The Harder You Fall

The Harder You Fall

4.8 9
by Gena Showalter
     
 

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From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter comes another scorching Original Heartbreakers tale featuring an aloof bad boy and the rowdy Southern belle who rocks his world…

Millionaire video-game creator Lincoln West has a dark and tragic past. The sought-after bachelor lives by a rigid schedule and a single rule—one

Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter comes another scorching Original Heartbreakers tale featuring an aloof bad boy and the rowdy Southern belle who rocks his world…

Millionaire video-game creator Lincoln West has a dark and tragic past. The sought-after bachelor lives by a rigid schedule and a single rule—one relationship per year, lasting no more than two months. No exceptions. When he gave up the big city for a small town, he hoped to escape the worst of his memories—until a brash beauty dredges up long-buried emotions.

A reformed party girl, Jessie Kay Dillon is determined to walk the straight and narrow. But her love-hate sizzle with West is just too irresistible. They can't be near each other without tearing off their clothes, but the last thing she needs is to be his next two-month dump. Will she become the one exception? Because as any former girl-gone-wild knows: rules are made to be broken.

"Emotional, heart-tugging, kept me turning the pages!" —Carly Phillips, New York Times Bestselling Author

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/09/2015
Showalter’s formulaic third Original Heartbreakers contemporary (after The Hotter You Burn), set in small-town Oklahoma, curses its hero with an overbearing and unhealthy brand of masculinity. Jessie Kay’s sister and her best friend are preparing to marry Lincoln West’s two best friends. Jessie Kay is feeling a bit left behind in the romance department. Her relationship with Lincoln is adversarial and fraught, but in a trope as old as the genre, the two soon discover that their mutual loathing is actually a disguise for their mutual lust. They begin their slow dance toward the inevitable, engaging in plenty of heavy petting as they work to overcome Lincoln’s aversion to commitment and Jessie Kay’s newfound determination not to compromise on what she wants. Lincoln stalks Jessie Kay, confronts and spreads rumors about a man he thinks is competing for her affections, and pursues her aggressively even after she pushes him away. Fans of the series will find that this book follows the same road map as the first two books, and new readers may be put off by Lincoln’s unpleasant and distinctly unromantic behavior. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"Showalter...rocks me every time!"—Sylvia Day, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Showalter writes fun, sexy characters you fall in love with!"-Lori Foster, New York Times bestselling author

"Sassy, smart characters and an expertly woven, unconventional plot, The Closer You Come showcases Gena Showalter in all her shining talent."-Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

"Showalter makes romance sizzle on every page!"-Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author

"Emotional, heart-tugging, kept me turning the pages!"-Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author

"With compelling stories and memorable characters, Gena Showalter never fails to dazzle."-Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author

"The Showalter name on a book means guaranteed entertainment."-RT Book Reviews

"The versatile Showalter...once again shows that she can blend humor and poignancy while keeping readers entertained from start to finish."-Booklist on Catch a Mate

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373788927
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
11/24/2015
Series:
Original Heartbreakers Series , #4
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
173,441
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sister dearest,

My darling Brook Lynn,

Yo!

So, check it. I've totally invaded your old bedroom to watch snow fall in the backyard. (Insert a couple minutes—or an hour!—of whining because your window alcove is better than mine.) BUT. Despite such a heinous injustice, I'm smiling so wide my jaw hurts. I remember the first time we built a snowman. I still think he looked like a puffer fish. Anyway. You cried "He's dying" when the sun came out, and I collected snowman-blood (water) in a jar to host a proper bathroom funeral. We were pretty cool kids, huh? Now, though, we're (technically) adults. Boo! You're my best friend—yay! congrats!—but you're also Jase's fiancée. You're part of his family, beloved by his friends, and that means I have to share you. I'm afraid, so very afraid, of losing you.

But then, I deserve to lose you. For years you took care of me like a mother takes care of her child. You sacrificed for me. You loved me when I was unlovable and helped me when I scorned you. Saying thank you a thousand times wouldn't be enough. Saying I'm sorry a million times might be a start. You, sister, are a treasure. A gift. And I'm going to prove it. But not by giving you this letter.

No, this letter will self-destruct as soon as I'm done writing it because I don't want to tell you everything you mean to me—I want to show you. And I will. Yours forever, Jessie Kay On a frigid December morning, the greatest snowpoca-lypse Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, had ever experienced claimed its first victim. Jessica Kay Dillon's pride. With a moan, the former beauty queen picked up her now-aching butt off the icy sidewalk, balanced her basket in her hands and, as bitter gusts of wind nipped at her, scanned nearby shop windows. No prying eyes watched her. Thank God!

If no one witnessed your epic fall, had it ever really happened?

Jessie Kay inched forward—careful, steady—but as she turned the corner her feet slipped and her arms flailed to no avail. Down she tumbled, landing with a hard smack. Dang it! She banged her fist into the ice-glazed concrete. She was going to die out here, and it was totally his fault. Lincoln West. One of the three owners of WOH Industries.

Stupid West and his stupid sandwich order!

She wouldn't say she hated him, but she would maybe probably definitely unplug his life support to charge her phone. In only six months, he'd become the bane of her existence.

She should have listened to her sister and canceled today's deliveries. Brook Lynn, the owner of You've Got It Coming—Busy life? Let us feed you!—believed safety came before commerce. But nooo, oh, no, Jessie Kay had insisted she could do the job, even though jumping from an airplane without a parachute would have been smarter. And yeah, okay, there was a perk to venturing out: the awe-inspiring winter wonderland. The hodgepodge design of shops—plantation-style buildings, metal warehouses and whitewashed bungalows—looked as if they'd been painted with diamond dust. But honestly? Awe-inspiring sucked buckets of ass right now.

Teeth chattering, she lumbered to her feet and carried on like a good little frozen soldier. At this point, giving up and returning to her car would be a blemish on YGIC's sterling rep. Great start, deplorable finish. No, thanks. What it wouldn't do? Melt the ice in Jessie Kay's veins. The heater had been busted for years, the window scraper a necessary tool for survival. And it wasn't like going home would do any good, either. The heater there basically operated on fumes and prayers.

In a perfect world, she'd fix both today. But this was a crap world and she needed more than the usual TLC—tears, lamentations and cursing. She needed cold, hard cash. Another reason she'd opted to brave the storm.

Brook Lynn, the sweetheart, paid her a hundred dollars a week to help prepare orders and make deliveries. Money she felt guilty for taking. I owe her, not the other way around. But take it she did. She had to. Pride, the whore, never made even a token offer to pay for anything.

The funds were just enough to cover utilities and the mortgage she acquired soon after Mom died. Tips covered essentials, like three squares a day. And to be quite blunt about the matter, she'd expected people to fork over more than the usual buck or two for today's troubles. But had they? No! She'd gotten the usual, plus a few propositions from the sleazier men.

Wanna take a break, Jessie Kay? My wife's stuck at her sister's and my couch is real comfy…

Come on in and have a beer, Jessie Kay. I'll warm you up with a little body heat…

Once a bad girl, always a bad girl.

If her parents still lived—God bless their precious souls—they would have wept fat tears of disappointment over her jezebel rep. They'd loved her and had only wanted the best for her even though they'd both had legit reasons to hate her before they died.

She would be the first to admit she sometimes tried to forget those reasons in not-so-healthy ways.

Well, used to try to forget in not-so-healthy ways.

A few months ago, Brook Lynn—the world's greatest everything—had almost died, and Jessie Kay—the world's worst—had been too busy partying like a rock star to help. Talk about a wake-up call! From that day forward, she'd sworn to walk the straight and narrow. If ever her sister needed her again, she'd be there. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Amen.

Every storm begins with a single drop of rain, Momma once said. Don't despise small beginnings.

The good-girl thing, well, no one anywhere ever had ever had such a small beginning.

She slowly snaked around the next corner, relieved when she remained on her feet, and finally she reached the WOH offices. Despite the cold, she paused at the front window to prepare for the battle to come. And there would be a battle. There always was.

In the foyer, elementary-school-teacher-turned-receptionist Cora Higal manned her desk with military precision. There was no sign of West. Gorgeous, successful, too-smart-for-his-own-good West.

He possessed a charming wit and kind smile. For everyone but Jessie Kay.

In July, he and his two best buds slash business partners had left the big, bad city to move to her hometown. She'd drooled over the magnetic West at first sight, but when he'd shown no interest in her, she'd moved on to the suave Beck Ockley, who had.

What she hadn't known at the time? Beck was the king of the hit and run. Well, he used to be, until he met Harlow Glass. Now he was the king of commitment. Anyway. His majesty's "relationship" with Jessie Kay had ended after a single night.

That was fun, honey. I'll see you around.

The rejection had stung, and she'd thrown a good old-fashioned pity party, getting drunk off her booty and sleeping with Jase, the trio's designated hulk. But their "relationship" hadn't gone anywhere, either. In fact, Jase hadn't even waited until morning to get rid of her. He'd jumped ship an hour after the deed was done.

He later ended up engaged to Brook Lynn.

Apparently, all a guy had to do to find his soul mate was screw Jessie Kay.

West had to consider her sloppy thirds. A man-eater. A good-time girl. Fruit from the poisonous tree.

Well, he could suck it! Had she always made the smartest choices? No. She'd chased a sense of happiness with men rather than finding it within herself—and just how the heck was she supposed to be happy with herself? She'd also made mistakes so abysmal they belonged in record books. Just ask her dead parents! But what right did West have to judge her?

According to Brook Lynn, who had the inside scoop, West used to dabble with self-medication, too, drinking and getting high. And his track record with women? Deplorable. He only dated one gal a year for two months, no more, no less, then dumped her for some made-up reason when the clock zeroed out…and crap, it was too cold to stall any longer.

A bell tinkled as Jessie Kay entered the building, and much-needed warmth enveloped her.

Cora glanced up from the papers she was stacking, her black bob swaying at her shoulders. "Miss Dillon."

"Ms. Higal." She stomped her boots to dislodge clumps of snow as she studied an eclectic mix of boring and spectacular. The standard beige walls were decorated with stunningly detailed pictures of the video game characters West had designed. Tables she could have picked up at a local garage sale for less than five bucks were littered with shiny computer parts and what looked to be robotic limbs.

How cool was that? Her inner child, probably the most mature part of her, suddenly longed to play.

Cora said, "Mr. West is—"

"Not surprised you're late." The rugged male voice came from the back of the room, where West leaned a shoulder against the entrance to his office. "Tell me, Miss Dillon. Is making people worry a sport to you?"

Their eyes locked, and hated tingles spilled over her. For a moment, a single heartbeat, tension so intractable she couldn't breathe thrummed between them. He was the sun she orbited, the vortex she couldn't escape. Then he turned, revealing his back, and she was able to suck in a mouthful of air, but his image remained burned in her mind.

He stood well over six feet tall and had the lean, sexy muscle mass of a man who'd spent quality time in a gym. A fact perfectly complemented by the pin-striped suit he wore. He had dark hair and even darker eyes, the depths fathomless, mysterious and so sublimely sensual she sometimes forgot her new resolve to avoid ABBs. Adorable bad boys.

She wanted what her parents had. What Brook Lynn and Jase, Harlow and Beck had. She wanted more. And for the first time in her life, she was willing to wait for it. No more settling for scraps.

Sometimes people forget that falling in love isn't enough. Momma, always so wise. You have to fall in like, too. Your dad…he thinks I hung the moon.

Jessie Kay had no doubts about that. When she'd helped her sister pack up to move-in with Jase, they'd found a secret panel in the closet. Stored inside were letters their dad had written their mom while the two were dating.

When you smile, my sweet Anna Grace, I see my future in your eyes.

No one had ever experienced that kind of reaction to Jessie Kay's smile, and there was no way West would be the first. Which was one of the many reasons he wasn't dateable, despite her crush on him. Well, not on him, but on his looks. Yes, there was a big difference. While she would love to give his face and body a tongue bath, she only wanted to give his brain the finger.

"Well, don't just stand there drooling, Miss Dillon, go on back," Cora said, pulling Jessie Kay from her musings.

"Thanks." For nothing. She clutched the wicker basket closer to her chest and trudged forward.

The moment she crossed the threshold into West's office, the temperature seemed to rise another twenty degrees, the air saturated with the heady scent of caramel. Her tingles returned and redoubled.

He'd removed his jacket and now sat at his desk, rolling the sleeves of his white button-down to his elbows, revealing strong forearms with mouthwatering sinew and a dusting of dark hair.

"Don't pretend you were worried about me, Mr. West?"

He reclined in his chair and folded his hands over his middle, peering at her the way a snake must peer at a mouse—intent, ready to strike, hungry.

A ball of thorns grew in her throat, and she gulped. Maybe he wanted to devour her in a sexual way. A few times she'd wondered if he liked the look of her the way she liked the look of him. Or maybe he just got off on taking down an opponent.

Yeah. That one.

"Are you here to feed me or to stare at me?" His tone mocked her.

Jerk. "I'm here to correct you. You said I was late, but you couldn't be more wrong. Breakfast orders are due to arrive between seven and nine."

"It's ten thirty-six."

Oops. Was it really? "You didn't let me finish. Breakfast orders are due to arrive between seven and nine except on ice days. I'm allowed an hour or so of leeway."

"Again, it's ten thirty-six."

"I said or so." When his expression failed to soften, she added, "Could I have picked up the pace to reach you sooner? Yes. However, falling and breaking my neck is your dream come true, not mine."

He showed no mercy. "Since news stations have talked about nothing but this winter storm for the past week, I knew it was headed our way and did something revolutionary. I planned ahead."

She offered him a brittle smile. The customer is always right, Brook Lynn often said. And Jessie Kay agreed…unless the customer was a douche bag, and then he was just a douche bag. "Had I planned ahead, I would have canceled your order."

"But you didn't. So. I'm assuming your tardiness means the food is free."

She breathed in and out and remembered another bit of sage advice her mother had given her. You can't control when a bird flies over your head, but you can control whether or not you let one build a nest in your hair.

In other words, she couldn't stop certain emotions from rising up inside her, but she could stop herself from reacting to them.

And she had to, had to, had to stop herself. Brook Lynn recently challenged her to a bet. First girl to yell or throw things in a fit of temper had to let the supposedly composed sister pick her wardrobe for a week.

Knowing Brook Lynn, Jessie Kay would be wearing a nun's habit. Shudder! She'd much rather see her sister in a bikini constructed with two pasties and a curl of ribbon.

Over the years, tormenting each other had become a very fun game.

"You're wrong, as usual," she told West with a sugar sweet smile. "Also, you're too limited in your thinking. Time isn't linear, it's circular."

That grabbed his attention. Intrigue brightened his eyes as he straightened, propped his elbows on the desk and linked his fingers just below his chin. "Explain."

With pleasure. "Time has no beginning and no end. It always has been, always will be, and it never stops, which means time is an ever-continuing circle of new beginnings and new ends."

The intrigue intensified and mixed with…admiration? "You're implying the concept of being late is—"

"Bullcrap."

"—erroneous because what is present will become what is past and what is past will become what is future. Therefore, no matter the lateness of the hour, you're always on time."

"I liked my description better, but yeah. And being on time in this weather means I've earned a bonus. Today, your sandwich is fifty dollars more than usual."

He studied her for a long while, silent. "In terms of excuses, yours is the best I've ever heard. I'll give you the extra fifty."

She fought the urge to preen. "Should we make it an even hundred?"

"Why? Did you sprinkle the sandwich with crack?"

"No. But I did finally factor in my mental anguish."

Meet the Author

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over fifty books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, and the White Rabbit Chronicles. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com.

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The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter | 9780373788927 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
caroldh4 More than 1 year ago
The Harder You Fall is book three in The Original Heartbreakers series by Gena Showalter. I have loved this series from the first. I can’t believe I let the release of this book get by me without realizing it was out. So, I’m a few months late in reading it. I loved every page of it. But I do encourage you to start at the beginning of this series. Even though each book can be read as a stand alone, you will miss so much if you don’t start at the beginning and meet all of the characters since they continue to play an important part in each other’s lives in each book. This book centers on Jessica Kay Dillon, Brook Lynn’s older sister. We got to know Jessie Kay in the previous books as the party girl, the girl that Brook Lynn was constantly trying to save. We also knew that there was some sort of strange either chemistry or animosity between Jessie Kay and West. Every time they were near each other it was obvious. Jessie Kay has finally straightened herself out. Now she is dedicated to proving to her sister that she can be a good sister. She has so much to make up for. Her sister never gave up on her. Even though Jessie Kay has never forgiven herself for what she put her sister through, and still feels responsible for the death of her mother, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her bubbly personality and her caring ways make it impossible not to love her. She is spontaneous, crazy, funny, and beautiful. So she wonders why it is that no man wants her. Why is it that they never stick around? “Why was she such a failure? What made her so unworthy of more?” Lincoln West or West, moved to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma with his two brothers-by-circumstance. He is a millionaire video-game creator. West has a dark past, one filled with a drug addict mother, foster homes, and so much more. He has never forgiven himself for what happened to his brother, Jase, or to his girlfriend, Tessa, when he was still a teenager. So now he is punishing himself. He allows himself a girlfriend once a year for two months and two months only. Then they cut ties, over and done with. That’s all he will allow himself. No exceptions. West has been fighting his growing obsession with Jessie Kay. He finds himself following her to make sure she is safe. Worrying about her, thinking about her, fantasizing about her. He’s sure she is attracted to him as well. But if he gave in and asked her to be his next two month relationship, what would happen when it was over? She is the sister of his best friend/brother’s fiancé. He’s not even good enough for her. She deserves so much more but the thought of any other man touching her ignites a rage within him. “She wasn’t what he should want, but somehow she’d become everything he could not resist, and he was tired, so tired, of walking, running away from her.” These two together were just, sigh, amazing. I loved the way their relationship progressed. Jessie Kay was so intuitive to West. She just seemed to know how to help him get over his issues. And yes, the man has a lot of issues. Their Christmas gifts to each other actually made my eyes water. I am a highlighter and let me tell you, I could have highlighted this entire book. These two needed each other so badly, they just had to accept what the other had to offer. They were just so much better together than apart. “The boy he’d been had desired Tessa, but the man he’d become desired Jessie Kay. There was no comparison.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crazy-Antics-Reviews More than 1 year ago
If I could sum up how I feel about this book in one word, I would say riveting. I really and thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Jessie and West engaged in this sort of chase with each other. West and his conflicting feelings put Jessie and her heart through the wringer more than once though despite this he had always wanted what was best for her, and by the end of the novel they reached an ending that they deserved. West played the perfect guardian angel/knight in shining armor role, but the author shook it up with his quiet past. Even though Jessie had the reputation of the love ’em and leave ’em type it wasn’t really flaunted, which was nice. I really enjoyed both characters. This book can be read as a stand alone. I haven’t read any others in the series, but I definitely would like to. The book hints and gives little bits and pieces of the other characters pasts, it has left me intrigued and excited to read about the other characters. Like I said I really enjoyed this book, however I was slightly disappointed with the ending. The author had built up this great suspense for this one thriller moment that I was expecting, and then when said expected thriller moment approached the book fizzled out. I felt like it, the ending was rushed a bit, not that it was a bad ending, I still enjoyed it but it was almost like the author got super excited because she could see the end that she sprinted to the finish line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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cntrygirlzroc More than 1 year ago
Jessie Kay has been a wild child all her life. Always being the one night stand and never the girl that the guy stuck around for. She has finally decided to be the best sister ever for her sister Brook Lynn. To make up for all the trouble she caused and to make up for their parents dying, which she put the blame on herself. West is a computer genius, recovering drug addict, schedule crazy, and OCD who has been his own judge, jury and executioner, because of his girlfriend dying and his best friend spending ten years in jail. He dates one woman two months out of the year. Then stays single the other ten months. He has done this for ten years and he tacked on five extra years for Tessa's death. Jessie Kay and West are attracted to each other but West will not break his own prison. West offers her the two months a year for five years but Jessie Kay wants forever. Can she break through his walls to the man she knows he can be? I FREAKING LOVED THIS STORY!!! I love Jessie Kay! I laughed and wanted to cry for West and Jessie. Neither knew how great they were. Plenty of sexual tension. A crazy ex girlfriend. And best friends who stand by them. I believe this is my favorite one.
wizkids32 More than 1 year ago
OMG OMG totally awesome book nice to see the marriage of Harlow a Beck wedding and Brooklyn and Jase's wedding and seeing Lincoln dealing with his past and falling in love with Jessie Kay as well it was fun and left me laughing a lot of the time totally cool book thank you for the amazing book Love the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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WHiggins More than 1 year ago
Overcoming a tragic past both Lincoln West and Jessie Kay Dillon will learn to accept it and learn to let someone in. When cupid strikes it’s all over as Jessie Kay and West discover there is someone who understands them. The dark past that West has lived is just that …the past. He learns he can let go and finally enjoy the present. He realizes how his best friends Beck and Jase have fallen in love with there ladies. West knows deep down he wants that kind of love and he wants it to be Jessie Kay but can he give her what she needs. Jessie Kay is at the same part in her life where she is finally going to move on from the past, never forget but forgive herself. She is over that “party girl” never a care in the world time in her life and she has her sites on ONE man ..Lincoln West. As she gets to know West better she comes to realize he has some demons to face and she is just the person to help him with that! The romance between Jessie Kay and West is heartwarming and a forever LOVE. This new series of Gena’s is refreshing…we may have difficult times in our lives but there is ALWAYS someone that can help and you may just find love along the way.