When Cynthia Donnelly lays eyes on her high school crush at her brother’s wedding rehearsal, she regrets her self-imposed, one-year moratorium on dating. If possible, he’s even hotter now than when they were teens. But sex isn’t the same as dating, right?
Back in school, Shane Conlon made a point to ignore his best friend’s cute, sassy little sister. Now that she’s grown into an incredibly sexy woman full of Irish spunk, resisting her is out of the question. Besides, in his book, all “hands-off” rules have expired.
One night should have been enough to sate their desires, but now they’re both rethinking everything. And when Cyn’s ex shows up, it’s up to Shane to pick up the pieces.
Contains the following possible trigger: physical assault (not for titillation).
Each book in The Donnellys series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Unworthy Heart
Book #2: Defensive Heart
Book #3: Shattered Heart
About the Author
Dorothy F. Shaw lives in Arizona where the weather is hot and the sunsets are always beautiful. She spends her days in the corporate world and her nights with her Mac on her lap.
Between her ever-open heart, her bright red hair and her many colorful tattoos, she truly lives and loves in Technicolor!
Read an Excerpt
"Oh my God, Maiya! You look fucking incredible!" Cyn Donnelly scrambled to her feet and ran to her future sister-in-law's side. She smiled, in awe of how beautiful her brother's future bride looked in her gown. "I thought it was gorgeous when you settled on it a few months ago, but now that it's been fitted? Yeah ... in-fucking-credible."
"I can't even ..." Maiya cupped her hands over her mouth, tears breaching the edges of her eyes, and gazed at Cyn in the large mirror in the bridal shop. She swished the tulle skirt from side to side. "I can't believe it's me."
"Cynthia, please ... language." Cyn's mother, Roseanne, frowned at her as she came to Maiya's side too. "Maiya, you look perfect." She stroked her hand down the back of Maiya's hair. "An absolute angel, honey."
Maiya stroked her fingertips over the strapless sweetheart neckline of the gown and then smoothed her palms down the beaded and sequined bodice. Cyn rolled her eyes at her mother, then took Maiya's hand in hers and nodded. "Mom's right, you're an angel."
"A tattooed angel, maybe?" Maiya giggled.
"Those are the best kind, especially in a mermaid gown that shows off all your amazing curves. Ryan is gonna pass the hell out when he sees you coming down the aisle." Cyn squeezed her hand.
"Do you really think he'l —"
"Crap! I'm late! Where is she?" All three women turned around to see Jodi, Maiya's best friend, come barreling around a rack of wedding gowns, blonde curls billowing behind her before skidding to a halt. "Oh, sweet Jesus and the blessed Virgin ..." Jodi pressed her hand to her chest. "Maiya, you're an angel."
"That's exactly what we said too!" Cyn laughed.
Jodi stepped in front of Maiya. "I don't doubt it, Cyn. It's like she fell from heaven or something. Turn around, Maiya. Let me see the back."
"Oh my God, stop!" Maiya pressed her hands to her cheeks. "You guys are totally embarrassing me now." With a laugh, Maiya rolled her eyes and turned around, facing the mirror again.
"I'm going to have them bring out your veil too." Mom stepped away.
Settling in the seats behind them, Cyn watched as Jodi doted on Maiya, a giggle or two bubbling up in all the excitement. Ryan and Maiya's wedding was this coming weekend and Cyn couldn't be happier for them. A little over a year ago, her brother had met a woman who made everything in his life make sense, and in the process, his precious son, Jacob, would finally have the mother he so deserved.
For lack of a better word, it was a fairy tale. And although Cyn knew life wasn't really like that, Ryan and Maiya came pretty damn close. Sure, they argued. Sure they got on each other's nerves — after all, they were as opposite as two people could get. But in the end they connected and, in Cyn's book, that equaled happy. She sighed and rested her chin on her fist. If only she could be so lucky.
Her mother returned and placed Maiya's veil on the back of her long, thick red hair. The tulle hung to her lower back, turning an already perfect dress into an absolutely perfect ensemble. Maiya beamed, staring at herself in the mirror, and then her tears made another appearance. Jodi hugged her best friend and Mom held Maiya's hand.
Yup, happy was exactly what this was.
Cyn's phone chirped from her purse, the text tone letting her know exactly who it was before even having to check the screen.
Carlos: Not gonna make dinner.
Cyn: Are you serious? Carlos, this is really important to me. Why can't you be here?
Carlos: Something came up at the office. Sorry. Will text later if anything changes.
She didn't bother replying. Her boyfriend was blowing her off ... yet again, and even if he really did have a valid reason, it didn't matter because there was always some excuse, some reason why he couldn't do whatever he might've committed to doing with her. Guaranteed, he wouldn't text her later either, even if something changed.
Closing her eyes, Cyn swallowed down the golf-ball-sized lump of disappointment in her throat. She and Carlos had dinner plans with her other brother, Jimmy, and his girlfriend, Sonja. The couple had arrived last night from New York with Sonja's daughter, Casey. Ryan and Maiya were coming too. It was supposed to be the six of them, but now, because Carlos was a grade-A flake, Cyn would be the fifth wheel at the table with four other happy people. Damn him.
For the life of her, she couldn't understand why she put up with his shit. Yeah, the sex was decent, but that was beside the point. It wasn't about the sex for her. Worse, for the last few months, the only time the man showed up for her was when his dick was hard, but even that had tapered off. At least before, she could tell herself it was worth it. But now? Cyn took a moment and thought back to the last time they'd actually had sex ... two weeks ago? Wow.
"Cyn, you've got that look on your face again. And your phone's in your hand. Not a good sign."
She looked up from the screen at Maiya and sighed. "Yeah, I know."
Maiya put her hands on her hips. "He's not coming, is he?"
"No." Cyn slid her phone back into her purse and stood. "But it doesn't matter because today is your day, and we are not talking about my drama." She kissed Maiya's cheek.
"Roseanne? Can you please order your daughter to dump this dude? Please?" Maiya pulled her veil off and handed it to Jodi.
"Sweetheart, I wish I could. You know as well as I do, my kids do what they do, and I let them because if I didn't they'd never find their way. Cyn knows I don't particularly care for Carlos, and she also knows no one else does either. But she's going to have to learn in her own time."
"That's what I always say, Roseanne. We're raising adults, not babies. Best they learn their lessons in their time." Jodi raised a hand in the air. "Not that y'all need me to put my two cents in. You've raised ten but I'm just saying, it's nice to know I'm going about it the right way."
Agitation prickled the skin on the back of Cyn's neck. Learn in my own time, whatever. She crossed her arms and cocked one hip to the side. "Excuse me, but I'm standing right here."
"And?" Maiya laughed. "Whatever. Not like it's a secret how we all feel. Carlos is an asshole — sorry, Roseanne, for cursing — and you deserve better, Cyn. Now help me out of my dream dress and let's go get our nails done." Maiya turned and headed for the dressing room.
Cyn glanced at her mother, who was wearing a smile wider than the Grand Canyon. Jodi was too. Awesome. With an exasperated sigh, Cyn followed after Maiya. "Fine."
Yeah, Carlos was an asshole, she knew it. But Cyn still loved him. Eventually, when it got painful enough, she'd let go and walk away. She just wasn't there yet.
Shane Conlon parked his rented SUV in the driveway of his oldest friend's house. It felt like forever since he'd seen Joey Donnelly, and really, it had been. Serving his country, combined with never coming home to visit even years after tended to have that affect on his most-cherished relationships. Shane grabbed his large duffel bag from the trunk and approached the front door.
Before he'd made it up the first step, the door flung wide open and Joey walked out onto the stoop. "Holy shit, look at those gray hairs. You're getting old."
With a laugh, Shane approached him. "Backatcha, bitch."
Joey clasped Shane's outstretched hand and pulled him into an embrace. Goddamn, it was good to be home.
His best friend pulled away and clapped Shane on the shoulder. "So fucking glad you're here. You've been away for too long, Shane."
"Tell me about it." Shane ran his hand over his close-cropped hair and blew out a breath.
"Come on, I got some people I want you to meet." Joey grabbed Shane's bag and ushered him into the house.
He followed Joey through a quaint living room and beyond, into the kitchen. A very pretty woman with long, curly, almost black, hair, sat at the kitchen table feeding an equally pretty child who was in a high chair.
"Stephanie, this is Shane." Joey smiled.
She wiped her hands on a towel and stood. "My God, this is the infamous Shane Conlon? I'm so happy to finally meet you!" She approached him, and with no hesitation, pulled him into an embrace. "Welcome to our home."
Shane wrapped his arms around her and knew, without a doubt, why Joey had fallen head over heels in love with the woman. "I don't know about the infamous part. I will say, finally meeting the woman who tamed Joey is definitely a pleasure." He pulled away and smiled at her. Her brown eyes sparkled with amusement, and he couldn't help but wholeheartedly adore her in the span of a nanosecond.
"And this little dolly is the boss of the house. Madison, meet Uncle Shane," Joey said.
The small child in his best friend's arms had the same curly, dark hair as her mother and a face just as pretty. "Wow!" Shane ran his hand over the back of his neck. "Wow, Joe, she's beautiful. Of course, because she takes after her mother." He winked at Stephanie as he stepped over to Joey and the baby. "How old is she?"
"She's just coming up on ten months. Not walking yet, but crawling everywhere." Joey kissed his daughter's cheek. "Isn't that right, Madi?"
The baby babbled some sort of baby speak Shane wasn't able to understand but found cute as hell as she patted her daddy's face with her little hands. Shane ran his fingertips over her tiny arm, in utter amazement that Joey was a father. And a husband. A beat of regret rolled through him. He'd missed so much being away. Saying he was glad at the opportunity to come home and really spend some time was an understatement. "She's beautiful. Just ... beautiful, Joey. I couldn't be happier for you."
"Can I get you something to drink? Eat?" Stephanie touched his arm.
"I grabbed a quick bite on my way from the airport, but coffee'd be great if you have it."
Stephanie laughed. "If we have it? Coffee's the main staple in this house. There's always a pot made, and if there isn't then someone's in trouble." She moved to the cabinets and pulled down a mug. "Cream and sugar?"
"Got it. Just black, please, ma'am."
"Hard core." She nodded.
"It's the Marine in him." Joey placed Madison back in her high chair and filled the tiny spoon with whatever yellow mush the child had been eating when they'd walked in. "Have a seat, man. Tell me what's new." He fed the baby a mouthful.
Shane took the seat on the opposite end of the table from his friend, still amazed at the scene before him. "Well, since I got back from Afghanistan, I took advantage of my construction experience. Finally obtained my contractor's license and have mostly been doing remodels and home additions." Stephanie set a cup of coffee in front of him, and then took a seat. He smiled at her. "Thanks."
"All those years serving paid off. So you're doing well? Making a good living, I take it?"
"Damn good, I'd say. The best part is being back in the States. I tell ya, we really don't know how good we have it until we spend some time in a country where people aren't free."
"I can't even imagine." Stephanie shook her head and then sipped her coffee. "Thank you for your service, Shane. I'm honored to have you in our home."
"The honor is all mine, ma'am. But you're welcome." He nodded.
"Okay, enough with the ma'am. You're making me feel old." She laughed.
"Sorry, some habits don't go away. You may have to adjust." He winked.
"Hey, I echo Steph's sentiments. Even if you do have a few gray hairs." Joey chuckled. "Make yourself at home."
"Thanks, man. It feels great to be here." Madison let out a squeal and blew some raspberries, spitting baby food all over Joey. Shane burst out laughing.
"Madi! Oh, baby doll." Joey looked at the splatter on his shirt. "Guess this just made the laundry pile." Madison giggled before blowing another round of rasperries, and Shane laughed harder. "Daddy's gonna get you for this. You just wait." Joey stuck out his tongue at her and the baby giggled again.
"Welcome to my world." Stephanie tossed Joey a towel as she laughed. "I'm thinking she's done eating." Stephanie stood, wet a washcloth and wiped the baby's face and hands. "Go change, Joe, and maybe you boys can go sit out back. I need to get her in the bath."
After pulling his wife down for a kiss, Joey got to his feet. "Grab your coffee, Shane. Head out through the slider. I'll be out in a second. I want to hear all about life in Texas."
"You got it." Shane stood and headed through the sliding glass door off the kitchen area while Joey went to change his shirt. There wasn't much to tell really, but he'd give Joey as much as he could. Shane was more curious about what'd been going on in his best friend's neck of the woods. He'd missed so much, and considering he'd finally made it home to help his mother with some upgrades on her house, Shane wanted to know all about what the Donnelly family had been up to while he'd been away. God, everyone had grown up and, being Joey's best friend, Shane had spent the majority of his elementary, middle and high school life at their home. Spending family time with the Donnellys felt more like coming home than when Shane visited his own mother.
Cyn dropped her keys onto the kitchen table and tossed her jacket over the back of one of the chairs. Dinner with her brothers and their significant others had been wonderful — of course after she'd given the typical excuses of why Carlos wasn't with her, she'd endured the pity in everyone's eyes because they knew, yet again, he'd let Cyn down. Regardless, she'd settled in with her family and had a nice meal.
Smothering a yawn with the back of her hand, Cyn made her way through the hallway to her bedroom, ready to strip down and let some hot water beat on her neck. She and Maiya had gotten really close over the last year, but Sonja, Jimmy's girlfriend, had been the real center of Cyn's attention. The woman was beautiful but had a layer of formal polish on her that had surprised Cyn. Sonja definitely wasn't the type of woman she ever thought Jimmy would end up with. But as the night wore on, Cyn watched how Jimmy and Sonja interacted — which was to say, they bickered, joked, poked, prodded and teased each other. So much so, that Cyn was in awe and had to shove aside an unwelcome spike of jealousy that kept poking her in the stomach.
She was happy for her brother — both of them — but hell if she didn't wish she'd found what they had.
With one last glance at her phone, Cyn stepped into the shower and washed the day away. She loved Carlos, and missed him all the time. Tilting her head back, the water ran over her hair. He just wasn't there for her. Like, ever.
He had been in the beginning when things were fresh and new. But shortly before celebrating one year together he'd become distant and then, eventually, emotionally absent.
Heaviness settled in her chest as Cyn wrapped her hair in a towel and pulled on her robe. No matter how hard she tried, she ended up in this same place with all her relationships. Alone and lonely — while her heart remained committed to a guy who never truly committed to her.
With Carlos, she'd begged, cried, yelled, talked, demanded and then yelled some more. And it'd gotten her nowhere except alone. Every so often he'd cast bait, usually right when she was about to leave his ass, and Cyn would latch on, hook line and sinker. For a year out of their two years together, she'd been playing this cat and mouse game with him, and the lack of real connection in the relationship had worn out its welcome for sure.
Cyn shed the robe and pulled on a pair of yoga pants and a tank top. There was a quart of ice cream in the freezer with her name on it, and some work she needed to catch up on. Just as she settled on the couch, Ben & Jerry's "Boom Chocolatta" in one hand, client schedule in the other, her cell rang.
Seeing it was Carlos, she set the schedule down, picked up her phone. "Hey there."
"What are you up to, baby?"
"Just on the couch. Wishing you were here."
"How was dinner?"
Cyn frowned. It always felt so deliberate when he ignored her little mentions of missing him or wanting to see him. But again, his work kept him pretty busy, so maybe he wasn't even aware he was doing it. She let out a sigh. "Dinner was nice. I wish you'd been there. I got to meet Sonja, Jimmy's girlfriend. I really think you'd like Jimmy. Celia is home too, but you've met her before. Anyway, how was your work thing? Get that all taken care of?"
"Yeah. Pretty much." The sound of him yawning came through the receiver. "What's her story?"
"She's a single mom. Criminal defense attorney in Manhattan, and from what I can tell, she's very refined."
Excerpted from "Shattered Heart"
Copyright © 2016 Dorothy F. Shaw.
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
I proclaim Shattered Heart my favorite book in The Donnellys series (so far, anyway). I absolutely LOVED this book. I have found both of the previous installments squirm inducing, but Shaw outdoes herself with Cyn & Shane because they are FREAKING HAWT!!! I-need-a-cold-shower-after-reading-that kind of hot. Even though there is plenty of sex in Shattered Heart, the author does not neglect the storyline at all – packing it full of romance, danger, trauma, healing, laughs, & the Donnelly family. If you read Unworthy Heart, you’ll be excited to know that Maiya & Ryan’s wedding plays a big part in this installment. A Donnelly wedding means that we get to meet all of the Donnelly siblings we haven’t met yet & this goes a long way in helping the reader understand Shane’s relationship with the Donnelly clan – beyond that of being Cyn’s childhood crush. Being best friends with the eldest Donnelly sibling & losing his father at a young age meant that Shane spent a lot of time with Donnelly clan out of friendship & seeking that feeling of family he was missing at home – & let me warn you, his mother is a real piece of work. Having watched the other Donnellys grow up, Shane sees them all as siblings…until he sees Cyn at Ryan’s wedding rehearsal & discovers she’s not a little girl anymore. But the bro code means he’s not going there, so he decides to enjoy the sights until Joey actually encourages him (while warning him) to see if there’s anything between them. Despite his best intentions, when the bachelor & bachelorette parties converge, so do Cyn & Ryan & as I mentioned earlier – freaking hot! Seriously, if there were ever a case for pregnancy-by-book, Shattered Heart would do it. After a bit of a hiccup, what starts as a one-night stand soon becomes a nightly occurrence while Shane is in town. As his time in L.A. nears an end, Shane starts questioning whether or not a long-distance relationship can work. But when Cyn is attacked, there’s no way he can leave, not when it’s clear she needs help that she’s refusing to get. And thus begins the biggest war Shane has ever waged, winning Cyn’s trust & heart. At this point, it’s abundantly clear that I loved the chemistry between Cyn & Shane. But I also liked how the author took a realistic, yet painful scenario & used it to show how harrowing the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be. Too often people dismiss the possibility of PTSD because the sufferer didn’t serve in the military, forgetting that traumatic events aren’t exclusive to warzones. What happened to Cyn was every woman’s nightmare & is, without a doubt, traumatic. Cyn’s belief that by getting professional help meant that her attacker won illustrated how pervasive the effects of trauma can be by showing how it skewed her reasoning. Shaw also did an excellent job in showing the downward spiral of Cyn’s behavior & how her anger grew over time as a result of feelings of helplessness & fear. It was quite impressive in my opinion. And Shane’s own military background was vital to him understanding what was going on with Cyn, exercising patience & not taking her verbal attacks personally. The man deserved a medal & while I hated that she forced him to leave, I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which Shaw resolved their standoff & the happy ending Shane & Cyn seem to be headed for. Shattered Heart was another excellent addition to The Donnellys series & I cannot wait to read the next installment in the series. **Free copy**
When Book 2 in this series was released I was beyond excited. I had been eagerly awaiting Jimmy’s story and if you read my review of that book, you know it far exceeded my expectations. I never imagined another book in the series could top it. I was so wrong. Shane and Cyn’s journey to each other is at times incredibly frustrating, sweetly touching, laugh out loud funny and burn up the sheets sexy. Cyn hooks up with her longtime crush/brother’s best friend when he is in town for the wedding of another of her brothers. Their chemistry is off the charts, which leads to Cyn completely disregarding her year long celibacy pact with her sister and inviting Shane into her bed. When her ex-boyfriend goes off the deep end and brutally attacks her, Cyn realizes she cannot trust her own instincts when it comes to choosing a good man. She repeatedly pushes Shane away until he is forced to protect his heart from the one person he wants to give it to. Cyn and Shane’s romance is heart-wrenching, super sexy and best of all, realistic. I love the scene in the strip club where the brothers basically give Shane permission to pursue their sister when Shane has no real clue yet that he even has any intention to do so. It’s representative of the true dynamics of a big, nosy family. Everyone is in everyone else’s business. It’s believable and it’s heart warming. It’s so easy to connect with these characters and truly care about them when they feel as though they could be part of your own family. I love how the Ms. Shaw presents all the Donnelly characters without making it confusing. They are a big family and it would be easy to lose track of who is who, but that is not the case here. They are all unique characters with their own stories to tell and hopefully we will be enjoying them for a long time to come.