The universe is conspiring against Ava Breevort. As if flying back to Phoenix to bury a childhood friend wasn't hell enough, a cloud of volcanic ash traveling from overseas delayed her flight back home to Boston. Her last ditch attempt to salvage the trip was thwarted by an arrogant Scotsman, Caleb Scott, who steals a first class seat out from under her. Then over the course of their journey home, their antagonism somehow lands them in bed for the steamiest layover Ava's ever had. And that's all it was--until Caleb shows up on her doorstep.
When pure chance pulls Ava back into Caleb's orbit, he proposes they enjoy their physical connection while he's stranded in Boston. Ava agrees, knowing her heart's in no danger since a) she barely likes Caleb and b) his existence in her life is temporary. Not long thereafter Ava realizes she's made a terrible error because as it turns out Caleb Scott isn't quite so unlikeable after all. When his stay in Boston becomes permanent, Ava must decide whether to fight her feelings for him or give into them. But even if she does decide to risk her heart on Caleb, there is no guarantee her stubborn Scot will want to risk his heart on her....
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
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***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Copyright © 2018 Samantha Young
Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona
Food. Food and coffee. I knew those should be my priority. The grumbles in my belly were making that perfectly clear. And considering the purpose for my visit to Phoenix, it was no wonder I was marching through the terminal after having my bag searched in security, feeling like I might claw someone’s face off if I didn’t get a shot of caffeine in my system.
Even though I was hangry, my priority was to get upgraded to first class on my flight home to Boston. I could be hangry all I wanted in an airport. But as I was someone who suffered from mild claustrophobia, sitting in coach—with my luck stuck beside someone who would take their shoes and socks off during the flight—would be a million times worse than being hangry. I couldn’t chance it. A pair of strange, hot, sweaty, smelly bare feet next to me for four and a half hours? No, that was a hell my current state of mind couldn’t deal with. I shuddered as I marched toward the desk at my gate.
Seeing a small group of people crowded under a television screen, I faltered, wondering what had drawn them to the news. I slowed at the images of huge plumes of smoke billowing out of a tremendously large mountain, my curiosity drawing me to a halt.
Within a few seconds the news told me that an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland had erupted, creating this humungous ash cloud that was causing disruption in Europe. Flights there had been grounded and consequently travel chaos ensued.
The thought of being stuck in an airport for an indeterminate number of hours—days even—made me shudder in sympathy for my poor fellow human beings.
I couldn’t imagine dealing with that on top of the week I’d just had. I liked to think I was someone who was usually cool and collected, but lately my emotions were so close to the surface I was almost afraid of them. I asked the universe to forgive me my self-absorption, thankful that I was not someone who wasn’t going to make it home today, and continued on my path to the gate desk. There was no one in line, and the man behind it began to smile in welcome as I approached.
“Hi, I was wondering—Oof!” I winced as a laptop bag attached to a big guy whacked against my right shoulder, knocking me back on my heels. The big guy didn’t even realize he’d hit me as he strode right past me and cut in before me.
“I’d like tae upgrade tae first class, please,” he said in a deep, loud, rumbling, very attractive accent that did nothing to soothe my annoyance with him for cutting in front of me.
“Of course, sir,” the gate agent answered, in such a flirtatious tone I was sure that if I’d been tall enough to see over the big guy’s shoulder I would see the agent batting his lashes at him. “Okay, flight DL180 to Boston. You’re in luck, Mr. Scott. We have one seat left in first class.”
Oh, hell no!
“What?” I shoved my way up next to Rude Guy, not even looking at him.
The gate agent, sensing my tone, immediately narrowed his eyes on me and thinned his lips.
“I was coming here to ask for an upgrade on this flight and he”—I gestured to my right—“cut in front of me. You saw him do it.”
“Miss, I’m going to ask you to calm down and wait your turn. Although we have a very full flight today, I can put you on our list and if a first-class seat opens up, we will let you know.”
Yeah, because the way my week was going, that was likely.
“I was first,” I insisted, my skin flushing as my blood had turned so hot with anger at the unfairness. “He whacked me with his laptop bag pushing past me to cut in line.”
“Can we just ignore this tiny, angry person and upgrade me now?” the deep, accented voice said somewhere above my head to my right.
His condescension finally drew my gaze to him.
And everything suddenly made sense.
A modern-day Viking towered over me, my attention drawing his from the gate agent. His eyes were the most beautiful I’d ever seen. A piercing ice blue against the rugged tan of his skin, the irises like pale blue glass bright against the sun streaming in through the airport windows. His hair was dark blond, short at the sides and longer on top. And even though he was not my type, I could admit his features were entirely masculine and attractive with his short, dark blond beard. It wasn’t so much a beard as a thick growth of stubble. He had a beautiful mouth, a thinner top lip but a full, sensual lower lip that gave him a broody, boyish pout at odds with his ruggedness. Gorgeous as his mouth may be, it was currently curled upward at one corner in displeasure.
And did I mention he was built?
The offensive laptop bag was slung over a set of shoulders so broad they would have made a football coach weep with joy. I was guessing he was just a little over six feet, but his build made him look taller. I was only five foot three but I was wearing four-inch stilettos, and yet I felt like Tinkerbell next to this guy.
Tattoos I didn’t take the time to study peeked out from under the rolled-up sleeve of his henley shirt. A shirt that showed off the kind of muscle a guy didn’t achieve without copious visits to the gym.
A fine male specimen, indeed.
I rolled my eyes and shot the agent a knowing, annoyed look. “Really?” It was clear to me motorcycle-gang-member-Viking-dude was getting preferential treatment here.
“Miss, please don’t make me call security.”
My lips parted in shock. “Melodramatic much?”
“You.” The belligerent rumble in the Viking’s voice made me bristle.
I looked up at him.
He sneered. “Take a walk, wee yin.”
Being deliberately obtuse, I retorted, “I don’t understand Scandinavian.”
“Do I care?”
He muttered something unintelligible and turned to the agent. “We done?”
The guy gave him a flirty smile and handed him his ticket and passport. “You’re upgraded, Mr. Scott.”
“Wait, what—?” But the Viking had already taken back his passport and ticket and was striding away.
His long legs covered more ground than mine, but I was motivated and I could run in my stilettos. So I did. With my carry-on bumping along on its wheels behind me.
“Wait a second!” I grabbed the man’s arm and he swung around so fast I tottered.
Quickly, I regained balance and shrugged my suit jacket back into place as I grimaced. “You should do the right thing here and give me that seat.” I didn’t know why I was being so persistent. Maybe because I’d always been frustrated when I saw someone else endure an injustice. Or maybe I was just sick of being pushed around this week.
His expression was incredulous. “Are you kidding me with this?” I didn’t even try not to take offense. Everything about this guy offended me.
“You”—I gestured to him, saying the word slowly so his tiny brain could compute—“Stole. My. Seat.”
“You”—he pointed down at me—“Are. A. Nutjob.”
Appalled, I gasped. “One, that is not true. I am hangry. There is a difference. And two, that word is completely politically incorrect.”
He stared off into the distance above my head for a moment, seeming to gather himself. Or maybe just his patience. I think it was the latter because when he finally looked down at me with those startling eyes, he sighed. “Look, you would be almost funny if it weren’t for the fact that you’re completely unbalanced. And I’m not in the mood after having tae fly from Glasgow tae London and London tae Phoenix and Phoenix tae Boston instead of London tae Boston because my PA is a useless prat who clearly hasn’t heard of international direct flights. So do us both a favor before I say or do something I’ll regret . . . and walk. Away.”
“You don’t regret calling me a nutjob?”
His answer was to walk away.
I slumped in defeat, watching him stride off with the first-class ticket that should have been mine.
Deciding food and coffee could wait until I’d freshened up in the restroom—and by freshen up I meant pull myself together—I wandered off to find the closest one. Staring out of the airport window at Camelback Mountain, I wished to be as far from Phoenix as possible as quickly as possible. That was really the root of my frustration, and a little mortification began to set in as I made my way into the ladies’ restroom. I’d just taken my emotional turmoil out on a Scottish stranger. Sure, the guy was terminally rude, but I’d turned it into a “situation.” Normally I would have responded by calmly asking the agent when the next flight to Boston was and if there was a first-class seat available on that flight.
But I was just so desperate to go home.
After using the facilities, I washed up and stared long and hard into the mirror. I longed to splash cold water on my face, but that would mean ruining the makeup I’d painstakingly applied that morning.
Checking myself over, I teased my fingers through the waves I’d put in my long blond hair with my straightening iron. Once I was happy with it, I turned my perusal on my outfit. The red suit was one of the nicest I owned. A double-breasted peplum jacket and a matching knee-length pencil skirt. Since the jacket looked best closed, I was only wearing a light, silk ivory camisole underneath it. I didn’t even know why I’d packed the suit, but I’d been wearing black for the last few days and the red felt like an act of defiance. Or a cry for help. Or maybe more likely an act of denial.
Although I had a well-paid job within an exclusive interior design company as one of their designers, it was expensive to live in Boston. The diamond tennis bracelet on my wrist was a gift on my eighteenth birthday from an ex-boyfriend. For a while I’d stopped wearing it, but exuding an image of success to my absurdly wealthy and successful clients was important, so when I started my job I’d dug the bracelet out of storage, had it cleaned up, and it had sat on my wrist ever since.
Lately, just looking at it cut me to the quick.
Flinching, I tore my gaze from where it winked in the light on my wrist, to my right wrist, where my Gucci watch sat. It was a bonus from my boss, Stella, after my first year on the job.
As for the black suede Jimmy Choos on my feet, with their sexy stiletto and cute ankle strap, they were one of many I was in credit card debt over. If I lived anywhere but Boston, I would have been able to afford as many Choos as I wanted on my six-figure salary. But my salary went into my hefty monthly rent bill.
It was a cute, six-hundred-square-foot apartment, but it was in Beacon Hill. Mount Vernon Street to be exact, a mere few minutes’ walk from Boston Common. It also cost me just over four thousand dollars a month in rent. That didn’t include the rest of my bills. I had enough to put some savings away after the tax man took his cut too, but I couldn’t afford to indulge in the Choos I wanted.
So, yes, I’d reached the age of thirty with some credit card debt to my name.
But I guessed that made me like most of my fellow countrymen and -women, right? I stared at my immaculate reflection, ignoring the voice in my head that said some of those folks had credit card debt because of medical bills, or because they needed to feed their kids that week.
Not so they could live in a ridiculously overpriced area of Boston (no matter how much I loved it there) or wear designer shoes so their clients felt like they were dealing with someone who understood their wants better.
I bypassed the thought, not needing to mentally berate myself any more than I had since arriving back in Phoenix. I was perfectly happy with my life before I came home.
Perfectly happy with my perfect apartment, and my perfect hair, and my perfect shoes!
Perfect was good.
I straightened my jacket and grabbed hold of the handle of my carry-on.
Perfect was control.
Staring at the pretty picture I made in the mirror, I felt myself relax. If that gate agent had been into women, I so would have gotten that first-class seat.
“But forget it,” I whispered. It was done.
I was going to go back out there and get a much-needed delicious Mediterranean-style salad and sandwich from one of my favorite food stops in Phoenix, Olive & Ivy. Feeling better at the thought, I relaxed.
Once I stopped being hangry, it would all be fine.
Apparently, the universe didn’t hate me, because there was a seat free at Olive & Ivy. It was popular, so it didn’t surprise me that there was only one stool left at one of the counters around the small restaurant. The young twentysomething woman sitting next to the open chair looked up as I approached, her dark gaze skimming down my body and back up again. A flirtatious welcome smile lit up her face. Huh. I had hoped her obvious interest meant she would hold the seat for me while I ordered food. I rounded her, feeling her follow the movement. I was just about to ask her to keep the seat for me when the thump of a laptop bag on top of the counter at the open seat caused me to flinch.
“This seat is taken.”
I squeezed my eyes closed at the familiar voice.
I whirled around and stared up at the source of irritation that had recently entered my life. “Yes, it is. By me!”
The Scot’s stare was calm, stolidly so, annoyingly so. “Have you bought food yet? Because I have. As a paying customer, I think I take precedence over a tiny, entitled fruitcake with a stick up her arse.”
I glowered up at the ceiling aka The Universe. “This is not happening.”
“Aye, ’cause you’re not a fruitcake, talking tae yourself.”
My glare transferred to him. “Again with the totally un-PC language.”
“Babe, look at me.” He curled his lip. “I am un-PC.”
“Don’t ‘babe’ me. That is incredibly overfamiliar of you.”
He bent his head toward me, those icy blue eyes momentarily freezing me to the spot. “And I am not having another altercation with you in public. Now bloody shoo.”
He just shooed me?
The Scot pulled the stool out forcefully, so I had to move back or be clobbered by it. He assessed my surprised expression and his countenance, to my confusion, transformed from merely irritated to total disdain. “I realize you’re probably used tae men falling at your feet, so I’ll let you have your two seconds of shocked horror. But if you’re not gone in five seconds, I’m going tae embarrass the shit out of you.”
“You curse a lot,” was the only thing I could think to say under the onslaught of such distaste for me.
His face clouded over. “Five. Four. Three—”
I made a sound of disgust, cutting him off, and was about to walk away when the twentysomething woman next to us placed a hand on my arm to stop me. “I’m just finishing up, if you’d like my seat.”
I gave her a sweet smile. “You’re so kind, but”—my voice grew louder—“I’d rather sew my eyes shut with cocktail sticks than sit next to an ill-educated dickhole who defies the rumor that Scottish people are the nicest people in the world.” I finished it with a triumphant spin that made my hair flip dramatically, and I would have continued to feel like the “last-epic-word” victor if I hadn’t heard a ragged, too-attractive chuckle, which I knew had originated from the Scotsman.
That chuckle made me falter visibly.
He couldn’t even let me storm off in style.
I grabbed a sandwich from a refrigerator instead and ate it even though it tasted of nothing, while sitting at a gate that wasn’t mine and staring out at the mountains. Using the time to cool down, as memories of the week pricked me and helped to put everything in perspective, I grew calm enough that I felt confident in striding back out there to grab a coffee from one of the barista carts. There was a line already forming at the closest one and I hurried a little to make it before it got too long.
At the sight of the imposing figure of the Bastard Scot marching toward the cart from the other side, I picked up my feet and almost ran toward the spot. I skittered into place behind a man in a suit, accidentally hitting his carry-on with mine. He threw me an annoyed look over his shoulder and I gave him a quick smile of apology before bestowing a “you can suck it” grin on the Scot as he pulled up to the line after me.
“You snooze, you lose,” I said over my shoulder, not caring how infantile I sounded.
“You’re four years old, you know that?”
“I finally beat you in line—that’s what I know.”
I scowled at the insult, which was even worse than “fruitcake.” “Dickwad.”
“You seem tae be obsessed with my dick.”
I spun around. “Excuse me?”
“Those are insults.”
“With a very specific focus.”
To my horror, my eyes flew to his crotch with a mind of their own. Oh dear God! My face blazed with color and I quickly lowered my gaze down the length of his dark blue jeans to the loosely laced black leather biker boots on his feet.
You know what they say—shut up! Who cares what they say?
“It’s really hurtful tae be objectified in this way.”
Sure that my cheeks were tomato red, my eyes shot to his smug face.
“Look, as fun as it is wiping the floor with you in these verbal battles, I really need a coffee.” And without further ado the Bastard Scot got out of line and walked to the front of it.
Uh, hell no!
I followed, my carry-on bumping on its wheels with my fury.
“My flight is about tae board,” I heard him say to the woman who was next in line to be served. “Would you mind if I cut in front?” He was almost charming to her.
And she definitely thought so. “Of course.” She practically swooned. “Where are you from? I love your accent.”
“Scotland,” he answered curtly, and stepped in front of her without saying thank you. This guy had no manners. But I did.
“Hey.” I smiled at her. “I’m on the same flight as him. Would you mind?”
The Scot turned slightly at the sound of my voice.
She eyed him in disappointment. “Are you two together?”
He appeared nauseated by the thought. “I’ve never seen her before in my life.”
The woman raised one very unimpressed eyebrow at me. “Nice try. Back of the line.”
I’d never actually wanted to claw someone’s face before, but I would definitely make an exception for the Bastard Scot.
“Your people would be ashamed,” I said to his back.
To my disbelief, his shoulders started to shake. Was he laughing? I looked at the metal espresso machine and saw in its shiny reflection a distorted image of him grinning, teeth and all.
Ugh, he was so abrasive!
Spinning around, feeling sweaty, flustered, and so far from perfect it wasn’t funny, I ignored the glares from the people in line and made my way back to the very end, which was now five people longer than it had been.
Two minutes later the Bastard Scot sauntered by me, shot me a wicked self-satisfied smile, and saluted me with his cup of coffee.
“Go to hell!” I shouted after him.
The guy in front of me gave me a wary look and stepped so close to the woman in front of him they were practically touching.
“He’s an asshole,” I tried to explain.
But the stranger’s look told me he thought I was the asshole. And the truth was, the Scot was making me into an asshole. Or my bad mood was. I didn’t know. Christ, I needed to get home, and as unfair as it was to blame an entire country for one man, I never wanted to speak to another Scottish person ever again.
Visiting Scotland was so off my bucket list.
Suddenly something in the loudspeaker announcement caught my attention. “Wait, what?” I stilled, listening.
“ . . . Flight DL180 to Boston has been canceled. Please see the gate for alternative flight arrangements.”
Abandoning my quest for coffee (again!), I hurried down the terminal toward my gate in time to hear the gate agent from earlier explaining to the small crowd that had already gathered the reason why our flight had been canceled. Apparently, the volcano eruption and consequent ash cloud that had grounded flights in Europe had had a domino effect on domestic flights in the U.S. “The crew for this flight has been delayed because of the canceled flights in Europe. We’re currently understaffed because so many of our crew members have been grounded in Europe on international flights. This means we unfortunately do not have a crew or a plane available for the scheduled flight to Boston. Please form an orderly line so we can make other arrangements for you.”
I heard a few people complain about the late notice because “surely they knew there was no crew or plane before this.” I also heard a lot of people make arrangements to stay at the airport hotel and get the next flight out to Boston whenever it became available. As more and more decided to do that, the antsier I became.
There was no way I could stay in Phoenix another night.
Two days had been long enough.
I needed to get home. ASAP. Or I was going to lose myself in gigantic, uncontrollable sobs.
My fingers were shaking by the time I handed my ID and ticket over to the gate agent. He recognized me from earlier because his lips pinched together.
“Is there an alternative route to Boston? A flight to another airport that has a flight to Boston?”
He relaxed at my tone and offered me a sympathetic smile, seeming to hear the tremble in my voice. “There is a flight out of Chicago tomorrow morning that will get you to Boston before noon. And a flight to Chicago is leaving from here in an hour.” He checked his computer and threw me a wry smile. “There are first-class seats available on both flights.”
Relief made me slump against the counter. I didn’t even care how much it was going to cost. I just handed over my credit card. “Thank you.”
Then I stared up at the ceiling again. Thank you, Universe.
I stared at my ticket, at my seat number. And then I stared at my seat.
And proceeded to glare at the person sitting in the seat next to mine in first class.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Screw you, Universe. You and I are done.
The Bastard Scot looked up from his newspaper and gave a slight shake of his head. “Please tell me you are not sitting next tae me on a three-and-a-half-hour flight?”
“I’m just as unhappy about it,” I said, opening the overhead bin. Lifting the carry-on that weighed a ton (seriously, it was a miracle I got it shut), I stumbled a little, losing my grip, and it whacked the Scot on the head. At the sound of his grunt, I smiled. “Sorry! That was a happy accident.”
“Here, let me help you.” A guy around my age in a tailored business suit stepped forward to assist but was brusquely brushed aside by the Scot as he stood up, dwarfing us both.
“I’ve got it.” He grabbed the carry-on out of my hand. “Safer I do it or I’ll land in Chicago with a concussion.”
“Well, that would be a shame.” I skirted past him so I could slide into my seat while he dealt with my luggage.
I’d already removed my e-reader from my carry-on for the plane ride and had it booting up before the Bastard Scot got back in the seat beside me. And even though there was a double arm divider between us with little cup holders in them, he still managed to make me feel overwhelmed by his size.
My plan had been to sink right into a good book and get on with my life like I wasn’t sitting next to an uncivilized, too-attractive-for-his-own-good guy who definitely had to have some Viking blood in his genetic history. I was going to ignore him because I was certain he’d say something rude about the weight of my luggage. However, I didn’t get the chance to slight him because he did it to me first. He pulled out the table from the side of his seat and propped a laptop open on it. And he acted like I didn’t even exist.
“Mr. Scott.” The flight attendant who had greeted me when I entered the plane appeared above us with a tray of drinks in his hand. “Can I offer you a preflight drink? Champagne?”
“Water.” Mr. Scott—the Bastard Scot—responded in what seemed to be his typical abrupt fashion.
The flight attendant handed him a glass of water and then smiled at me. “Miss Breevort?”
“Champagne, please,” I responded instantly, throwing my neighbor a filthy look for being discourteous. “Thank you.” Again, I don’t know why, but I’d expected commentary from the Bastard Scot as I reached in front of his face for the glass of bubbly. But there was nothing.
My toes twitched with irritation, the way my fingers gripped tight to the glass with annoyance as I sipped the champagne. I side-eyed Mr. Scott as he sipped his water with one hand and tapped the mouse pad on his laptop with the other.
I should have been glad he was ignoring me, but for some reason that felt as insulting as his behavior in the airport.
I didn’t want to admit it, but his indifference bothered me. I’d spent the last few days being ignored by people in my hometown of Arcadia. And I mean treated as if I was invisible.
As much as I told myself I didn’t care, it stung.
And now here I was being treated to the same by a complete stranger who had obviously made a snap judgment about me. That shouldn’t have irritated me, but I was tired, I’d had a tough week, and it did royally annoy the crap out of me.
I glared out of the corner of my eye at him, my gaze drifting to the laptop screen his eyes were glued to. A wave of surprise moved through me. He clicked between tabs—spreadsheets with figures, complicated drawings that looked like technical specs, dense documents, e-mails. All of which suggested the Bastard Scot was more business guy than motorcycle gang member.
“Planning a big bank heist?” I said before I could caution myself against engaging in another verbal battle with him.
His stunning gaze turned my way. Confusion mingled with aggravation radiated from those unusual eyes.
I pointed to his laptop in answer to his silent question.
He looked back at it and then at me. The confusion left his expression, abandoning the aggravation that seemed to grow into full-blown vexation. “Do you always put your nose where it doesn’t belong?”
“Well, if you don’t want anyone realizing you’re planning to rob a bank, you should probably hide the plans.”
“It’s my work,” he bit out.
“You’re a businessman?”
Somehow his reply was sarcastic without even saying a word. I took his silent retort for a yes.
“You don’t look it.”
“Aye, well, it doesn’t surprise me someone like you would judge people based on what they look like.” He sneered. “He’s covered in tattoos, doesn’t wear a suit, so of course he’s a criminal rather than a businessman, right?”
“You do realize you’re doing what you accused me of doing? You’re judging me based on what I look like. Come to think of it, you have been doing that since the first time we ran into each other at the airport. Also . . . if you can afford to fly first class, you can afford to buy a sense of humor. And I would get on that because you’re in serious need of one.”
“How am I judging you based on what you look like?”
“‘Someone like you,’ you said, right?” I cocked my head to the side as I studied his rugged—and right now harsh—countenance.
He gave me a taut nod.
“You don’t know me. You met me a few hours ago in an airport where admittedly people don’t always act like their normal selves because of high levels of stress, fatigue, and often fear of flying. So if you don’t know who I am as a person, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that you’re judging me based on what I look like and not on who I am.”
The Bastard Scot contemplated me a moment. “True,” he finally said. “To a certain extent. But you can often tell a lot about a person from the way he or she looks. It’s just whether or not you’re intuitive enough tae get it right. You saw tattoos and thought—what . . . motorcycle club?”
I tried not to blush, squirming uncomfortably that he’d guessed correctly.
“And you were wrong about me. But you are right, I dinnae know you, but I can tell by the time you spent on your hair and makeup, on the money you spent on your suit, on those designer shoes, the diamonds in your ears and around your wrist, that for whatever reason—and I dinnae know what those reasons are—you care what people think about your appearance. By the weight of the carry-on I just stuffed in the overheard bin I’d also say you overpack, which along with how you look, suggests you’re high maintenance. And I would be very, very surprised if I’d gotten that wrong about you.”
His tone more than the words caused a heat in my cheeks brought on by hurt feelings. “So you think you’re better than me because you don’t care about your appearance?”
“I didn’t say I dinnae care about my appearance. I care. I’m covered in tattoos that say I care. I just dinnae care what anyone else thinks about my appearance.”
“Well, maybe that’s how I feel. I like to look well presented. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else.”
His answering expression suggested he didn’t believe me and it bothered me that I cared. So I scoffed, “I don’t care what you think of me.”
“Of course you do. I’m probably the first straight man you’ve ever met who hasn’t fallen at your feet.” His eyes scanned my face first before moving down the length of my body in a way that made me involuntarily shiver.
That only made his words more provoking. They prodded an old hurt that had already been reawakened this week. I was determined to bury it where it belonged and did not need this stranger messing with my efforts. “You accuse me of being judgmental, but you are way more judgmental than me.”
He shrugged. “Didn’t say I wasn’t. I’m just usually right. And I’m right about you.”
The urge to prove him wrong was so strong and yet all that proved was that he was right. I cared too much what people thought. Despite his dismissal of me, of how much it opened old wounds, I decided the best thing I could do was just ignore him as previously planned.
I drank the rest of the champagne and put the empty glass in the cup holder beside me. The Bastard Scot turned back to his laptop like he hadn’t just insulted me. Again.
Truthfully, I’d never met a more impolite, ill-mannered, impertinent man in my life.
Trying to ignore his existence, I opened up my current book on my e-reader, my body humming with awareness of the large guy beside me and growing steadily more pissed off about it. I hated that I kept getting faint whiffs of cologne—a decidedly delicious musky, woodsy, spicy scent that suited the bastard way too much. After I’d read the same paragraph for the fifth time, relief flooded me when my phone started to buzz in my suit pocket.
“That’s supposed tae be switched off,” he grumbled beside me.
I sniffed in derision as I pulled the cell out of my pocket. “The man who is trying so hard to prove he doesn’t care what other people think of him is a stickler for the rules? Shocking.”
Watching his lips pinch in annoyance gave me more pleasure than it should. Pleasure that transformed from smug to tender at the sight of the name on my phone screen. “Hey, sweetie,” I answered.
“I’m sorry I missed your call. Lunch hour, you know.” Harper’s voice made me instantly relax. My best friend’s voice on the other end of the line had kept me sane these past few days.
“I just called to tell you my flight got canceled. I’m on a flight to Chicago, but I’ll have to stay overnight at O’Hare. My flight home isn’t until tomorrow morning.”
“Some volcano in Iceland.”
“I thought that was just affecting European flights?”
“Huh. That sucks. You okay?”
Aware of the man sitting next to me, I turned slightly toward the window and lowered my voice. “I just want to get home.”
“I should have come with you.” Harper’s voice was filled with regret.
“No, sweetie. I had to do this alone. We both know that.”
“We both don’t know that. You are always there for me. You should have let me be there for you with this.”
Maybe I should have. But the truth was, I didn’t want the way I was treated back in Phoenix to affect Harper’s perception of me. She knew my side of the story, of course, but I was afraid that all those people would somehow convince her everything was my fault. And it wasn’t my fault. It was a ridiculous fear, because Harper loved me, but still it had snuck under my skin. “You didn’t have to be there for me to be there for me.”
Harper sighed. “Okay, babe. Just call or text me when you land in Chicago and let me know when your flight gets in at Logan tomorrow. I’ll see if I can cut out of work to come get you.”
“You don’t need to do that.”
“Well, I want to, so shut it.”
I laughed softly. “Okay. I’ll call you. Bye, sweetie.”
When I hung up, switching my phone off, I could have sworn I felt the Bastard Scot’s eyes on me. When I glanced over at him, however, he was frowning at his computer screen.
The announcement that we were getting ready for takeoff came over the PA and we were asked to stow away larger devices like laptops. I surreptitiously watched my obnoxious neighbor as he put away his laptop and settled back in his seat.
He closed his eyes, and I used the moment to study him. The sleeves of his henley were still rolled up, so I could see up close some of the tattoos on his left arm. In among smoke, dust, and what looked like debris from buildings was a modern-day soldier running with his rifle. Above him there was what looked like the foot of another figure, but the rest of it was hidden by his shirt. My wayward gaze moved upward to his interesting face. His lashes were a fair golden brown color, so I hadn’t realized how long they were until now. His full, pouty lower lip surrounded by that short beard drew my attention. Stubble was usually a turnoff for me, but I had to admit the pain in the ass suited his.
I wondered if it scratched or tickled when he kissed a woman.
The mere thought caused a tingle between my legs that shocked me.
Flushing at the thought, I wrenched my gaze off his face, intending to return to ignoring him and the physical response he’d elicited in me, when my eyes caught on his big hand curled around the arm divider.
Looking back at his face, I saw the wrinkle between his brow and the slight flare of his nostrils.
Was the badass Scotsman afraid of flying?
I was instantly reminded of Harper. She was terrified of flying. We’d gone on vacation with each other a few times to Europe, and every time I’d felt powerless to help her. She was a ball of nervous energy as soon as we boarded an airplane, pale and trembling until we were up in the air. Even then she’d stay tense in her seat, her whole body clenched with fear. On long flights, I’d walk her to the bathroom and stand outside the door for her, a constant reassurance. Still, I hated how scared she was. I’d even tried to convince her to vacation in the States in places we could drive to. But Harper never let fear control her. That was one of the things I admired most about her.
Reminded of my friend, I felt an unwanted and unwarranted sympathy flood me.
“Excuse me,” I called to the flight attendant as he was passing. I saw the Scot’s eyes fly open out of the corner of my own. “May I have another glass of champagne?”
“We’re getting ready to take off, Miss Breevort.”
“I’ll be super quick. Promise.”
He didn’t look happy about it, but returned quickly with a glass for me. I smiled my thanks and then turned to the Scot, whose eyes were closed again. “Drink up.” I held the glass out to him.
Those icy blues flew open. “What?”
I shoved the glass toward him. “It’ll help.”
He lifted his head, grimacing. “What are you talking about?”
“Is it a fear of flying or just of taking off?”
Instead of answering, he shot me another baleful look. “I don’t drink champagne.”
“You’ll drink this. It isn’t whiskey, but it might take the edge off.”
When he ignored me, I sighed. “Jesus, I don’t think you’re any less of an alpha pain in the ass because you’re afraid of flying.”
At that he snatched the glass out of my hand and threw back the entire lot. Wiping droplets off his lips, he glowered at me. “It’s just the takeoff and landing.”
The words were bitten out, and I had to quell a smile. “I’m not surprised. A plane isn’t exactly a longboat.”
His lips twitched. “Scot. Not Scandinavian.”
“If you’re telling me you don’t have an ounce of Scandinavian blood, I don’t believe you.”
The flight attendant appeared to take the empty glass, but my seatmate didn’t even seem to notice as he was too busy staring at me like I was suddenly a puzzle. “Swedish.”
“My great-great-grandfather was Swedish.”
“I knew it. And here you were getting prickly because I called you Scandinavian. Technically I was kind of right.”
“You’re also more than kind of annoying.”
“Well, you should be comfortable around annoying. You’re the king of it. Although I’m beginning to wonder if this ‘mean guy’ thing you’ve got going on has more to do with you being afraid of flying than you actually being a mean guy.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Mean guy?”
“Uh, yeah. You’ve been mean to me from the moment we met.”
“I beg tae differ. You got in my face the moment we met. How else was I supposed tae respond?”
“You practically knocked me off my feet barging past me to get to the gate check-in desk.”
“I didn’t see ye.”
“You’re five foot nothing. Seriously.”
“I’m five foot three. Five foot seven in my heels.”
His gaze drifted down my body again, lingering on my legs. “You dinnae look it.”
I frowned. “Are you suggesting I have short legs?”
“No, your height suggests that.”
“I have surprisingly long legs for a short person.”
“You can turn anything into an argument. That’s quite a talent.”
“You are distracting me from my point. Which is that you were clearly acting out because of your fear of flying, the same way I perhaps have not been myself due to exhaustion.”
If I wasn’t mistaken, I thought I saw a hint of curiosity in his expression. “Exhaustion?”
I shrugged. “It’s been a trying week.”
“Separated from your boyfriend?”
Huh? “What boyfriend?”
“The ‘sweetie’ on the other end of the phone.”
I smiled. “That was Harper. She’s my best friend.”
“I’m surprised someone as annoying as you has a best friend.”
“Everyone else loves me. If you weren’t currently acting out, you might like me too.”
“Look, I’m not acting out because I’m afraid. I didn’t see you earlier in the airport, didn’t know I’d clipped you with my laptop bag, but maybe if you hadn’t come at me like a wee harpy, I might have apologized.”
“I doubt it. You have no manners. I mean, what was your excuse for embarrassing me at Olive & Ivy? For being rude at the barista cart? Huh?”
He grinned suddenly, a sexy flash of his teeth that sent a fizz of pleasure shooting low across my belly. My physical response to his smile stunned me. “I did that because it was fun. You make it too easy tae wind you up.”
I sniffed in an attempt to squash my absurd physical attraction to him, but even to me it came off sounding haughtier than I’d intended. “You are a very twisted, belligerent individual.”
“And you might want tae consider having that huge stick rammed up your tight wee arse surgically removed.”
“I’m sorry, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone who actually gives a damn what you think.”
He scoffed. “Babe, like I said, I dinnae even know you and I know you care too much what other people think.”
Infuriated that he kept pushing that particular button but refusing to let him see how much he was getting to me, I started calmly patting at my jacket pockets and then rifled through the magazines in the seat pocket in front of me.
“What are you doing?”
I turned to find him scowling at me. “Looking for some paper and a pen.”
He raised an eyebrow in question.
“I thought I’d take some notes on your sage advice . . . and then you should take the paper and shove it up your ass.”
“Do you want tae shut up and let me get through this?”
My smile was admittedly supercilious. “You almost are.”
He frowned and then glanced around, only then realizing that we were in the air. We hadn’t leveled out yet, but the plane had juddered up into takeoff minutes ago. The Viking/Scot had risen his voice to be heard over the engines, but he’d been so focused on me, he hadn’t been paying attention.
He turned back to me, seeming uncharacteristically taken aback.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really hope there's a series to follow! This book was so great. It didn't feel rushed and progressed nicely and realistically. Can't wait to read more from Samantha Young! I also have a feeling something's brewing between Jaimie and Harper. ;)
I really loved this book. The way these two characters interacted was fantastic. It was a beautiful love story. I definitely recommend this book and this author.
I’ve got a confession to make. I almost didn’t read this book because I got swayed by a few negative reviews. I halfheartedly skimmed the start of the book expecting to dnf. Silly me. Before I knew it I was totally wrapped up in Caleb & Ava’s love story and had finished the book in one sitting! I loved this enchanting enemies to lovers book. Yes there is a lot more hate than love at first and Caleb is a growly, rude Scot, but that’s kinda what makes him endearing. They fight, they love, he says hurtful things he regrets, but don’t we all? I thought it was a great story full of sparks & sass and wonderful secondary characters (Harper & Jamie) who deserve books of their own. Lesson learned- don’t let other people’s opinions influence you. Everyone has their own likes, dislikes and triggers, but I would have been sorry if I had passed on this book because of what someone else thought.
I'm such a fan of Samantha Young, so it was a no brainer that I wanted to read Fight or Flight. It isn't always a normal occurrence that someone will choose a book based on an author. While we have our favorite authors, we still choose to read the next book based on our feelings. And did I have huge feelings to read this rom com? Definitely. Fight or Flight begins with a terrible occurrence at an airport, at the ticket desk no less. The event continues on board the flight, and mid-air the situation becomes border-line appalling. Now, I am a fan of hate-to-love, but I was unsure of the intensity of this trope in the beginning of the story. Was it too much, too fast? Possibly, but it could have also been Young's choice to prove that opposites can attract. Now, I will say that given recent current events, I almost stopped reading. I don't think there are triggers in this story, and I feel that the unfortunate timeline of events just catapulted how this story began, but I also believe that there are a few times where bad luck is just that. Young creates these characters that come from very intricate backgrounds, and also have very specific pasts. But I trusted Young to bring me to the story qualities that I believe in, and stay for. I related to Ava on some level, and it took a while for Caleb to warm up to me, but at the end of reading Fight or Flight, I believed in these two.
I really enjoyed this funny sassy read.
Great writing & awesome characters! The build was believable as well as the angst. I love this author.
I had heard some good things about this one and really liked the premise. Sadly, it was pretty disappointing. I guess I liked Ava? She’s definitely stronger than she thinks and she’s gotten through some horrible things on her own. I just couldn’t settle into her inner monologue. Caleb was jerk from the beginning and for me, didn’t get any better. His alpha bs got old really fast and I couldn’t find a redeeming quality. Ava’s BFF stole every scene she was in and I would definitely read a companion book with her. Plot wise it was a bit boring and there was more than enough drama and back story to carry it along. I didn’t see the chemistry between Ava and Caleb and I definitely didn’t see any push into friendship or love. There was a lot of tell and not show and even though it’s supposed to be a hate to love trope, there were a lot a lot a lot of horrible things said. Oh, and the grand gesture wasn’t so grand and Ava deserved a lot more. Overall, something kept me reading, but I’m not sure what it was. I wish I would have seen the spark others did. FYI: there’s a flashback and talk about an attempted sexual assault and a plot thread with domestic violence, including a scene after someone’s been beaten. **Huge thanks to Jove/Berkley for providing the arc free of charge**
Fight or Flight is one of the rare books that made me laugh within the first few chapters. I adore hate to love stories so I was cheering for Ava and Caleb from page one. I loved how both the characters really developed over the course of the book. They both had backstories that were understandable and you could see how their past had shaped who they are in the present. I’d love for a companion novel focused on Harper as well! *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Wow! I'm such an emotional mess right now. My bestie could not have said it better, "Who knew this cute cover held so much angst underneath it ". I've read enemies-to-lovers romances before, but this one was on a whole other ballpark. The hero was a bastard Scot. You either loved or hated him, but the beauty of him was the mystery that lurked within. It didn't even matter that he didn't get a POV because Samantha Young gave enough away about him that made you ultimately crave him in a sense. From the moment these two cross paths that one fated day at an airport and then being stuck on the same flight to Boston, it's just pure hatred of the other and as the story progresses the chemistry and attraction is off the charts! The rules were clear... Things were to be kept casual. Soon a friendship blossoms and then of course, the heart is a treacherous thing. Feelings begin to grow and you can imagine how that goes. Oh, Samantha Young! Why it has taken me this long to read this woman's words is beyond me. I just know it won't be my last. She gave us two very different characters with flaws and hurtful pasts. I could see why many didn't like Caleb, but I loved the big brute! He is the very embodiment of mixed emotions. He wasn't hurtful to be cruel, he did it because it was a defense mechanism to protect his own heart. Thank God he saw the error of his ways. Ava should have made him grovel a little more, but can you blame the girl Sexy, fun, and wonderful! This book was fantastic!! I seriously couldn't get enough. Bonus was the beautiful friendship between Ava and Harper . I'm crossing my fingers for a book for Harper and Jamie!
This book is the exact type of story that made me fall in love with Samantha Young's writing when I first read her On Dublin Street series. Caleb Scott really made me want to punch him from the very first time we met him. But I could see the sexual tension jumping off the pages as I read, and with their first connection on their layover, all I could do was wish I could be lucky enough to have a hot Scot for just one night myself! (Sam Heughan, anyone?) Ava had really been given a raw deal with her ex, and the more details we got about that whole situation, the more I respected the fact that she was able to take herself out of that situation and not look back on her ex with longing. Of course I assumed, as one would, that Caleb's aversion to commitment and more, probably had to do just with him being a man. I should have known better, should have known that Young would have the perfect back story for Caleb. And of course once we heard that back story, it was no surprise the direction that Caleb took their nonrelationship-relationship in. I cried at that part. The same kind of tears I've been brought to with other books by this author. Again, even with that part, I had the thought in my mind of how I just wish I could come back in another life as a character in one of her books. The men may be only after sex, at least they say they are, but they are honest about it up front. Besides that though, they are caring, and gentleman, and stick up for their woman no matter what. Also similar to other books by this author, there were some great side characters. I don't think this will be a series, but I would love to read about Ava's best friend Harper, or Caleb's brother Jamie. Whether it is the two of them getting together, or finding love with someone we don't know yet, I'd be happy to read more with them. One more thing, don't you justadore that cover?! And that title! This book is perfection all around!
Fight or Flight is utterly compelling. A story of judgments based on first impressions, the projection of past experience onto another person, the clouding of perception because of the previous life experiences alongside the way in which past events can define the person we become. Not only does the plot contain all of the aforementioned elements it is multi-layered to include fate and destiny, but family, friendship and forgiveness Fight or Flight is also an acknowledgment of Samantha's writing talent and ability to ingeniously control so many elements within a story. Ava has had a turbulent few days and is looking forward to returning to her orderly life where she is able to control the elements in it to the best of her ability. However, fate has other plans for her when a certain hot yet arrogant Scotsman, Caleb, keeps getting thrown into her path. There is no denying the explosive chemistry between Ava and Caleb, resulting in a very out of character encounter for Ava!!!! The rendezvous has a lingering effect on both Ava and Caleb, an unforgettable memory which knocks both parties plans for the future out of line. The past has a significant hold on both Ava and Caleb, defining who they are and the way in which they view relationships. The reasons behind their barriers are revealed slowly throughout the plot adding to the tension within the story. As each puzzle piece falls into place there is a greater understanding of the characters and also the understanding between each of them. I absolutely loved the emotional breakthrough within the narrative, even though more than a few tears where involved along the way It reinforces the certainty of the past not defining the future, only the individual can control which path they take The peripheral characters are also phenomenal adding additional tiers to the plot and I am hoping each will get their own story - Harper, Leo and Jamie to start PLEASE Although I also desperately need the other books in the Hart's Boardwalk series!!!!! NEED DESPERATELY!!!!! If you get the chance check out Penny Reid's review of this book on Goodreads - she puts it all so eloquently and succinctly
This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased, honest opinion. This book just wasn't for me. I didn't care for the main guy Caleb whatsoever. I get he had his own baggage but still. He always threw such low blows! He wanted to cut you down and drive you away at whatever cost to protect himself. I felt it was his way or the highway. Caleb wanted a benefits only relationship without any sort of emotional attachment. Ava, the other main character, thought that was something she wanted as well. But, of course, feelings developed as the story continued. I honestly didn't feel the chemistry between these two. I felt it was literally just a way to fix a sexual need for them and that's it. Another thing that bugged me was there was always some new drama or some jaw dropping event/back story around every corner. It began to feel like too much just for dramatic flare. One of the more major dramas was everyone blaming Ava for a certain situation. That felt off to me because I don't think anyone would've truly blamed her for that scenario in real life. I will say, the last third or so of the book was so much better than the rest. I loved the addition of Caleb's brother Jamie. He really added a lot to the story and I truly hope he gets his own story. Overall, I just didn't love this book. I think my issue was mainly Caleb. I wasn't attracted to him and didn't care for his personality whatsoever. He made it really difficult for me to enjoy this. I think I'd like other books from this author if it featured a different couple.
I liked the spark between the two characters. There were times I laughed out loud. But, at times I felt the make characters coldness was too much.
Fight or Flight is the first book I’ve read by Samantha Young, and based on the fact that I couldn’t put it down, I’d say I chose a good one to start with. This is a true enemies to lovers story about two people who could not be more different. Whereas Eva is a refined and well-mannered beauty, Caleb is a rude, surly, and judgmental Scotsman. One thing they do have in common: they each detest the other instantly. Their hostility only increases when they are trapped an airborne tin death trap, also known as a plane. This makes their one night filled with hate sex both surprising and epic. Seeing them battle their first impressions of each other is fun and fascinating, with their volley of insults upping the entertainment ante. Eva comes with a Louis Vuitton suitcase full of baggage. Because the story is told from her point of view we learn important parts of her history early on. All that we know about Caleb is what he chooses to reveal, which is frustratingly little. He obviously has his own struggles, but he is one tough nut to crack. Lust flashes fast and furious between them, but the warmth of true feelings is nice and slow to develop as lines get blurred. Eva is intensely private, and she surprises herself by being so forthcoming with Caleb. Even though she does not welcome her new vulnerability, she loves how she feels when she is with him. Eva is probably my favorite character—both underestimated and misunderstood. The plot revolves around a benefits without friendship arrangement, but don’t expect a panty melting book. The sex isn’t as graphic or dirty as one might anticipate. That in no way diminishes the chemistry between Caleb and Eva, though. I found this to be an enjoyable read that was well worth my time. I received an early copy of this book to voluntarily read. This does not affect the my opinion or the content of my review.
I couldn't put it down and in true SY style, it was very well written, thought out and you're left wanting more. It is not your typical beginning and I really enjoyed that because it really added to the character development of the two and them getting to know each other. You weren't really sure how it was going to go or what was going to happen next. I absolutely loved it and for me it was really channeling Hero vibes, so if you're a fan then I recommend the read! It is witty and the banter between Ava and Caleb is something else, I was literally laughing out loud or rolling my eyes as I was reading. For me though, it was amazing to be able to really step into the shoes of Ava, as I am too an Interior Designer and I love the way and how accurate SY was in describing her job and the her relationships to her clients. It is truly like that sometimes and it is very accurate. For me this was amazing and I really think and feel like Ava, except I am not blonde or that fair hahah! I don't normally love fair features in the male leads, but I was won over by SY's continued descriptions of Caleb. You're unsure about him at first and his mysterious/abrupt nature turns you away a little, but it is all part of the charm and the character development. I really want to read it again so that I can make sure that I can really soak in all the witty banter and descriptions of the characters! That is what I love about SY, you can always go back and you always get more the second time you read it!!
I adore Samantha Young’s storytelling and the way she creates such dynamic heroes and heroines, and I also love a good enemies-to-lovers’ storyline. So, with the release of Fight or Flight, I was able to get my Samantha Young fix as well as experience a passionate, emotional, and witty story that pits an intelligent and driven American against an arrogant Scotsman and all the ways that fate intervenes to keep these two in one another’s crosshairs despite their antagonistic encounters. Ava Breevort is an intriguing heroine - one whose past dictates her present more than she would like; in fact, the reason she crosses paths with Caleb is because she was at a funeral for a childhood friend and had a series of misfortunes on her way back to Boston. I think a lot of readers will relate to Ava and the way she deals with the lack of love she’s had in her life from the people who were supposed to love her most, and we will also cheer her on as she works to find her voice in all situations and give as good as she gets, not just from her ex, but from her cranky and downright mean, at times, sex buddy. Ava definitely seems to come into her own as the story progresses and even though there were times that I felt she gave into Caleb too easily, especially when he didn’t seem to deserve it, there’s a reason she feels so strongly connected to him…now, she just needs to figure out if she continues to fight her feelings for him or let them take flight, risking her heart and perhaps her sanity for a shot of something real with this moody Scot who has past issues of his own to sort through and confront. It’s extremely difficult when the hero is an extremely flawed one, like Caleb seems to be, and what makes it even harder is when readers don’t get his perspective…aren’t allowed inside his head to understand what lead him to who he is today; I think that would have gone a long way in helping readers warm up to Caleb a bit more. What does become quite clear, though, the further into the story I read is that there’s more to the Caleb Scott Ava and readers first meet, and even though he left me feeling quite conflicted, not knowing if I wanted to kiss him or throttle him, the way Young reveals Caleb’s full personality helps us to understand the complexity of this rather difficult man. That being said, there will be readers who won’t be able to see passed some of Caleb Scott’s actions, especially those times when his flippant attitude and lack of filter cause more harm than good, which means that he will be a point of contention for some romance readers, causing them a disconnect that they might not be able to overcome. It’s hard to say if Ava and Caleb’s connection is a healthy one; without a doubt, their physical chemistry is electric, but the deeper these two get with each other, when neither seemed to want anything more than a release and a bit of passion for as long as it lasts, the more improbable a long lasting connection is because unless their respective pasts are dealt with, there’s no way they’ll be able to fight for something they didn’t seem to want in the first place. Fight or Flight is quite the angst riddled journey, and while I’m usually averse to such storylines, my love of Samantha Young’s storytelling definitely drew me to Ava and Caleb’s book, and while I felt emotionally overloaded for much of it, I also didn’t want it to end because that’s how much I adore being in the worlds that Young creates. 4.5 Poison Apples
Whenever I read a Samantha Young book I am genuinely impressed. I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of this book and I have to say that I LOVED it! This is a book that I will have to read over and over. I loved it so much that I'm tempted to sit down and read it again. Samantha Young is able to create characters that just inspire you. The characters feel real, they feel raw, and when they cry it makes me want to cry. I love how in depth the characters in Fight or Flight are. They seemed so real to me. One thing that I absolutely loved about this book is the banter between the characters. The bantering just set this book apart. It's witty, and touching at moments. The plot line was really interesting and something that I haven't read before. I loved how touching it was and I even loved how frustrating the plot line became. I wanted to scream at the characters at points which shows me just how invested I was in the characters. Ultimately, this book captures the magic that Samantha Young had with "On Dublin Street" and added some amazing bantering. This is one of my favorites by her. If I could give it more stars, I would. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I am a sucker for any kind of romance. Usually an enemies to lovers story starts off with the characters having some sort of history, and the reader is just left catching up. However, you are witness to these two meeting for the first time and how much they seem to dislike each other right from the get go. While I’d like to say that these two got better as time went on, they didn’t. They sleep together knowing that they dislike the other person. Even when they decide to start fresh and become friends with benefits, Caleb is always quick to shoot Ava down. Any time he feels like she might be developing feelings or that things are moving past casual, he draws back and does some pretty stupid stuff. Since the book is only written in Ava’s point of view, you have no clue what he’s thinking. A lot of the time Caleb came off as a jerk and while I’d like the say he redeemed himself in the end, he really didn’t. Even though I was not a huge fan of Caleb’s character and the way he treated Ava sometimes, I still couldn’t seem to put the book down. I thought the author did a great job writing about two strangers who just rub each other the wrong way, but have undeniable chemistry. I know that this is a stand-alone novel, but I was really REALLY hoping for Ava’s best friend to get her own story. I’ll be crossing my fingers that the author gives her her own book sometime in the future. Fight or Flight was an enjoyable enemy to lovers romance. It took a while for these two to be on the same page, and even still there were issues to overcome. However, I found myself unable to put the book down.
3.75 stars--FIGHT OR FLIGHT by Samantha Young is a contemporary adult, stand alone romance story line focusing on thirty-five year old CFO of Koto Technologies Scotsman Caleb Scott, and thirty –year old, interior designer Ava Breevort. Told from first person point of view (Ava) including memories of the past, FIGHT OR FLIGHT follows the enemies to lovers relationship between thirty-five year old CFO of Koto Technologies Scotsman Caleb Scott, and thirty –year old, interior designer Ava Breevort. The death of a former friend, a series of mishaps, a volcanic eruption in Europe, and several flight delays eventually find Ava Breevort facing off against a belligerent and hostile Scotsman slash Viking, who pushes all of our heroine’s buttons. From one unexpected delay to another, and an overnight stay in Phoenix, Ava’s frustration mounts as Caleb Scott becomes the proverbial thorn in her side, and vice versa. Not that Caleb is thrilled that his business plans have been placed on hold but the continuous reappearance of the beautiful but presumably high-maintenance Ava Breevort begins to chafe at Caleb’s growing anger towards a woman he perceives as all kinds of wrong. A one-night stand, and another round of run-ins in Ava’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts continues to pull at their mutual attraction but equally mutual hatred for one another. What ensues is the agreed upon friends with benefits arrangement between Ava and Caleb, and the potential fall-out as Ava ‘apparently’ pushes too hard forcing Caleb to hurt the woman with whom he is falling in love. Caleb Scott is a sexy, brooding, and antagonistic male whose dislike of Ava is immediate and aggressive. Unable to let go of the past, Caleb is unbending in his friends with benefits-only arrangement, an arrangement that is about to destroy the heart of our story line heroine. Caleb’s initial assessment and treatment of Ava is embarrassing and exasperating, as our heroine questions if she has done something wrong, a question that has Ava giving as good as she gets. Ava Breevort knows love and loss, a loss that has affected Ava’s self-esteem, and scarred our heroine to the possibility of future love, another betrayal, and issues of trust. Falling for Caleb was never on the radar but having her heart ripped out meant Ava needed to reassess what she wanted in her life. The relationship between Ava and Caleb is an enemies to lovers/friends with benefits arrangement that leads to something more. For weeks Ava and Caleb will be both friends and lovers but jealousy, heartbreak and memories from the past are but the tip of the ice-burg that is slowly collapsing their hard-fought friendship. Caleb wants to know everything about the woman he refuses to love but isn’t capable of talking about his own embittered past. The push and pull of jealousy is immature and sophomoric in the face of Caleb’s inability to feel something more. The $ex scenes are intimate and passionate, without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. FIGHT OR FLIGHT is a story of pain and heartbreak, and tainted perception. Caleb struggles in the face of former betrayal, and paints Ava with the same judgemental brush. The premise is inviting; the characters are dynamic, flawed and broken; the romance struggles in the face of preconceived notions, and demons from the past.
I desperately, desperately wanted to like this book. I have been a Samantha Young fan for years, and I usually think her books are the perfect balance of emotion and romance. Unfortunately, I was about a hairsbreadth away from DNFing this book for the majority of it. Fight or Flight is an enemies to lovers, hate at first sight, romance between Caleb, a surly Scot, and Ava, a polished and successful interior designer. Caleb and Ava meet while on two different flights on their way to Boston. They have explosive sexual chemistry, which they explore early and often, but clash personality wise. After a one night stand while traveling, Caleb and Ava meet up again in Boston and become friends with benefits, which is where their relationship stays for most of the story. Let me start with the positives. The only love story I enjoyed in this book was Ava’s relationship with her best friend, Harper. Their steadfast support for each other in the face of true emotional turmoil brought tears to my eyes many times. I desperately want Harper to have her own story, preferably with a more palatable hero. When I first started this book, I was a little turned off by Ava. She is a drop-dead gorgeous woman living in luxury with credit card debt because of her expensive shoe habit. She seemed a little self-absorbed and a lot pampered. Luckily, after I learned about everything she overcame with her emotionally abusive parents and crazy relationship history, combined with a passion for her job, I was entirely on her team by the end. I also want to point out that this is a very well crafted story. Samantha Young is a veteran author, and it shows. There are many twists and turns throughout this book, most of which I didn’t see coming. The actual story never dragged and the only reason I was having a hard time finishing this book, is the hero. Speaking of the hero, I will move on to the negatives. I disliked Caleb so much that I had to put the book down a few times. He was calculated, cold, and emotionally stunted. I am not talking about the sniping Ava and Caleb did while they were still enemies. I’m talking about the continual mixed signals he sent Ava and his constant hot/cold attitude while they were friends with benefits. Ava was continually making excuses for Caleb, including his deplorable manners with waitstaff. He refused to say “please” or “thank you” to servers because that’s just him and he’s grouchy ugh. Just no. Be polite. Basically, this is how their relationship worked: Ava was expected to listen to Caleb complain about his work problems, divulge all her emotional baggage without anything in return, sleep with him at will, be exclusive without any other expectation of support, and anytime, ANYTIME, she brought up the fact that she wasn’t happy with this arrangement, Caleb reacted with anger and lashed out at her. God forbid she take away her smokin’ bod and hot sex. By the end of the book, I was just hoping Ava would meet someone who would treat her with a little warmth. Leo seemed cool, I am sure he would have appreciated Ava. But no, we got a rushed HEA and barely any groveling. I might have bumped this up a half a star if the hero had been genuinely humbled. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, and I was left feeling cold. I am in the minority with my feelings on this book. It totally worked for other people, and I truly hope it works for you. **I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
Ahhhh!!! I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. This book was so incredibly good. So unexpected, a total gem of a read. This story is everything that you could want, need and ache for in an enemies to lovers romance. When I first picked up this book, I just knew this was going to be a good read. I am sucker for the rude, frustratingly blunt hero and Caleb does not disappoint. Add in his sexy good looks and accent and he is trouble with a capital T! And Ava…she’s got some baggage, but she’s worked hard to get where she is and she dishes it out and can certainly take it. So, when these two strangers who can’t stand each other are stuck on a plane together, the banter between them is just off the charts. The tension is so intense, so strong. You can feel it just oozing off the pages. You just know if these two got together that they would just be explosive. So from forced interactions and chance meetings, fate sure seems to be telling these two something. And while Caleb and Ava can’t stand one another, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have sex right?! We all know this isn’t going to end well. Soon enough, lines will be blurred and feelings will come into play. But, that doesn’t stop me from hanging on to each word, living each moment and anticipating just how Caleb and Ava’s story will play out….What I can tell you is to just sit back, relax and enjoy this crazy ride….. Fight or Flight is brilliantly written and is a story that is just going to knock you off of your feet. It grabs you from the very first page and keeps you wanting more. From broken and frustrating characters to steamy hot sex and incredible angst, this book has it all. I loved the enemies to lovers story-line. I won’t lie to you, Caleb is one of the most frustrating characters I have ever read. He was such a jerk and there was many times that I just wanted to grab him and shake him. But, there is so much more to him than meets the eye. If you’re lucky enough to be around when his guard is down, he’s actually a really nice guy. He’s sweet and caring. He’s protective and jealous. He can be a total alpha male. He’s been hurt before and has his heart firmly locked up. And Ava….Her life has been anything but easy. The only people she calls family is her uncle and her BFF. She’s smart, beautiful and talented. She’s the kind of woman you’d be lucky to have in your corner. All the more reason that I found myself rooting for these two. They were perfect for one another whether they wanted to admit it or not. Fight or Flight is so much more than a enemies to lovers romance. It is a story filled with heart, and frustration. A story of letting go of the past and fighting for the future. It’s a story of finding love when you’re not even looking for it. It’s a story of friendship and second chances. It’s a story that is at times heavy and filled with so much emotion. The angst so intense it feels as if it is your own. In fact, there was a moment, somewhere around the 85% mark, where my heart was just broken. Ava’s hurt and pain felt as if it was my own. I didn’t know how she could come back from it or how Caleb was going to redeem himself. But, it’s moments like that, that I just ache for, that I just can’t get enough of, that will have me glued to the pages right until the very end.
Three and a half stars. Ava Breevort is travelling home to Boston following the funeral of her former best friend. Her attempt to upgrade is thwarted by a big Scottish guy who looks like a Viking and rudely pushes in front of her snagging the last seat in first class. Then as if fate is laughing at her, everywhere she goes in the airport he is there, pushing in, being rude. But what starts out as name-calling and dislike soon morphs into attraction. What starts out as a one-night stand turns into more when Ava's client introduces her to a 'family friend' who is stuck in Boston for a couple of weeks due to the Icelandic volcano eruption creating flight havoc - you guessed it, the family friend is none other than the unfriendly Viking, Caleb Scott, and Ava's client wants Ava to show him around the city. Of course Ava and Caleb both have 'issues', they also have preconceptions about each other, its almost Pride and Prejudice, what concerned me was that Ava seemed deluded when it came to Caleb. In fact I would go as far to say that he was not a nice man. He only appears to be polite to friends, family and people of a higher social status - waitress etc get not a word of thanks - and Ava thinks this is okay. She realises that her ex-boyfriend only ever complimented her on her looks, never on her personality, and yet she thinks it is okay that Caleb only ever compliments her on her body and how it makes him feel - because he's honest about it? I'm sorry I don't see the difference. Also, because this is told from Ava's POV I really don't understand Caleb's motivations - I think if he had been more likable this would have got four stars. Although there's a lot of brogue it wasn't irritating, probably because Samantha lives in Scotland and therefore understand the natural cadence of the accent and which words to use when. And how refreshing to have a Scottish hero who doesn't wander around wearing a kilt, playing the bagpipes, or owning a Castle! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.