Friday, March 10, 2017

Home at Last by Lily Everett - New Release and Review @SMPRomance @LouisaEdwards

Home at Last
by Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island, #6
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Home is where the heart is…

Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.

It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own marital problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts. . .and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?

Quinn had taken the floor for exactly the reasons she’d said, in addition to the knowledge that however little she liked to think it mattered, Marcus was ten years older than she was. And he was a secret stress case who carried all his tension in his back and shoulders. She should know, since she’d nearly sprained her thumbs trying to dig the knots out during a massage that had started out sexy and turned into a to-the-death battle between Quinn and the long muscles lining Marcus’s spine.

Marcus didn’t need to screw up his back by lying on the floor for eight hours, was her point. Not that she would ever say that to him. She didn’t have a death wish.

But as it turned out, the floor was more uncomfortable than Quinn had anticipated. And as the hours wore down, so did her resistance to the temptation of the warm, soft bed mere inches from her stiff, aching body.

She stared at Marcus’s sleeping form and wondered if she dared.

Then she wondered what the hell was the matter with her. It was a bed. They were adults. Sleeping next to each other didn’t mean they were automatically going to cross some invisible, arbitrary line. She wasn’t going to roll over in her sleep and accidentally impale herself on his penis. They’d be fine.

This is fine, she told herself, getting up off her shaky knees and creeping around to the other side of the bed. The way her knees popped when she stood up was a deciding factor. Quinn carefully peeled back the covers and slid into the bed beside Marcus.

Quinn held her breath, but he didn’t move. His broad chest rose and fell with his deep, even breaths. He threw off heat like a roaring bonfire; Quinn went from chilled to toasty in seconds.

Letting her body relax into the softness of the mat- tress, she drifted peacefully into sleep.

Quinn’s dreams were chaotic, flashes of memories mixed with totally random people from her past and present. She was aware they were dreams, in that vague way that happens sometimes, even when the dreamer is deeply asleep.

In the dream, she and Marcus were walking through the woods behind her parents’ house, holding hands. Even Dream Quinn couldn’t suspend disbelief quite enough for that. Marcus wasn’t a hand-holding kind of guy. So she knew it was a dream, even as he led her deeper into the pine copse, their footfalls muffled by layers and layers of dried pine needles that released their evergreen scent as they were crushed.

Come here, said Dream Marcus, giving Quinn the smile she’d only glimpsed once or twice—the small, private, completely unguarded smile that made

Marcus look like the carefree boy Quinn had first fallen for.

She could never resist that particular smile. Not that she wanted to resist. This was only a dream. She could have whatever she wanted, with no consequences.

Emboldened by her freedom, Quinn followed Marcus down to lie on a bed of springy green moss. He lay back, arms crossed behind his head and more relaxed than she’d ever seen him in real life. Sunlight dappled his handsome face, patterns of light and shadow that shivered over his cheekbones when wind fluttered through the branches overhead.

Her heart swelled with all the feelings she’d been stuffing down and denying since the day Marcus un- ceremoniously ended their relationship. It wasn’t smart to care about him. She knew that, and Quinn wanted to be smart, she really did.

The trouble was that she’d never learned how to stop caring about someone. Her poor, bruised heart was as optimistic and stubborn as her hungry body was when it came to Marcus Beckett.

Despair teased at Quinn’s mind, but she pushed it away. This is a dream, she said aloud to remind them both. Only a dream.

Beneath her, Marcus smiled again, the smile that promised things like love and forever and the kind of pleasure she could live on. Thighs tensing with need where she was suddenly straddling his hips, Quinn felt the low-down clench of her body around the emptiness only Marcus could fill.

A shudder racked her, sweeping up her frame in a rush that tightened the peaks of her breasts and forced her mouth open on a gasp.

Yes, like that, Marcus murmured, his eyes going hot and feral the way she remembered from their first nights of passion. The grip of his hands at her hips ex- cited Quinn. She squirmed a little, wanting to feel it, hoping it bruised so she could look in the mirror later and see the evidence of Marcus’s desire for her.

With a smooth twist of his massive torso, he flipped them so that Quinn’s back was arching off the cool moss and Marcus was covering her with his body. Her legs fell open, wanton and wanting, and she relished the stretch of her thighs as he fit himself into the cradle of her hips.

His hardness slotted against her softness with a series of rhythmic nudges that stoked the fire inside Quinn higher and higher. In the dream, her panties melted away like fog, and he was naked too, and they were pressed together so intimately and perfectly and yet, somehow, there was still something in the way, a barrier to Quinn getting what she really wanted. Frustration mounting, she reached down between their hot, straining bodies and felt . . . cotton?

Quinn blinked and suddenly, instead of staring up at the waving pine needles of the Lantern Point woods, she was looking at the familiar starburst pattern of the plaster ceiling in her girlhood bedroom.

Her immediate thought was a dismayed No, let me go back to the dream! But in the next instant, she realized Marcus was still on top of her, his hard chest and strong arms caging her in. Their legs were tangled hopelessly in the sheets and they were both still wearing what they’d gone to bed in, but other than that?

The dream was real.

Eyes still closed, Marcus twisted his hips, grinding wickedly against Quinn’s most sensitive spot and scattering her thoughts like dried pine needles before she could figure out what to do. She reacted mindlessly, her body taking over and bowing up hard, her arms going around Marcus’s neck.

Through her haze of heated lust, Quinn saw the exact moment Marcus woke up.

Copyright © 2017 by Lily Everett and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

There’s so much to love about Sanctuary Island and Lily Everett once again delivers a romance that shows off the quirky, small town personality that sets the stage for her stories. There’s a fake engagement, second chances at love and family ties, a scam artist, and of course all the wonderful personalities that make up this tight-knit town.

Although this was Marcus and Quinn’s story, Quinn’s parents played a big role in everything that goes down – especially when Quinn finds out that she may be one of the contributing factors to her parents’ marriage problems. Asking Marcus to pretend to be her boyfriend seems like the best plan of attack to show her parents that she is settling down…but when Marcus suddenly announces they are engaged and then Quinn’s parents want them to move in with them for a couple weeks for some serious marriage/family counseling, it’s only a matter of time before the act become more real than show.

Marcus and Quinn were seriously hot together. You could always feel the underlying sparks that would fly every time these two would even so much as think about each other. It was fun watching them both try to keep their arrangement in the friend zone – especially when they had to share Quinn’s old room.
Then she wondered what the hell was the matter with her. It was a bed. They were adults. Sleeping next to each other didn’t mean they were automatically going to cross some invisible, arbitrary line. She wasn’t going to roll over in her sleep and accidentally impale herself on his penis. They’d be fine.
But of course those sparks made it near impossible for them to keep their hands off each other – especially when they had to share a bed.
Quinn, who’d twitched at the sound of her mother’s voice, dropped her hands from Marcus’s neck to throw an arm over her eyes and hide her red face. “Coming, Mother.”

Some devil prompted Marcus to lean down and whisper, “We could be, if she’d waited five minutes.”

Quinn convulsed in shocked giggles under him, which made Marcus grin instead of grimacing while trying to smoothly remove his hand from her underwear. His dick, like most dicks, had no sense of time or place for the inherent unsexiness of nearly getting caught in the act by his girlfriend’s mom like a couple of teenagers.

No, his dick still thought the original morning plan was A-OK, ready for action, go go go. But Marcus was in charge, so instead of following orders from below the belt, he swung off Quinn.
There were several other subplots going on that were nicely woven into Marcus and Quinn’s story and helped set the stage for their shot at a second chance, the two biggest being Quinn’s parent’s marriage problems and Marcus’s estrangement from his father.

Quinn’s parents were struggling to find a new normal now that her dad had retired. Their marriage was hitting some serious bumps and the marriage counselor they have brought in may have more than counseling on his agenda – and he has sucked Marcus and Quinn into his counseling drama. Watching Quinn’s parents struggle was heart-breaking at times and I found myself rooting for them to get their happy ever after as well. You could just feel the love pouring off of her dad and the frustration coming from her mom, and it was so hard to see them both so hurt.

Marcus also has some issues from his past he needs to deal with, namely settling things between himself and his father, a man he hasn’t spoken to since he left home after his mother died. He’s always blamed his dad for not letting him know sooner that his mother was closet to dying, which denied him the chance to come home to say goodbye before she passed. And when Quinn goes to visit Marcus’s dad and we find out there is something important that Marcus needs to know but he’s too bull-headed to go see the man and find out, I couldn’t help but keep hoping that Marcus would man-up and at least see his father and maybe start the healing process.

One of the things I really liked was that when Marcus and Quinn realized that their attraction may have run deeper than the physical, they both agreed to try and see where a relationship may lead – not a lot of angst and drama around it, they both just came to the same conclusion and decided to see where things went. And with the drama surrounding Quinn’s parents, it was nice not to have to deal with too much drama between these two.

Once again I was captivated by all the happenings on Sanctuary Island. The townspeople all play a part in adding color and personality to these books, and as I’ve said before, I think this is a place I’d really like to find on the map. Even though this is a series I think you can easily read this one as a stand-alone. Marcus and Quinn show up in the previous book, but I don’t think their story loses anything if you start here. I would definitely recommend this book and series as one to try!

LILY EVERETT is the author of the Sanctuary Island series for St. Martin's Press. She grew up in a small town in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and now resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full-time.

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