Review: Holding Her Close (Mended Hearts #2) by Lexi Ryan

Posted January 26, 2016 by bookstobreathe in Book Review, New Release / 0 Comments

Review: Holding Her Close (Mended Hearts #2) by Lexi RyanTitle: Holding Her Close
Author: Lexi Ryan
Published by Self-Published
Release Date January 19, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 440
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase From: Amazon US
Purchase From: Amazon UK
Purchase From: iTunes
Purchase From: Amazon CA
Purchase From: Amazon AU
Hold your friends close... and your enemies closer.

She's everything he detests about Hollywood.

After spending my entire acting career being cast as the airhead, I finally have the serious role I've been dying for, and I screw it all up during a four martini dinner with my ex. Now, thanks to the morality clause in my contract, I might lose the role of a lifetime. My only hope is to convince the media (and my eccentrically conservative director) that I've entered a committed relationship. But when I use my brother's costume party to launch Operation Fake Fiancé, I end up in front of the camera with the wrong guy, leaving my reputation—and the fate of my career—at his mercy. Any other guy I could sweet talk into playing the supporting role I need, but not Officer Cade Watts. Not the man who hates everything about me. Not the man who would most revel in seeing me fail.

He's everything she needs.

I don't care how good it felt to have her in my arms. I don't care that I can't close my eyes without remembering the way she tastes or the sound of her moan. I want nothing to do with Janelle Crane. Her scheme to fake an engagement to save her own career is exactly the kind of manipulative Hollywood crap I left LA to escape. But when her fan mail turns threatening and the tragedies befalling her former co-stars seem to be anything but coincidence, everything changes. Now I don't just want to play the part of Janelle's fake fiancé, I demand it. I won't let my jaded heart cost me another case. I may not trust Janelle but I do care, and the only way I know she's safe is if I'm holding her close.

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Title: Holding Her Close

Series: Mended Hearts #2

Author: Lexi Ryan

Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense

Release: January 19, 2016

HHC Amazon-2

Excerpt

Janelle spins a slow circle to take in the room. She looks a little awestruck, which would be understandable for most people but Janelle Crane comes from Hollywood royalty. She is Hollywood royalty. The Beverly Wilshire is her Holiday Inn.

I drop my bag in the closet and tug my shirt over my head. I need a shower and a few hours of sleep.

“You’re staying here too?” she asks, her eyes on my bare chest.

I take a deep breath and do my best to remind my body that I’m not here for fun, that this relationship is nothing but a rouse. But there’s nothing fake about the way she looks at me. The chemistry between us is real. “That’s the plan,” I say, stepping forward. I can’t help myself. When she’s in the room, I need to be closer.

“Were you going to let me in on this plan at any point?”

I grunt. “Yeah, that must suck, having someone plan something that involves you and never let you in on it.”

She folds her arms and her face hardens. “I don’t have any patience for your tender ego right now. I’ve had a fucking shitty day. You need to start talking or I’m walking out that door. I don’t care what kind of favors you called in to make sure no one sees us together.”

“There’s the spoiled princess,” I mutter.

“What did you just call me?”

“I’m just pointing out that you’re awfully demanding for a woman who owes me a little gratitude.”

“Gratitude?” She shakes her head, obviously trying to make sense of my motivations.

I sympathize. I can’t even process how I quickly I picked up and flew across the country for a woman I barely know—a woman who I wanted nothing to do with twenty-four hours ago. Any analysis makes me seriously questioning my own judgment, so I’ve chosen not to think about it at all.

“What do you want me to thank you for, exactly?” she asks. “For kissing me?”

“Sure.” I take another step closer and she has to crane her neck to look up at me. “Start there.” My gaze drops to her lips. Goddamn but I want to touch her again. And not for an audience this time. Just for me. For us.

“You want me to thank you,” she says slowly, emphasizing each word, “For. Kissing. Me?”

My lips twitch. “Isn’t proper to thank a person for giving you something you enjoy, Princess?”

“Fuck you.”

I shrug. “That wasn’t in my plans, but it could be arranged.”

Her nostrils flare and she presses a hand to my chest. If she intended to push me away, something stops her. Instead, she just rests it there as her gaze dips to my mouth and her lips part. “You’re an asshole.”

“Sorry, was that not in the script? Next time, tell me how your fake boyfriend is supposed to act. I’ll try to do better.” I squeeze my eyes shut. I’m being a dick. All because I don’t trust myself around her.

“You have one hell of a chip on your shoulder,” she says, and when I open my eyes, she’s leaning closer. “Can’t say that I blame you for that.”

I could kiss her now. I could lead her to the bed and put my hand between her legs. Seduce her with soft touches until we both forget what we’re here hiding from. Maybe she’d let me fuck her and I’d find out if her moan is as deep and throaty when I’m inside her as it is when my mouth is between her legs. The sex would be hard—fast and greedy and so fucking good.

Maybe it’d be better to get it out of our systems. Maybe it’s inevitable.

I’m calculating the best way to get her to the bed when she lifts her chin and whispers, “Thank you. Thank you for kissing me like that in front of Tom.” The words are full of sincerity and vulnerability. They’re a sucker punch to the gut.

“You’re welcome.” I draw in a deep breath, trying to remember all the reasons I shouldn’t touch her. There were reasons. I’m almost sure of it. “I should get in the shower.”

She steps back and lifts her shirt a few inches. The movement is hardly brazen, but it exposes her navel and the jewel pierced into it. The jewel I sucked into my mouth only two days ago. Christ.

“You want company?” she asks.

My gut knots and my cock is rock hard in an instant. Fuck, yes, I want company, and not just any company. I very specifically want the company of the woman offering it. I want her naked and wet against the marble tile, squeezing me tight as I make her come under the spray. And while I do it, I want her eyes to look like they do right now. Vulnerable. Open. Trusting.

I swallow hard and nod to the bed. “You need some sleep. You should nap. We’ll talk later.” I turn and close the door before I can change my mind.

If I’m going to protect her, I have to think of her as the Hollywood princess with the cold and manipulative heart. Because a vulnerable Janelle melts the ice I’ve carefully erected around my own heart.

 I strip the rest of my clothes and turn the shower as cold as it will go.

© 2015 by Lexi Ryan

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My Review

Oh how I love these characters! This is an odd series whereas there was a main series and it has since broken off into multiple other smaller series. This is the second book in the Mended Hearts series and what I love about this book and the one before it is they have been more suspense than the others. I find myself gravitating more towards those types of books. I love for the adrenaline and danger and erotic romance that all bundles together in one delicious package. We first met Janelle in her brother’s series, Here and Now. Now while you don’t HAVE to read these series in order, I highly recommend it because they are just that good! You can see below for the correct reading order.

What did I love about this book? I loved how vulnerable Janelle was, but yet she didn’t shy away from anything in her life. Life had definitely thrown her more than a few curve balls, but she just kept getting back up swinging. I hate that she let the Tom saga drag on for as long as she did, but I get that it’s hard to abandon the only love you’ve ever known, especially when they’ve conditioned you to think you can do no better. I love that even though she made the first mode, Cade came into her life like a wrecking ball she never saw coming. I also loved his vulnerabilities. Even though he had been burned from her lifestyle in the past, it didn’t stop him from rushing to her side and being her protector. Even though he tried effortlessly to deny it, their chemistry burned so bright. Every scene that they were in together, the want and longing jumped from the pages. Behind the facade, Janelle really was a genuine person who loved those around her without fail, and when Cade was able to see past what she presented to the world, it was so beautiful.

You’ll find yourself wanting to physically hurt many people in this book, but never our main couple. I was guessing until the very end who was behind everything, and when I found out it made total sense. I can’t wait to see what Lexi brings us next in this little world I’ve come to love so much!

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Note:

Each series can be read on its own, but for the chronology purists, the reading order is below.

Love Unbound: Splintered Hearts

1

Unbreak Me

(New Hope, #1)

(Maggie’s story)

Amazon US

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“If you’re broken, I’ll fix you…”

I’m only twenty-one and already damaged goods. A slut. A failure. A disappointment to my picture-perfect family as long as I can remember. I called off my wedding to William Bailey, the only man who thought I was worth fixing. A year later, he’s marrying my sister. Unless I ask him not to…

“If you shatter, I’ll find you…”

But now there’s Asher Logan, a broken man who sees the fractures in my façade and doesn’t want to fix me at all. Asher wants me to stop hiding, to stop pretending. Asher wants to break down my walls. But that means letting him see my ugly secrets and forgiving him for his.

With my past weighing down on me, do I want the man who holds me together or the man who gives me permission to break?


Stolen Wishes

(New Hope, #1.5)

(Will and Cally’s prequel)

Amazon US

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Cally…
A sexy smile. Intense blue eyes. A goodness that makes him want to save me from these rumors when no one else would care. I didn’t ask for a hero. William Bailey was never supposed to be anything more than a wish, a dream, an unrequited crush. Not for a girl like me–a girl whose fractured family has stolen her chance at a decent life.

William…
Since the death of my parents, I’ve always done what’s expected of me, what’s “best” for me. Until Cally. The moment her haunted eyes meet mine, the fractured pieces of my heart feel whole again. I don’t just want to save her. I need her to save me.

Stolen chances. Unbroken wishes. Two lonely souls grasping for hope in the darkness.

This novella takes place seven years before the events in WISH I MAY and shows William and Cally falling in love for the first time. It can be read before or after WISH I MAY or on its own.


 Wish I May

(New Hope, #2)

(Will and Cally’s novel)

Amazon US

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Nothing about her says cute. Everything about her says sex. And mine.

I never thought I’d see her again. Didn’t think I wanted to. But the moment Cally Fisher returns to New Hope, I know I could forgive her the most unthinkable secret, if only she would tell me.

This time, I’m fighting for her.

After seven years. After breaking his heart and dismissing my own, I’m still very much his.

I never intended to return home, but to help my sisters, I’ll confront my past…and William Bailey, the man whose eyes remind me of the girl I was, the things I’ve done, and the future I’ve lost. This would all be easier if William hated me. But he wants to be in my life, my secrets be damned.

If he learns the truth, it will destroy him.


Or read them together in the omnibus edition

Splintered Hearts: The New Hope Trilogy

(New Hope, #1, 1.5, 2)

Amazon US

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UNBREAK ME
Twenty-one year old college dropout Maggie Thompson returns home to be a bridesmaid in her ex-fiancé’s wedding to her sister. Maggie hopes to salvage her long-tarnished reputation and strained relationship with her family, but finds herself caught in a web of secrets and deception between the man who once promised to fix her and the sexy ex-rocker who gives her permission to break.

STOLEN WISHES
Stolen chances. Unbroken wishes. Two lonely souls grasping for hope in the darkness. William Bailey and Cally Fisher are brought together by vicious rumors and are given a chance at love. This novella takes place seven years before the events in WISH I MAY and shows William and Cally falling in love for the first time. It can be read before or after WISH I MAY or on its own.

WISH I MAY
After seven years, Cally Fisher returns to New Hope and faces her high school sweetheart for the first time since she stood him up for prom. William Bailey is willing to forgive her for breaking his heart, but Cally has secrets even Will can’t forgive.


Love Unbound: Here and Now

2

Lost in Me

(Here and Now, #1)

(Hanna’s story begins)

Amazon US

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Lost in Me is the first book in the Here and Now series, a spin-off of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Hope series. This sexy amnesia love triangle is intended for mature readers.

The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost…perfect.

But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don’t remember dating, attempting to run a business I don’t remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don’t even know I have?

I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.


Fall to You

(Here and Now, #2)

(Hanna’s story continues)

Amazon US

FallToYou Amazon GR SW

Torn between two men…

When I woke up after the accident, I couldn’t remember anything from the last year—including my relationship with Max Hallowell or anything about Nate Crane. Now my memories are returning, but instead of answering my questions, they’re leaving me with more.

The man who broke my heart and wants to be my future…

Max is all I ever wanted, and now he wants to marry me. He’ll do everything he can to fill my life with love, family, and security. I need those things now more than ever. But can I trust him?

The man who stole my heart and wants to let me go…

Nate never made me promises, and I never asked him to. I’d been on the rebound, looking for a distraction, and he made me feel beautiful and wanted when I needed to feel those things most. He says he has to let me go, but what if I can’t let go of him?

With every revelation and every passing day, I feel more like Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m falling. Who will catch me?


All for This

(Here and Now, #3)

(Hanna’s story concludes)

Amazon US

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What if you would never remember the day you made the most important decision of your life?

That’s what they’re telling me about the day of my accident—the day I put on Max’s ring and chose him over Nate. I’m counting on the wisdom behind a decision I don’t remember making.

Max is amazing—sexy, sweet, and kind. I was starting to believe happily-ever-after might be in my future after all. Then the unthinkable happened and my world imploded. If I’m going to make this work with Max, I need my missing memories, or at least answers from about those five days before my accident.

But what does my future hold if those answers aren’t anything like I imagined?


Or read them together in the omnibus edition

Here and Now: Complete Series

(Here and Now, #1-3)

Amazon US

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**This omnibus edition includes all three full-length novels from the USA Today Bestselling Here and Now series: Lost in Me, Fall to You, and All for This. The Here and Now Series is a sexy, amnesia love triangle intended for mature readers.**

Torn between the man she’s always wanted and the rocker she can’t remember…and can’t let go…

When an injury leaves Hanna Thompson without her last year of memories, she wakes to a perfect life—right down to an engagement ring from her unrequited love, Max Hallowell. But each day makes her question if she has the life she always wanted or if she’s been living a lie. As she searches for answers, every path leads to rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants her for himself.

“Sexy, twisty and utterly addictive…Clear your schedule. An amazing read!” –NYT Bestselling Author Kendall Ryan

LOST IN ME
The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost…perfect.

But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don’t remember dating, attempting to run a business I don’t remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don’t even know I have?

I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.

FALL TO YOU
Torn between two men…
When I woke up after the accident, I couldn’t remember anything from the last year—including my relationship with Max Hallowell or anything about Nate Crane. Now my memories are returning, but instead of answering my questions, they’re leaving me with more.
The man who broke my heart and wants to be my future…
Max is all I ever wanted, and now he wants to marry me. He’ll do everything he can to fill my life with love, family, and security. I need those things now more than ever. But can I trust him?
The man who stole my heart and wants to let me go…
Nate never made me promises, and I never asked him to. I’d been on the rebound, looking for a distraction, and he made me feel beautiful and wanted when I needed to feel those things most. He says he has to let me go, but what if I can’t let go of him?
With every revelation and every passing day, I feel more like Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m falling. Who will catch me?

ALL FOR THIS
What if you would never remember the day you made the most important decision of your life?

That’s what they’re telling me about the day of my accident—the day I put on Max’s ring and chose him over Nate. I’m counting on the wisdom behind a decision I don’t remember making.

Max is amazing—sexy, sweet, and kind. I was starting to believe happily-ever-after might be in my future after all. Then the unthinkable happened and my world imploded. If I’m going to make this work with Max, I need my missing memories, or at least answers from about those five days before my accident.

But what does my future hold if those answers aren’t anything like I imagined?


Love Unbound: Reckless and Real

1

Something Wild

(Reckless & Real, #0.5)

(Liz and Sam’s story begins)

Amazon US

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“You need a good guy. A long-term guy. One who does dates and romance and emotional strings…I’m just an asshole who wants to tie you up, make you come, and walk away.”

Samuel Bradshaw is a man with a reputation—the kind of reputation that should have me running the other way. Instead, it has me searching for the shortest distance to his bed. I won’t be the starry-eyed girl who thinks she can change a man like Sam, and despite what he thinks, forever is not what I need. I need the things he makes me feel, the way he turns me on, and the promise of pleasure in his eyes. This promises to be Something Wild.


Something Reckless

(Reckless & Real, #1)

(Liz and Sam’s story continues)

Amazon US

SomethingReck Amazon

He talks dirty to me, but I don’t know his name.

He wants to tie me up, but I don’t know his face.

He turns me on, but I couldn’t point him out in a crowd.

I’ve fallen for an anonymous stranger, and now the anonymity ends. I want more than typed secrets and texted promises. I want something reckless. Heat. Passion. The thrill of being entirely possessed.

Because I suspect this anonymous stranger isn’t a stranger at all.

*****

Lizzy Thompson met riverrat69 online through a service promising to deliver meaningful relationships by forbidding its users to share names or photos until they’ve reached a certain benchmark. She was looking for love. He was researching an investment. They hit it off. Talked and flirted, hid behind screen names and cartoon avatars.

Now they’re breaking the rules and meeting in person. But Liz is prepared. She’s picked up hints and followed clues. She’s nearly convinced she’s discovered the identity of her dirty-talking online friend.

She wonders if her ex-lover Sam Bradshaw knows her identity too.
When she rolls the dice on one reckless night, her chance at something real could crumble.


Something Real

(Reckless & Real, #2)

(Liz and Sam’s story concludes)

Amazon US

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After everything blew up on Christmas, Liz walked away from me, and I let her. She said she needed space and a chance to pursue her dreams. But we both knew she was running from the mess she made. Now the political campaign she used as an excuse to leave is bringing us back together and I’m proving to her what she really needs—not just the hot nights, greedy hands, and undeniable physical chemistry. What she really needs is something real. What she really needs…is me.


Love Unbound: Mended Hearts

Playing with Fire

(Mended Hearts, #1)

(Nix’s story)

Amazon US

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Dr. Phoenix Reid isn’t who she seems…

Everyone knows a phoenix rises from the ashes. What they don’t talk about are the people she drags with her into the fire.

I thought one hot night with Max Hallowell was harmless. I never expected it would force me to face my past or bring back the man who swore he’d never let me go. Now Max wants to help me. Wants to save me. But if I let him, he’ll be destroyed. I can already smell the flames.

A woman with a secret past. A man determined to protect her. A dangerous passion that could cost them both everything.

Playing with Fire is the first in a new series of standalone novels featuring the New Hope characters Lexi Ryan fans have come to love.

About Lexi Ryan

Once a college English professor, I now write full time. I live in rural Indiana, where, when I’m not writing, I get to hang out with my husband and two kids–a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old hellion, er, girl. Not surprisingly, reading and writing remain my favorite activities, though both come in bits and pieces these days, not the big hunks of time I enjoyed before I had children. When I’m feeling virtuous, I like to go running (I use that word liberally. I’m really, really slow) or do yoga. Don’t worry, I’m always careful to balance out such activities with a hearty serving of ice cream or a chocolate martini.

I love hearing from readers, so I hope you’ll drop me a note at writerlexiryan@gmail.com

So, what did you think? :-)