Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blog tour: Review & Excerpt of Just the Thing by Marie Harte

Author: Marie Hare
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of publication: July 2017

Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn’t prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life—along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won’t give him the time of day.

Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She’s been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn’t until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.

Soon they’re sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.

My thoughts:

Just the Thing is the followup to A Sure Thing featuring the Donnigan siblings.  This is Gavin and Zoe's story.  In the first book, Gavin is back from war and not dealing with his trauma in a good way.  In this book, he has been in therapy, has a job and is beginning to cope with his feelings about his time in a war zone.  He has been trying to get Zoe to go out with him for months.  Zoe recently lost her twin sister in a car accident and hasn't had a lot to smile about as she works through her own grief.

I enjoyed this one a bit more than the first one. Gavin and Zoe both had a lot of stuff to work through, but they were good for each other. I loved their banter and watching them fall for each other was a treat.  The thing that I loved the most about this story was the realistic way Gavin's PTSD was portrayed.  Even at the end, he wasn't "cured" and still had a long way to go.  

As in the previous book, the prank wars are still going on.  That is always good for a laugh or two. The one that Gavin and Zoe pulled was hilarious.  This book sets up for Hope's story. I really look forward to reading that one and hope that Cleo gets her own story!  

For a sneak peek enjoy this excerpt!

“Well? Don’t just stand there.” Gavin nodded at a small assortment of gardening tools on the ground beside him. A trowel, a weeder, a spade, and a shovel. “The gloves are for you.”
They looked brand new. She picked up the pink set, tugged off the tags, and put them on. “Pink?”
He smiled. “You like ’em? Maybe you can wear them with your yoga pants at the gym sometime.”
“You’re obsessed with those pants, aren’t you?”
He chuckled. “Come on. We need to weed.” He crouched down and reached a hand out to some overflowing green. “But I’m not sure if that’s a plant or—”
Stop. That’s not a weed.” She gently nudged him out of the way before he could kill the coreopsis and garden phlox around some limp tulips. He handed her the snips, and she clipped the spent tulip blooms, then did a bit more pruning and pulled a few real weeds. She showed him the difference, then answered his questions about what to plant when and how to separate a few daylily bulbs that really should have been split before now. So lost in the gardening, it took Zoe a good half an hour before she realized this was to be the extent of her date.
Peering over her shoulder, she frowned at Gavin and turned to face him, standing so that they could look eye to eye. Or rather, eye to throat. She had to glance up to see his gaze. “This is our date?” Gardening?
The pleasure seemed to leach out of him as he looked down at her. “Uh, yeah. Why? You don’t like it? We don’t have to play around all night in the dirt or anything.”
“You thought I’d like weeding someone else’s garden for hours?”
He sighed. “Stupid idea, right?”
“No, not at all.” She stared at him. “How did you know I’m into plants?” Fascinating. He’d chosen one of her favorite things to do, and he seemed to be interested in her explanations about planting and zones and soil type.
“I overheard you at the gym. You and Loretta talk about gardens as if they’re the second coming. I wanted to do something different with you, and I thought you might like this.” He smiled. “You did say sex was off the table.”
She nodded absently, disconcerted that he’d read her so well. “I like this. Do you?”
He flexed his dirty fingers, because he apparently hadn’t bought himself any gloves. “Surprisingly, yeah. It feels…good.” He looked bewildered. “It’s just dirt and flowers. But I like putting it all together, maybe seeing it grow.” He stared at her as if she had the answers.
“That’s what I like about it too. I have a small garden in my backyard. I spend a lot of time caring for my flowers and veggies. It’s fun for me, and I like knowing my hard work will pay off in tomatoes or green beans, maybe even cucumbers.”
“Fresh is best,” he agreed.
She smiled with him. The moon darted behind clouds, then broke out over them both once more. She shivered when the wind made another pass.
“Wait here,” Gavin ordered. “I mean, don’t stop digging and stuff. I’ll be back.”
He left, and she assumed a new spot by another bed, where lilies and clusters of out-of-control lavender congregated. He returned with a tray of cocoa and marshmallows, all served on some fancy-looking crockery. “Wasn’t sure if you liked coffee or tea, but thought I couldn’t go wrong with cocoa.”
“Yes.” Chocolate, one of her major weaknesses. She tried to eat healthy, but the heaven known as liquid milk chocolate constantly called to her. As did those mini marshmallows.
He handed her a mug and watched her with intense eyes.
After a few decadent sips, she frowned. “Do I have marshmallow on my lip or something?” Then she licked her lips just to be sure they were clean.
“Did you have to do that? I’ve been so good, behaving myself.” He took the mug from her and set it on the wooden border of the flowerbed, then moved into her personal space.
She refused to back up, so they stood so close that she nearly bumped his chin when she tilted her face up to see him better.
“You’re so pretty. Even when you’re not wearing pink,” he teased, his voice soft on the cool wind.
The moment seemed like a freeze frame from the most romantic scene ever. She still tasted chocolate. The moon overhead lit everything with a preternatural glow. The scents of earth and lavender and Gavin filled her head, until she could focus on nothing but him.
“Gavin?” She didn’t know what she was asking him for, but the promise of safety in his eyes drew her closer.
“I’m gonna kiss you now,” he said, his voice low, warm.
She nodded.
He leaned closer at the same time she did.
Their coming together felt amazing. Perfect. Right. The kiss shook her. Deep, sensual, yet not as close as she wanted. His tongue swept her mouth, caressing while he took charge of the embrace. But not once did he overwhelm her. Instead, she followed him, sip for sip, and let the rush of her heartbeat pull her into a tide of longing she couldn’t suppress. Not now, surrounded by all her favorite things.
“Gavin,” she murmured when he kissed his way from her mouth down her cheek to her throat.
He pulled her to him, but their clothes kept them too far apart. Gentle bites down her throat ended in a soft kiss that caused a full-body shiver.
“Cold?” he whispered as he straightened.
She shook her head, unable to speak, and blinked into his shuttered gaze. Then he made everything worse. He tucked her head under his chin and hugged her with affection. No way she could chalk this up as a gambit to get her to bed, not when he had the gall to make her feel.
With a sigh, he ended the embrace and pulled back. “Now show me which ones I can pull and which ones I can’t.” He nodded at the third flower bed they hadn’t gotten to yet, not winded or affected by their kiss, apparently. Hell. Zoe couldn’t feel his heartbeat through their clothes, but hers raced like a thoroughbred intent on taking the Triple Crown.
The bastard had the nerve to wipe a clean thumb over her lower lip, causing that thoroughbred to run past the finish line with no signs of stopping.

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