Best friends with benefits…
Avery Forrester has never been the type to settle down—not to one place, not to one job, and certainly not to one man. Still, when her long-term best friend with benefits comes home on leave with a plan—including marriage and children—she realizes she'll have to do something drastic in order to keep him. Luckily, drastic is what she does best.
…isn't enough anymore.
U.S. Marine Holden Morris has never backed down from a challenge. And this time, that challenge is persuading wild child Avery Forrester, the woman he's loved his entire life, to marry him. He wants the whole deal—a wife, a family. But convincing her to become a military wife won't be easy. Then again, he knows Avery—in every way possible. Armed with that kind of knowledge—carnal and otherwise--how can he possibly fail?
About the Author
Allison Gatta is an avid writer of steamy contemporary romance, an obsessive viewer of bad television, and an occasional player of overly-complex board games. In her free time, she thinks up fun, new characters and argues with her family over sci-fi trivia. She is a firm believer that Voldemort would vanquish Darth Vader in a duel.
Allison lives in the bustling city of New Haven, CT with her husband and their scrappy pup, Sophie. She is fueled by coffee and feedback, so feel free to get to know her though Twitter (@Allison_Gatta), Facebook (Allison Gatta), or her website www.AllisonGatta.com.
Read an Excerpt
Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
Not so Avery could listen or anything, but more so she'd be able to fly away and not have to hear Myla's latest diatribe.
It was usually impossible to ignore her friend's uptight ramblings, but this particular soliloquy was one she'd been audience to nearly a million times already. Myla had droned on and on before junior prom, senior prom, graduation, before they'd moved to California together — the list could go forever — but the speech was always the same, and she consistently ended it with the same question:
"So, what exactly is going on with you and Holden?" Myla tried to look nonchalant, tossing some anti-nausea medication into their shared grocery cart, but a telltale worry line wrinkled her forehead, and her lashes flicked the way they always did when she was watching someone from the corner of her eye.
Avery sighed and ripped the box of medication open before popping a couple of pills in her mouth. If Myla was going to spend their whole shopping trip nagging her, anti-nausea meds were probably just the ticket. Either that, or it was time to employ the fine art of distraction.
"How many times? Seriously." Avery grabbed for the industrial-sized box of condoms and then hoisted a second box into her cart.
"We wouldn't be having this discussion if you weren't buying enough condoms to make an entire circus of balloon animals." Myla surveyed the box warily.
"Well, Holden will be here for a whole week. You know sailors. Any port in a storm."
"And yet, magically, your port is always the one he seems to find. So, it begs the question, why?"
That was the thing about Myla. She acted like every friggin' relationship would end in some big affair with boom boxes lifted outside people's windows. Even if Myla thought she had a fairy-tale romance, that didn't mean it was right for everyone.
Some people just wanted good, hot sex. What was so wrong with that?
Besides, even that initial Cinderella/Prince Charming love would fade like everything else. It was a waiting game, and it was only out of love for her best friend that she didn't remind her of that fact. It had been that way for Avery's parents. And it would be that way for Myla, too.
Shaking off the sadness that always filled her whenever she considered the inevitable, Avery focused on the one thing that kept her spirits buoyant — Holden. No limits and no expectations Holden.
"Avery, I'm serious. What's the deal between you two?" Myla busted through the silence of her thoughts.
"I'm his special friend." She tried to control herself, but a smirk tugged at her lips before she could rein it in.
"Except he's flying all the way to California to see you while he's between tours. And he shows up whenever you need him. And he calls you all the time."
"Well, the calls aren't exactly outpourings of affection. Lots of times, he just checks in around midnight to see how things are going in Brazil, if you know what I mean." She waggled her eyebrows, trying to throw her friend off her game.
Based on the stern line of her lips, though, Myla would not be deterred. "Ugh, God." She shuddered. "I don't need to know."
"You asked." Avery shrugged. If Myla was going to keep pressing her, she was going to make sure her friend was as uncomfortable as possible. Simple as that.
Anything to find peace.
"Actually, I didn't ask. All I'm saying is that things might not be as cut and dried as you're making them out to be. Geez, it's like you've never seen a romantic comedy." She rolled her eyes.
"I've known him forever. That's hardly new." Avery made her best attempt at sounding innocent, but Myla's glare was so much like Avery's mom's, it was like going back in time to her teen years in their beat-up trailer park. The only thing missing was the perpetual smell of stale menthol cigarettes.
"Don't you want to be with someone for real?"
"Nope." And she didn't.
No putting someone else's socks in the laundry. No straightening ties. No three a.m. talks about feelings. If she was up during the wee hours, it was going to be because she was still out partying, not because she was cooing soft reassurances to someone about their boss not appreciating their contribution, or similar nonsense.
Or, in Holden's case, because she was still up worrying whether or not he'd ever come home again.
No. Caring about someone else that intensely was not in the cards. Her mother had done that, and look where that had landed her.
She sailed down the snack food aisle, tossing bag after bag of junk into her cart. With Holden visiting for a whole week, they were both going to need sustenance. Myla followed behind her, so she zigzagged, trying to cut her off or force her to crash into the cart. Anything to get her to shut up.
"I think you're full of it." Myla started up again, but as Avery had hoped, her friend careened into the cart, and before she could right the eggs that had tipped over, Avery was off and running.
"Almost forgot the whipped cream," she shouted over her shoulder.
Even with the distance between them, she could hear Myla's disgusted sigh.
Whatever. Her nerdy friend had never really understood the art of playing the field. The one time she tried to have a one-night stand, she'd ended up living with the guy. Typical friggin' Myla.
Avery grabbed a canister of cream from the aisle and sprinted back to where she'd left her friend. The other woman was standing mid-aisle, leaning lazily against a rack of potato chips.
"Hey, before I forget, Oliver wanted me to invite you and Holden to dinner on Wednesday. At our house." Myla's lips curled around the word "our," her eyes glazing into a dreamy, sickening look. The pure joy in her expression only made Avery's heart sink that much deeper in her stomach. Myla was clearly beyond taken with her boyfriend, which would only make the inevitable heartbreak that much worse.
But no matter how Avery felt, it did not mean she was joining the dinner-party circuit. "Oh, well, uh ..."
It wasn't that Myla and Oliver were obnoxious together. They were a little gooey, sure, but seeing her friend's happiness made it bearable. Still, being around them was unnerving. And no matter how deliriously happy Myla was, there was something about Oliver that never seemed quite right.
Bring Holden there? It would be that much less time to spend alone with him in varying states of undress.
But Myla was pleading with her. She might have gotten on Avery's nerves from time to time, but there was never a place in her heart that wanted to turn her friend down. As many times as she'd been by Myla's side for one heartbreak or the other, she'd been by Avery's through family hardship and everything in between.
Myla deserved a good friend, and Avery was determined to be that person. "Fine. I'll be there."
Myla beamed, and despite everything, Avery grinned back. It would be fine. Just so long as Myla didn't launch into her classic speech with Holden, as well.
"It's going to be great! Oliver is a wonderful cook."
"I'm glad. Last time I was at your house for dinner, you set boiling water on fire, so I'm already starting with pretty low expectations."
"Oh, it wasn't that bad." Even Myla's matter-of-fact tone was less than convincing.
"I distinctly remember foraging in your shrubbery for sustenance. I nearly ambushed a passing pizza delivery guy." Avery popped open a container of off-brand chips. The memory of that night alone was enough to make her stomach growl with desperation.
"You did ambush him."
"Either way, I got the job done. And don't tell me you didn't enjoy that calzone, too."
The pair shuffled into the checkout line while Myla toyed with the groceries in Avery's cart.
Myla ran her fingers over the cover of a glossy soap opera magazine, pausing for a fraction of a second over the image of her actor-boyfriend, Oliver. The ghost of a smile captured her friend's lips, but obviously, her thoughts were elsewhere. "So, how does Holden feel about this setup?"
Jesus, the woman was like a freaking conversational zombie. Right when everyone thought the topic was dead, she sprang back up and droned on again. Brainlessly.
"He's happy. I think." Avery crunched on a chip, savoring the cheesy, cardboard-like goodness. How was she supposed to know what Holden thought? Asking him would open up a discussion she'd skillfully avoided for five years.
"You think?" Myla's brows flew upward.
"We don't talk about stuff like that. If he wasn't happy, he'd bail. We have an open-ended agreement."
Myla hummed her disapproval, giving Avery the distinct impression that she was mere minutes from landing herself in "time out." "So, you wouldn't care at all if he called the whole thing quits? It wouldn't change your friendship at all?"
A knot twisted in her stomach, but she shook her head, ignoring the weird sensation. Truthfully, the idea of either of them actually bailing had never occurred to her. Their agreement had been going on for so long, it seemed a natural part of their lives. What else was there to understand?
All she knew was that when they were together, it was pretty damn explosive. Anything other than that wasn't worth her time or concern.
Rather than dignifying the question with a response, she launched into her own tried-and-true speech. "We are friends who happen to sleep with each other. We're pretty good at being friends, and he's pretty great at the other stuff, so I'm settled."
Even though she knew she didn't have to defend herself, her mouth ran on, trying to make Myla understand something she was determined not to hear. "The only person who has a problem with this is you."
"I don't want you to get hurt, that's all."
"Believe me, the only way I'm getting hurt is if I politely ask for it." Let Myla have the serious, sock-darning, meet-your-parents relationship with a capitol R. Avery would do what she wanted — with Holden.
"Being friends with benefits doesn't work. Since he's the only guy who's been able to hold your attention for longer than a day, maybe you should really think about trying something new. You know, I started seeing a therapist —"
Avery made a choking sound, and Myla patted her on the back, hard.
"Say what you want, but I did, and I think it's great. You know, I went because of this whole thing with Oliver and the media attention —"
"Right." Avery grabbed a soda bottle from an endcap cooler and started guzzling it.
"It's been hard on me being in the magazines and everything, but this doctor has really helped me focus on what's important."
"Which is?" Avery raised her eyebrows.
"Mindfulness. You know, really being aware of your feelings and why you're feeling them." Myla shrugged. "It's wonderful."
"And how do you go about being mindful?"
"I color sometimes," Myla chirped.
"You color?" Avery choked.
"Don't laugh. They say it stimulates the same parts of the brain as meditation."
Avery held up her hands in mock innocence. "Okay, okay, not judging. I believe you."
"And the coloring is just for meditation. The really helpful thing I do is keep a journal. You let your mind go blank and just write down whatever comes. Easy as that."
"I'm happy you found something that works, then," Avery said.
"But it could work for you, too. Come on, we could make it fun. Like, if we're both doing it, it's almost like a club."
"Or a cult," Avery added.
Myla rolled her eyes. "Would it really hurt you to give it a try? If you just do this with me while Holden is here, then I promise I will never ever bother you about what your relationship status is with him again."
"Do you mean that?" Avery asked, and when Myla gave her a serious nod, she reached for a sparkly pink mini journal and matching pen, then threw them on top of her purchases. "You've got yourself a deal."
Tedious conversation whittled away the rest of their trip, mostly around Myla's concerns about Oliver's late nights on the set of his soap opera, ER Dynasty. The more her friend talked, the more her uneasiness grew. This was always how it started with Myla. She met someone, and then the next week, she was wedding planning.
Next, she'd be on websites looking at mash-ups of what her future children would look like or scribbling her future name over and over like a schoolgirl. It would have been positively charming to watch if Avery hadn't seen the final score so many times before.
Sooner or later, they all left, and it was just the two of them again. Like it had been all through her childhood with her mother: nursing a perpetually broken heart.
Forgive Avery if she wanted to skip that part of the human experience.
She dropped Myla off and rushed home to get ready to meet Holden at the airport. Every nerve in her body stood on end to see him again. And she had a greeting in mind that he was sure to never, ever forget.
In-flight internet had been a bad idea.
All Holden had wanted to do was check his email, see if there were any updates from his commanding officers, and glance — just glance — at Facebook. He should have known that wouldn't be possible, though. Not when he had nosy brothers he hadn't had enough common sense to block.
The second he signed on, his eldest brother shot him a message:
Tom Morris: Flight land?
It was innocent enough. That, too, should have been a clue, Holden thought, but instead he foolishly replied:
Holden Morris: Not yet. This airline has internet. Just checking my stuff.
Tom Morris: Nice. Mom says she's worried about you. And that God never meant for humans to travel by air.
Holden Morris: Because if he did, he would have given them wings. Right, I know.
His mother had been saying the same thing for years now, though she conveniently never seemed to mention it in front of his other brother, Max, who was a fighter pilot. Or, for that matter, any time one of her sons was about to fly halfway across the world to fight in a war. Nor did the wars themselves seem to bother her all that much.
It was only, in fact, when Holden was on his way to see Avery that her sudden aversion to flight reared its ugly head. That little tidbit, he was sure, wasn't lost on anyone in the family — least of all Holden.
Holden Morris: Tell her I'll be fine. I've been in tighter situations than sitting leisurely on a plane while hurtling through the air.
Tom Morris: Lol, will do. Speaking of which, Dad mentioned you were thinking about another tour.
Holden clenched his jaw.
Holden Morris: No doubt he was practically drooling about the idea.
Tom Morris: You know him.
Holden Morris: Hoo-rah.
Tom Morris: Exactly. But I know both of you, and I have to say — don't you think you ought to wait a little while? Your tours have been short so far, and that's been great. But what if you get stuck over there for a long stretch?
Holden Morris: So what? I don't have a wife or kids. It's the perfect time to work on my career. Another tour comes with another promotion. Better pay. I have a plan.
It was true. Right before he'd boarded the flight to head back stateside, he'd sat down and looked long and hard at his life. He was nearly thirty now, and it was time to put some things in order — what he wanted, what his parents wanted, what Avery wanted.
Too bad none of those things lined up.
So, sitting in an airport terminal, he'd pulled out his laptop, cleared his mind, and thought about what he wanted in the next ten years. He'd even set an image of the list as his background picture, just for quick reference.
Excerpted from "One Week with the Marine"
Copyright © 2017 Allison Gatta.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an ok read. Avery was hard to warm up to at first but I get where she is coming from. I just thought she should have just bitten the bullet and talked to Holden about her fears, it would have saved her from all the internal struggles. My huge pet peeve was trying to figure out what branch of the military Holden was in. I had assumed because of the title that he was a Marine but in the first chapter a couple of paragraphs in he's reference as a sailor. Ok I can deal with it and just make him a Marine but then when they go to dinner with his parents, his father makes a comment about him getting a scholarship to West Point but he went to Annapolis instead. Now I'm scratching my head because West Point is for Army and the Naval Academy in Annapolis is for Navy and Marine Corps. Since he wanted to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps he's supposed to go to the Naval Academy. Usually little mistakes having to do with the military doesn't bother me as long as they do not distract from the story but not knowing what branch of military he's in is a big distraction. Researching a subject goes a long way in helping with the story.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review. Avery and Holden's story is fairly light, very well written, somewhat sweet and intimate. Holden's life is changing and he brings the change to Avery. I loved it.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review. Who doesn't love friends with benefits? For years Avery and Holden have had a particular arrangement they would be there for each other and help each other out. Fast forwards years later and Holden still wants Avery, but she isn't sure what she needs or wants. Holden is stubborn and decides if something is important enough it is worth all the struggles and fighting.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review. Avery Forrester and U.S. Marine Holden Morris have been friends forever. Towards the end of their senior year in high school, they became friends with benefits, because Holden is destined for the military and Avery, after watching her mother fail over and over again in marriage, is afraid of intimacy. He is comes form a political/military family and she and her mother lived in a trailer park. So she knows that she will never be good enough for Holden. Eventually she left Maryland and moved to California with her BFF Myla, Avery then became a photographer and watched Myla also go from one sad relationship to the next. Each time Holden is stateside he comes to her, but now on his way home from his fourth deploy, he has a ten year plan and the first thing on the list is "Marry someone I love". The someone he has always loved is Avery, and this trip home he is determined to get her on board, despite the hostility of his parents towards her. But what Avery does best is avoidance, as the loving looks he gives her send "panic and fear racing through her bloodstream". She was terrified of loving him and losing him and herself so has convinced herself that she is not who he needs; that he could do better. Will Holden be able to convince Avery that she is who he needs or will she push him away. You have to read this book to see if they get their HEA!!! I am a sucker for friends to lovers books
Avery Forrester seems to be incapable of settling down on anything from a job to relationships. When her friend-with-benefits, Holden Morris, is on leave from the Marines, she finds out that his plans to settle down make her realize she might have to change so she doesn’t lose him. I really didn’t this story. I tried to get through it even though I had a feeling I would have a problem with Avery’s personality. I was pretty much done with it after the introduction of Holden, who is well aware of Avery’s tendency to get around and he still wanted to set her up to marry him. The way it was all worded just didn’t work for me. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
I have to say that I truly loved both of these characters. Avery, my heart went out to her. She knew how she felt towards Holden, but couldn't feel worthy mainly because of the way she was brought up. I wish we would have had more of her backstory. But you could totally understand where she came from and her reasoning. Then there is Holden. I loved him from start to finish. He was so strong, so accepting of Avery, and determined not to give up on her or what he wanted. Swoonworthy for sure. Their story was so sweet, especially the flashbacks and memories. And their loved scenes, holy moly, they were unbelievably hot. Yowza! Now I just need for Myla to have a happy ending too. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. Avery and Holden had a friends with Benefits arrangement since they were teens. They have both been secretly in love with each other, and scared to rock the boat. Avery is terrified of commitment, having seen what her mother had gone thru with men, she did not want to go that route, and then her best friends relationships, were horrible, she was on a constant wheel of disappointment, and Avery did not want that, she felt that it was better to keep her relationship with Holden the way it was, no strings, that way it would last. Holden, loved Avery and every time he saw a picture on Facebook of her with her latest conquest he was green with envy, what he did not know, was that Avery, never slept with anybody else, Holden was her one and only. When Holden, asked for a relationship, and Avery agreed, all hell broke loose, because he never told her about his deployment. Both said hurtful things, but both were able to acknowledge what they really felt for one another.. Hopefully we get to read her friends story next, you can't leave us hanging like that.
This is a great little read. Avery who is totally gun shy of relationships and the intimacy yet every time her long term friend and lover come home from deployment they spend most of their time buried between the sheets! Holden is about to change all that. Coming from a military family, they expect him to fall inline and they don't like Avery. Holden avoids his family when he's home on leave, much preferring Avery's company. So Holden decides that since he's older and needs to make some life decisions about his career and future with Avery starts to change their game a little bit. Avery picks up on the subtle things Holden does, a little more intimate, soft touches here and there and she panics just a tad. Meanwhile her best friend who is a nervous Nellie grills her for 3 pages about her relationship with Holden early in the book. Avery uses every trick she knows to throw her off, but to no avail. She doesn't understand the just friends thing Avery's trying to explain to her, because that's the way it's been with her and Holden since high school. This was a quick and sweet read. I don't use the word sweet often it implies gushy etc and this wasn't, but well written as always from Allison and I liked the plot. I loved Holden and Avery both, but Holden.... yes indeed! The book is a great summer read, light enough, low angst and lots of love. What more could you ask for. Allison writes yet another winner. **arc from NetGalley and Entangled in exchange for a fair review**
One Week With the Marine by Allison Gatta, is one hot and sexy romance. The hero, Holden Morris, is a Marine with a bright future in public service. He is presently a captain, and with his next deployment he will be promoted. Holden hails from a family of military men and his uppity parents are constantly in his face about how each deployment will earn him more money and prestige. The heroine, Avery Forrester, is a photographer and a commitment phobe. She and Holden have been best friends since high school and established a friends with benefits relationship from the moment Holden enlisted. Although she won't admit to it, Holden is her one and only. Holden has decided that he wants to settle down with Avery. They are in love, even though the sentiment has never been spoken. Holden has his work cut out for him, and overtime he shows Avery that they can be much more than an on again off again liaison. I enjoyed this book. Both Avery and Holden are likeable characters with vulnerabilities that are easy to identify with. They are a beautiful couple and their sexy times are passionate. The chapter where Avery cooks for Holden is absolutely hysterical, and I had tears rolling down my face from laughing. With Holden's snooty parents, Ms. Gatta is able to execute pompousness perfectly. Overall, this is a very steamy read with good character development. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Avery Forrester doesn't do permanent, she prefers to keep everything in her life string free, that includes her relationships with men. She just isn't ready or willing to settle down with one man, and after watching her mother crash and burn so many times with men in the past, it has left her with some deep rooted intimacy issues. So, her relationship with her best friend turned friend with benefits Holden is damn near perfect for her... well that is until he returns home from his latest deployment with marriage on the mind... Marine Holden Morris loves what he has with friend Avery, but now he wants more, a whole lot more, the rings, vows, kids, the whole nine yards, problem is Avery doesn't do permanent. She is a free spirit, that doesn't like to be tied down to anything, but he is about to change that. He knows it's going to take some serious convincing, and there's chance he might lose her for good, but it's a risk he's willing to take. This sexy little first time read had the perfect blend of everything you'd want in a romance story, it was heartwarming, funny, engaging, and packed with some serious sizzle! The story line had a nice flow to it, and Ms. Gatta's detailed character descriptions help to paint each one of them quite vividly for me, giving them a very palpable feel. The chemistry between them was undeniable from the start and their intense attraction to one another kept things consistently hot throughout the entire story... their steamy encounters managed to have me blushing a few times! Highly recommend this one, it's a spicy little page-turner that is sure to keep you captivated from start to finish! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this title.
3.5 Stars! This author is new to me and I find that I really like her writing style. For such a short read, it was maturely written, fast paced and a good storyline. Holden was a great Hero. He knows what he wants and isn't afraid to go for it. Avery, I had a harder time with. I liked her character but I didn't like how she ran from issues. It was very prevalent in the story, which dimmed some of my excitement of a really good book. If you wanted me to list my dislikes, that would be the only issue I had. Everything else was really good and I look forward to reading more from this author. ARC provided by NetGalley.
Ms. Gatta is a pro at standing out. Her stories range from sweet, salty to naughty. One Week With a Marine falls into the naughty category with a number of sweet moments. What woman wouldn't want a man whose willing to fight for her heart? Holden never ran from a battle and he was in a fight to the finish for Avery's heart. If it ain't broke don't fix it, would be a good way of describing the appeal of Allison Gatta. Be careful! She just might run away with your heart.