ARC courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Incredibly sweet and sexy read! I fell head-over-heels for Jackson Maris!
Vanessa is a take-no-shit attorney who lives her life following 7 rules that she's made for herself. These rules are the result of a past she is determined never to repeat. That includes falling for the wrong guy who can break her heart...and her rules. She's arrived in Hawaii for her best friend, Lucie's wedding, where she encounters her best friends brother - Jackson.
Jackson is an MMA fighter - with a reputation as a commitment phobe, and of not taking life very seriously. After losing their parents at a young age, Jackson was left with the huge reponsibility of raising his baby sister, who's getting ready to marry his best friend, Reid. When his sister gets food poisoning and can't get to the hotel in time to make all the final wedding arrangements - Jax takes matters into his own hands.
When these two meet for the first time - Vanessa is seriously annoyed with Jax's tardiness and blase attitude, and Jax is completely enamoured with Vanessa's spunky and bitchy attitude. He's drawn to her because he's unlike any woman he's ever encountered, and knows he has to do something to get her to spend more time with him. So he devises a plan about having to pretend to be Lucie and Reid and make the wedding arrangements in their absense. This means Jax and Vanessa have to stay in the same bungalow together and pretend to be the happy soon-to-be married couple, while he gets his chance to win her over.
Even though Vanessa wants to fight her attraction to Jackson - she slowly gives in to her feelings that maybe he's different and can be the one guy who will treat her right. And Jax is determined to break her rules and prove that he is that guy, once he can get her to let down her walls and trust him. "I’d rather fight and lose than never step inside the cage."
As they slowly start to fall for each other - you learn about their pasts and get an understanding of the decisions they've both made in their lives. I really felt bad for both of them and the secrets and pain they were hiding. Having found something special in each other - they were able to finally let those walls down and have that comfort and safety in each others arms. Something that Vanessa especially had never experienced before. Even though the story only spans a few days - the slow build-up of their relationship doesn't feel rushed or fake. While they fell in love, my heart was bursting for them and cheering them on - only hoping something didn't happen to ruin what they had.
But alas - these books wouldn't be complete without some sort of angst or drama that gives it that added suspense. I knew it was coming, but it didn't make it any easier on me! I held my breath pretty much the entire last quarter of the book waiting for that big bomb to hit, and as I expected - it did. But it's pretty short-lived and worth every heart-breaking moment to get that incredibly sweet and wonderful ending! Be still my heart, Jackson! He was an amazing character who made me FEEL his love for Vanessa in every single thing he said and everything he did. Truly one of the most swoon-worthy guys you'll ever read about!
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the major STEAM factor. This book definitely wasn't lacking in that aspect and will not disappoint you. The sexual tension and connection between these two practically melted off the page - it was so hot."Enjoy your last few hours of being in control, V. Because after that... you’re mine."
I only had a few issues when it was all over. One was not knowing whatever happened with Vanessa's sister. I felt like that left you totally hanging, even though she wasn't part of the main story - you still want to know where she is or what is going on. And two - there was no cage fight. When I'm reading a book about an MMA fighter, I expected some sort of match or fight and was surprised it wasn't incorporated into this one at all.
There was something so incredibly romantic and wonderful about Jackson and Vanessa's love that just had me smiling and dreamy the entire time I read this book. "But just as a fighter can't predict what an opponent will do as he works to execute his plan, we can't predict what love will throw our way as we search for that perfect person." Eyes alight with the setting sun met hers, melting her resolve from the inside out. "And more often than not, who we think we need isn't at all who we really need."
"I gave you an engagement ring to show the world that I want you with me forever.But this…" He tapped a finger next to the fresh ink. "This is for you, for us. I wanted a tattoo of you on my skin, because I can't show you the one you've already left on my heart."
I definitely enjoyed this book and will continue reading anything by this author.