Never Been Kissed

( 21 )

Overview

Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s second novel in her exciting new series—The Boys of Bishop—features an irresistible romance and unforgettable characters in a page-turning story that delivers equal parts emotion and humor . . . with a little edge to boot.
 
As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her ...

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Never Been Kissed

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Overview

Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s second novel in her exciting new series—The Boys of Bishop—features an irresistible romance and unforgettable characters in a page-turning story that delivers equal parts emotion and humor . . . with a little edge to boot.
 
As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her own way, volunteering to work at a refugee camp in Africa. But her act of charity turns dangerous when she takes a boat trip and is abducted by Somali pirates. Enter Brody Baxter, who was a bodyguard for the Montgomery family ten years ago and doesn’t think twice about coming to Ashley’s rescue. Handsome and tough, Brody has always done what needed to be done. So he swoops in, saves Ashley, and brings her to a place where she can rest and recuperate without the glare of the press and her demanding family: Brody’s small hometown of Bishop, Arkansas. But Ashley soon realizes that she’s not the only one in need of healing.
 
Holed up with Ashley in a tiny apartment over his brother’s bar in Bishop, Brody is tempted and torn in ways he never anticipated. Beautiful Ashley, vibrant despite her ordeal, fearless enough to love him beyond his wall of self-punishment, is now determined to save him. But with a little faith and a lot of love, they just may find happiness in each others’ arms.

Praise for Never Been Kissed
 
Never Been Kissed is a great book! It will hook you from page one. Ashley and Brody are perfect together. Ashley is the sweet next-door type and Brody is the brooding hero. The chemistry between all the characters is spot-on. . . . I can’t wait to see what Molly O’Keefe has in store for us next!”Fresh Fiction
 
“Incredibly well written, truly engaging and with characters who grab your heart, Never Been Kissed is a fantastic addition to Ms. O’Keefe’s The Boys of Bishop series.”—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
 
“The characters have a sweet chemistry with doses of humor and drama, and the plot develops into more than just the hero rescuing the heroine.”RT Book Reviews
 
“A fast-paced and engaging novel with a charming cast of likable characters . . . Never Been Kissed is another captivating romance in Molly O’Keefe’s divine Boys of Bishop series. While it is a heartwarming love story between two incredibly complex individuals, it is also a wonderful journey of healing and self-discovery for the characters as well.”—Book Reviews & More by Kathy
 
“[O’Keefe] has a knack for creating damaged characters whose only hope for healing lies in giving and accepting love. . . . This knack is on display again in the second book of her Boys of Bishop series. . . . She gives her readers a sizzling romance, but it is also a romance that develops in credible and emotionally satisfying ways. Her characters are always presented with rich contexts, and Brody and Ashley are no exception. . . . If you like imperfect characters who confront real issues and earn their happily ever after by learning and growing, I highly recommend this book.”—The Romance Dish
 
“It’s a second chance a romance that could never happen. . . . This is the story of a very broken man and a very strong woman determined to give him her love. A lovely, unique story and a great cast of secondary characters make this a fantastic read.”—Smut Book Club

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Never Been Kissed is a great book! It will hook you from page one. Ashley and Brody are perfect together. Ashley is the sweet next-door type and Brody is the brooding hero. The chemistry between all the characters is spot-on. . . . I can’t wait to see what Molly O’Keefe has in store for us next!”Fresh Fiction
 
“Incredibly well written, truly engaging and with characters who grab your heart, Never Been Kissed is a fantastic addition to Ms. O’Keefe’s The Boys of Bishop series.”—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
 
“The characters have a sweet chemistry with doses of humor and drama, and the plot develops into more than just the hero rescuing the heroine.”RT Book Reviews
 
“A fast-paced and engaging novel with a charming cast of likable characters . . . Never Been Kissed is another captivating romance in Molly O’Keefe’s divine Boys of Bishop series. While it is a heartwarming love story between two incredibly complex individuals, it is also a wonderful journey of healing and self-discovery for the characters as well.”—Book Reviews & More by Kathy
 
“[O’Keefe] has a knack for creating damaged characters whose only hope for healing lies in giving and accepting love. . . . This knack is on display again in the second book of her Boys of Bishop series. . . . She gives her readers a sizzling romance, but it is also a romance that develops in credible and emotionally satisfying ways. Her characters are always presented with rich contexts, and Brody and Ashley are no exception. . . . If you like imperfect characters who confront real issues and earn their happily ever after by learning and growing, I highly recommend this book.”—The Romance Dish
 
“It’s a second chance a romance that could never happen. . . . This is the story of a very broken man and a very strong woman determined to give him her love. A lovely, unique story and a great cast of secondary characters make this a fantastic read.”—Smut Book Club
 
“This was a beautifully constructed story with characters that I loved. The story is rich, and emotional, and so beautiful in the end. . . . I loved it . . . every single bit of it.”—Smitten with Reading
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345549013
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Series: Boys of Bishop Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 216,351
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Molly O’Keefe published her first Harlequin romance at age twenty-five and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring each character’s road toward happily ever after. She’s won two Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards and the RITA for Best Novella in 2010. Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two kids, and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Cook’s Bay, Moorea, Polynesian Islands

August 4, 2013

F

or a man of few words Brody Baxter hated silence.

Watching the waves crash on the beach, he wished his brother were there. Sean’s chatter would make him focus.

At this point, the third hour in a four-­hour shift with nothing but moonlight and dolphins in the ocean in front of the villa, Brody prayed for a three-­man paramilitary attack from the water but would settle for camera-­wielding paparazzi jumping out from the Tiare bush to his left.

Anything to break up the monotony.

Funny, but at one time he’d thought guarding shady politicians would be more exciting than guarding the earnest ones, but the years had taught him otherwise.

The screen door behind him slid open with a gasp and a swish. The short hair on his neck prickled in warning, but he didn’t turn around. It was the woman Senator Rawlings had brought. Gina Bassili. The smell of sweat over perfume preceded her.

“Sorry,” Gina said, her voice gaspy and rough. “I forgot you were out here.”

That’s the idea, he thought, and stepped farther into the shadows of the balcony.

Perhaps knowing he was out here, she’d have second thoughts about enjoying the view from the balcony.

But no, the woman came to lean against the railing overlooking the bay. Her robe, barely tied at her waist, looked like a dark oil spill over her body. The color blended with her hair. The night sky behind her.

Quickly, he glanced away. She’d been loud in that villa. Lots of Oh, Daddys.

“Is all this really necessary?” she asked, waving her hand around to indicate him and the other members of the team, silently guarding the senator and, by proximity, her. Her accent was nearly non-­existent, but the alleys of Cairo clung to her vowels.

She’d come into the senator’s life suddenly. A friend of a friend of an aide at some political fundraiser in D.C. Brody didn’t particularly like how much they didn’t know about her.

Choosing not to answer, Brody scanned the edge of the cliff to his left. If Brody was lucky, Senator Rawlings’ wife would come rappelling over the edge with a submachine gun and he wouldn’t have to engage in this conversation.

There were days he really missed the Marine Corps.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her run her fingers over the silk edge of her robe, revealing her collarbone, the gravity-­defying inside curve of her breast.

“Maybe Doug sent himself the death threats, just so he could take me someplace.”

Doubtful. Brody’s team didn’t come cheap. And Cook’s Bay was a lot of effort for a woman who probably would have put on the very same show at Four Seasons in Washington, D.C.

“Does it bother you? Listening to us?” She tipped her head, her dark hair falling down her neck. “Knowing he has a wife. A family. That he’s cheating? Lying?” Her eyes glowed with a certain avarice. Obviously, it turned her on. The dirty illicitness of it. Of her role in it. It explained why she was putting on a show for a man twice her age, three times her weight, and with the morality of a shark.

For a moment he thought about telling her she was the cleanest thing in Senator Rawlings’ life. That the death threats could have come from the full spectrum of extremist groups, the product of a lifetime of double dealing and lying in the name of politics.

But, lately, Rawlings was pissing off the Yetarzikstan Ba’ath party, with vocal support of the rebels.

All of this he didn’t bother explaining to her, because he doubted she cared. Instead, he looked back over the ocean. The dolphins, the moonlight. Bother him? As a rule, Brody didn’t get bothered.

“Gina?” The senator yelled from inside the door.

She shrugged, her lips twisted in coy regret.

“Duty calls,” she whispered and vanished back into the villa.

The world issued an open invitation to humanity to fail itself. To be selfish and small. Mean, even evil at times. And most people, in Brody’s experience, found it impossible to turn down that invitation.

The senator and his lies were just another example in a long line.

His earpiece buzzed in the split second before he heard Colin’s voice. “Brody? Roy is coming up on your six. You have a visitor at HQ.”

A visitor? Here?

Suddenly he thought of Ed, sick and alone in that house. Too stubborn to ask for help if he needed it.

Christ.

He and Sean should have gotten him a nurse. They’d been talking about it, but Ed was so stubborn and, in the end, Brody didn’t know how to fight him. Or maybe he just didn’t care enough.

But Sean didn’t know where Brody was, or how to find him.

No one did.

So not Ed.

His diaphragm relaxed.

Roy, a thick squat man Brody had worked with for years and managed to know nothing about, came up through the shadows. They nodded at each other and Brody slipped down the path through the ferns and wild banana trees to the guesthouse, where the team had set up headquarters.

Tropical bugs hovered around the light of the guesthouse veranda. To the left of the light and the cloud of bugs stood a man sweating through an expensive white button-­down shirt, his suit jacket tossed over the railing. Brody couldn’t get a good look at the guy’s face, because his head was bent as he rolled his sleeves.

The intricate warning system of adrenaline, his gut and the hair on the back of his neck began to buzz. Whoever this guy was, he’d gone to great lengths to find Brody.

And people didn’t work so hard to bring good news.

“You’re here for me?” Brody asked, stepping to the edge of the light, but no farther.

“Brody Baxter?” the man asked, peering into the shadows where Brody with his dark skin and dark clothes blended into the night.

Something niggled in the back of his head. A memory. This guy wasn’t a stranger. His all-­American, confident-­of-­his-­place in-­the-­world looks were familiar.

“Yes,” Brody answered.

“You’re not an easy man to find.”

Once again, that is sort of the idea. Brody cut through the bullshit. “Who are you?”

“It’s been a few years,” the man said with a weary smile and held out his hand. “I’m Harrison Montgomery.”

Brody felt deep ripples of recognition, memories of this guy and his kid sister came running from the corners where he’d shoved them years ago.

Ashley.

Brody shook Harrison’s hand. Last time Brody saw him Harrison was a privileged twenty-­one-­year-old ass­hole. Almost as bad as his father, though miles away from his mother’s very special brand of asshole.

But it explained how he managed to find Brody. Harrison had all the right connections. The Montgomerys were a four generation political family out of Georgia. The Kennedys without the president, the assassinations, or the sex scandals. Though there had been plenty of whispers about Ted, Harrison’s father.

If Harrison wanted to find someone he had enough money and power to see it done.

Interesting, Brody thought. But why me?

“What can I do for you, Harrison?”

Harrison sighed and braced his hands on his hips. “I . . . need a man of your talents.”

“I’m not all that special.” Brody was not in any hurry to get tangled with the Montgomerys again.

“Ashley’s been kidnapped.”

All of his internal organs recoiled at the mention of her name, and then again at the thought of her in danger.

“Or taken hostage, I’m not sure what the proper term is.”

“Who has her?”

“Somali pirates. She’d been working at a refugee camp in Kenya, had gotten sick, and a friend convinced her to take a vacation in Seychelles. They hired a boat for the day, and I don’t know if they got off course, or if the guys on the boat were connected to the pirates—­”

“They’ve held her for ransom?”

“Yes.” Harrison shook his head as if he realized he’d been rambling and he was grateful to be shoved back on track. “I’ve been negotiating . . .”

Of course the Montgomerys would negotiate.

“How long?”

“Three weeks.”

As a rule the Somali pirates didn’t hurt their hostages—­it was bad for business. But three weeks was a very very long time to be scared.

The thought of Ashley held at gunpoint and mistreated rearranged him. Reduced him to some instinctual, animal level. It wasn’t right and he needed to do something about it.

It had been ten years, but in his mind she was seventeen—­a protected child, stepping into womanhood. Precocious and ludicrously optimistic. Her presence in a Somali village, surrounded by armed pirates, made about as much sense as that of a unicorn.

“I’ll pay, of course. Whatever your fee—­”

“What do you need?”

Harrison blinked at Brody’s implied agreement, but then Brody had to give the man credit—­he sharpened. Focused. Maybe he’d outgrown that genetic asshole problem in his family.

“I’ve been working with a translator, Umar. Cell phone reception on their end has been a problem but Umar has a satellite phone. And I’ve got a pilot on the ground outside of Garoowe.”

“What do you need?” he repeated.

“I need someone to go get her at the drop-­off coordinates. I’d go, but I’ve been advised that things could get ugly. And I need to keep this . . . quiet.”

Of course they did. Harrison’s father was Governor of Georgia, Harrison was making a shoe-­in run for the House of Representatives.

Whatever emotional reaction thoughts of Ashley created in Brody, he managed to bury under logistics.

“What’s the timeline?”

“I’m supposed to get the coordinates in twelve hours. But the pirates haven’t exactly been reliable.”

“How has the ransom been exchanged?” He didn’t want to carry around a briefcase of money through the tribal lands of war-­torn Somalia.

“My family will transfer it to an offshore account when we get the coordinates and proof that Ashley is alive and safe.”

Electronic banking. Offshore accounts. The pirates have come a long way.

“How much?”

“One-­point-­two million.”

Brody laughed, though none of this was funny. “You negotiated down from one and a half?”

Harrison stiffened, reading insult where there was plenty. “Brody, I need you, but you have no idea what this process has been like.”

Brody’s esteem for the man went up another notch.

He checked his watch. It was two a.m. Brody and the team were flying out of here with the senator at eight a.m. “You have a plane standing by?”

“The family jet. I can get you as far as Mogadishu, my pilot will pick you up there and fly you to Garoowe, where they’ve been keeping her. Umar will meet you and take you to Ashley.”

“I’ll need the satellite number Umar is using.”

Harrison, again proving his mettle, handed him a phone. “It’s programmed with the numbers of all the people we’ve been in contact with. As well as a timeline, as complete as I could make it with the little bit of information I have.”

Brody took the phone and slipped it in his pocket. He had to finish the Rawlings job, as repugnant as it seemed.

“Have you talked to her?” he asked.

“Once, briefly. They’d been sending photographs, but a week ago I said unless I could actually speak to her—­”

“You negotiated.”

“Should I have let them shoot her?”

No, he thought, you should have come and got me three weeks ago.

“She said she hasn’t been hurt,” Harrison said. “That she was well fed. Bored, mostly. Scared.”

Again, the thing with his lungs.

“We can leave in six hours,” Brody said.

Harrison sighed like he’d been holding his breath for days. “Thank you.”

Accepting Montgomery gratitude was heavily ironic and oddly difficult, like swallowing a golf ball. But he managed a nod.

“You can wait here in the guesthouse. Try to get some sleep.”

“We haven’t discussed any payment.”

“We will.”

Brody was about to knock on the front door to fill Clint in on some of the changes he was going to need to make to the itinerary. But he stopped at the edge of shadow and looked over his shoulder at the golden Montgomery child. A thirty-­one-year-old man now. It had been ten years.

Ashley would be a woman.

He pushed the thought, errant and useless, away. “Why me?”

Harrison’s eyes were older and they told a story about the last ten years, and it wasn’t a happy one. “We know you’ll keep it quiet.”

Brody nearly laughed. Yes, he’d proven he could keep the Montgomerys’ secrets.

He pushed open the door, but Harrison’s voice stopped him. “Brody. Get her and get her home and . . . keep her safe.”

So much easier said than done with Ashley Montgomery.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is the second book I read by Molly O¿Keefe and I have to sa

    This is the second book I read by Molly O’Keefe and I have to say she is beginning to be one of my favorite authors.
    I actually read the books out of order by accident and read Between the Sheets first, but it didn't really spoil this book. I figured they have the HEA since it is a romance book after all.They also make a good standalone book , if you have not or want to read the other books.
    I love that most of her charters are never perfect and have a deep emotional scars or issues of some kind that they have to overcome.
    This was the same with this book… an intense and emotional story that I found hard to put down. I found myself a few times all teary eyed which doesn't happen a lot with books
    Both Ashley and Brody had their past and their inner demons to deal with. To top it off is their current situation of being in hiding from the public eye. Falling in love and lusting after each other isn’t helping ether, in fact in just makes it so much more difficult for them and that Brody has a severe case of abandonment issue doesn’t help either.
    It was a great story jam packed with roller coaster ride emotions throughout the book.
    I also enjoyed the fact that it was not just concentrated on the main characters Brody and Ashly but also had a great story about other people living in of Bishop ,Arkansas. Like the side story of Sean and Cora .. I really enjoyed that. It added a nice touch to it without taking away from Brody and Ashley. Add to that the relationship Brody has to his brother Sean and how Sean wont give up on Brody made the book so great.
    Another think I liked about this book was that the interracial relationships were not made a big deal and never mentioned to be an issue by them or people around them. That’s the way it should be.
    And the cherry on top are the steamy sex scenes we get to live through them, detailed but not in dirty slimy way …

    Overall I liked this book A LOT and give it 4 ½ ¿

    *I received a free ARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Brody Baxter work in the protection business. From child rock st

    Brody Baxter work in the protection business. From child rock stars to politicians. While protecting a politician he get a visitor. Harrison Montgomery. Brody was part of the protection detail for the Montgomery family ten years ago. And when Harrison tells Brody that Ashley, Harrison's sister, has been kidnapped by Somali pirates, Brody doesn't hesitate to go after her and bring her home. Brody has always done what he thought was right, finish school, join the Marines, and stay far away from Bishop, AR where his father and brother live. Sean has only wanted his brother home and Ed wants his son home but doesn't know how to tell him that. The Baxter men need to learn to communicate better before the damage is too far gone to be repaired. So when Ashley wants to disappear until she is stronger, Brody takes her to a place where no one will look for her, Bishop Arkansas. The feelings between Ashley and Brody keeps growing but Brody doesn't want to let anyone in, especially Ashley and let his guard down. Will they give in to their feelings and see where it leads? Can Brody be the brother and son that Sean and Ed need? Will Brody forever be alone? A great story from Molly O'Keefe and a first for me and I can't wait to read more from her. This series the Boys of Bishop can be read as standalone as I have found out. 
    **Copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2015

    I was first introduced to MK when I won a first read on Goodread

    I was first introduced to MK when I won a first read on Goodreads of her 4th book Indecent Proposal. I really loved the story and characters. I loved MK's voice and flow of writing. So I started the series. This is the 2nd book in the series and is about Harrison's sister and what happened to her that made Harrison do what he did in book 4.  
    The writing is very contrasting, elemental, stark and beautiful. Ashley is picking up pieces of her life physically and emotionally after being rescued from Somali pirates, held captive and severely  beaten. All while trying not to have her domineering mother anywhere near her,  keeping the hounding press from finding her and exploiting her, and keeping from falling back into love with Brody who rescued her. Brody, ex marine turned bodyguard, had worked for the Montomery family before, was asked to help retrieve Ashley from the pirate's hold. Brody has a history with Ashley, has an emotional tie to her but he doesn't  believe he is capable  of loving her, loving anyone. 
    "Brody was a bone that had been broken years ago and allowed to heal like that."
    "He didn't know what he was supposed to do with the burdens of her expectations."
    This broken man helps Ashley... protects her yet keeps her at arms length.  Keeps everyone at arms length. Because he *wants* too much. 
    "Because he couldnt want something without imagining the horrific pain of its loss"
    Thats what Brody's life narrowed down to, wanting more so he bottled up everything because he didnt want the pain of loss.
    I also love the secondary story going on. I am just as much invested in that one as well. 
    It was a beautiful story , stripped bare . There was so much going on and it filled the void completely,  lovingly.
    "Its ok to want more. Ed said..."
    Because we are all worthy of it. Great Job, Molly O'!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 12, 2015

    Emotionally fulfilling! So this was a solid read, and after rea

    Emotionally fulfilling!
    So this was a solid read, and after reading some kind of crappy stuff I totally appreciated it. Thanks, Ms. O’Keefe! It was an emotional ride, but still had some light and funny moments. Truth be told, the first chapter turned me off and I almost just put the book down because it seemed super heavy, but I kept going, and I’m glad I did!

    After a career-ending injury in the Marines, Brody becomes a bodyguard for Ashley’s political family. When Ashley is only seventeen years old, she falls in love with the twenty-four year old Brody, which ends up in him leaving her family’s employ. They reconnect ten years later when Ashley is caught by Somali pirates (romantic! sort of!). She’s been badly beaten, and to avoid her controlling mother and the global press, Brody takes her to his hometown of Bishop, Arkansas so she can recuperate.

    Essentially, they’re stuck together in a tiny apartment above Brody’s brother’s bar, in the middle summer without air conditioning, I might add. And so yeah, that tripped me up a lot, and I kind of thought that I’d rather be with pirates than be in an upstairs apartment in Arkansas in the summer without air conditioning. Seriously, I spent way too much time thinking about it. Every time they were in the apartment I was just like, dudes, are you putting your head in the freezer every once in a while to cool down? But anyway, sorry, I just think I would die.

    The relationship between Brody and Ashley is lovely. I thought Ashley was one of the most likable heroines I’ve read in a while. She was sweet and considerate and smart without being a total weenie. And Brody, what wasn’t to like about a brooding, buff bodyguard with a dry sense of humor? The answer is, uh, nothing. I liked everything. The underneath of these characters was well-drawn and was truthful and subtle in a way not super common in romance novels. I liked the emotional complexity of their difficulties, and how they were able to help each other deal with their respective hang ups.

    I wish I’d started with the first book in this series, but I’m excited that I’ve discovered a great new author to read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2014

    From the reader

    Hhdhdhbk

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  • Posted August 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Never Been Kissed by Molly O¿Keefe is an emotional journey about

    Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe is an emotional journey about family and finding love.




    Ashley Montgomery grew up the daughter of a wealthy and political family. Her expectations of her future and here parents are miles apart. Ashley charity work in Somali brings her into contact with the local pirates. As Ashley’s days become more and more terrifying a man from her past comes to save the day.




    Brody Baxter excels at his job as a paid bodyguard. His most recent assignment is interrupted by the brother of a past client.  Harrison Montgomery has come to hire Brody to save his sister for the savage Somali pirates.  Brody saves Ashley and to protect her further brings her back to his hometown to recover.  




    Living with Brody brings back all those old feelings Ashley had for Brody.  Brody fights his growing feelings for Ashley as hard as he has ever done anything in his life.  But this grown up Ashley is a force to be reckoned with and Brody is just the man to make Ashley’s dreams come true.




    But Brody has always held a large part of himself back from his family and friends.  Will Ashley be able to make Brody see that she loves him just the way he is?




    Never Been Kissed is another gem in the Bishop, Arkansas series.  Loved the book Wild Child and you get to revisit with some of those characters. Also the secondary romance of Brody’s brother Sean and Cora is another treat to savor.  Looking forward to the next book by this author.

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  • Posted July 31, 2014

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    I laughed and cried reading this passionate journey of trust, fa

    I laughed and cried reading this passionate journey of trust, faith, love, hope.

    Some months you know are going to be great. This July ROCKED, not just because it's summer, but because readers were able to catch up with the Molly O’Keefe’s Boys of Bishop in not one, but TWO books!

    First of all, if you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, Wild Child, you should grab it now. No, it’s not necessary to read this series in order as these are stand-alone titles, but you should. You. Really. Should. I loved Wild Child when I read it last fall (see my review) and have been counting first the months, then weeks, then days till these two titles were published.

    In Wild Child, I’ll admit I fell in love with Bishop, Arkansas and Molly’s writing (I’d never read any of her books before). Coming from a town that also saw its economy devastated when its only major employer pulled out, I emphasized with the citizens of Bishop who seemed like they’d try anything to get a new employer in town. I worried about them. Really. I. Did. So I’m so glad to be able to catch up with what’s been happening in book two, Never Been Kissed, and book three, Between the Sheets.

    When I opened Never Been Kissed, I thought perhaps I had the wrong book as the setting wasn’t Bishop, but Cook’s Bay, Moorea, in the Polynesian Islands. (I actually double checked the title to make sure.) But of course it was correct and in this first chapter we learn a bit more about the rather enigmatic Brody Baxter. Remember him? In Wild Child  he had popped in to Bishop in order to help his brother Luke prepare Pour, the family bar Pour, for service.

    Brody is an ex-Marine, invalided out, and now guarding a corrupt politician and his mistress at a vacation hideaway. His discontent with his life emanates from the page and captured my attention and concern.

    “The world issued an open invitation to humanity to fail itself. To be selfish and small. Mean, even evil at times. And most people, in Brody’s experience, found it impossible to turn down that invitation.” (page 8)

    Oh my. My heart cracked when I read this. With three sentences Molly O’Keefe encapsulated the isolation and emptiness of Brody and made me just want to comfort him. Yes, in many ways he’s an alpha hero, but he’s one that I have a feeling will do the unexpected as we journey with him in this story.

    Soon he’s off to rescue the sister of another politician from Somali pirates. It’s clear from Brody’s reaction to the news that Harrison, her brother brings, that Ashley Montgomery is someone with whom Brody had a past. But what that past involved isn’t clear - except it didn't seem good.

    When Brody rescues Ashley, it’s not a guns-blazing scenario. But the scene shows not only the depravity of the kidnappers, but also the desperation of the marginalized people who shelter them. O’Keefe doesn’t excuse them for their actions. To the contrary. But one of the many reasons I love reading her books is her ability to convey the story not just in black in white, but in all the many shades in between.

    She also writes some of the most vivid and passionate love scenes - again in a way that “takes you there.” Yes, from the moment of Ash’s rescue, it’s clear that whatever transpired between Brody and Ash in the past was also very alive in the present. Their chemistry sizzles off the page.

    Ash is someone I’d love to know. While it’s clear that she’s been constricted by pressures from her family and, indeed, herself, she’s one of the amazingly kind, trusting, and faithful people I've read about. Really, you’d want her as your best friend. Plus she’s fun! Even when battered and fearful from her ordeal as a hostage, she remains positive and hopeful.

    My heart cracked for her though when she arrived at her grandmother’s (now her own) luxurious Manhattan apartment and found her picture-perfect mother there. The quintessential politician’s wife, it’s clear that Patty (don't call her Mom) doesn’t see who Ashley is. When her mother offers her soup (a standard mother thing to do), Ashley’s reaction made me cry.

    “And weakened as Ashley was, she had a vision, lovely and strange, of Patty actually heating up the soup. Standing over a stove, stirring a pot.
    Magically, Patty would be wearing an apron. For her.
    If her mother would actually do that … so much would be forgiven. That’s how little pride Ashley had left.” (p 40-41)

    Of course, Patty doesn’t make the soup, but delegates Brody to the kitchen to do so as though he were her servant. (As he probably is in her eyes.) Yet, from this brief passage, O’Keefe clearly lets us know the demons that Ash has faced all her life.

    In addition to Brody and Ash, Luke and Bishop cafe owner Cora’s prickly friendship is equally engaging. I adored Luke, who like a puppy dog, seemed to have boundless enthusiasm and optimism as he struggles to make Pour a going concern. (Such a contrast to his adopted brother, Brody.) He can’t cook? Well he’ll still have a chili night, even if the chili is inedible. And he’ll smile - a lot. Cora is a street savvy kitchen magician, whose cafe is constantly filled. Their spiky interactions, then mutually accepted ceasefire is so much fun to read.

    Luke and Brody’s father just made me smile with his exterior gruffness that camouflages a tender heart. There’s humor threaded throughout this story and it’s added in at just the right time for the reader to chuckle a bit and relax. Molly O’Keefe has perfect timing with this - as she does with the more serious scenes.

    So what happens with Brody and Ash, these two very interesting yet wounded souls? If you guess they make their way to Bishop, Arkansas, you’re right. Their journey, not measured in miles, but trust, faith, love, hope is one I’ll remember - and reread many times. If I hadn’t already added Molly O’Keefe to my must-read, auto-buy list before this, I would after reading Never Been Kissed.

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  • Posted July 25, 2014

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    Review: The Boys of Bishop #2: Never Been Kissed

    Never Been Kissed by Molly O'Keefe is the second book in her Boys of Bishop series. This book begins smack dab in the middle of some bad circumstances and as far away from Bishop, Arkansas as you could imagine. A truly heartwarming story focusing on Brody Baxter, brother to Sean Baxter and friend to Jackson from the first novel and on Ashley Montgomery, daughter of a wealthy politician and someone Brody already knew from his past while working for her parents.

    Ashley is tough and kind and very broken when Brody finds her and rescues her. She can't believe that it's Brody that came for her and that it was her own politician brother that sent him in the first place.

    Brody is a very closed off person. He was adopted by a couple who had trouble conceiving but a few short months after his adoption, his new parents got pregnant. He always loved his new family, but his whole life he's been afraid of losing them like he did his birth parents so he never allowed himself to fully open up and accept their love or reciprocate appropriately.

    As a grown man, bringing Ashley back to his hometown to recover is breaking down the walls he's had built for years and he isn't sure what he wants to do about it. Leaving again is his first instinct but with Ashley in the picture it's not so simple.

    I am really beginning to love this series. Whereas it isn't over-filled with steamy scenes there are enough to satiate all but the raunchiest appetites and the people feel real. Even though each story focuses on a couple, it doesn't do so to the exclusion of other town members. I'm very excited to read both the next books, Between the Sheets and Indecent Proposal.

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  • Posted July 20, 2014

    Wow..... This story was heart-wrenching and had me in tears a nu

    Wow..... This story was heart-wrenching and had me in tears a number of times. The emotional damage that Brody and Ashley were both working through (and, in some cases, hiding from) was devastating. I wound up loving both characters thoroughly, for their strengths and their weaknesses. This is the first novel I've ever read by Molly O'Keefe and I look forward to reading more by her, more set in Bishop.




    The ONLY complaint I have about this book was the cover-art. And I realize that often the author has little to no input over the cover art. (Which is why I'm NOT taking a star away for this complaint.) The representation of Ashley was accurate, but the representation of Brody was so far off as to be ridiculous. Brody's character is a man of African-American/Filipino (I think it was filipino) descent. To have him portrayed as a white guy was a disservice to the character. I hope I'm not the only person who hopes we've come far enough that we can appreciate a story between a dark-skinned person and a light skinned person without having to be lied to via the cover of the book regarding their appearances. Considering Brody's appearance is mentioned a good bit toward the beginning of the book, I really wish that the cover-representation were true. So..... to publishers everywhere.... Please get with the times and give the readers a cover that actually represents the story and/or characters honestly.

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  • Posted July 19, 2014

    I¿m a sucker for the wounded bad boy so I was drawn to Brody¿s s

    I’m a sucker for the wounded bad boy so I was drawn to Brody’s story. The fact that I also adored Ashley was a bonus. She’s the spoiled little rich girl who bucks her political juggernaut family to spend a year in Africa helping the poorest of the poor. She’s sassy, smart, and has a wicked sense of humor. And anyone who’s ever done something really stupid at at the age of 17 can totally relate to her.

    This is my first novel by Molly O’Keefe and I love her style. She has a way building unresolved sexual tension to new heights. Her characters are believable and deep, no two-dimensional characters here, not even with the supporting cast.

    Plot
    The overall plot worked well, but there were a lot of subplots that I thought distracted from the main plot. I loved the story of Brody and Ashley and even their various subplots. Brody’s relationships with his brother and father, his personal issues cultivated from tragic events in his childhood, Ashley’s kidnapping by pirates, her family drama, and trying to stay under the radar would have been enough. I don’t know that the romance between Brody’s brother, Sean and the cafe owner, Cora, were necessary. At least not from their points of view. I would have preferred a tighter narration from just Brody’s and Ashley’s viewpoints. But that’s about the only thing I can find wrong with this well-structured plot.

    Characters
    All of the characters were really strong. I was impressed with the development work Molly O’Keefe did with each one. Solid backstories, deep wounds, and fantastic arcs all worked together flawlessly. Brody easily had the most transformational storyline, but Ashley did some growing of her own. She came across as more of that shy 17-year old early on, but rapidly grew to the confident 27-year old she was. Although I don’t even know if it was so much growth, as it was an awakening.

    Cora and Sean were fun to watch, and I love that both of them had their own backstories, even if I didn’t feel they were fundamental to the plot. But it made them more alive. Finally, Sean and Brody’s dad came across as so authentic, I felt like I really got him, especially when he had his big heart-to-heart with Brody.

    Bottom Line
    Never Been Kissed is a well-written, solid romance that reads more like steamy literary fiction in some places. Molly O’Keefe tells a great story, keeping the reader engaged, and has a gift for creating genuine characters that suck you into their stories.

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  • Posted July 19, 2014

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    Alpha Man, Part Of A Series, Contemporary Romance, Small Town

    Alpha Man, Part Of A Series, Contemporary Romance, Small Town



    Never Been Kissed Is A Story About A Girl, Ashley, Who Fell In Love With Her Bodyguard, Brody, She Comes On To Him And He Leaves Town. Years Later, Brody Is Contacted To Rescue Her From Pirates Who Kidnapped Her. Brody Is Cold and Unemotional, Ashley Needs and Wants To Live Her Life On Her Own Terms. These Two Fight Their Attraction Until They Fall In Love. But With Love Comes Trouble, Ashley Decides To Leave, Brody Lets His Walls Fall And Decides He Likes How Happiness Feels. So, Her Goes After Ashley, And They Both Must Decide If HEA Is In Their Future.

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  • Posted July 18, 2014

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    Overall Rating:  4.5 Rockin¿ ¿¿¿¿¿ Never Been Kissed is Molly O

    Overall Rating:  4.5 Rockin’ ¿¿¿¿¿

    Never Been Kissed is Molly O’Keefe’s newest book in her Boy’s of Bishop Series.  It's exciting, romantic and simply put…beautiful love story.  The characters that Molly has created are well rounded, very relatable and totally vulnerable.  

    Brody Baxter is an ex-marine, turned bodyguard.  He has worked very hard to have the life he has.  Coming from nothing, being adopted and loving the wrong woman has been his life’s work at best.  He has maintained his determination to be the best at everything he does.  However, the most important things in life…family, friendship and love continues to eluded him.  

    Ashley Montgomery is the well-bred politician’s daughter.  She walks to the beat of her own tune.  After graduating from college, she endeavors to break out on her own and decides to go to Africa to work in a refugee camp. This blatant act of defiance is totally against her family’s wishes.  While vacationing in Seychelles, she is kidnapped and detained by Somali pirates.  Thus, bringing her long lost love, Brody Baxter, to her rescue.

    I was so consumed by Molly’s newest characters that I couldn’t stop reading until I was finished!  The plot was undoubtedly amazing and the way it flowed was a testament to the great work this author produces.  Will Ashley keep Brody this time around?  Can Brody put aside his ingrained training and pridefulness to love the woman of his dreams?  Read this book!  You won’t be disappointed.  Amazing job, Molly!  Gr¿ta

    Hero - Brody Baxter 4.5 stars
    Heroine – Ashley Montgomery 4.5 stars
    Steam Level: 4.5 stars 
    Plot: 4.0 stars 
    Cliffhanger: No

    Would I recommend this book: Yes! It is a truly fascinating read for those who enjoy something different.

    Would I read other books by this author: Yes!  I really can’t wait to see how Molly shows off the rest of the crew from Bishop, Arkansas.  

    ***Received an ARC of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review***

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Power of a Picture!!

    I never realized that a picture could have such an impact... As I started reading the book I had a picture of Brody imbedded in my head... But, as I read I could not put the words to the picture... Then I learn that Brody is half black, half Filippino... Didn't fit the image... Story was OK but at times it dragged and I had to put the book down... Read the first book and have ordered the third... Can't say I really liked this book because the gaps left me with a lot of questions... The fact that Brody worked for a company and thought he was going to be in trouble for something illegal a client did... Didn't make sense to me... Talked about somebody hired to help Dad but never saw hide nor hair although she was mentioned many times... Holes everywhere, at least for me... Sorry, wanted to like it...

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  • Posted July 9, 2014

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    I seriously want to find Molly O'Keefe and give her a hug or hac

    I seriously want to find Molly O'Keefe and give her a hug or hack into her computer so I can read all her manuscripts ahead of time.  I'll settle for the hug, a picture with her, and her signing my books.  I can only dream about the hacking part.  Anyhow, back to Molly and her terrific writing.  She has this knack for writing characters that steal your heart.  You laugh with them, cry with them, hurt with them, and just love them as they find their way.  I wasn't sure how I expected the story to go, but it was much better than expected.




    Lets start with Ashley.  I loved her.  I think she's perfect for Brody.  Her optimism was the perfect foil for Brody's  protective shield.  She might have been the smaller and physically weaker of the two, but she was stronger than Brody emotionally.  I find that interesting especially since both of them haven't had the easiest of upbringings.  And I loved Brody too, don't get me wrong.  He's a man's man, one I didn't think I was going to love as much as I did.  I think it took coming home with Ashley to bring out Brody's full potential.   I really wanted to knock some sense into him and then cuddle with him afterwards.  Alas, he's all Ashley's so I'll just have to imagine that.




    This book was more than just about Ashley and Brody, it was also about Sean and Cora, Ed, and other members of Bishop, Arkansas.  I truly felt like I read three stories in one.  It's another gift of Molly's.  She manages to layer in multiple stories and does it seamlessly.  It's almost like three books in one.  I do wish I'd gotten to see Jackson and Monica from Wild Child, but with all that was going on, I'm really happy with this book and just eager for Shelby's story.




    I'm beginning to notice a similar theme in Molly's books.  It's not just about individual couples, but it's about family and the relationships in them as well.  It makes each story more powerful and easy to relate to.  Molly has quickly become one of my favorite romance authors.  I eagerly await news of her books and it's very easy to see why she writes award winning books.

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  • Posted July 7, 2014

    The book was enjoyable.  This book is part of the Boys of Bishop

    The book was enjoyable.  This book is part of the Boys of Bishop Series. Unfortunately, I read the books out of order.  A problem I will be rectifying very soon.  This book gives you everything you want in a romance book.  This book has good story line and steamy love scenes.  Read it if you get the chance.  

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  • Posted July 6, 2014

    Brody and Ashley drive this story, but at the heart it is more a

    Brody and Ashley drive this story, but at the heart it is more about bringing people together.  Brody comments midway through the book that building community is what Ashely does.  She helps bring Brody and his brother Sean back together.  She brings Sean and Brody back to their father.  She begins to bring life back into the community.  Even as she integrates into the community, Ashely challenges Brody.  With her he comes into himself and lets go of many of the ghosts of the past.




    By bringing Brody and Sean back together, Ashely begins to facilitate the secondary romance between Sean and Cora.  Once Sean lets go of his past he is able to move forward and see what is right in front of him.  Cora owns the local diner; though they are not really in competition they’ve set themselves up that way.  It is only when they begin to look past their automatic animosity they begin to realize they are both after the same things.  They’ve been throwing sparks since Wild Child and it was really fun to see them begin to work together on something.  




    One of the things I found most interesting about this book is that it features two interracial couples.  Despite being a town in the south, this doesn’t seem to make an impact on Bishop.  Though we know they are interracial couples it does not drive the story.  Many of the seeds of complete and utter acceptance may have been sown when Sean’s parents adopted Brody as a kid, but the complete lack of concern by the town is amazing and wonderful.  More to the point, this is yet another sign of how the building of community brings everyone together.




    Thankfully we have two more Bishop books to go.  There is still room for everyone to fully come together and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.  If you haven’t read Wild Child, I recommend starting there.  Though Jackson and Monica don’t play a large role in this installment, it helps to watch the growth of the community play out.  This is a perfect summer read for new and old visitors to Bishop.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

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    My rating: 4.5 of 5 ¿¿ ****** DO NOT let the cover f

    My rating: 4.5 of 5 ¿¿








    ******




    DO NOT let the cover fool you!!! This is not some cutesy little love story. This is way more involved than something as simple as that. It is broody and emotionally complex, gut-wrenching and breathtakingly tender. It is going to challenge your capacity for insight and understanding into the hearts and minds of characters, who all have found their own dysfunctional ways of dealing with life the best they know how. 




    Molly O'Keefe tackles not just two main characters with issues, but the two entire families behind them, who shaped them into who they are today. Revealing layer by layer, the context needed to get a good grasp on the emotional barriers each protagonist has in place. And if you haven't developed a certain empathy for all of the characters (except perhaps one) by the end of the book, you weren't paying attention.




    Brody has never asked anything for himself. At a young age he has taught himself to be satisfied with fulfilling the role of protector to those he cared about. No more than that. Any more would be making himself vulnerable and that was something he wasn't used to feeling. Firmly believing that as long as he simply remained on the perifery of his loved ones' lives, he would be able to control their well-being. But never once had he considered that his unavailability would hold them back too. When faced with Ashley after ten years, another he 'abandoned' supposedly with her best interests at heart, he slowly started facing the potential error in his ways.




    Ashley grew up in the public eye, with ideals as big as the rest of her family, but objectives much more direct. Where they would talk about chance, Ashley preferred to roll up her sleeves and simply implement it. Not something that 'fit' into the family plan, which is why she ended up in Third World countries where a set of sturdy shoulders and a good head was exactly what was needed. Sure, she was hiding, avoiding claiming her own life back home. It wasn't until her experience in captivity and Brody's quiet presence, that she felt bolstered enough to claim her own spot, on her own terms. And that included claiming her place in Brody's life.




    There is at least one sub-plot that involves Brody's brother, and is at least as intriguing as the main story. The variety of relationship dynamics that are examined is amazing and the psychological and emotional insight displayed by Molly O'Keefe in these is nothing short of impressive. 




    The half mark I deducted from the rating should truly not be counted against the author, but against the publisher, for not providing a more appropriate cover to reflect the quality of work inside. I wonder if the person choosing or designing the cover, even had an inkling that Brody is half African American. I would have expected much better homework from them!! This author and others like her, are not served by angry readers who buy based on the cover, only to find something completely different underneath. 




    With that little rant off my chest, I am so excited to have both books #3 AND #4 in the Boys Of Bishop series on my Kindle, awaiting my reading AND review, for their upcoming releases end of July and end of September of this year, respectively. If they are anything close to NEVER BEEN KISSED, I will be thrilled!!








    ¿A richly layered, full-bodied, all-out emotional and devilishly sexy novel!!¿




    **Copy provided in return for an honest review**

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

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    Wow! This book takes you on one heck of a ride.  From Somalia to

    Wow! This book takes you on one heck of a ride.  From Somalia to the backwater town of Bishop, Arkansas there is an almost constant roller coaster of emotions going on.  Ashley fell in love with Brody when she was just 17 but she was too young and he was on the job.  Now 10 years later she is older and her love for him has changed and grown too.  They have a second chance at love and she isn’t going to let anyone get in the way this time not even Brody.  This book is the second in the Boys of Bishop series but can be read stand-alone.  The only problem I had with this book is the cover.  This is an interracial romance but that is not what is shown on the cover.  I received an early eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Maybe they will change the cover before they release it either way it is a great read and I recommend it.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Another good one from Molly O'Keefe in her Boys of Bishop series

    Another good one from Molly O'Keefe in her Boys of Bishop series. Although part of a series this can most definitely be read stand alone. The backdrop of the story is a small town in the south and the writing makes the town and the characters come to life. It's a great place for a NY political socialite to hide out and heal. It's a great story dealing with past hurts and forging new futures and realizing everyone deserves happy. I highly recommend this one.

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