The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.
In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.
Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.
Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.
An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.
Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.
Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.
All we have to do is trust enough to fall.
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The air between us shifts. I’m filled with a strange giddiness, wanting to laugh for the fun of it, but I’m also too warm, my limbs oddly heavy as if simple movements might be too much for me.
His tone turns soft and cajoling, teasing the truth out of me. “Are you going to tell me what you do?” When I say nothing, the corners of his eyes crinkle. “I see. You’re going to torture me a bit.”
The warm, fuzzy feeling grows as I shrug. “Torture feels apropos in this scenario.”
He hums again, taking another step toward me. “What makes you think I won’t like being tortured by you?”
The heat of his body and the scent of his skin makes my head light and my pulse pound. How did it get to this point where the highlight of my day is flirting with Jax Blackwood? Despite the thrill, I know I’m in over my head. I haven’t gone out on a date in months because I form attachments, I get emotional, and then I hurt when they inevitably leave. And this man will leave. He is as bright and fleeting as a camera flash. I’ll be left with the image of him seared into my memory and nothing more.
I tell myself all of this, the voice in my head as stern as possible. But it doesn’t make me back away. It doesn’t stop my body from somehow straining toward his without even moving. Because it might be stupid of me, but I want to feel something that isn’t planned. Something, for however briefly, that’s real.
He’s too attuned to me not to notice. John’s lids lower as his attention slides down my body before easing back up to my face. Slowly, he rests his forearm on the wall beside my head. “Tell me, Stella,” he murmurs.
“No,” I whisper back, flirting, even though I shouldn’t.
His biceps bunch as he leans in, a smile dancing on his lips. “Tell.”
My breasts graze his chest, and I feel it in my toes.
“You’re crowding me.” I hate how breathy I sound.
“Can’t help it.” His voice is a rumble, the heat of his breath playing over my skin. He ducks his head, drawing close until our lips nearly brush, and when he speaks again, his tone is almost conversational, except for the husky quality that touches deep within my core. “You smell like strawberries. Fucking delicious.”
My lids flutter, and I swallow hard. “Ordinarily, I’d call you out on that cliché but since I’ve been eating strawberries, you aren’t exactly wrong.”
His chuckle is slow and easy, as he eases back and his gaze slowly travels over my face. “Were they sweet, Stella Button?”
He’s looking at my mouth like he might try to find out. My lips tremble in response, and John tracks the movement, his breathing getting deeper, faster. “You have two freckles on your lips. One on the top lip and one on the bottom corner.”
Those damn freckles. They were the bane of my adolescence. I hid them with lipstick and silently cursed whenever someone mentioned them.
Freckles don’t have any feelings, but I swear it’s as if he’s touching them.
“You’re just noticing this?” I try to make it sound like a joke, but it comes out weak and thready.
His own lips quirk. “Oh, I noticed. It’s distracting as hell. They’re like two little dots of butter toffee. Makes me want to lick them, get a taste.”
Oh, God. Lick them, please. I can almost feel it. I want to feel it.
No. Bad Stella. Behave.
John’s lips part a fraction like he just might take that taste.
“Back off,” I whisper. And yet somehow my traitorous hands find their way to his sides, running over the waistband of his jeans, holding him there.
John makes a sound deep in his throat and tilts his hips, pressing them against mine. A distinctly thick bulge nudges my belly. Both of us lose a breath, and then he’s closer, his cheek touching my temple. “You’ll have to let me go first.”
My thumbs slide under the edge of his shirt and find smooth, taut skin. A tremor goes through his body. I try to think, search for what the hell we’ve been talking about.
His lips brush the crest of my cheek as he murmurs against my skin. “Tell me what you do, Stella. You know you want to.”
My smile feels illicit. Somehow the action is directly tied to all my happy parts, making them draw hot and tight. “I don’t think I do.”
Another hum. “Liar. You’re dying to.”
My ARC Review:
This was my first book by Kristen, I didn’t realise there were 2 books previous to this before I read it and to be honest didn’t feel like I was missing anything with the characters, but knowing there are 2 more I will definitely go back and read these. The blurb called to me on this one, little did I know the book was going to be dealing with anxiety, depression and the fallout from an attempted suicide and life with all this – goodness me, I am so glad I read this, the FEELS in this are unbelievable, the story spoke to me on a personal level having had issues myself, the characters were utterly real each dealing with their own problems – I fell so hard for this book!!
John ‘Jax’ Blackwood is the lead singer of a major rock group, he attempted suicide 2 yrs ago is living daily with depression and anxiety. Every day is a struggle in some way, some are definitely worse than others were even breathing takes thought, but other days can be good days living life as normally as possible. I loved John with a passion, he tries his best to get on with life, having money and success does not mean you are happy!! He’s been a typical rocker, having had many women before deciding he’s had enough of playing around, none of this is hidden in the story, even going so far as him getting an STD in his throat, nice!! But all this changes when fate intervenes and puts Stella in the freezer aisle and she ends up stealing the mint choc ice cream from him with a kiss.
Stella is a normal girl, as she would say, ordinary, plain Jane type apart from her hair which is just lush. She has her own problems as well as we all do, hers being left by her dad on her 18th to care for herself, she herself is a giver looking after everyone but not having what she needs returned to her. She’s a ‘professional friend’ being there for people who struggle to make friends in whatever capacity apart from sexual, as well as a pet sitter. John and Stella end up bumping into each other as Stella moves in next door to John to do a spot of pet sitting, after the ice cream moment I might add!
What follows is an epic story of friendship and trust, learning to love and letting your walls down, and learning to accept that love in return. I was totally immersed in this story, it really did make me connect with the characters and the empathic way their story is told was just beautiful!! It’s not all doom and gloom with depression and this story just goes to show how wonderful life can be if you can just live out of the darkness for a while. The chemistry between John and Stella was off the chart but again beautifully done, some of the scenes are so scorchingly hot, the one where they were making out on the couch had me sweating, it was raw and so very real!!
The romance, the humor, the beautiful lines, the feelings and emotions, the chemistry and the sensitivity in which the subjects are handled were just a massive win for me. This goes a long way to being one of my top reads for 2018, I loved it that much!! It won’t be for everyone with this storyline and the sensitive subjects, but you really should just read it anyway. Fabulous!!
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.