and bounced her back to the blanket. “I stopped by the house, and when I didn’t find you there, I headed for my next best bet. It’s a beautiful day, and this is your favorite hangout.”
“You know us well, Mr. Martin.” She wanted badly to ask about Colin but didn’t want to be rude.
“He’s fine and stubborn as ever,” he said.  
She grinned. “Am I that transparent?”
“No, I just know you that well.” He chuckled and grabbed Isabelle’s plastic bucket and shovel. “Besides, I haven’t talked to you in a week, and you won’t call him, so you must be chomping at the bit for news.”
Emily dug into the picnic basket and grabbed three juice boxes. Inserting the straw in one and handing it to Izzy, she set another next to Bobby, and opened the third for herself. “You make me sound like a doe-eyed schoolgirl.”
He shoved sand into the bucket. “Well, you sure are pretty as one.”
Emily shoved him on the shoulder. “Oh, knock it off. You’re only saying that because you feel obligated as Isabelle’s godfather to be nice to me.”
He snapped his gaze to her, suddenly serious. “If I thought for one moment that I stood even half a chance with you, I’d be all over it. You’re the total package, darlin’. But Mama didn’t raise no dummy here. I know where your heart lies. And my boy, Colin, deserves it.” He ruffled Isabelle’s hair. “And baby Bella here deserves it. So, don’t cut yourself short, Emmy, you’re one hell of a woman.”
Emily’s heart squeezed. “Yeah? Well not a very smart one, apparently. If I were, I’d have fallen for the guy who actually wants me rather than the one doing his damnedest to avoid me.”
“Well, now, I said you were a hell of a woman. I didn’t say you were smart.” He rolled his eyes at her. “Just kidding. Besides, I have a feeling his reasons for wanting to avoid you have changed over the last year.”
Emily sat up straighter. “What do you mean?”
Bobby packed down the sand with the flat of his hand, upended the bucket, and slammed it down. Lifting it away, he left a castle-shaped form. “Perfection.”
Izzy giggled, clapped her hands, and proceeded to stomp all over the castle he’d made.
“Why, you little twerp, you.”
Isabelle jumped up and down. “Casa Unca Obby. Casa.”
Blowing raspberries on her chubby little tummy, he shook his head and began the        procedure again. Emily watched the interaction between man and baby and blinked back tears. Colin should be here. He’d already lost so much of his daughter’s young life, and her heart hurt to think of all the things he would never get to enjoy with her. He’d missed her first steps, her first tooth, her first words…. He’d never get any of that back.
And this kind, warm, giving man stepped in for him. More often than he knew. It wasn’t right. Not that she would ever suggest Bobby not be here for them. He was the best friend she’d ever had, and sometimes, she wished she felt more than friendship for him. Why couldn’t she have fallen for him instead of the dark and broody Colin?
She’d known Colin for years. They’d already been good friends when she introduced him to Tabitha. She’d suspected they would hit it off, and they did. She’d tried to be there for him when Tabitha died, but he wouldn’t let her. As far as she could tell, the only person he’d leaned on since had been Bobby.
Her feelings for Colin had changed when she watched him at a barbeque Bobby had thrown a year ago. Colin had been relaxed, smiling and interacting more than he usually did. He’d held Isabelle and rocked her to sleep in his arms. The sight of him, bare- chested, all broad shoulders and ripped muscles, cradling his baby girl, whispering sweet words to her as she drifted off was more than she could stand. She’d fallen in love that night.
When he’d taken them home after the party and tucked the baby in, she’d walked him to the door. He’d been so different that day, almost happy. Caught up in the fantasy of having him in her life, she’d lifted up on her tiptoes and kissed him. And he’d kissed her back. No light, little peck on the cheek. He’d taken control of the kiss, yanked her up against him, and crushed his mouth over hers. Swooping his tongue across her lips, he’d silently begged for entrance, and once gained, he’d deepened the contact, his tongue dueling with hers, tasting her, loving her. Then, all too soon it had ended. He’d jerked back, sworn, muttered an apology, and bolted out the door. Not before she’d noticed his erection, though.

Dialogue Highlight:
Zeke jumped up. “See, there’s this woman named Madame Eve––”
Colin threw his hands up. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! This is low even for you. I don’t need a freaking prostitute. Damn, Bobby. What the hell are you thinking?”
Bobby laughed. “Not that kind of madam. She runs an elite dating service and sets up one-night stands for consenting adults. It’s a no-strings-attached kind of thing. Just two like-minded adults looking for a night of pleasure. That’s it. You both go in with your eyes open and leave the next day feeling a lot less stressed.”
Colin crossed his arms over his chest and lifted a brow. “And how does she go about finding these people and matching them up?”
“Don’t worry I’ve checked it all out. You go on her website, fill out the application. Then she matches you up with someone who meets your needs. She names the date and place, and the rest is on you. It’s all legit.”
“You sound like an infomercial.” Colin shook his head. “This is fucking crazy, ya know. I have no trouble finding my own women.”
“Never said you did, Lieutenant,” Zeke said. “But this way you don’t have to troll the bars, hoping to find a woman who wants to get her rocks off exactly like you. We know that’s not your scene, and this way everyone gets what they want and walks away happy.”
Bobby glared at Zeke. “Where the hell do you come from anyway?” He returned his gaze to Colin. “More like a night of mutual pleasure.”
“I have my own ways of relieving stress.”
Bobby snorted. “Uh, yeah. I’m not talking about whacking off in the shower, dude.”
Colin rubbed his hands over his face. Good God, have I really been reduced to this? “Fine. Give me the damn website name.”
A huge grin plastered across his face, Bobby dug into his pocket, brought out a crumpled piece of paper, and handed it to him.
He eyed Bobby. “Why is this so important to you?”
“Because,” he said, becoming serious. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen the old Colin. I miss him.”
“Christ, you’re turning into a woman.” He closed his fist around the paper and shoved past the two men. “Now, get the hell out of here before my better judgment returns and I kick your asses.”
“No problem, let’s go Zeke.” Bobby said and they headed down the sidewalk. He turned back as Colin reached his door. “By the way, I saw Emily and Isabelle at the beach. They both look great. You should really stop by and see your daughter. Also, since you have no interest in her, I put Emily on notice. Let her know I’m very interested. That’s one hell of a woman right there.”
Colin turned and glowered at Bobby. No way, no how. “She’s off fucking limits, Bobby.”
“Now, come on. You told me yourself you didn’t want her. Fair is fair.”
He came off the steps and stormed toward his friend, not stopping until they stood nose-to-nose, and shoved a finger in his chest. “I said I couldn’t have her. Neither can you. Don’t push me here, Bobcat.”
Bobby put his up in mock surrender. “Okay, okay. Don’t get your panties in a wad. Shit.” He grasped Colin’s shoulder. “Go on that website. You’re wound tighter than a virgin on prom night.”

So once again, I was given an opportunity to review yet another 1 Night Stand book from the same titled series brought to us by the fabulous Decadent Publishing. You all know how much I enjoy this series so I always jump on the chance to review one of these books. I was intrigued by this particular story because of all of the particulars included within. I wasn’t sure if such a story could be pulled off to my satisfaction in the typical 0 or so pages these stories generally run. And having no previous experience reading Ms. Gould, I was even more interested in seeing where this story would lead.
Colin’s entire life is the Air Force Special Ops. He has a wife who is about to give birth to their first child, but he lives for the job and even when she is in labor, is heading out the door on another mission. Unfortunately life as he knows stops in that moment because when he returns, he returns to a brand new baby girl, his wife has passed away, and his sister-in-law has taken over the care of his daughter. Colin, unable to deal with the guilt he feels for deserting his wife in her time of need, regardless of the fact that he could have done nothing to save her, basically checks out. He visits once in a while, sends money regularly, but cannot stomach the regret he feels each time he sees his daughter. And now, a couple of years later, his feelings toward Emily, his former sister-in-law have changed. Angry at himself for desiring her after she has done nothing but put her life on hold to care for his child, he plans to distance himself even more. So far he has accomplished that well enough with all of his Special Ops missions.
Emily, the kind person that she is, would have done nothing other than what she has already done for her beautiful niece. She struggled at first with missing her sister and seeing her in the baby’s smiling face each day, but eventually her love for Isabelle took over and a strong bond was formed. She gave up everything to stay with Isabelle and is grateful for Colin’s monetary contributions, but finds herself wanting more. Everything changed after a picnic the previous year when she found herself falling deeply in love with the brooding Colin. A brief glimpse of the tender side he guarded so carefully and she was hopelessly lost. She wants more from him, but knows telling him could have the opposite effect and fears his complete absence from Isabelle’s life. Now it is up to Madame Eve and her matchmaking prowess if these two are to ever have a chance.
At first I found myself annoyed with Colin. I felt like he was using his wife’s death as an excuse to stay out on missions rather than come to terms with the fact that there was nothing he could have done while he was there, even if he had been there. And in a sense, he was. But his friend, Bobby, finally sucker punches him into seeing the truth of the situation and gets him thinking about possibilities he hasn’t allowed himself to entertain in a long time. And Emily is so sweet and caring that it is hard not to wish for her HEA to come true. Consequently, in no time I was rooting for this pair to find happiness together.
I was a bit worried about the former brother and sister-in-law aspect, the death of a mutual loved one, the life of a child, a dangerous career, and the like being tied together in the same story. I wasn’t sure if so many components would work out in a novella. But I had nothing to worry about. Ms. Gould did a fabulous job of creating characters that were easily likeable and demonstrated depth even with spending such a short time with them. I only wish the story had continued. I would have liked to have had even more time with Emily and Colin.
If you love the 1 Night Stand series, then this book should be an automatic read. And having finally read Ms. Gould, I can say the same of her fans ~ automatic read here. If you haven’t tried either, this story is a great one to cut your teeth on. It ranks high in the top 1 Night Stand stories so far as I am concerned and I will definitely be seeking future reads from Ms. Gould. Those of you who enjoy quick reads with a guaranteed HEA,  a bit of hot sex thrown into the mix, a determined heroine who knows what she wants, and a brooding male lead who just needs a good knock in the head to see what is right in front of him will definitely love this book! The only question I have at this point is … will Bobby get his own 1 Night Stand story???
(eBook copy provided by author/tour company in exchange for an honest review.)

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