Monday, June 29, 2015

Blog Tour: Always and Forever by Harper Bentley

Title: Always and Forever (Serenity Point #2)
Author: Harper Bentley
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Find on Goodreads
Does wanting to slap the hell out of Brody Kelly make me a bad person? How about setting his hair on fire?

No, I'm not a psycho.

Yes, I AM angry.

See, a year ago, my sweet and sexy firefighter boyfriend and I broke up over something extremely ridiculous. We'd been together since we were sophomores in high school, but that was the end of that. Almost twelve years of that, mind you.

The looks he gives me tell me he still wants me. Our latest encounter has me thinking he's trying to win me back.

But I'm not willing to give in so easily.

I don't know why he used our argument as an excuse to break up, but I'm going to find out. I've lived in Serenity Point all my life and have connections and I’m not afraid to use them to get to the bottom of things.

What I am afraid of is finding something I won’t be able to handle.

He used to call me his Always and Forever.

But the secrets he’s keeping might tear us apart for good.

4.5 Stars by Lisa Kane

Wouldn't it be nice if our days were filled with the first few moments of waking that we experience when everything's uncomplicated and sweet and innocent? But I guess they've already discovered how to make that happen. It's called Xanax. 

Piper Knowlton and Brody Kelly have been together since their sophomore year of high school. Twelve years later and things are still going strong. Up until Piper goes out of town to see her sister's new baby, Addie. When she comes back, Brody is distant, but she doesn't think much of it. It seemed as if he wanted to tell her something and then he would just change the subject. Then they have the most ridiculous fight about children. Piper wants 2 and Brody insists they have to have 5. It all gets blown out of proportion and they fight off and on for three days about it. After they make love one night, he gets up, tells her "he couldn't do this anymore" and that they were over. He got dressed and left. No matter how many times she tried to talk to him, he avoided her. 

They live in a small town named Serenity Point-you know the type-everyone knows everyone else's business. Brody and Piper were the unofficial town sweethearts. He just became a fireman and she owns a small shop, Knowlton's Knick Knacks selling vintage items and antiques. It's been a year since their break up and she's tried to move on. She had a couple of dates with a great guy named Alex, but she just wasn't ready to let go of Brody. It didn't help that on one of the dates they ran into Brody-who seemed pissed that she was out with someone. 

But she sees him on the street and for the first time she didn't cry afterwards. She thinks maybe, finally, she is ready to let go. Her sisters Greer and Ryan have been the ones to keep her centered, to keep her going on. 

"Does this mean I'm over him?" I whisper? 
She purses her lips and shrugs. "I don't know Piper. Let's just say it's a start, okay?"

But he shows up at her shop and wants to talk to her. Why after all this time? I't s because his pet fish, Dory died. The one they won together at a carnival. Huh? She can't believe after all this time; he wants to talk to her, after ignoring her for over a year and because of a dead fish. So she lets him have it and tells him today was the first day she didn't cry after seeing him. 

He misses me.

Because a fish died. 
He misses me.
Because now I guess he's realizing he's truly alone.
Just like I've been for the past year.
And he hasn't talked to me in such a long time.
But he finally comes to me because of an idiotic fish. 

She is moving on and he wants to know if it's because of the guy she's been seeing (you mean the one she had 2 dates with 3 months ago?) She lets him know she hasn't been able to move on and it's his fault. He eats that up with a spoon. 

"And what's more is, he didn't have a problem with me only wanting two kids!" total lie because Alex and I never talked about kids. 

"You listen to me, Piper, and listen good. I love you. You're mine! I wanted to rip that f#*ker's head off when I saw him with you and Jen's but knew I had no right. I've got a right now."

Hmmm...things are getting down right interesting! 

Piper is determined not to let this set her back. She's spent a year of her life going over and over things trying to understand why Brody broke up with her after all these years. Did he fall out of love with her? Did she do something wrong? He isn't dating anyone that she knows of but then why? 

And it's quite lovely under the water, the only sound being the solid thrum of my heart beating in my ears. And it's my heart, a heart that's been destroyed this past year, completely obliterated, yet on it beats, that fills me with a sense of pride knowing that I myself didn't break. 

In every small town there is a bitch. Never fails. And Peyton, she gives new meaning to the word bitch. It's no secret this town slut has wanted Brody for a good long time. But when she keeps dropping hints to Piper about things with Brody, it's all about to explode wide open. And when Piper puts the pieces together and confronts Brody about it-my stomach was in knots and I swear big, fat ugly tears rolled down my face for this girl. Her heart is shattered; it's all she can do not to collapse to her knees in front of Brody. I hated him, I wanted to take one of the station's fire hoses and choke the living hell out of this man. But I knew he loved her, I knew this guy was suffering. I just kept holding on to hope...

I turn, and latching onto Ryan's arm to keep me from crashing to the floor, walk out of the station as dignified as I can, or as much as someone whose whole world utterly and completely crashes and burns right before her very eyes. 

Most of the remainder of the book is Piper trying to get over the devastation from Brody's secrets and Brody trying to get Piper back. But does he deserve a chance to explain?

Brody: Baby, I'm sorry about everything. I want to explain. Please give me a chance. 

What do you do? Do you throw away every trace of this man from your life, this same man who has been a part of you since you were 16 or do you at least listen to what he has to say before you pour gasoline on his car and watch it burn?

"You're so right. But I wanna explain it all to you. Should've done it in the first place but I guess I was scared of losing you. Lost you anyway."

These were the parts in the story that just crushed me -for both of them.

"I-I don't want to hear anymore," I protest, my hands curling up to his forearms trying to pry them off me.
"Baby," he whispers, his lips at the top of my head. "I know it's hard to hear. I'm sorry. But I want you to know everything." 

At this point I wasn't sure I wanted to know everything! 

"I don't know if I can," I whisper as tears sting the backs of my eyes.
"You can, he says at my ear. "You're strong. I know that now. I want you to know everything as we can move forward."

Once it was all out there, I swear I felt like a limp dishrag. My head was about to explode and my eyes were so swollen. But those moments, as hard as they were to read, are the times that Brody was at his most vulnerable. Opening his heart up, bearing his soul. 

As angsty as this book is, there are so many witty, funny moments that take the edge off the tension. It is an absolute delight. 

"Guess she was a hit and run then."
A screw and flew," she says. 
"A f#*k and duck."
"A nail and bail."
A hump and jump."
"A hit and flit."
"A smash and dash."
A root and scoot."

Be prepared to love Brody when you want to hate him, to laugh when you know you should be crying and to love Piper beyond belief. I loved this book so much I am going back and reading Bigger Than the Sky. (Brody's brother Kade's story) 

Brody: I love you too, baby. Can't wait for you to be mine.
Me: Always...
Brody: and Forever

He’s ignored me when we’ve passed each other on the street, seemingly content in not even acknowledging my presence even though I’ve caught him staring at me every other time but always from a distance.
And now he says he misses me. And he says it on the day I didn’t tear up when I saw him and hoped it meant I was finally getting over him.
And now I’m chewing on my thumbnail, damn it.
I lower my arm and feel my hands ball into fists at my sides gritting my teeth because I want to bash his friggin’ face in then yell at him or vice versa. Either works. But then I remember myself, remember that I’m in my store and that anyone could come through the door at any time and I wouldn’t want to lose business because I’ve turned into a raging bitch. I breathe in deeply through my nose and let it out trying to calm myself which works for the moment. “You miss me…” I state quietly, my eyes narrowed as they remain locked on his.
I see his jaw muscles jump as he stares back at me. Then he nods slowly.
Well, this is just too much.
I huff out a laugh, putting my hands on my hips. “I think it might be too late, Brody,” I state a little snottily, seeing his eyes go hard upon hearing that. Whatever.
“What’re you saying, Piper?”
I shrug nonchalantly although every muscle in my body is tight. “I saw you walking to Mags’ earlier and to be honest, I felt nothing. After more than a year of wanting to cry every time I saw you, today that didn’t happen.” I shrug again to get the point across even as my heart’s beating a hundred miles an hour in my chest.
Harper Bentley has taught high school English for 22 years. Although she’s managed to maintain her sanity regardless of her career choice, jumping into the world of publishing her own books goes to show that she might be closer to the ledge than was previously thought.

After traveling the nation in her younger years as a military brat, having lived in Alaska, Washington State and California, she now resides in Oklahoma with her teenage daughter, two dogs and one cat, happily writing stories that she hopes her readers will enjoy.

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