Can two hearts come together in one divided town?
As a boy, Nash Hawthorne spent countless afternoons on the Louisiana side of Cottonbloom with Tally Fournette, wading in the river, peeling oranges and catching frogs. When illness stole his mother, Nash yearned to take Tally and run away—for good. Instead, he crossed the state line to live with his aunt. It was a short distance as the crow flies, but it swept him into a whole new world…
After Nash left, Tally managed to struggle through her own losses without him. But now that she’s crossed paths with him again—at Cottonbloom College, where the grown-up, gorgeous Nash teaches history—she is reminded of their cherished youthful connection…and an attraction that has only gotten stronger with age. Between Tally’s possessive ex and Nash’s snobbish aunt, no one thinks they belong together. In a town torn apart by old resentments and rivalries, can they find their way back to the life they once shared—and turn their long-lost dreams into a real and lasting love?
About the Author
An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.
She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.
Read an Excerpt
Then He Kissed Me
By Laura Trentham
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Laura Trentham
All rights reserved.
Nash Hawthorne ducked into the tall reeds by the water. The stream widened farther down and joined up with the Mighty Mississippi, but behind his house in Cottonbloom, Louisiana, it burbled along, shallow enough in most places to wade.
That's what he'd do. Wade all the way to the Mississippi and take to the river like Huck Finn. He checked his pocket for his inhaler. It was the only thing he really needed.
Everyone was up at his house. They tried to smile around him, tried to keep the whispers confined to corners, but he knew exactly what was happening. He was ten years old, not an idiot.
His mother was dying.
She'd spent the last three years dying. Almost as far back as his memories went. He had vague recollections of her swinging him in the air, her dark hair thick and lustrous, her cheeks round and full of color. Now her hair grew in sparse patches over her mostly bald scalp, and she looked like a character in her own black-and-white comic. Pale papery skin and dark shadows.
His father worked an oilrig out in the Gulf, and he'd heard his aunt Leora saying it would be touch and go whether he made it back in time.
Back in time. He wished he could turn everything backward like one of the characters in his comic books. Back to when his mother could get out of bed to make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Back to when his father smiled.
Or maybe he would shrink to the size of a ladybug and hide in the grass until it was all over. Sit on a blade of grass and watch the river flow by and the sun circle the earth. They'd just finished studying about planets in science, and he envied the stars up in the sky, cold and beautiful.
He toed off his sneakers and stepped into the cool water. Instead of heading toward the freedom of the Mississippi, he waded upstream and sent out telepathic messages for Tallulah. He knew that sort of thing was make-believe, like Santa and Superman, but he wanted to believe. Wanted to believe his mother would get better.
As he drew closer to the Fournette's house, a girl rose out of the reeds, a breeze tangling her long, dark hair around her shoulders. His heart swelled until it was painful. Maybe there was hope.
His tongue froze, and he didn't know what to say. She saved him by throwing her arms around him and giving him a hug. He dropped his forehead to her bony shoulder and took a deep breath. She smelled faintly of oranges.
She pulled away first and scrabbled back up the bank to sit cross-legged under the drooping limbs of a willow tree. He followed, sitting so they both looked out over the water.
"Mommy's dying. It might even happen today." The wobbly way he'd said "mommy" heated his face. He was too old to cry, especially in front of a girl.
"I know. I heard Daddy talking this morning when he didn't think I could hear."
"No one up at the house will say anything in front of me, but I can feel everyone waiting for it to happen."
"Where's your dad?"
"Still out on the rig. Bad weather is keeping him there." Nash stripped the leaves off a thin green branch, his gaze down. "They want me to go sit with her."
"Don't you want to?"
He would never admit his shame to anyone but Tally. "She's not my mother. Not anymore. I don't understand what she's saying. I think they've given her a bunch of drugs. And, she smells funny."
"How so?" As he expected, no judgment, only curiosity lilted her voice.
"Stale. Like I imagine death would smell." He risked a glance at her, but her attention was on poking at a piece of moss. "You know the comic where the police commissioner dies? And, he's all pale and stuff? That's her."
She abandoned her stick, pulled a cloth bag with her name embroidered on the front closer, and took out two oranges. She handed him one and dug her thumb into the peel of hers, a burst of orange scent surrounding them. He did the same, and they were quiet as the pile of discarded peel grew between them.
"Is your dad going to get a job on the mainland ... after?" She bit into a slice, squirting him with juice.
He wiped his cheek, dropped to his back, and stared into the newly sprouted leaves. The breeze rustled them and sunlight dappled the twirled ends. "I heard Aunt Leora say something about taking me to her house."
"But ... but that's in Mississippi? Miles away. What will we do?"
He was relieved to hear the panic and outrage he'd been unable to voice at the time, considering he was eavesdropping on an adult conversation. Somewhere along the way, his mother had taught him that was a no-no.
"We both have bikes. Maybe we could meet in town."
"But it won't be the same. Who's going to go fishing with me?"
Even though he was wondering the same sorts of things, he said, "At least you have two parents and your brothers."
She looked over her shoulder, first at him and then her house. "It's not the same. I don't belong in this family."
"What do you mean?"
"Mama and Daddy go together like a pair of gloves. Cade and Sawyer are whip-smart. And, I'm ... I'm just ... here."
This time the look she shot him was dire. "They're talking about holding me back. I would never be able to set foot in that school ever again."
He popped up on his elbows. "If they hold you back, let's run away together. We can head toward the Mississippi and find somewhere to live. You can fish for our food, and I can ... I don't know, find work somewhere." As the idea took root, a shot of excitement made his breathing ragged. He fumbled his inhaler out of his pocket and took a pump.
"Are you serious?"
"Sure, why not? Huck Finn did it."
"Yeah, about a hundred years ago. Don't be silly."
Her words smarted, but he pressed on. "Wouldn't living out there be better than me living with crazy Aunt Leora or you getting held back?"
Her mother's voice, singsongy and strong, called from up the hill where her house sat. "Tallulah! Come on up for ice cream before your brothers eat it all."
His breathing fractured again, but an inhaler wouldn't help. It was the kind of hurt medicine wouldn't fix.
She took his hand and squeezed. "We can decide whether or not to run away together later, right?"
"Sure," he said vaguely and turned his face away so she wouldn't see the sting of tears in his eyes. Why would she leave her family? Two brothers who teased her, a mother and father who exasperated her, but even so, warmth and love seemed to pour out of her whenever she talked about them. He wished he could collect the feelings to study alone in his room.
She stood and brushed the dirt off the back of her shorts. He pushed up too, awkwardly stomping his feet, suddenly aware his T-shirt had a strain from his morning chocolate milk along the bottom. He hoped she didn't notice.
He turned back toward the river, but she grabbed his hand, hers slightly sticky from the orange. "Will you come back later ... afterward?"
"If I can get away from everyone."
Going downstream should have been easier, but his feet felt heavy, numbed by the cool water. He climbed up the bank to find his aunt Leora standing in the middle of the backyard, scanning the river. When she saw him, she gave a little sob and ran forward.
He stood still, but she was there too quickly. Her words buzzed around him like gnats. His mother had died sometime while he was eating oranges and talking about running away. No tears came. His aunt guided him toward the house even as every part of him longed to throw himself back into the river and run toward Tallulah's house where he could pretend nothing had changed.
The rest of the day was a blur of neighbors hugging him and dropping off food. The mingling food smells upset his stomach to the point he couldn't eat any of it. His father arrived sometime during the night, the commotion waking him. His mother had been taken away in a shiny, black hearse, and his aunt had already washed the sheets and disinfected the room as if what his mom had was contagious.
The funeral was somber and long, drawing a large crowd. He sat on the red cushioned church pew and picked at his fingernails until they bled. The organist played "Amazing Grace," the music vibrating through his chest.
The next days passed in a haze, and he was kept home from school, even though he'd rather be learning about Galileo than staring at their fruit bowl–covered kitchen wallpaper.
Whispers between his aunt and his father drifted out of the kitchen.
" ... tragic. And, leaving those three children parentless and on their own. That uncle of theirs is a ne'er-do-well. Can't ask him to take three children on."
Since they weren't talking about him, he felt safe enough to step through the doorway. "Who are you talking about?"
His father glanced up from his coffee and the newspaper, his eyes bloodshot and two days growth of beard on his face. "The Fournettes up the river. Parents were killed by a drunk driver last night."
His father flipped the page, and his aunt took a carton of eggs out of the frig. Nash backed out of the room, pulling his inhaler out and taking a puff, his heart pounding like a kick-drum. He ran outside and grabbed his bike, peddling like mad.
Like his house of a week ago, cars lined the front and somber women with casserole dishes drifted inside. As if they had some psychic connection, Tallulah poked her head out of a second-story window. She disappeared, and he waited, wondering what he should say.
She ran out the front door toward him, her eyes red and swollen, her hair a tangled mass around her head. "They're gone." She sounded shocked and hurt.
"I know. I'm so sorry."
Someone from the house called her name, but she didn't look over her shoulder. "I have to go. Will you come back?"
He swallowed, the words getting stuck like taffy in his throat. "Daddy's going back to the rig. I'm moving across the river to Aunt Leora's."
"Soon, I think." Desperation drove his question. "Will you run away with me?"
"Nash ..." She shook her head.
Somehow, she seemed older and infinitely wiser than him even though only a few days had passed since she'd held his hand with her orange-scented sticky one.
"I can't. My brothers need me."
I need you too, he wanted to say. "Of course. I'm being dumb." He started to roll his bike backward, still straddling it, his feet on the ground.
"I'll see you in school though, right?" she asked.
"Aunt Leora is moving me to the elementary school on that side. She said it's because the schools here stink. She thinks I'm gifted or something." Even as young as he was, he understood the river marked more than a physical separation between Louisiana and Mississippi. The social divide between well-to-do 'Sips and the blue-collar swamp rats was a festering gash that stemmed from a long-ago dispute.
"Oh, Nash." She stepped forward and hugged him, the handlebars of his bike between them. Her lips brushed his cheek, moving with her words. "I don't think I can do it without you."
Considering she was the strongest person he'd ever met, he knew she would be fine without him around. But he wasn't so sure how he was going to make it on the wrong side of the river without her. He tightened his hold, and she returned the ferocity of his hug. Someone called her name from the house again. This time she pulled away, her hair falling around her face, but not before he saw her tears. Helplessness overcame him.
His world was changing too fast. Last summer, he remembered running from the river holding a tadpole in water he'd cupped in his hands, but by the time he'd made it to the house, the water had leaked through his fingers and the tadpole had died. Everything and everyone he cared about was slipping through his hands like trying to hold water until he was left with nothing.CHAPTER 2
Eighteen years later ...
Tallulah Fournette sat at the bar of the Rivershack Tavern, debating whether to head home. Three episodes of The Bachelor waited on her DVR. Even under the threat of torture, she'd never admit to watching the show, but the desperation oozing from the contestants fascinated her.
Her phone beeped and she glanced at the incoming text, muttering a curse that would have her mother clutching her pearls in heaven. A small amount of fear shaded the edges of her frustration, and she flipped her phone facedown as if that could shut her ex-boyfriend up.
She nursed her beer, feeling a little in limbo, not wanting to stay, but not wanting to go home to an empty apartment either. Cade and Monroe were probably somewhere making googly eyes at each other, and Sawyer was so busy getting the newly named Fournette Brothers Designs set up and planning the Labor Day crayfish festival, he didn't have time to hang out with her.
She swiveled on the bar stool and exchanged smiles and waves with several men and women who were members of her gym. It was Friday night and all she had waiting for her at home was accounting work for the gym and episodes of The Bachelor. She might as well adopt a litter of cats.
The heavy wooden front door opened as she was turning back to the bar. From the corner of her eye, she saw a man enter. She glanced over her shoulder and whipped her head back around to stare down at the scarred bar top. It was Nash Hawthorne. Her heart skipped like a third-grader seeing her crush. Under the guise of taking a sip of her beer, she stole another glance.
She'd seen him at Cade's welcome home party a couple of weeks earlier, and the same shock and zing of awareness stripped away the restlessness that had plagued her all evening. She'd beat a hasty retreat from Cade's party, the reasons as murky as the river.
When he'd moved to Mississippi when they were young, it was like he'd hopped into a different river that had taken him in the opposite direction than her. While she'd barely squeaked through high school, he'd gotten a PhD and would be teaching history at Cottonbloom College come fall.
Unable to help herself, she looked his direction again. He still stood inside of the door. Calls from a pool table in the back went up, and he smiled and waved. Not only was she surprised to see him at the Tavern at all, apparently he'd become a regular. Tonight he fit right in with his olive green cargo pants and black T-shirt.
If she'd known professors like Nash existed, she might have attempted college after all. He had an old-school Indiana Jones vibe. Although scholarly with his black-rimmed glasses and perpetually rumpled brown hair, danger permeated the air around him nonetheless, like he would risk his life to save some ancient scroll or might rappel into a tomb seeking the Holy Grail.
It didn't hurt that the man was jacked. Not in an artificial way like some of the men who lifted weights in her gym, but in the lean, defined way she much preferred. She had no idea what happened to the brilliant, skinny, short, acne-covered kid of her childhood. It's like he'd been in a cocoon and emerged as a brilliant, built, tall, handsome man. Nerdy Nash Hawthorne had turned into Cottonbloom's most eligible bachelor — and that included both sides of their peculiar little town.
His gaze swept the room. Maybe he had a hot date. She'd heard rumors the single-ladies Bible study at Cottonbloom Church of Christ had nearly come to blows trying to decide who was going to take him a "Welcome to Cottonbloom" basket.
She turned back to her beer before he could catch her staring and watched the foam bubbles pop around the edges. A warm body took the seat next to her, and she was enveloped in a wholly masculine scent that muted the halos of cigarette smoke around them. Seeing his big hands link together on the bar and the dark hair that peppered his forearm settled a weird knot of nerves in her stomach.
Nash had never made her nervous when they were kids. She'd trusted him above all others back then, even her brothers. But that had been a lifetime ago. In fact, those days seemed to belong to someone else. The days before her parents had died. Before things got hard.
Nash had been gone a long time, and once he'd moved to Mississippi after his mother had died, they'd barely seen each other. His aunt Leora had kept him close, claiming his asthma made it difficult for him to be outside. Although it hadn't seemed to bother him all the time they'd spent wading and exploring the river as kids. She fingered the end of her braid.
She screwed up her courage and turned to him. "Hey, I don't know if you remember me, but I'm —"
"Tallulah Fournette. How could I ever forget you?" He swiveled toward her. His carefree, charming smile struck her mute.
She had the tendency to hang out with rough-and-tumble men who'd followed the same path she had. Street smart and tough, the difficulties of life forcing them to be serious and defensive. Those were her people, the ones she felt comfortable around.
Nash's optimism and easygoing nature was in his smile and in the way he held himself. His body language was foreign, yet unusually appealing, and she found herself smiling back. "Everyone calls me Tally these days. Except for my brothers when they're trying to annoy me. I'm not sure what my parents were thinking saddling me with a name like Tallulah."
"Maybe they were thinking, here we have this unique baby girl who is going to do great things in the world, so we should give her a great, unique name." His voice had matured along with the rest of him. Deep and a little husky, it projected like a professor's should.
"Or maybe they were thinking, let's pick the most embarrassing name possible so our daughter learns to deal with bullying at a young age."
Excerpted from Then He Kissed Me by Laura Trentham. Copyright © 2016 Laura Trentham. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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 a great friends to lovers story! Small town nostalgia, a steamy romance, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters lend this story a heartwarming vibe.
Cottonbloom is a divided town, split in two by a river. One side is part of Louisiana and the other of Mississippi. There's quite a bit of animosity between the two and this has made life difficult for Nash and Tally. They used to be neighbors and were best friends. They spent all of their time together and Nash wanted nothing more than to run away with Tally. When his mother died he had to move in with his aunt at the upscale side of the river and he lost Tally's friendship. His aunt considered her a swamp rat and didn't think Tally was good enough for her nephew. Nash is back in Cottonbloom to teach at Cottonbloom College. Tally owns her own gym. The past has damaged them both. Tally went through something traumatic and had to do this without the support of his best friend. They've missed each other, but now that they're adults their lives are very different. Nash's aunt is still against Tally and Tally's ex boyfriend is making her life incredibly difficult. Will they be able to find a way back to each other and repair their once so precious friendship and is there a chance there can be more between them? Then He Kissed Me is a beautiful romantic story. Nash has a good heart. He's a kind and patient man with a lot of hidden depts. I was immediately fascinated by his multilayered personality. He's smart, strong and resilient. He can stand up for himself and will always defend the girl he loves. I liked the special friendship between Nash and Tally. They've loved each other for so long and it's clear from the start that they're soul mates. I couldn't wait to find out if they'd finally find happiness and read the book in one sitting because of it. Laura Trentham has an amazing heartwarming writing style. I love the setting she's chosen for her books. The two towns where love and friendship are often being influenced by rivalry between the different parts of the river are a great setting for plenty of intriguing stories. The inhabitants of both parts are equally fun to read about. I love how they all have their own story and how the river plays such a big part in them. Nash and Tally are very special and I hoped they wouldn't let the river separate them ever again. Their story kept me glued to my seat and the ending is fantastic. I really enjoyed reading this amazing romantic book.
Tallulah Fournette is the younger sister of those Fournette men. They live across the Mississippi River, on the Louisiana side of Cottonwood. Nash Hawthorne has been “Talley’s” best friend since they were children. Nash was always there for her until his mother died, daddy left and he had to move in with Aunt Leona on the Mississippi side of the river. Nash left for college but now he’s back and of course he’s out to find Talley. Did she change? Is she still his best friend or can their relationship be like his dreams? I’ve decided that I love to read books by Laura Trentham because of her endearing characters and sweet and sexy romantic plots. I started this book with anticipation after reading the first of the series, Kiss Me That Way. I was not disappointed. The dialogue is “real” and entertaining. I latched onto Tallulah and Nash and loved them from beginning to end. Yes, that’s what I like! Characters that I cheer for all the way to the end. Then He Kissed Me by Laura Trentham will be published June 28, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press. An egalley of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review
This is the second book in the Cottonbloom series but each can be read as a standalone. I had not read the first book in this series but I will now go back and read it as I want to know more about the eldest Fournette. Tally Fournette has not had an easy life since the death of her parents. Before that though her life lead a wealth of potential at the young age of ten with her best friend Nash. They both spent hot summer days down by the river thinking the heady days of summer would never end. But then Nash’s mother dies, quickly followed by Tally’s parents and therefore their happiness together ends. Nash was a nerdy little boy who grew up into a nerdy but gifted teenager. He has travelled the World and is now back in his hometown after two decades to be a professor at the local college. He sees Tally in a local bar and frequents it thereafter to try and get her attention and get to know his best friend again. Unbeknownst to Nash, Tally has definitely noticed Nash and can’t believe that this sexy stranger used to be her nerdy best friend from all those years ago. The pair finally strike up a conversation and this starts the unravelling of their past and a possible promise of the future. Firstly though Tally needs to take care of the problem of her stalker of an ex-boyfriend. Nash is not the person he used to be as a young child, the acne ridden teen who was bullied and ridiculed has overcome his past insecurities and is strong in his convictions of his self-worth. If only he can break through Tally’s insecurities and let her see she is worthy for her to take a chance at a different kind of love this time around with him. This was a really tender and sweet (and at times passionately hot!) romance that was easy to dive into and become invested in the storyline. Yes there was some frustration in how Tally kept falling back on her insecurities and it was one step forward and a three steps back kind of dance. I kept routing though for this pairing to take a chance and make a go of their love. There were some additional angst thrown in due to Tally’s ex, her trust issues and Nash’s snobby Aunt. I love how a story unravels to reveal actions from the past have influenced the present. The small town feel and town rivalries was very descriptive and atmospheric that I could almost feel I was there right in the thick of it. I adored Nash and how he wasn’t your typical alpha hero but he played it much more subtle and believable. When Tally reveals her deepest secret he just took it on the chin and was there for her to support and guide her even though he knew she needed to overcome that by herself. The chemistry was easy to feel and the slow gradual build up intermixed with some hot sexual tension kept me engaged and eager for these two to reach their HEA. This was a wonderful childhood friends to adult lovers storyline that was both heart-warming yet passionate, set in a small town surroundings that delivered an emotive and believable plot. I will definitely by reading the first book and eagerly await the third book. Highly recommend to other readers. Four and a half stars.
Then He Kissed Me is the story of best friends that become lovers. Nash and Tally grew up together and were best friends before Nash moved in with his Aunt. They are reunited when Nash returns to Cottonbloom to teach history at the local college. Tally has worked hard and now owns the local gym. Nash pursues Tally with more than friendship in mind, and he must work hard to convince her that they were meant to be together. Will they have a happy ending or just be friends? I really enjoyed this story and thought it was a wonderful follow-up to the first book. I liked the setting and found my self pulled into Nash and Tally's story. The dialogue was interesting, the chemistry outstanding and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
4.5 stars Then He Kissed Me was a heartwarming friends to lovers romantic read. I'm a huge fan of friends to lovers genre and Laura Trentham has written a beautiful, entertaining and heartfelt story in Then He Kissed Me. I loved Tally and Nash, they were both fun, sweet, honest and likable characters who shared a very special friendship growing up. They were inseparable, until tragedy strikes and see's them being torn apart just when they both needed each other the most. It warmed my heart watching Tally and Nash reconnect after so many years apart. From the moment they see each other again you could feel the attraction between them. I loved how the relationship grew and how they would encourage & support each other. They were able to help each other find peace from the past hurts and love each other unconditionally. I'm really enjoying the Cottonbloom Novels, each book can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend you read them all!! Looking forward to Regan and Sawyer's book next in Till I Kissed You
I have to say this is one on my new favorite series. I just love the people of Cottonbloom, all the people. The whole idea of this series is a wonderful one. Two states, one town. What's not to love? Then He Kissed Me is about Nash Hawthorne & Tally Fournette I really enjoyed both of them. This is a love story that started while they were children, even if they didn't really know it. Both of their childhoods are heartbreaking. You will feel yourself tearing up as you read about how it began for them. Nash and Tally truly are best friends. Now that Nash is back home, he a Tally pick up their friendship right were they left off. Of course this time they added something to their childhood relationship... Sex! Everything would have been going good if Tally didn't allow her insecurities to overshadow everything. She has a ton a childhood issues that she has never dealt with. I think we all can understand that. Of course like so many of us, she blew them up so much within her head and thought others judged her the same way she judged herself. You have to love a man who really fought hard for the woman he loved. Tally puts Nash through the ringer and he keeps coming back to her. Sigh!!! I think you'll really love these two and their relationship. This is a great series that I can't wait to read more of. You'll also get to visit with the residents of Cottonbloom.
I love friends to lovers romance and this one was a really sweet, comfy read. It had great chemistry, strong emotional connections and two really awesome MCs. It was equal parts funny, romantic and sexy. It had a little bit of everything that I love in a romance. The H in this story is Nash, a geeky nerd boy turned sexy professor and all around good guy. His h is his childhood friend, Tallulah aka Tally, a street smart wild child. On the outside these two have very little in common but their hearts align, they fit together. This isn't insta-love, although Nash does recognize Tally as his other half much sooner than Tally does herself. I loved the teasing and sharing of memories between them. It gave me that "other" I need to really root for a couple. This had it in spades! When 10 year old Nash looses his mom to cancer, his aunt whisks him away from the only home he has ever known and the only person he cares about, Tally. Across the river, Tally faces the lose of her best friend but also the sudden and unexpected lose of her parents in a car accident. As close as these two were growing up, they deal with their grief in vastly different ways. Nash retreats into his books and studies, Tally acts out and runs wild. When they finally meet up again after almost two decades apart, these two discover that time and distance kept them apart but didn't severe their bond. Like the river it was forged on, their connection still ran strong. Tally goes through a lot of emotional angst while dealing with her insecurities and self doubt and this does lead to some back and forth drama in the relationship but I liked her character. She was a tough girl with a soft vulnerable interior. As a girl who loves to read, and a proud book lover, it was heart breaking to get a glimpse of Tally's struggles with Dyslexia. Tally was definitely a soft spot for me. I liked that she was finally able to overcome her fears and trust issues with Nash, it made for a very sweet and uplifting romance. But Nash really stole the show for me. A hot guy who reads Harry Potter, loves books, drinks tea and has a charming off kilter accent from studying aboard??? Yeah, by description alone I was intrigued. But than he goes all sweet modern day knight in shining armor for his girl and I was hooked. I loved how affectionate and caring he was, how determined he was to show Tally that he loved her for who she was and not what she was and most of all I loved that he was patient with her. (Trust me, it was almost saintly!) My favorite scene with him has to be when he shares his love of books with Tally by reading to her. Not ashamed to say that had me going all gooey inside. It was a perfectly adorable moment between these two. This was a fun and laid back read with some angst, but nothing OTT. I loved both Nash and Tally and loved their sweet romance. This is the second in the series but can be read as a standalone. The writing was solid, the dialogue smooth and holy cow was it hot! I look forward to reading more from this author and the town of Cottonbloom :) *** ARC provided for an honest review ***
I adore geeky nerd heroes in my romances and this book has one of the best! Nash Hawthorne is back in Cottonbloom after spending time in Scotland on his studies. Now he's a professor at the local college. Nash and Tally Fournette were inseparable as kids until Nash's mother passes away. Then he's whisked away by his aunt to live on the Mississippi side of the river. While the miles are few, the differences in their lives were great. In the small divided town of Cottonbloom, which side of the river you live on means everything. Now that they are adults that doesn't seem to matter, to them anyway. The connection between them is still as strong as ever only now a real adult attraction is there too. Can they be together regardless of the past? I loved this story. These characters feel like they live next door. Real, vibrant, and intriguing. Definitely a book I recommend to everyone.
Nash Hawthorne met the girl of his dreams when he was just a young boy, and he always told himself that one day he would make her his wife, but life ended up getting in the way and took him across the state line and to a whole new living environment... one that Tally didn't belong in. Through the years they lost touch, Nash moved onto to college, dated some, but never really found someone who quite "fit" with him like Tally. He has often thought of her, wondered what she is like now, and if that spark would still be there if they saw one another again. And now he might just get the answer to his question... he knew moving home to take a teaching job might have them crossing paths again, question is when they do will they find their instant connection again? The minute Tally Fournette lost best friend Nash things in her life took a drastic turn, a turn that had her feeling a little lost and out of control, he was her safety net, and when he left she lost a part of herself... a part that she has never really been able to replace. She has since tried to let her feelings for Nash go, hoping that dating other men would fill the ache he left behind, but no one has ever been able to fill the void. So, when she learns that he has returned home she begins to wonder if it's finally their chance to be together, if fate's given them a second chance to salvage the connection they once shared... or if life will just get in the way again. After meeting these two in the first installment in the series, I began to wonder if they'd be able to let go of all the hurt from their pasts and find their way back to one another... or if the damage would be to great. Tally struck a cord with me in the first installment, something about her really resonated with me, and left me hoping she would be able to find her well deserved happily ever after. Life left her a little rough around the edges, and not so willing to let others in, for fear of losing them in the end... but after a great struggle she finally found a path that suited her and rewarded her with a well deserved happiness that I hoped she'd find. I am really enjoying this new series from Ms. Trentham, not only are the stories unique, and oh so enjoyable, but there also equipped with some very endearing characters that you can't help but lose your heart to! Charming romance story with a southern twist, that's sure to warm your heart and leave you with a permanent smile!! ARC requested through NetGalley, and kindly provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
As I familiarize myself more with Laura Trentham's body of work, I have come to realize that she has mastered the tearjerkers quite well. It is hard not to feel every heartache, regret and experience every memory presented within Tally and Nash's story. Victims of circumstance, these two close friends could always depend on each other until tragedy caused a divide that proved hard to overcome. Then He Kissed Me examines the strength of friendship and the powerful connection between the main characters. It is a story that conveys stirs up deep emotions but is also a journey of hope, forgiveness and redemption.
Do you need to have read Kiss Me That Way to enjoy this story? No. But it does help because this is one of those series that are intertwined and each is benefited by the others. We caught glimpses of Nash and got to know Tally a little bit in the first book so we knew where this one was going to go. But their histories have so much depth - the way that they had an amazing connection and then lost so much at the same time, being separated and having to go through difficult adolescences alone. It's similar to Cade and Monroe, the way that they meant so much to each other as kids but life took them away, only to bring them back together at the right time. But Trentham makes sure that Tally & Nash have their own individual issues to work through. Tally has felt stupid for years because she struggled in school. Unfortunately the death of her parents just compounded what was already turning into a problem for her. With her flighty uncle Del as her guardian and being raised by her teenage brother as best he could there wasn't enough attention to get her the help she really needed. It's led to a lot of years where she's felt like a lesser person, even after starting a very successful gym. Subsequently her choices on a personal level haven't been exactly the best. Seeing her childhood best friend again, looking hot and being all smart & charming, definitely doesn't help her insecurities. Nash had his own image issues. Being Nerdy Nash and super smart, he was an outcast at school - picked on or ignored. Just because he got hot along the way doesn't mean he's all that more sure of himself than she is. He seems to have a better handle on it than Tally does, thanks to finding a home for himself in academia, but he's got some scars from his teen years that still impact things today ... isn't that always how it is? I absolutely LOVE how easy it is for these two to reconnect. They complement each other so well and to have that still there even after all these years leads to the foundation that they need to build something more. As long as they can get over the fear of what it could mean for their hearts. Then He Kissed Me is an absolutely freakin' fantastic story of second-chance love. Together Tally and Nash are cute and fun, bringing out the best in each other and challenging each other to do something more, to finally lay those last few issues to rest and move into a lasting, grown-up love. Once again Trentham delivers good-ol' down-home Southern living with quirky but lovable characters and a love story that will having you sighing with pleasure. And she gives a little more about Sawyer and Regan - enough that I can't wait to get my hands on their book next month! (Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.)
4 - "Do you remember when I asked you to run away with me..?" Stars! The second book in Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom Novels series certainly doesn’t disappoint. Nash and Tally’s story is sort of second chance, in that they were friends who drifted apart due to circumstances beyond their control as children, but the attraction that simmers between them as adults, threatens to take that friendship into a whole new direction. You get to know Tally quite well in the first book of the series in that she is one of the Fournette siblings, her older brother and his relationship were the main focus of that one, but she played a part in their story. Time had tested but not severed their connection. Nash arrived back into town during that book as well, but was more on the periphery than having any major role in it. You know about their childhood friendship though, and Then He Kissed me gives you their redeveloping relationship as adults. She was why none of his relationships had ever lasted. He’d left part of himself on the river, he’d left part of himself with her. The one thing that becomes apparent very quickly with this one is that we have an imbalanced couple, in that whereas both of them had their issues as children, one has gotten over them, and the other hasn’t, but tries to hide those insecurities behind bluster, confidence, and ducking out if the going looks like its potentially getting a little tough. "You throw the same lame excuse out to avoid anything that scares you." I won’t lie I struggled a little with the repetitive nature of this aspect of the story, and in the latter stages of the book it was erring towards being in the over-done territory for me. But the author managed to keep both characters pretty likeable, and the story-line moving at a steady pace so it stayed within bearable parameters for me. "Sometimes I want to shake some sense into you…" I think the sexual tension between the two of them was another thing that kept things flowing as well, it’s thick and sticky like molasses for a lot of the book, they take two steps forward, then one of them pulls back, to the point that as a reader you are sexually frustrated for them. But I liked it, the time to rebuild the friendship was taken around their building attraction as well as developing upon their pasts and how what happened to them has then shaped their future. "You knew me as a weak, wimpy kid, but you need to accept me as a grown man." The story as a whole develops through this one as well, with both towns on either side of the river still vying to win the competition that will see a much needed cash injection into the community coffers. The conclusion of that story as well as the culmination of all the fiery passion you have seen between opposing town Mayors; Regan Lovell and Sawyer Fournette in the first two books is due to play out in Till I Kissed You, due for release early August. "We both had to make mistakes before finding each other…" ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.