Narrator: Savannah Richards
Length: 11 hrs 55 mins
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #4
Published by HQN on August 29, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who's never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…
Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis's past is full of memories she'd rather forget. But there's one she can't seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.
Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he's as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.
But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.
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From New York Times Bestselling author Gena Showalter, comes the next standalone romance in the Original Heartbreakers Series—CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE!
Order your copy today!
I fell into Strawberry Valley in Can’t Hardly Breathe and I think finally broke my reading slump. We see what Dorothea goes through growing up and the connection she has with Daniel early on which gives you a history between the two. In that time, Dorothea has gone through many things that have only enhanced her feelings of low self-worth. She’s now back at her family’s hotel, given up on her dreams.
Daniel Porter has been spending lots of time at Dorothea’s hotel and not really showing a good side to himself. But he is suffering from some serious PTSD and his actions are his way of dealing. It was just sad that Dorothea did not know what is what he was doing before she decided to be brave and surprise him.
Dorothea’s surprise starts off the back and forth between the couple. Daniel trying to make up for his reaction and Dorothea trying to avoid him and her feelings for him. I loved their banter back and forth. They were serious, but not too serious. Enough to give you a smile at their interactions. Throughout the book, Dorothea is struggling with herself to be more confident and change her ways. You really root for her and then look forward to this “new” Dorothea coming up against Daniel again.
I read later and later at night, waiting to see how Daniel and Dorothea were going to get along in their next meeting. Then, just when I thought we had reached our HEA, I happened to notice that I was only barely halfway through the book! What the heck! I was already celebrating for these two! I knew then that my emotions were going to go through a major hit.
Can’t Hardly Breathe had me going through a whole list of emotions. You really feel for Dorothea and everything she goes through. I was never too happy with Daniel’s way of thinking and it took forever for him to get his problem through his head. When I was finished I was left with a big smile on my face and excited for the series to continue with our next couple. For this girl who is not normally a contemporary reader, I really enjoyed Can’t Hardly Breathe. Gena Showalter brings in great characters that have personalities you can’t help but fall in love with. I was very happy with this trip to Strawberry Valley.
An Excerpt from Can’t Hardly Breathe
His life had meaning, hers didn’t. He and two of his friends had started a security company right here in Strawberry Valley. He took care of his ailing father, and in his free time he dated a plethora of city girls.
Dorothea knew about the girls because he’d stayed at the inn every time a date had ended…successfully.
Her flush returned full force as she considered the other five rooms he’d wrecked since his return…all the pleasure he’d been having…all the pleasure she wished she could experience.
Not with him, of course. With someone she liked and respected. Someone who liked and respected her, too, despite the fact that she was still too round for society’s unhealthy standards, a lot too freckled and trapped in a dead-end job.
Daniel Porter would never qualify.
Dorothea found him attractive, yes, but to her, ap¬pearance would never outshine personality.
My man must be my equal. She had a lot of love to give. She’d even grown to like herself…kind of. Maybe. Fine, she was trying to like herself.
Avoiding Daniel’s gaze, she said, “No, you stay. I’ll go.” Words her mother had drilled into her shouted in-side her head: the customer comes first. “I’ll finish your room later.” She rolled the vacuum toward her cart.
“You live here, right?” he asked. “You own the inn?”
“I… Yes.” Technically she lived in the attic. The more rooms she had available for guests, the more money she would make. At least in theory.
Money was the number one reason she cleaned the pigsties herself, rather than hiring a maid. She was saving her pennies to turn every plain, ordinary room into a themed paradise. Then Strawberry Valley residents would happily pay to stay just for fun.
Again, in theory.
So far she’d decided on six themes. (1) Four seasons—the weather, not the hotel chain. (2) An enchanted forest. (3) A techno dance club. (4) The underwater world of Atlantis. (5) A royal palace. And (6) an inner sanctum, aka a superhero’s wet dream.
Also up for consideration? A beach hut, an igloo, an insane asylum for her more daring patrons and a des¬ert oasis.
With twenty-three rooms in total, she needed other ideas fast. And more money. A lot more money.
Maybe, when the transformations were completed, the feeling of accomplishment would finally chase away her anger and bitterness. Maybe she would feel alive. Happy.
“If any part of your stay was subpar,” she said, “I will personally—”
“No, everything has been great.” He looked over his shoulder and winked at her. “Just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to get into trouble with the boss.”
Every pulse point in her body leaped with excitement. He’d winked at her. Her!
I think you’re perfect just the way you are.
Red alert! She would not read more into his words than he’d intended. Not this time. He was a flirt, plain and simple. Always had been, apparently always would be.
“Why would I get in trouble?” she asked.
“For not finishing the room.”
Oh. Right. “Well, as long as you plan to come back to the inn, I won’t fire myself. Not because I’m desperate to see you or anything,” she added in a rush. “I’m not.” Dang it! “I mean, I’m always glad to see you here. I mean, I just want your money.” Okay. Enough!
He laughed, his amber eyes twinkling.
Air caught in her throat and sizzled. He had the sexiest laugh on the planet. His entire face softened. He pulsed with new life; fresh and vibrant, he was the epitome of spring.
Then he frowned, as if he couldn’t believe he’d found humor in, well, anything.
Her brow furrowed with confusion. Why the doom and gloom?
“In that case,” he said, his tone flat, “I think I’ll stay another night.”
“Really?” She licked her lips. “What about your girl¬friend?”
He stiffened. “She isn’t my—”
“No, don’t tell me. I’m sorry I asked. Your love life isn’t my business.”
“I live in Strawberry Valley. My love life is every¬one’s business.”
His wry tone made her chuckle, and he stiffened all over again. Great. What had she done wrong this time?
“I’ll be alone tonight,” he said, looking anywhere but at her. “Apparently I hover over my dad when I’m home, so he’s asked for another night off. But I swear to you, this room will be clean in the morning.”
She snorted. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Doubting Dottie.” A pause, then, “Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?”
“Oh, uh, no, thank you.” While she no longer viewed Daniel through the wounded eyes of high school betrayal— he’d been a nice boy doing a nice thing for a vulnerable girl in desperate need of a white knight—she’d endured too much heartbreak over the years to risk getting to know him better and reigniting her crush.
Look at the way she’d reacted to him already.
He appeared…disappointed? No, of course not. A trick of the light, surely. “Well. See you around, Daniel.”
“Yeah. See you around, Dottie.” He returned his attention to his toiletry bag, dismissing her.
Irritation had her snapping, “My name is Dorothea.”
Before he could respond, she stepped into the hall and closed the door with a soft snick. Hands trembling, she hooked the vacuum to the cart and rolled the cargo to the supply room…where her younger sister Holly was smoking a cigarette.
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Can’t Hardly Breathe Giveaway
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