Friday 22 January 2016

Review - Paige in Progress by Brighton Walsh

Title: Paige in Progress
Series: Reluctant Hearts #3
Author: Brighton Walsh
Release Date: January 19, 2016

She wanted a one-night stand...and then he moved in next door. 

Paige Bennett is more than content with her life and what she does—and does not—have in it. She’s got a supportive family, a great apartment, and the best friend a girl could ask for; so what if her relationships expire faster than a carton of milk? After a disastrous detour courtesy of poor judgment in the boyfriend department, her plan is back on track and her dream job is finally within her grasp. Nothing can make her lose focus now. Well, nothing except the one-night stand she had with her best friend’s surrogate brother. The one-night stand she can’t stop thinking about.

Adam Reid has always been reliable...the responsible son, the loyal friend, the steady boyfriend. Two years ago, he graduated Magna Cum Laude and is well on his way to making a name for himself at an accounting firm in Denver—a far cry from working as a helper in the Mom and Pop store his parents own in Michigan. But when said store starts failing, he’s the only one who can step in and help. So reliable Adam does what he always does, and he comes to the rescue.

Paige thought Adam was a safe bet because he lives halfway across the country. But then suddenly he’s moving back to their town, and then into her apartment building, and soon he’s worming his way right into her life. If she’s not careful, he might sneak his way into her heart, too... 

There were no Reluctant Hearts when it came to this series. At least, not for me. After reading and loving Tessa Ever After, I jumped at the chance to get to know more about Paige and Adam, because this series has proven to be all the things I love about books—funny, cute, sexy, hot and happy. And this story was no exception.

Paige doesn't do repeats. Relationships have taken a backseat to her dream career—which she is finally within reach of—after a disastrous one nearly derailed her entire life plan. So a one-night-stand with Adam Reid, who lives and works in Denver, seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it’s not like she'd see him all that often…

Except, months later Paige can't stop thinking about him. And with him back in town to help save his parents’ store from bankruptcy—not to mention, moving in just across the hall—she's having trouble steering clear and fighting the attraction. Especially since Adam's never been a one-night guy—and all he wants is more time with Paige…and a maybe even to find a way into her heart.

Oh, Adam. Aren't you just the dreamiest? I loved Cade and Jason in the first two books of this series, but Adam is definitely my favorite. Between his steady, solid, loving demeanor, and his dirty, dirty words, I was completely hooked on him. He wanted a relationship—has always been a monogamous kind of guy—but that's not to say he wasn't alpha hot when he wanted to be. His commanding presence in the bedroom, and the way he used his smarts to trick Paige into something she never knew she wanted, was just delightful. Swoonworthy, if ever I saw it.

And it's not like Paige was a wash, either. She was sassy, strong and well aware that her stunning good-looks made people underestimate her and, as a consequence, was willing to work harder for what she wanted. She matched Adam perfectly; pushing him out of his comfort zone and opening his eyes to a world of possibility, while simultaneously learning more about herself. Perfect. She showed growth throughout this book and while her damage—a previous relationship gone awry—might have seemed too far distant to have such an impact, Brighton Walsh handled her concerns about love skillfully. I fully believed that Paige fully believed that love wasn't in her cards.

Add in the oftentimes hilarious moment with Cade and Winter, and Jason and Tessa, and Paige in Progress hit all the right notes for the third book in a series. Enough of the before to keep you up to date and remind you of the good times, and plenty of new moments to drool, smile, laugh and ache over. I sense that this may be the end of this series, but I hope not. Paige has two older brothers, right? So… 
~ Review by Beth

My favorite in the series!

Paige Bennett and Adam Reid have mutual friends between them. When they hooked up, it was going to be a one-time, secret thing. It was that but it was also the best they’d ever had. Hot, no holds barred, toe-curling best-sex-ever kind of best. But that was it. That was all it could be. Easy to accomplish when they lived in separate cities. What happens, though, when that is no longer the case?

I loved this funny story that was fueled on sexual tension from beginning to end. Paige was beautiful but also smart and determined. A tomboy at heart, she could girly-dazzle or throat-punch equally well. Adam was her handsome counterpart that matched her equally well in all things (or so it seemed to me). More laid back for sure but no less motivated when it came to career or family.

The conversations, whether between the main couple or their friends, were natural and hilariously funny. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, the sexual escapades between Paige and Adam (they were stellar and panty-melting) or the laugh out loud dialogue between. I found myself highlighting, highlighting and highlighting some more so I could go back and enjoy them again.

“Against my skin, he says, “Your p­­­___y seems to like me just fine.”
“She’s a very bad judge of character.”

“Stop being such a testicle…”

I may not have “gotten” exactly why Paige’s past made her so adamant that long-term relationships wouldn’t work, but who am I to question bruising of the heart? I do know it created a dance between her and Adam that was fun to watch. The ending was a bit abrupt though satisfying at the same time. I know, it’s hard to explain but when you read it you will understand. You know, I probably was just miffed that it had to end at all.

I can’t wait for more from this author! 
~ Review by Diane


After having read and enjoyed the excellent Tessa Ever After, I was essentially chomping at the bit to get my hands on more of Brighton Walsh’s work. Especially this, the first book in the Reluctant Hearts series. Having seen a little of Cade and Winter through Tessa and Jason’s story, I was most definitely intrigued to know more about them. And now I do? I'm thinking a re-read of both books might be in order…

With eyes that don't lie, Cade Maxwell can tell that Winter Jacobson is hiding something. In her job as a waitress at a seedy bar, she's used to being man-handled, but she's not used to having—nor does she want—a Knight in Shining Armor.

When Cade attempts to be exactly that, Winter’s response stuns and entices him. He has to know more about the girl with empty eyes. He needs the chance to put some fire in them.

But Winter's been alone for a long time, and opening up isn't something that comes naturally to her. She's within reach of her goal—graduating college—and she doesn't have time for distractions. But that doesn't mean Cade won't become one…

I really enjoyed this story. It was deceptively emotional, and I often found myself a little flustered and a little heartbroken at what Cade and, in particular, Winter experienced. Both of these characters were beyond sympathetic—with sad stories in their pasts and dreams for the future, rooting for them to succeed, together and apart, was a simple thing.

Honestly, there were times that Winter disappointed me. I liked her and, like I said, sympathized with her, but at times, I wanted her to be a little more open and a less…cold. Perhaps even a little more logical and understanding, particularly when it came to Cade’s “hero complex”. Her rationale was just a touch off for me, making some of her thought-processes and decisions feel forced, and yet, I still absolutely ached for what she experienced and what she was denying herself. Essentially, I was on her side through it all, despite my minor misgivings.

Cade, however, I simply loved. *Sigh* Tattooed, pierced and a chef—how could that combination be anything but a winner? Add in a soft but strong center and a moral code that meant he took care of those that mattered—sometimes, admittedly, against their will, but still…—and this guy was just begging to become my newest book boyfriend. And I can't leave a man begging, now, can I?

With just as much charm at Tessa Ever After, and moments I recognized as clues for book two, Caged in Winter was an easy-to-enjoy-yet-impossible-to-put-down book which I would happily read all over again. And I will—just as soon as I finish my second read through of Tessa Ever After... 
~ Review by Beth

Timing is everything….

Cade Maxwell has his hands full as he works hard towards his goal of becoming a chef. School, family, life, he really has no time for anything else. Until he sees Winter Jacobson, that is. A chance meeting between the two, and not the best of beginnings of that, is the start of an unexpected relationship…

Cade is such a good guy. Handsome, talented, motivated, loving – who could resist such a person? Well, Winter for one… Even though there are so many reasons to not pursue her, it is all Cade can think about.

“But there is something about this girl. Her ballsy, f*** everything attitude. Her vulnerability clashing with the pride she has.”

At the same time, Winter does everything she can to keep him at arm’s length. She doesn’t need rescuing or a helping hand. She’s got this…

I love how pushy Cade is. He shouldn’t be pursuing her but he can’t help it. He has enough reasons of his own to not pursue her but he can’t help it. Chivalry may have been the catalyst but this good guy couldn’t be anything but the gentleman he is. The way he treats everyone he loves, his caring and concern, firmly puts him in the huggable hottie column.

Winter finds it easy to push his advances away but soon she is caught in his endearing web. As her past comes to light, her attitude does become more understandable. On occasion, her abrasiveness did wear on me. It’s a good thing Cade was available to be his usual sweet self.

“I know it could be the chase for him—it probably is—but I can’t turn off the part of me that craves this attention. After a lifetime of a rejection, I soak up every bit of it he tosses my way.”

Winter is crusty and crabby, granted, but at the same time she is truly vulnerable as well. She wants to succeed on her own merit, relying only on herself to achieve her own dreams. I admire that. Setbacks are part of life, though, and when circumstances change for her, so does their relationship change. The challenges she is facing offer just the right amount of drama to the mix to keep the story moving along as the back and forth between the two continues.

Snappy dialogue made this well-written story an entertaining start to the series. I look forward to more! 
~ Review by Diane

Well-written. Fun. Sexy-as-hell. A great, albeit simple, story with a killer ending. That's Tessa Ever After. And that's all I could ever ask for in a book. 

After falling pregnant at 17, the now 22 year old Tessa isn't looking for a party boy or a womanizer. She has a daughter and responsibilities, and she needs someone that is ready for a built-in family. And her brother, Cade’s best friend isn't that. 

Jason is the ultimate playboy, and responsibility isn't what he's after. But the more time he spends with Tessa and Haley in Cade's absence, the more he wants to. And with his parents pressuring him to take up the mantle in the family business, all Jason wants is to keep Tessa for himself. But is he ready? 

This was one of those so-easy-to-read-you-don't-even-notice-the-time-passing books. Most anything could have been happening while I was shut up in my room with Tessa and Jase, and I'd probably not have noticed. Especially when I got to that adorably perfect ending… 

Tessa Ever After started a little slow, but once it hit its stride, it REALLY hit it. I love brother's best friend romances, and this was an excellent example of it; the tension between friends was there but not overplayed and it allowed for some awesome moments between Tessa and Cade, Cade and Jason, Jason and Tessa. Plus, the conflict resolution wasn't cookie-cutter -- it was a bit different and I appreciated that.

While this book might be simple in terms of story -- there are no major, crazy, twisty or dark turns here -- it was still captivating. The ease of the story allowed the characters to shine, and shine they did. I loved both Tessa, for her strength and her just-like-me parenting, and Jason, for his openness, his kindness and his complete swoonworthiness. 

Tessa Ever After is one fun, charming and hot book, and my first from Brighton Walsh. It absolutely won't be my last. 
~ Review by Beth 

The blurb for Tessa Ever After really intrigued me, and I knew I had to read it. 

Tessa had to grow up at a young age, since she ended up pregnant at 17. Her older brother, Cade's best friend, Jason has always been there. Now at 22, with Cade no longer there to help her, Jason is the one who is there for Tessa while he's gone. 

I enjoy a good brother's best friend book, and this one was written quite well. Cade warns both Tessa and Jason not to get involved with each other, but they want each other too much to listen. Tessa and Jason worked quite well together as couple, since they have known each other for a while and just click. Jason was also great with Haley, Tessa's daughter. 

They both had problems they were trying to work through, and it was an interesting ride to see if they would follow their hearts, or do what was expected of them. The ending was great and it wrapped the book up nicely. 

I really liked this story. The characters were very likable and I was rooting for them to be together and have and HEA. This was my first book by Brighton Walsh, but it won't be my last, as I will definitely be picking up Cade and Winter's story! 
~ Review by Leah

Brighton Walsh, author of Caged in Winter, Tessa Ever After, Captive, Exposed, Plus One and Season of Second Chances, spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she's not pounding away at the keyboard, she's probably either reading or shopping--maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible.

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