Braxton Monroe’s taking a break from teaching to do some strenuous work on a Civil War–era house, and feeling the strain in every rock-hard muscle. Good thing he has to interview massage therapists for the spa—even if it’s embarrassing to meet a job candidate in his boxers. Cora Buchanan has hands so talented—and a voice so sultry—he wants to hire her before he even lifts his head from the table. But he’s shocked to meet her outside the massage room—with her seeing-eye dog, Heidi the yellow lab.
Cora has left her family—and fiancé—in Atlanta to make her way in this small town. All her parents’ money can’t restore her sight, but it’s up to her to restore her independence. Though she bristles at Braxton’s protectiveness, she too feels lingering effects from their intimate touch. Now that he’s her boss, it’s strictly hands-off. . . .Until a secret she’s keeping destroys his fragile trust, and they must find the courage to knock down the walls between them.
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Caught Up In You
By Jules Bennett
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Jules Bennett
All rights reserved.
Just try it, she said. It will be fun, she said.
And that manipulative conversation with Sophie, his soon-to-be sister-in-law, is how Braxton now found himself wearing nothing but his boxer briefs and a towel, waiting for a massage.
A massage. He may as well turn in his man card now and go ahead and sign up for a facial and a pedicure while he was here.
Braxton Monroe and his brothers were gearing up to open a women's-only resort and spa, in honor of their late sister, Chelsea. The business had been her dream, so how could they ignore something she'd been so passionate about?
With the resort set to open at the first of the year and the open house just a week before Christmas, they were needing to hire a masseuse. In the beginning, they weren't sure if they needed one on hand the first day the resort was open, but they finally decided they wanted to do this up right and do it up big, just like Chelsea would've wanted.
Sophie had just sold a house to a new lady in town and, after some apparent girl bonding, Sophie wanted the guys to check out this prospect for the masseuse position.
Because the woman was new to the small town of Haven, Georgia, and not currently employed, Braxton was now in this stranger's home. He'd been half naked in a strange woman's house before, but usually under much different circumstances. Braxton hoped like hell Sophie hadn't lied when she'd said she'd checked out the woman's credentials.
Thankfully, Sophie had driven him to help with the awkwardness of the situation. Though he'd questioned her in the car when she started acting weird. She never gave him a straight answer when he asked about the naughty grin on her face and he was almost afraid to see how this was going to play out. Okay, he wasn't almost afraid, he was flat-out terrified.
He also had no clue why he couldn't meet the potential employee before she came in and rubbed her hands all over him. But Sophie insisted he was to undress and wait in the room because he needed to have the full "client experience." Yet again, how the hell had he ended up with his ass up and his head in a doughnut-shaped hole?
Braxton groaned as he realized how foolish he looked lying here. For all he knew, this was a prank orchestrated by his brothers. No doubt Zach and Liam were back at the resort laughing their asses off at his expense. There would be payback.
The door behind him clicked, and footsteps shuffled across the glossy wood floor. Braxton didn't lift his head, didn't want to see whoever had just walked in. He'd had more than enough of pampered rich girls to last him a lifetime. He'd seen the designer bag by the front door, Prada if his ex had taught him anything. The last thing he wanted was to deal with another label-snob.
Bitterness was a pill he'd been trying to swallow for months ... it still wasn't going down.
Braxton wanted to get this humiliation over with so he could go back home to his punching bag, drink a beer, fondle his remote, and try to regain some of his masculinity. First, he had to get this damn warped interview process over with.
The pocket door to the room slid open, then shut with a soft whoosh. Braxton attempted to mentally prepare himself for the next hour of the unknown.
"Good morning, Mr. Monroe." The soft, almost angelic voice washed over him, hitting him straight in the gut with a punch of lust. That was definitely something he hadn't prepared for. "My name is Cora. Have you ever had a massage before?"
Braxton grunted out a laugh. "First, call me Braxton. Formalities aren't necessary when you're going to have your hands on me. Second, no, I haven't, but I lost a game of rock, paper, scissors with my brothers and my so-called friend drove me so I wouldn't be able to back out."
Her soft laugh seemed to caress his bare skin. "I assure you, by the time I'm done, you'll be glad you lost that game."
Between that laugh and her sultry tone, he was getting more turned on than he should. Seriously? That was new to him. For the past several months he'd been a bit ... social with the ladies. Normally it was a flirty smile, a heavy-lidded lingering gaze, or a blatant touch that set him in motion.
Did Cora have a sultry smile or bedroom eyes? Tall, short? Did she have curves or more of an athletic build? Did she dress classy to match that Prada bag or was she more laid-back?
He gritted his teeth. He was here for a job interview, not to visualize the body that belonged to that sexy voice. He shouldn't care because the last thing he needed was to be tied in knots over a woman ... any woman. Physicality was his best friend lately and he was just fine with that.
Braxton closed his eyes, listening to the soft movements, the subtle clangs of containers being opened, closed. He had no clue what to expect, but when something small and warm rested against the top of his spine, he stiffened.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Hot stones. I'll be placing them down your spine. Would you like me to explain each step as I go so you're more comfortable or do you prefer quiet? Each client is different, but since this is basically an interview, I feel I should tell you everything so you understand better what it is that I can offer."
What she can offer? With a voice like that ... Braxton bit the inside of his cheek. He couldn't start hitting on a potential employee. Yes, he'd gotten a bit more outgoing since his engagement debacle, but there was a time and a place. This was neither, nor.
Cora carefully rested the stones down his spine, which he had to admit was rather nice. Damn it. He refused to like this. He was here under duress. Why was he already thinking of her on a first-name basis? Oh, yeah, because she was about to rub him.
"While I'm working I can tell you about myself."
Yeah, something he should've thought of. This was his chance to interview her for the position and they desperately needed someone to fill the role. Sophie absolutely swore this woman was the one for the job, but she'd insisted one of the brothers interview her to make sure. Focusing while getting a rubdown was a bit difficult, in his defense. Damn it, that felt too good. Should he be enjoying himself this much?
"I've been a licensed masseuse for two years." Her calm, relaxing voice cut off his thoughts. "Not very long, but I went to college first and I have my degree in accounting."
Okay, so that told him two things: She had her head on straight for getting a degree, which the nerdy professor in him admired. And she was still young, almost a decade younger than him if he were to wager a guess, which was just another reason he needed to keep his lustful thoughts out of his head. Just because her voice was silky smooth didn't mean he had to react to it or start to fantasize what she looked like.
While the rocks stayed in position, Cora's hands started gliding in short, smooth strokes from the middle of his back down to his side. Braxton had to catch himself from groaning. No, he wasn't here to enjoy the process, he was here to see if she would work out in their spa. In his defense, though, he could see how women would eat up this type of pampering. And that's precisely what they needed for this women's-only resort and spa he and his brothers were going to open.
Bella Vous was a vision of their late sister, Chelsea, and the Monroe boys were fighting like hell to make sure this resort was unlike anything around. They didn't want to just open their doors and hope for the best. They wanted to make the business thrive and flourish, just like their beautiful sister. They wanted this to be a place women came to relax from work, from family, from life in general. Chelsea had wanted that because their adoptive mother had put her life on hold to ensure they all had an amazing life. The woman had never asked for anything for herself, everything was for her family. Chelsea's dream was to cater to those women who were constantly giving.
"Why aren't you working as an accountant?" he asked, impressed he could form a coherent sentence while she worked her magic. Oh, man, those hands of hers were talented. And he had no idea why there were rocks down his back, but this was absolutely amazing.
Fine. He was enjoying every second of this, but that didn't mean he had to admit it to anyone.
Her hands stilled for only a split second before she replied. "Personal reasons. Being a masseuse gives me more freedom. I love making people relax. In a world when everything is rushed and hectic, I think people need to take more time for themselves. To work at a resort as unique as this one would be perfect."
Something about her passion, her need for freedom, reminded Braxton of Chelsea. His late sister would already love Cora for this position in the spa. And Braxton had to admit, he could get used to this treatment ... still without anyone knowing, of course.
"I'm going to use some oil now," she told him, still in that soft, made-for-the-bedroom voice. No, damn it. She wasn't made for a bedroom, at least not his. "Do you prefer a scent or unscented? I keep both for allergy reasons and for men who prefer not to smell like flowers or fruit. Everyone is different and I like to please each client."
Oh, man. She was killing him. Killing. Him.
His mind drifted to areas it shouldn't be. He didn't need to think about being pleased in any other way than to find the perfect employee.
Braxton laughed at his wayward thoughts and how quickly he'd strayed off course. "Unscented is fine. Do you have many male clients?"
"I did where I was working," she replied easily. "I had quite a variety, actually. CEOs, blue-collar workers. Granted, most of them were private about their guilty pleasure, but that's fine. I understand the need for them to feel masculine. I've learned how to keep secrets and every client has them."
Her hands slathered together seconds before the warm, oily glide took over. He had to swallow back the groan that threatened to slip out. Mercy, he didn't expect to really enjoy this. Braxton didn't know if all massages were this sensual or if he'd hit the masseuse jackpot, but this woman and her clever hands could rub him all day.
Best. Interview. Ever. Maybe he needed to hold more interviews for possible masseuses. Or not. That was one thing he'd never live down if either of his brothers thought he actually liked this.
"Why the move to Haven?" he asked. "I was told you lived in Atlanta."
Her hands traveled easily to the other side of his back. The oil slid effortlessly between her palms and his skin, making him think of other, very nonprofessional thoughts.
"My family is in Atlanta, but I've never wanted to stay there. I'm not a big-city girl. Too rushed, too chaotic for me." She finished his back, then moved to shift the towel over his backside as she placed more oil on the tops of his thighs. "I love Savannah, always have. Several summers ago I came to Haven with a friend and instantly fell in love with the small-town charm."
Was she trying to get away from the city or her family? Or both? There was a story there, but right now Braxton was having a hard enough time controlling his urges with her digging into the backs of his thighs ... he couldn't delve into her personal issues.
"Can you tell me more about the resort?" she asked, shifting down the table to work on his lower legs. "Sophie told me enough to have me interested in what three guys would want with a women's-only resort."
Braxton chuckled, lifting his hands to settle on either side of his face on the cushy doughnut pillow. "We're either really smart or we're about to make total fools of ourselves."
"Personally, I think the idea is brilliant. Working moms; young, single women looking for a getaway; sisters; moms and daughters. You'll have a whole host of women flocking to this resort."
He didn't know why her approval pleased him. Cora with the sultry voice and the talented hands had clearly taken control of his mind and every single thought. Who knew a masseuse held so much power?
"Our sister, Chelsea, bought this house a few years back. She always loved to travel and take off on a whim. The one place she always wanted to see was Paris." He focused on the story, not on the fact she was now on his thigh up near very personal territory. "She had a vision for this place that none of us knew about until she passed away almost a year ago."
Cora's hands froze. "I'm so sorry. I had no idea you'd lost someone that close."
Braxton still couldn't believe it himself. Not a day went by that he didn't want to send Chelsea a text, but just as quickly as that thought would hit, the pain of the emptiness would replace it. That ache, it hadn't lessened one bit. The pain was just as fierce, just as crippling; he'd just grown accustomed to living with a hole in his life. He didn't like this new chapter without her, but he would go on living and honor her memory. The alternative of letting his grief consume him wasn't an option. Chelsea was a strong woman and he'd be damned if he'd let her down.
"We're getting along." The simple reply for emotions that were anything but. "We're doing this for her, to keep her alive the only way we know how."
Cora smoothed the towel back in place. She brushed against the side of his leg as she moved toward his feet. "You must be a strong family to support one another like this."
There was a wistfulness to her tone, almost a longing. None of his concern. Sexy women were one thing, baggage and anything personal were a whole other level he ran fast and far from. Being jilted by a so-called love could make a man a bit jaded ... or at least wake him up to how careless people were with others' hearts.
"We have our typical moments where we don't agree, but we know we can always depend on one another."
"Sounds perfect," she murmured.
Oh, yeah. There was a story. A story he had no reason to care about. Even if she came to work for his family, getting personally involved on any level would be a mistake.
"Chelsea left behind several binders with notes and pictures, detailing exactly what she wanted out of this new property she'd purchased." He still couldn't believe the whirlwind they'd been on over the past year. "She wanted to name it Bella Vous, which means 'beautiful you' in French."
"She must have been an amazing woman," Cora replied. "This idea, it's all so perfect."
"That's what we're holding on to," he said honestly. "We want every woman who hears about the resort to have that same reaction. We figure at first there will be all kinds of interest, but we don't want that newness to wear off."
"Tell me more about my position," she went on as she gripped the arch of his foot with her fingertips. "Will there be appointment times given like at a spa or would you prefer someone there all day to be ready for spur-of-the-moment clients?"
Sticking to the reason he was here, Braxton replied, "We will have set hours for the spa, but you will be doing your own appointments. We want the spa workers to feel like they have control over their schedules while still meeting the needs of the clients."
Braxton smiled. He'd be sure to tell his brother Liam that, since Liam wanted all spa employees to be there all day and all evening. Braxton and Zach had finally talked some sense into him. They'd burn out their staff in the first few months working them to death like that. Growing could come later. Right now they needed a good, solid base to keep things running smooth without being so overwhelming they missed out on catering to the guests.
By the time his massage was over, Braxton didn't know if he could move. Would it be unprofessional to lie here and take a nap now that he was all relaxed?
"I'll let you get dressed," she told him. "Just tell me when you're done and I can come back in so we can talk more. I just have a few more questions and I assume you have more for me."
He should, but with his loose muscles all he could think of was When can you start?
The door opened and closed. Braxton sat up, twisting his neck from side to side. Damn, he felt pretty good. After working on that house, getting everything fixed and repaired, he'd had his fair share of aches and pains. He wasn't twenty anymore and his body was reminding him with each crack and cramp. Not to mention he was used to working at a college and not a construction site.
He quickly dressed because now he wanted to see the woman behind the magic. Would her tone match her appearance? For all he knew someone's elderly grandmother had just felt him up and he'd liked it.
Wouldn't be the first time he'd found himself in the company of an older woman. Unfortunately, Zach's overeager neighbor had been a one-night mistake he still couldn't dodge.
Excerpted from Caught Up In You by Jules Bennett. Copyright © 2016 Jules Bennett. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am loving this series. Love the closeness of this family. They may fuss, fight and bicker, but they are there for each other.
I love this series! The Monroe brothers are working together to bring their deceased sister's dream alive. She made plans to restore a southern mansion in the small town of Haven, GA and turn it into a women's retreat. In this novel, the second installment of the series, middle brother, Braxton, finds his match in the retreat's new masseuse, Cora. She has relocated to Haven, determined to leave behind her family's money and expectations, and live independently. She lost her eyesight three years prior and is looking for a place where she won't be judged by her handicap. From the moment Braxton hears her voice, he is attracted to her. The more he gets to know her, the more he is in awe of her strength and determination. Neither want to get involved as they try to keep their relationship professional. It is fun to watch them fail miserably at that due to their chemistry. It's also fun to get to see the couple from book one, Zach and Sophie, as their relationship progresses. And, of course, we get to see the three adopted brothers make steps to repair their fractured relationship. The book can standalone but is best enjoyed in order. The series is romantic and sexy, and I am looking forward to Liam's story. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington books are providing an advanced copy.
Caught Up In You by Jules Bennett. Second book of The Monroe's and my first read of this series. The minute I started reading I was drawn in as we meet Cora Buchanan's interview to give Braxton Monroe the massage he never experience before. He was ready to hire her on the spot. Little did he not know of her disability. Their story is so full of romance and their personality and feelings just flow off the pages. Jules Bennett knows how to grab at your heartstrings and keep you there with her amazing writing. Definitely will carry on with this series and recommend this book for a heartwarming experience.
4.5 Stars I was completely ensnared by this book. One of the reasons was the heroine Cora. She's unique and a very strong character. Then you add in Braxton you just have a recipe for a great story. I felt the chemistry between the two. There are moments that I teared up in this book. It did bring out emotions in me, The reason the brothers are opening the spa just tugs at my heart. Over all this book is truly beautiful. I can't wait for the next book.
This is the first book that I have read from Jules Bennett but I will definitely be reading more. Caught Up In You is a gentle, heartwarming love story. It is about one family fulfilling their deceased sister's legacy and another character trying to escape her legacy. Braxton and his brothers are renovating and opening a women's spa in memory of their sister. Cora has lost her sight due to a rare disease and is trying to prove to her family that she can make it on her own. She moves to Haven and applies for the job of masseuse at the new spa. Braxton is amazed by her independence and as they spend more time together, their feelings cannot be ignored. But both have pasts that threaten to destroy their future.
Caught Up In You is the second book in Jules Bennett’s The Monroes series. I was immediately drawn into the story of Braxton Monroe and Cora Buchanan. Braxton is working with his siblings to bring his sister’s dream to reality. While in the hiring process, Braxton is tasked to test out the skills of their potential masseuse. Braxton wasn’t too keen on the idea but when Cora comes in and works her magic he is hooked and hires her. Cora is attempting to remake her life. She’s lost her eyesight and wants nothing to do with her parents’ business and their desire for her to marry a family friend. Her wish is to forget her past and learn to live a new life on her own. When Braxton discovers Cora’s secret, he is immediately drawn to her, not because of her blindness but because of who she is and her desire to make it on her own. Caught Up In You is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. I loved Braxton’s protectiveness of Cora along with Cora’s strong-willed personality. While this book can be read as a standalone, I suggest reading the first book in the series just to learn the backstory of the characters and discover a little more about their sister’s decision to build the spa. I’d like to disclose that I voluntarily reviewed Caught Up In You and this is my fair and honest review.
This author takes the reader to small town Georgia where we are introduced to Braxton Monroe and his family and his encounter with Cora and her seeing eye dog. These two work to find their paths together while Cora feels she must keep her independence. Enjoyed the southern small town setting and family. Will be looking for the other books in the series. Ebook from netgalley and publishers with thanks. Opinions are entirely my own.
It’s admirable that Cora is making a life that she loves – being independent, doing a job that she enjoys, with people who treat her as an equal & not someone who needs to be managed. You have to root for her as you get to know everything she’s gone through since becoming blind. She may have had it good before, but she wasn’t happy. And she’s not letting anything stand in her way now. Braxton may have gone just a little overboard with the man-whoring after getting his heart broken :) I mean, it’s not like he’s the first to have to deal with being dumped. Once he meets Cora though he’s done with all other women. And he definitely treats her with all the respect that she deserves. He’s got great insight into what she needs and doesn’t try to coddle her, instead letting her stand on her own too feet while being there to support her. He may have gone wild for a little bit but he never forgot that he’s a gentleman and that people deserve to be treated well. While I’m really enjoying this series (so very much) I was a little surprised at Braxton when Cora’s big reveal came out. He knew she was hiding something and had his suspicions about her background so I’m not sure why his reaction was as big as it was. But, being the awesome guy that he is, he got over it pretty quickly and then performed the best “sweep her off her feet” gesture I’ve seen in a long time. Cora had no hope of resisting him after that :) Once again, Bennett delivers an addictive read with fabulously detailed characters and a story that will keep readers glued to the pages. But I do have to admit that as much as I have loved the brothers up to this point I’m the most excited to get to Liam’s story and find out all of his secrets. And see him get the girl, of course! Bennett can’t keep turning out books fast enough to suit me. *** I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. ***
Caught Up in You is the second in the Monroes series and continues the story of a group of brothers who are building a spa to honor their sister's memory. Braxton, the middle brother has taken a leave of absence from his job as a professor to help open it. He is tasked with hiring a masseuse, and schedules an interview and massage with Cora. When they meet Braxton realizes that Cora is blind, but he hires her and a great romance is born! Both Braxton and Cora have a lot to overcome to be together, will their relationship last? I loved this book because it is the perfect balance between story and romance. Cora is one of the most independent, strongest heroines I have read in a long time. I enjoy the setting and was very happy with the ending. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
This story kept me reading. The instant attraction between Cora and Braxton pulled at me. Their pasts and current issues would push between but I continued to root for the happy ending. Cora has a quiet strength and a strong need for independence due to her circumstances, and she will be one of my favorite contemporary heroines. Braxton's upbringing and gentleness despite that made him a wonderful man to read. This is the first book of Jules Bennett that I have read, and being the second in the series, I will go back and read the first as well as watch for the next one. I highly recommend this book. I received a copy of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
WOW! This story grabbed me from page one and didn't let go. Braxton Monroe is taking a sabbatical from teaching and working on the spa he and his brothers are opening which was their sister's dream. She had it planned before her accident that took her life and they are fulfilling her wish. Construction is done and they are getting ready to open but need staff. Braxton is the lucky one who gets to interview the masseuse. Cora Buchanan has been blind for the past couple years after an accident robbed her of her sight. She was working for her parent's company but after she lost her sight she became a masseuse. Tired of living under the thumb of everyone she has moved to the small town of Haven (without letting her family know where she is) and needs a job. Cora and Braxton have so much chemistry and even though they are employer and employee and know they should not mix work and pleasure, they cannot help themselves. It was a pleasure to watch these two find their way. Oh and seeing the brothers work through their issues is refreshing. **Received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley**
I love these Monroe's. They are each a little bit damaged, a little flawed, and so incredibly real they could be your best friends. Working together on the project that was their deceased sisters dream is making them come to terms with each other and work through issues still lingering from the past. Now that all the construction is done it's time to hire staff. First on Braxton's list is a massage therapist for the spa. Yay! Lucky him! It doesn't take Cora Buchanan long to convince him he actually was the lucky one to get this job. She has magical hands and he hopes he can get her to take the job. He's shocked to meet her outside the room and discover she is blind. Cora is determined to make it on her own and nothing will keep her from making this new opportunity work. Even if she has to fight the incredible attraction budding between her and Braxton. I highly recommend this one.
With the next book out in "The Monroes" series, Jules Bennett brings us Braxton's story. We met and fell in love with this family in book one where we learned the back story of the spa they are working on opening, and this book brings us more family angst, feisty hook-ups and just a real connection with the members of this family. Love them! Braxton Monroe has his day job on hold for awhile to do a lot of manual labor around the spa with his brothers to make sure they get it opened up on time. He's not over-joyed to be stuck going to get a massage and catching the ribbing from the guys for it, but he drew the short end of the stick, so off he goes to interview the masseuse. Cora Buchanan doesn't want the fact that she's blind to hinder her from living the independent life that she wants, so she's hopeful at getting this job and keeping the life that she ran away from in Atlanta a part of her past. When she and Braxton start to spend time together, neither can deny the powerful attraction they are feeling around each other. Will they be able to ignore it and keep it all business like they want, or will they give in to temptation?
Truly loved this story of uncertainty, independence and attraction. The characters are remarkable and have strong interactions. I found this to be a very endearing story about two strong individuals and the obstacles they overcome while falling in love. Great book, you will love it! I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all opinions expressed are my own.
The motivation behind Jules Bennett's Caught Up In You is inspirational entertainment with an informative voice. Cora is a force of nature. She let's nothing hold her back even when the odds are stacked against her. A phenomenal trait to have, when the biggest nay sayers are the people who should have the most confidence in you. Through a world of darkness, she manages to enlighten the one person that has the power to heal her heart. Braxton has seen his share of sorrows that has left him frustrated and weary in mind and body. Can a mysterious stranger with a magic touch be the balm to mend his broken heart? Just from the blurb I knew Cora and Braxton would proved to be something special and their story proved be as hypnotic a journey as I hoped it would be.
Independence is what Cora is seeking when she makes her home in Haven Georgia. She needs to find her place in the world and felt stifled and manipulated back in Atlanta. With her Seeing Eye Dog, Heidi, nearby she is sure she can do anything and the one thing she wants to do is work at Bella Vous as the masseuse. Her interview with Braxton goes well, the job is hers and she and Braxton definitely are drawn to one another though neither feels they are in the right headspace to start a relationship. This is a story of three adopted brothers bringing their sister’s dream to life after she dies. Each brother finds romance in one of the books and next up will be Liam with Zach having found his in book one. This book was somewhat predictable but had sweet caring moments with Braxton really understanding Cora as she had not been understood before. It was a fun easy read that never lagged and was evenly paced from beginning to end. There were no big surprises but instead it was more of a steady growth of a relationship with only a bump or two to get over. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC. This is my honest review.