Rating: 4.5 stars
Alyssa Scott returns home from college with only a car and a couple of pennies to her name. With her brother serving in the Special Forces abroad God knows where, and her abusive alcoholic father not someone she can turn to, she decides to apply for a job at a local bar/live music joint. It helps that Marco Vieri – her brother’s best friend and the man she’s had a crush on since childhood – is a bartender there.
Marco Vieri is former Army Special Forces – former because he was injured in Afghanistan in ways that go beyond physical damage. He’s completely changed, and when all-grown-up Alyssa gets a job working in his bar, he’s terrified. He no longer trusts his ability to take care of anyone the way he used to protect Alyssa from her father, and he doesn’t trust himself not to make a move on his best friend’s little sister.
The characters and the story are very realistic. The story never veers into melodrama, instead focusing on building trust between Alyssa and Marco through their sacrifices for each other – which start out small and build into bigger moments requiring them to lean heavily on each other.
There are so many poignant moments, but this was one of my favorites, when Marco realizes he wants to pursue a relationship with Alyssa but he’s hurt her too many times for her to believe it:
Marco turned toward her and rested his elbows on his knees. God, he really was a beautiful man, even if he had broken her heart. “I really need to talk to you.”
She got up from the table. “I have stuff I need to be doing.”
He followed and stepped closer, close enough that she could smell the clean scent of sopa on his skin. “It doesn’t have to be here or now. But later, after work?”
She lifted her gaze to respond, and his knuckles caressed her cheek. Jeez, but hope was such a desperate bitch sometimes, wasn’t it? Because Alyssa would’ve sworn that Marco was looking at her with something close to love in his eyes. She stepped back. “I don’t know…”
He didn’t let her get away, instead coming right up in front of her again, his hand curling around her neck. “I do. Give me a chance to make this right. Please.” He massaged her neck with gentle squeezes she felt everywhere.
“Okay?” He gave her a small smile.
She ducked her chin. “Yeah.”
His lips pressed to the top of her head and Alyssa bit down on the inside of her cheek. She held still, afraid to move lest she break the spell that had apparently fallen over him.
Have you read any of Laura Kaye’s novels? What did you think?
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