|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.46(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Say You're Mine
A Shillings Agency Novel
By Diane Alberts, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Diane Alberts
All rights reserved.
Steven Thomas lived in the ninth level of hell, or so he'd been told enough times. Mostly by women who hated him, because he slept with them and didn't call them back. He was always up-front about his expectations of women, and never led them to believe he was looking for more than a one-night stand, yet they never seemed to believe him. Even with all that, he was pretty damn certain they were right.
As if being a Navy SEAL doing morally questionable things in the name of freedom and country wasn't enough to fuck him over with the big man upstairs, the way he'd been acting ever since he returned to civilization would be. Maybe there was no saving him, but after getting shot overseas and almost dying, he was determined to have the best time possible before jumping into that fiery pit with a grin on his face.
But he wasn't fighting overseas anymore. Now, he was a security agent at the Shillings Agency, and he protected rich dudes while they golfed.
Another thing he was trying to accept.
Till he figured out what came next, he was going to have fun. Live life. Drink merrily. Screw beautiful women. Be wild and free. After all the shit he'd done, he was never, ever settling down. It wasn't in his blood — unlike his best friend, Holt Cunningham, who had settled down with Steven's baby sister.
The little fucker ...
"Dude." Holt sat next to him, letting out a long breath as he settled in. "Why do you look like you're about to go all Dalek on a bunch of Cybermen?"
Steven rolled his eyes at Holt's Doctor Who reference, and downed the last of his drink. It burned going down — just the way he liked it. It blurred his vision a little bit more — also the way he liked it. "If I was going to delete anyone from this universe, it would be you, dumbass."
"Ah." Holt sighed and leaned on the bar, completely unfazed by the threat to his safety. His brown hair was messed up to perfection — as it always was — and he studied Steven with somber blue eyes. "What did I do this time?"
"Besides falling for my sister ...?"
"Guilty as charged. And I'd do it all over again." Holt grinned, staring across the bar at something. That "something" was more than likely Steven's sister, Lydia. "But that's not what's bugging you. It's been a year."
A year. A whole damn year.
"She's not drinking tonight," Steven said, having his suspicions as to why she wasn't.
"Yeah." Holt flushed and ruffled his hair. Steven's instincts were spot on. That was Holt's tic, when he was trying to hide something. Steven was good at reading people, and even better at spotting evasion. "And? Why is that so weird? She likes soda, too."
He could call him on it. Ask Holt point-blank if he'd gotten his sister pregnant. Despite his avoidance, his friend wasn't typically a liar. But if they weren't ready to tell anyone yet, he could wait patiently. He wouldn't be upset about a baby, so the couple's secrecy was odd. The idea of a little niece or nephew felt ... nice.
"Is she feeling okay?" Steven asked. He needed to find out that much, at least. "Like, is she all right?"
"Yeah. She just had an upset stomach earlier," Holt muttered, still not looking at him. "She'll be fine."
In nine months. "Good."
"We're going to be expected to dance soon. Did you bring Lauren?"
Without really wanting to, Steven scanned the room for the familiar brunette. Lauren Brixton. His other best friend. She stood off to the side, chatting up some tall, blond man he vaguely recognized from accounting.
Why the hell was she talking to that dude?
He was a prick, and everyone knew it.
"Yeah." Steven shifted his weight on the stool, narrowing his eyes when she placed her hand on the asshole's arm. "She came as my plus one."
"These work events are too boring without one." Holt flagged down the bartender, his glasses askew and his black suit jacket unbuttoned. "I'll take another Coke, please. And a ginger ale, too."
So. Holt wasn't drinking because Lydia wasn't.
He liked that.
Lifting his hand, he held his empty glass up. "And I'll have another whiskey."
Holt frowned. "What is that? Your fourth?"
"We've only been here an hour, man." Holt adjusted his glasses. "Slow down, or I'll have to carry your drunk ass out of here ... again."
"The way I see it, you owe me at least ten more of those nights," Steven said, keeping his voice light even though Holt was pissing him off. After all, Holt had no room to talk. A year ago, he'd been drinking heavily and spending all his free time in bars, and Steven had been the one telling him to slow down.
So what the hell ever.
Lauren watched him from across the room, so he waved. She smiled and returned the gesture, but turned back to the prick occupying her time. Anger rolled through his veins when the asshole leaned in closer to speak into her ear, and she flushed in reply, but he ignored the unwanted emotion. It was just Lauren, not some girl he was trying to fuck.
If she liked flirting with the jerk-off, then so be it.
He turned back to Holt, who watched him with a smirk. "What now?"
"Nothing." Holt rubbed his jaw and shook his head. "Nothing at all. Hey, how's Lauren doing with that Brian guy?"
Brian. Shit, he hated that guy. He was using Lauren, and the sooner she saw it, the better. Plus, when he laughed, he sounded like a damn otter. Kind of acted like one, too. "Ask her yourself. I don't give a damn how he is, or how she feels about him. He's just another guy she'll date, then realize isn't good enough for her, and I'll be the one comforting her after he's gone — until she finds another asshole to try and fix."
"Easy man." Holt shoved his glasses into place with his pointer finger. "Your jealousy's showing."
The hell it was. He and Lauren had been friends for over twenty years — and that was it. Friends. They'd never crossed the line, or even discussed crossing the line. She'd never once acted as if she ever thought about more. He would've noticed.
But everyone else was convinced they were soul mates.
Just because he had yet to like a man she'd brought home didn't mean he was jealous, or that he secretly loved her. It meant that she had horrible taste in men.
That was fact, not opinion.
"Whatever you say, man," Steven said, dragging a hand through his hair. A classical song started in the background, and people milled to the dance floor — including their boss, Cooper Shillings. He scowled at them and cocked his head toward the dance floor. Shit. He hated dancing. Give him a gun and a desert over a tux and a ballroom, anytime. "Cooper's giving us the look."
Holt sighed, grabbed his soda, and tugged on his bow tie. "Guess it's time to dance, huh?"
"Guess so." He picked up his whiskey and held it out to his buddy, grinning. "But first? I'll finish this. To leave it here unfinished would be alcohol abuse."
His best friend stared back at him, looking 100 percent not amused. "You forget I've done this already." Then he leaned in, nostrils flaring. "Drinking to drown the pain doesn't work. Nothing does."
"It worked pretty damn well for you, didn't it?" He tipped his head to his sister — a former one-night stand of Holt's. "You found her in a bar, while drinking."
"Yeah." The other man watched Lydia with devotion and love as she made her way across the room to him. "But that was pure luck."
"Well, we can't all be so lucky, can we?"
He might be drinking and fucking too much, but it was the only thing that dulled the screams that haunted him daily. The only thing that dulled the guilt that he'd lived, when the rest of his platoon hadn't, and it eased the anger over that fact — fuck, the anger. Every time he remembered what happened over there, he wanted to shoot someone.
So he took a different kind of shot instead.
If he'd known what they truly were walking into, if he'd had even a damn inkling of the type of danger they'd faced, his men would be alive today. If his superior officer hadn't led him to believe he was bringing his men on a routine mission that held no danger, when in fact it was an ambush, his men would still be here, and he wouldn't have gotten shot — and put out of the game permanently.
He fucking hated liars.
Every single one.
He glanced over his shoulder. Lauren walked beside Lydia. Something about the way she moved tonight made it impossible to look away. Damn it, she was intoxicating, with her hips swaying seductively as she made her way across the room to him. Her dark hair fell over her shoulders and tits, and she was easily the prettiest woman here.
She was his one constant, in a world full of chaos.
And she would never lie to him.
He tossed back the rest of his whiskey, shaking his head at the burn. "Damn. That felt pretty damn good."
Holt shifted beside him. "Steven —"
"Dude, I'm fine. I'm just thirsty, is all." Steven set the empty glass down. That last shot blurred his vision even more, drowning out the memories. The nightmares. The loss. "Now cheer up. It's time to go dance with our women."
He smiled at Lauren, and she grinned back. The prick she'd been chatting with stood by the wall, alone, looking all sad-faced panda bear. That shouldn't have pleased him so much ... but it did. It didn't mean he was jealous, though.
He'd die for her. Kill for her. Fight for her. But not love her. He didn't do love. Didn't want it. Hell, he didn't deserve it. Guys like him didn't get to be loved.
"Hey. It's my two favorite men," Lydia said, hugging Steven tight. "You two doing good?"
"Of course we are," Holt said.
Steven hugged her and squeezed tight, breathing her scent in. She was the only woman who held his heart. His baby sister. And, damn it all to hell, she was all grown up now. She needed to knock that shit off. Her secret almost made him throw her over his shoulder and run for the door so he could keep her safe forever and ever, just like he had when they were kids. That was Holt's job now, though. "How are you, Lyd?"
"Great." She beamed at Holt and moved out of his arms. It was a hell of a lot harder to let go of her than it should have been. As soon as he did, she went over to Holt, sliding into his arms naturally. "You're looking quite handsome in your navy blue suit. And bow tie."
"Bow ties are cool," Holt said, quoting Doctor Who.
Lydia and Steven laughed.
Lauren looked lost. She didn't watch Doctor Who like the rest of them.
It was her only fault.
He winked at her. "Lauren picked it out to match her dress, after calling me color-blind."
"He planned on wearing black," she said, exasperation in her tone. "The man might be able to charge into an armored building full of insurgents without a weapon, and come out alive, but he can't match colors to save his life."
She rested her hand on his shoulder, like she had a million times before.
This time, though, her touch burned through his suit jacket, and it unsettled him in ways it never had before, which didn't make sense. But, damn, she looked good tonight. And he needed to cut back on the drinking. The desire he felt for her was unexplainable. It had to be the booze fucking with his head.
He turned to her, laughing despite the unwanted desire rushing south at the speed of light. "It's not my fault. Navy blue and black have always, and will always, look the same to me. I look at you and I see ... black. Nothing but black."
"Look again," she said, raising a brow.
Always one to follow her wishes, he glanced up and down her trim length. It was as flawless as always. Generously sized, perky tits — which he knew for a fact were 32D, because he'd gone to the mall with her once, and she'd made him go into Victoria's Secret with her, which had been pure hell — thin waist, generously curved hips that never failed to draw his eye, and a fine ass that had driven many men crazy.
But not him. Never him.
And if he said it enough times ... maybe he'd believe it.
He'd always admired her. Her smart brain. Her sharp wit. The way she laughed, all full and rich, and how much she cared for everyone around her. And when she smiled at something sweet, it stole the air straight outta people's chests — particularly his.
And there was her body, which was, hands down, one of the finest damn bodies he had ever seen. He might only be her friend, but he wasn't blind or stupid. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. The real kick in the ass was she was just as gorgeous inside as she was out.
But tonight, the outside was a hell of a lot prettier.
She stood there, smiling at him, asking him to look at her, and it did things to him. Things that had nothing to do with friendship, and everything to do with getting her out of that tight black dress ASAP, and into his arms. "Trust me, cupcake. I'm looking."
"Yeah." Her cheeks flushed pink, and she cleared her throat. "I see that."
"Well. This just got really awkward, really fast." Holt slid off the stool, winking at Lydia. "Want to dance with me, Lyd? Cooper's giving us the death stare."
"God, yes," Lydia said, giving Steven the stink eye.
He watched them go, not sure what was awkward about the four of them chatting like every other night. "What the hell was that about?"
"No idea," Lauren said quickly, smoothing her dress over her tiny waist that he couldn't stop staring at. "Are we dancing, too?"
Steven's mouth watered, and he tugged on his bow tie, studying that spot where her waist flared out for her hips. He'd never been much of a hips guy, but something told him that his hand would fit perfectly right above there, right above her hot little ass — shit. There he went again. "Son of a bitch."
"It's just dancing." Lauren blinked and pursed her lips. He'd never noticed how delicious they were. All pink, and soft, and lush, and begging to be kissed. "Why are you looking at me like that? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." He stood and rolled his shoulders, shaking off his disturbing attraction to his best friend — Lauren, not Holt. He needed to knock this shit off. Cooper scowled at him and crooked his finger. He was the only Shillings guy not out there. Even Jake and Tara were with the team, laughing and looking as happy as pigs in shit. "Ready?"
She took a deep breath, curled her hands into fists, and nodded once. "Yeah. Sure."
Skimming his gaze down her slender form one last time, he held his arm out for her. She grabbed onto it with both hands, her body stiff against his. When she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, she quickly turned away, blushing again. He couldn't help but wonder if she felt the same odd attraction as he did tonight — and if the whiskey was messing with her head as much as it was his.
This newfound desire might throw him off, but one thing was unchangeable. No matter how much he wanted her, or how badly he ached to see how those bare hips felt in his hands, or how soft those pink lips of hers really were, he wouldn't find out. Women like Lauren deserved all the happiness in the world.
Love. A family. A dog. A cat. A house.
A white motherfucking picket fence.
All the things he could never give her — so he wouldn't even try.CHAPTER 2
The live orchestra played — she loved Mozart — and dancing couples swirled around them in fancy dresses and tuxedos, but all Lauren could see and hear was Steven Thomas. As he led her into the midst of the elegantly dancing crowd, his body hard and his arm even stiffer, she sensed an edginess in him that was stronger than ever before, and just as unattainable as he was.
He'd always been a restless man, moving quickly from one thing to another, never satisfied with life. She'd watched him go from woman to woman ever since he came back from his first tour in Iraq. Nothing was ever good enough, and she had yet to see him be happy with what he had. It was that same unquenchable drive that had sent him to the Navy, and right into a spot as a highly sought-after Navy SEAL.
Through it all, Lauren had been there.
Worrying. Waiting. Worrying. Watching. Worrying.
Yeah, worrying was mentioned three times. It should have been mentioned a thousand. Heck, a million. Through it all, no matter how far away he'd been, or what country he was in, she'd waited for him to call, write, or knock on her door.
So. Much. Waiting.
Excerpted from Say You're Mine by Diane Alberts, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2015 Diane Alberts. 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 book sucks dont buy it!!
Enjoy the ups and downs thats what makes it so real
A fun read! Friends-to-lovers--and a great example of it. Steven and Lauren have been friends literally forever (he let her borrow his only pencil in elementary school so she wouldn't get yelled at. Again) and though Lauren's secretly had a "thing" for him, Steven's managed to not think about his bestie "that way"...until he does. In a BIIIIG way. They spend a night together, and it's amazing, of course--except that Lauren got him there in the first place by telling a teensy white lie. No big deal, right? Wrong--lies are Steven's trigger. After losing his entire team because of his superior officer's lie, he cannot forgive lies or the people who tell them. But that's okay--he'll never need to know about it. Right? Yeah, you know how that's going to go. The way the lie was revealed was a tad bit forced, but honestly, that's the only blip in a really satisfying story. Lauren and Steven are a great couple who truly manage to bring out the best in each other. She's able to get him to talk about what happened overseas, something he hasn't been able to do since he got back. And she makes him feel like himself again for the first time in...well, a long time. Their HEA is sweet and definitely well deserved. A great addition to the Shillings Agency series, Say You're Mine would work fine as a standalone as well. Rating: 4 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is book # 5 in the Shillings Agency series. This book can easily be read as a standalone novel. It is however, pretty nice when you can connect the characters of this book to their story too. Steven and Lauren have been best friends for a long time. Lauren has been in love with him probably just as long. Steven always goes from one woman to the next. Until one night, Lauren kisses him. Everything changed when their lips met. Now, it is hard to be in the same room and not touch. But changing the best friend dynamic is not so easy to do. They both have a lot to lose if they cannot work it out. I loved this story! These characters base their relationship on honesty. They respect each other and want a future together. I found it refreshing and the sexy times are hot! ***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley.com and its publisher in exchange for an honest review only.
Diane Alberts delivers a hot, swoon-worthy friends-to-lovers romance. We’ve got Steven, our broody broken ex-SEAL who loses himself in booze and one-timers to numb the pain of his past. He doesn’t believe himself good enough for a solid relationship with a decent woman. And then there’s Lauren, our stubborn, plucky heroine who’s Steven’s best friend. Yet, she’s had the hots for Steven since, well, forever. Somehow they’ve been able to stay friends-only for years, a situation she plans to change and he doesn’t. One night after too much booze she tells Steven a tiny little white lie to enlist his help and, yep, they end up in bed. The lie is going to be a problem, of course. They swear it’ll be one time only, but these two can’t keep their hands off each other. The chemistry between these characters steams off the pages. I enjoyed our main characters -- Steven with his overbearing protective nature as he struggles with PTSD, and Lauren with her fear of abandonment after a rocky childhood which of course created trust issues. This is a sexy and fast read. Looking forward to the next in the series. A gifted copy was provided by Entangled via NetGalley in exhcange for an honest review.
What's girl to do when she finds herself friend-zoned by the one man she's wanted for most of her life? She takes matters into her own hands! Lauren Brixton has been in love with Steven Thomas for a long time but Steven does not see her as more than his dependable best friend, until the night things between them heat up and they blur the line between best friends and lovers, with a little help from Lauren. Navy SEAL Steven Thomas has always been able to count on his best friend Lauren to be there through everything. She's the one person who really knows him and the one relationship he has managed not to destroy, so he's determined to ignore the attraction between them in order to preserve their friendship. Until the night everything changes. But can their friendship survive this change? I love friends-to-lovers stories and SAY YOU'RE MINE was a very interesting and fast read that kept me hooked until the end. Ms. Alberts perfectly combines sexy and sweet in this story of friends-turned-lovers and what kept my attention was the emotional struggles the characters experienced as their relationship changed on them, especially Steven. Steven is plagued by demons from his last tour but with Lauren, everything is much easier to bear and how long can he hold her small deception against her, when she's everything that he needs? "Your laugh makes me think the future isn’t so bleak. It gives me hope for a better life. A better world. If you’re in it, it’s brighter." There is enough drama, sweet moments and sexy interludes to keep a reader entertained and if you enjoy friends-to-lovers stories, SAY YOU'RE MINE should make your reading list. 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.
Say You're Mine was a great look at best friends to lovers. Lauren and Steven know each other so well, but they can't seem to see the attraction that is right in front of both their noses. But a small lie could really throw a wrench into them finally finding each other. While I applaud Steven's hard stance on lies, for once I think the lie was almost justified and understandable. You won't hear me say that very often - and he overreacted quite a bit. But it was nice to see it addressed instead of just brushed under the rug as no big deal (which is a huge pet peeve of mine). Both characters were a lot of fun. Laruen is sweet and sassy, while Steven was super protective but was still a bit of a softy. I loved the way the were together - anything and everything they did just screamed I love you and I trust you. There really were the best of friends and perfect for each other. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Steven and Lauren have been friends since they were kids and the only relationship Steven hasn’t ruined. Steven is a former Navy Seal and still trying to deal with the horrible events that happened while he was fighting. One drunken night the two friends cross the line and when Steven wants something more, Lauren has other plans. This is a fast paced steamy read. The chemistry between Steven and Lauren is hot. Plenty of emotion and the characters are excellent. Great read!
Say You’re Mine rocks the classic falling in love with your best friend romance. Lauren has always watched Steven play the field, never settling down. How can she trust a drunken night of passion has changed his ways? Steven finally realized what has been missing. Its been standing right in front of him as his best friend Lauren. Now he just has to convince Lauren that its worth the risk. A sweet and sexy romance between friends, Say You’re Mine was a perfect contemporary military romance. Caught up in their story, I found myself emotionally connected to the characters. I received this ARC copy of Say You're Mine from Entangled Publishing, LLC - Entangled: Brazen in exchange for a honest review.
This one was not for me. It took too much time for me to get through due to the lack of connection with the characters as well as questionable timelines throughout the book. The premise was good - best friends finally getting together - normally the type of read that I salivate over. However the issues that caused the angst were just too immature for both their ages as well as their life experiences. He has issues with liars. Her one and only "lie" wasn't even technically a lie when it came out of her mouth until she thought about it. She has abandonment issues - which are understandable based on her childhood. Their argument actually had me rolling my eyes as it seemed more like one you'd see in YA books as opposed to characters in their 30's. There are a lot of people out there who will love this read, but I'm just not one of them. There was so much potential with their decades long friendship, his military background and her owning her own business that I was disappointed with the end result. I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This book contains two of my favorite tropes: wounded warrior and friends to lovers. I loved both Steven and Lauren. They've been friends since they were teens. Lauren feels more than friendship though, and Steven feels unworthy of love, especially after leaving the SEALs. The journey these two are on is emotional and made me tear up several times. I highly recommend this book! Other characters from this series are included but this book can be read on it's own without any confusion. An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Say You're Mine by Diane Alberts Book Five of the Shillings Agency series Publisher: Brazen Publication Date: December 7, 2015 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): She's a challenge he can't afford to lose... Navy SEAL Steven Thomas has only ever been able to count on three things: waking up in the morning, going to sleep sometime during the night, and Lauren Brixton. She's been his best friend since grade school, and what they have is the only relationship he's managed not to ruin. Until one drunken night puts that all in jeopardy. Lauren's watched Steven flit from one-night stand to one-night stand, seemingly not interested in something more. So when the long-ignored attraction between the two of them blows up in their faces, she does the only thing she can-she pretends she doesn't want him. But all's fair in love and war, and Steven's not about to lose the only person in his life who matters... What I Liked: This book was a really fast read! There wasn't much to it, in terms of action, but this book was character-driven. I loved seeing Lauren and Steven work through their changing relationship. I'm not used to stories that are SO character-driven, but I liked this change of pace! Steven and Lauren have been best friends since they were in elementary school. 20+ years later, Steven watches as Lauren goes from one awful boyfriend to another, and Lauren watches Steven drink himself to oblivion and go through women as often as he drinks. A Navy SEAL, Steven almost died in combat, and wants to wash away the disastrous mission that lost him his squad. Lauren has been in love with Steven, but she thinks Steven doesn't notice her. One night, things heat up and explode between them, leaving the next day awkward (as one would expect). But Steven isn't ready to go back to "normal" with Lauren - and Lauren isn't ready for Steven to break her heart. I adore best friend romances, in which a guy and girl have been friends for forever, and perhaps one of them is in love with the other, but the relationship is totally platonic because that one friend is in the friend-zone, and the other friend either a) feels attraction but doesn't say anything, or b) really just does NOT notice the other person (which is usually the clueless male). Steven is semi-clueless in this instance, because while he HAS fantasized about him and Lauren, he knows better than to act on it and ruin this friendship. Lauren, on the other hand, has feelings for Steven, and he's "ruined" men for her. She dates a**holes but all she wants is Steven (which is weird logic). Lauren is adorable! And such a nurturer. She's kind and smart and selfless, but she's also very playful and embraces her sexuality. Not to say that she is some brazen sex goddess BUT, she isn't afraid to ask for what she wants. Which is how she and Steven end up crossing the friend line. Steven (I hate that name, by the way) is the tortured hero. His team of Navy SEALs died while he was only injured in the shoulder. He constantly wants to wash away the pain by drinking heavily and having lots of sex. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
3.5 cupcake stars Lauren Brixton has been watching her BF, Steven, come and go during postings as a Navy SEAL. Friends since elementary school, she has secretly carried a torch for the winsome man, so his regular one-night stands suggest he wouldn’t be accepting of anything more. Steven Thomas finds himself at the Shillings Agency, following a nightmare departure from the Navy. He doesn’t feel he succeeds at much so far, and when his drunken best friend suggests their burning attraction should be physically explored, he is alerted to the fact it could be a failure too. Steven is Lydia’s big brother, and Holt’s best friend, who featured in the last instalment; Taking What’s His. I thoroughly enjoyed their story, so it was great to catch up with them alongside Steven and Lauren. This series has been an easy read for me, without too much drama or complications. The characters are likeable, albeit a little samey, and this offering doesn’t provide anything different. These stories certainly have their place, so if you’re looking for a swift, raunchy, friends to lovers theme, this series would fit the bill. ARC gratefully received from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review
“I don’t have a clue what the hell I’m doing, or how this ends, but I’m gonna fight for this–whatever the hell it is, or whatever it could be–because with you, I’m me. The real me. But first, I’m going to become a man that is worthy of you, and then I’m never gonna let you go.” Such a great friends to lovers romance! Say You’re Mine is the 5th book in the Shillings Agency series, but can totally be read as a stand-alone. So, once again, I’m reading this series out of order and am totally kicking myself for not reading this series sooner!!! Say You’re Mine is well written and intrigued me from the very first page. I am a sucker for a good friends to lovers romance and I gotta tell you, this one does not disappoint. I don’t know how these two avoided their chemistry for so long because I gotta tell you, their chemistry; it was SCORCHING! I mean HOT. Steven and Lauren burned up the pages together. I loved the deep and intense friendship that they shared. They had incredible push and pull and I could not wait to see these two stop fighting what they wanted. Steven was intense, domineering and possessive. Lauren is the only person he’s ever been able to be himself around. She brought him back to life when he thought all was lost. So, he’s trying to be very careful to not blur the lines with her. And Lauren, she’s always had a thing for Steven, but just assumed that they were destined to only be friends. But, when an opportunity presents itself, Lauren can’t help but take the risk and try to take Steven for hers…. What can I say about Say You’re Mine? Well, Say You’re Mine was a quick and easy read for me. I devoured Steven and Lauren’s story. I could not get enough of these two. I loved that their story was told from dual points of view, so you really got to understand where both of the characters were coming from. Lauren and Steven’s story gave me everything that I was looking for and so much more. I loved the angst and the romance. God, the angst really tugged at my heart and made me so excited to see how things would play out. And the romance! Steven made my heart swoon! With lines like these: “Let me be yours, and say you’re mine.” and “Your laugh makes me think the future isn’t so bleak. It gives me hope for a better life. A better world. If you’re in it, it’s brighter. There’s just no escaping it.” and “For you? I’ll promise it all.”: it was impossible to not fall in love with him, no matter how much he frustrated me!!” I really enjoyed Say You’re Mine. I can’t wait to go back and discover the rest of the books in this series! *I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*
Steven had the key to his own happiness all along. He just had to unlock the door and let love in. Say You're Mine by Diane Alberts is a friends to lovers story. I have read many of those over the years but that does not take away any of the charm of this one. I received an ARC of this read in exchange for an honest review. First, let me say I am in love with each and every character that Ms. Alberts has allowed me to meet through her Shillings Agency series. Men with attitude find a new start after career ending traumas force them to make changes. Not only does she tackle the struggles that men who have faced war deal with returning to civilian life but she puts a microscope on how relationships with family and friends are affected. Say You're Mine is Lauren and Steven's story. Lauren's friendship with Steven has always been the most central part of her universe. Steven is forced to leave behind a career he loves due to events that were beyond his control. Never the less he blames himself. How would I describe Say You're Mine? When the chips are down, friends always have your back. Wonderful.
An excellent friends to lovers story! Lauren and Steven are both afraid of losing the best friendship they each have in their lives so pursuing more between them is a no go! That is until one drunken night changes everything. These characters definitely have chemistry and Steven's delicious dirty talk is enough to send anyone over the edge but Lauren does put up a good fight. Not too much angst in this one. The biggest factor between them is getting past the fear. Nothing too deep to the story making it a great light read. I definitely recommend this one.
This is the fifth story in the Shillings Agency series and contains the fairly predictable trope of friends to lovers. In this case, Lauren and Steven have been friends since they were kids, and while at one point Lauren had a crush on Steven when they were teens, it never went anywhere. When Steven went off to war, he came back with a strong case of PTSD after the death of several of his comrades. Lauren's been his one constant. But he's starting to realize that the feelings he's having for her aren't so cut and dried anymore, and she's realizing the same. If they take that next step, will it mean the end of their friendship or the start of something even better? While the events that happen in this story follow a predictable pattern - friends to lovers, wounded warrior who doesn't believe he's good enough for the girl, a night that changes things and could mean the end of their friendship, a secret that when it comes out might be unforgiveable - it was told in such an enjoyable and entertaining way that it's become my favourite of the Shillings Agency books. I totally bought into their friendship starting out platonic, but finally changing into something sizzlingly hot. The attraction between them causes all sorts of issues of course, mostly worry on both their ends that sleeping together is going to ruin their friendship. But the sex between them is really hot, and it's no wonder they can't keep their hands off each other, despite their vow of 'one night only'! I really liked both of the characters, Steven with his protective instincts and struggles with his PTSD, and Lauren with her fear of abandonment after a rocky childhood that has resulted in her difficulties trusting others. We get some great scenes with Steven's sister Lydia and his co-worker Holt (the couple in book four of the Shilling's Agency series, Taking What's His) and some hints of what could be to come. It was a fun, super sexy read. 5 stars.
Say You're Mine is an irresistible friends to lovers story. Steven and Lauren have been friends since grade school. They were the one constant in each other's lives that they knew they could always count on. They loved each other but didn't want to ruin their friendship by pushing for more. So they both moved from one lover to the next knowing no one could ever measure up to who they secretly wanted. One drunken night they finally follow through on their long attraction and of course their connection and chemistry is explosive. Will they be able to stay friends or will the fear of losing what they had kill any chance at a future together? They are complete opposites with Steven being heroic, brave and kind while Lauren is smart, witty and caring. Their banter is clever, and they challenge each other in not only their traditional game of Truth or Dare but in life as well. I love how they fight for each other and are not angsty. I really like them together and think they make the ideal couple. This story is the perfect blend of humor, emotion, steamy sex and fascinating characters. This is the fifth book in the Shillings Agency series and even though I haven't read them I didn't feel lost. I loved this book and will definitely go back and check out the rest of the series!
Diane Alberts is easily one of my favorite Brazen authors. I always fall for her heroes and love her heroines. Her Shillings Agency series is fantastic and I'm happy to see it continue with Say You're Mine. I don't like to play favorites, but if I did, this would totally be my favorite in the series so far. It was hot, sweet and even had quite a bit of feels. I loved everything about this book. The friends to lovers trope is one of my favorites and I love what Diane did here with Steven and Lauren. Their story was of the unputdownable variety. Best friends who had never explored any chemistry or non-platonic feelings they had for the other, it just took one night to change all that. There was the excitement of potentially falling for their best friend as well as the fear of losing them if things began to go south. I felt every feel and loved every minute. It could probably go without saying that Diane writes amazing heroes. They're all alpha on the outside, but sweet and even a bit vulnerable underneath. They love their women and they'd do anything for them. What more can a woman ask for? You know I love a good dirty talker and *fans self* Steven definitely fit the bill. Wowza. I melted right along with Lauren when he got started. And Lauren? I freaking loved her. She was strong and honest and real. She was unafraid to call Steven on his crap when he needed it and she was the furthest thing from a fragile flower in need of a man to fix/protect/save her. Women like this are my favorite type of heroine. If you like your romance sexy with a side of feels, look no further. Say You're Mine should be on your TBR. I hope this isn't the end of the Shillings Agency series. But even if it is, I'll be looking forward to seeing what Diane gives us next. And I'll probably be rereading this one sometime in the near future, too. It was just that good. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.