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The Bookish Babe
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Series: Hard Feelings #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 12/31/13
Rating: 4 stars
Tattoo artist Ronnie Clark is counting the days until Valentine’s Day is over. Ronnie doesn’t do romance. She doesn’t do flowers or dates, and she sure as hell doesn’t do love—not anymore. Love leads to heartbreak, and she’s vowed never to let herself get hurt again.
Sergeant First Class Kale Emerson is home on his midtour leave from Iraq, but he only has one thing on his mind—returning to his soldiers to finish leading their mission. He’s dedicated to his men and to his country, and he’s not interested in getting wrapped up in a distracting relationship but casual sex, that’s a different story. From the moment he sees Ronnie, he wants her. And he agrees to her terms: no romance, no fluff—just passion.
But as their sexual chemistry ignites, the lines of their arrangement get blurry, and Ronnie starts to push Kale away. And when Kale realizes he’s found his match in this gorgeous razor-tongued woman who is hell-bent against love, winning her heart could be the toughest battle he has ever fought.
First Impression ....I love a good novella. And I wish I had that chick's eyebrows.
The Story... Home on leave, Kale Emerson wants a tattoo to honor his fallen comrades. Well, he gets that tattoo, alright, created by the badass bombshell Ronnie Clark. Kale wants to make a connection with Ronnie while he's home, Ronnie is interested but intent on avoiding commitment. A short-term arrangement-no feelings involved-is what they set out to experience, but will the fire keep burning when their time is up?
The Characters ... The Valentine's Arrangement only had two characters with significant presence. Ronnie was completely rude, abrupt, and a little vicious. I loved that. I can see how a lot of readers might not connect with or enjoy her, but I did, a lot. She was hard core, a true badass who was quick to hand out a verbal beat down if the notion struck. Ronnie had her reasons for the tough exterior, but even if she hadn't, I still would have liked her.
Kale Emerson was perfect. A dedicated soldier who's job means everything to him, Kale has never been in love or had a significant relationship. I liked that the author allowed him to be a decidedly commitment-free guy without making him a jerk. Kale doesn't dick women around or recklessly break hearts. He just is who he is.
The two characters together were sexy and practically combustible. Ronnie is a compulsive ball-buster, but instead of being annoyed or intimidated, Kale gets off on it. Her fiery temperament amuses him. And turns him on. I liked seeing these two go into their situation believing they can control their feelings, but quickly realizing logic will not trump love.
The Writing .... was really good. I appreciate dual point-of-view in my romances, allowing me to know both characters thoughts and motivations, which reduces my book rage moments significantly.
Novellas are so hard to get just right. We need enough detail to form a strong connection, but too much can drag it down. Leverich found the perfect balance in my opinion.
The only nit-picky item for me was the "bad guy" who comes looking for trouble with Kale and Ronnie. Maybe I'm naive, but I just didn't get why he went through so much effort. But, he was arrogant and stupid, so it probably does make sense. Stupid dudes...I'll never understand them.
The Heat ... The Valentine's Arrangement was sexy, but not consumed in the only in physical act. That's not to say that Ronnie and Kale didn't get down. They did, and they did it well. But the chemistry and anticipation between them was just as hot. The foreplay, the intense build-up, was so hot and totally worth the wait.
Could I Put The Valentine's Arrangement Down? ... Throughout the first half, yeah, I could. I was really enjoying it, but not overwhelmed. The second half, specifically the last twenty-five percent, really grabbed me hard. With Kale pushing Ronnie for me as he was heading back to Iraq, and what happens next, I was definitely consumed. I basically sat in the middle of Red Lobster and ignored my family so I could finish. Any story that can make me miss out on Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits is worth a read.
In the End ... The Valentine's Arrangement was a very good novella. I would recommend it to fans of very well-developed novellas, such as Laura Kaye's Hearts in Darkness.
She turned around, her impassive expression turning irritated. "All right, soldier, you just gonna stand there and waste my time or do you want to get some ink?"
Kale put his head down and smirked as he started after her. He couldn't help liking her bad attitude. It was refreshing. She was feisty and quite possibly going to be a huge pain in the ass, but it turned him on. Oh, yes, this was going to be fun. ~eARC, 6%
She froze, letting every nerve ending fire to life as Kale's fingers traced over the lines of her tattoo. The softness of his touch was so light, so careful, it was if she was feeling the light pressure of a needle pressing ink into her skin. It was like he was tattooing her body all over again with the tip of his finger, and the feeling was addictive. She wanted more, and she wanted it everywhere. ~eARC, 53%
The Hard Feelings Series
About the author
Kelsie Leverich grew up in the small town of St. Joseph Illinois before getting married and following her husband from one Army post to another. After eight years, they finally settled down in Avon, Indiana with two adorable knuckleheads that are better known as her kids. Kelsie's life revolves around her family (to include two dogs and a cat) and most of the time, actually all of the time, it’s a crazy mess—but that’s the way she loves it! When Kelsie’s not writing, you can usually find her snuggling on the couch with her kids and a good book or out on the lake with family and friends. Kelsie is not a morning person, has a soft spot for animals, loves musicals, hates seafood, and thinks laundry is the source of all evil.
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