GIVEAWAY ENDS ON 6/29 AT MIDNIGHT!
Carry Your Heart by Audrey Bell
Champion skier Pippa Baker lost everything in the avalanche: her boyfriend, his best friend, and her will to win. After a year of grief, she returns to competition.
She finds more than buried memories and steep slopes in Utah. She finds Hunter Dawson, a heartbreaking daredevil with the gold medals to prove it. And she finds that his reputation doesn’t stop her from falling hard, and that her heart might not be as broken as she once believed.
But, Hunter has scars and memories too—scars that make him believe falling in love might hurt too much, scars that make him run.
Pippa knows how much love hurts when it’s gone. Will she stop herself before she’s in too deep? Or will she let herself fall?
This is a new adult, contemporary romance novel.
BUY IT NOW! - Barnes & Noble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Why is it that good girls always fall for bad boys? It must be a chemical found only in females. WAIT! I think I remember reading about this in science class… *goes to look it up* Ah, yes! I was right! I KNEW IT! It’s the chemical called I'ᴍAᴅᴜᴍʙᴀssBᴜᴛOʜHᴇIsSᴏHᴏᴛGᴏᴛTᴏHᴀᴠᴇTʜᴀᴛDɪᴄᴋRɪɢʜᴛNᴏᴡ! This chemical makes girls lose all common sense in the presence of overly confident, hot and sexy males – I say girls, but don’t get excited, because it never goes away; in fact it sometimes gets more intense with age.
❝There is no fucking way I’m letting you toss my board into the bottom of an airplane. You know how many times I’ve lost my snowboard? Zero. You know how many times JetBlue has? Four. Four fucking times. How is that level of incompetence even possible?❞
See? That’s snowboarder and Gold Medalist, Hunter Dawson. Prime example right there. Any level headed female would run the other way – I mean, who would want a hot-head like that? Okay, who cares that he is perhaps the most gorgeous man you have seen in ages? He loses major points for possessing the asshole gene. DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200! And by all means, DO NOT GET IN BED WITH THIS MAN! Ha! Not so fast! Did you forget about the aforementioned chemical found in normally levelheaded females? Umm-hmm. Pippa Baker is a woman, so, yep! She has it!
Pippa Baker lost everything that meant anything to her in an avalanche over a year ago. Once a champion skier, she walked away from it all; lost in a world of grief over the death of her boyfriend and his best friend. She has pretty much stopped doing anything that ever brought her any joy, including skiing. She just can't go back to it. Her former coach isn’t taking “no” for an answer. He is determined to build her back up to the champion she once was. So, when she finally succumbs to his persistence, the last thing she is looking for is love – especially love with a loose cannon like Hunter Dawson.
Hunter throws off jerk vibes at every turn. He’s arrogant and he’s a womanizer. He has a bad reputation, but there is something truly magnetic about him. See? Even I’m getting sucked in and wouldn’t mind having a little piece of his "action," if I’m being honest. Hunter may seem like he has it all, but he has wounds from his past that need healing too. Once he drops the “tough guy” act and shows his tender side, there is just no way any woman could resist – and Pippa is no exception.
Pippa and Hunter have amazing chemistry, but old habits die-hard. Hunter is a bit like a puppy being potty trained… It takes a bit for him to learn, but once he gets it, he really gets it.
New author, Audrey Bell makes a fantastic debut with CARRY YOUR HEART. She did a wonderful job with creating great characters – characters that I look forward to learning more about. I’m a fan. I’m really looking forward to what she has in store for the second installment in this series called After Forever.
NOTE: Self-Published indicates no “professional editing” has occurred. With the exception of some grammatical and spelling errors, Bell has done a great job of giving the reader a lovely finished product. I know some readers take off stars for editing errors, so I thought this was worth mentioning - if the story is appealing to you, please don’t let this deter you from snatching it up. I can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed.
✳✳ Copy provided by the author/publisher for an honest review.
“I’m going to grab a drink,” I say, badly wanting something to ease the nerves and excitement of being back here. The last time I saw most of these faces was at Ryan’s funeral. I shake that unpleasant, searing memory. Parker had been a pallbearer. Joe had practically collapsed outside of the church. I shudder. Center myself in the present.
You’re in a bar. Almost a year later.
I look around for a bartender, and find Laurel instead.
“Hey!” she slurs enthusiastically.
“Lucky break today, huh?” she asks.
“Yep. You okay?”
She rolls her eyes. “Fine. I was so fucking pissed.”
“It happens to everyone,” I say with a shrug.
“Not to me,” she tosses her hair. “So, you’re like back or whatever? For real?”
I nod. “I’m back.”
Hunter leans further on the counter and looks down, past Laurel to me. “How’d you do?” he asks. His eyes are locked intensely on mine. It’s a gaze that I can’t hold for long.
“Third,” I say.
“Not bad,” he smiles mischievously. “Told you I’d pray for you.”
Laurel shakes her head as if she’s noticed that Hunter and I are talking for the first time. “Oh. Hunter, this is Pippa.”
“Hey,” I say.
“We know each other,” Hunter says automatically.
“How?” she demands.
“We were on the same plane here,” Hunter says. He watches me. He answers Laurel’s question, but his eyes don’t leave me. “Philly, can I get you a drink?”
“Ah…” I glance at him and at the bartender and at Laurel.
“Her name is Pippa,” Laurel says.
“What do you like?”
“Gin and tonic.”
He grins. “Country club girl, huh?”
Laurel looks at him and scowls. “Hunter, don’t leave without me. I’m going to say hi to all of my friends.”
She disappears over to Brooke and a few of the men’s Alpine skiers. I watch her, curiously, while a few of the male skiers let their eyes roam over me. They’re not checking me out. It’s more of a haunted look. Like, I’m the ghost of a bad memory they try to forget everyday.
They were the ones who were Danny and Ryan’s best friends. The guys they grew up with, fought with, all of that stuff.
And I’m the girl who somehow didn’t die when both of their buddies did. I swallow. I know they can’t look at me without thinking of them. I know that’s true for so many people here.
“Hey,” Hunter says softly, getting my attention. He has a beer and my drink.
He pushes the glass towards me and leaves a twenty-dollar bill on the bar.
He steps closer, sits down on a stool near me, and leans close, so I can feel the heat of his body and smell his aftershave. I like being near him. It’s warm. It feels dangerous.
“So are you always this happy with third place?” he teases.
“No. Not usually.”
He nods. “Better than second.” He rubs his chin. “Someone once told me that there’s nothing worse than fourth place, because you’re the best person not to get a medal. But I don’t think that’s true. I think second is the worst.”
I nod. “You finish second a lot?”
He laughs. “Nah. I finish first or I don’t finish at all.”
“Used to,” he nods. “Not anymore. I do some freestyle stuff, half-pipe.” He smiles. “I actually started snowboarding because I hated racing—when I skied. When I was a little kid.” He bites his lip and cocks his head. “But, I like to compete. Plus, I wasn’t any good on skis.”
“I doubt that’s true.”
“No, it is…” he shakes his head. “I raced your ex-boyfriend for a while. Danny?”
I nod. “Oh, yeah?”
“Back in middle school. Ryan, too. Ryan was fucking good. Everyone always told us to try and do it like Ryan.”
I flutter my eyelashes briefly, remembering how quick and graceful Ryan was. Even my dad, who knew little about competitive skiing, said so when he watched him race.
“The Snow Cat.”
“Ryan the Snow Cat. That’s what Danny called him—always landed on his feet.”
Hunter nods. “You don’t want to talk about this.” He moves a little closer.
“We can talk about it.” I don’t mind telling Hunter about them—he barely knew them and he seems barely curious.
“But you don’t want to.” His hair is combed back, in soft dark waves, and his eyes are big, green and glassy. The color of celery. He lifts the dark Budweiser bottle to his mouth and takes a long sip of beer.
God, he looks good.
He wipes the back of his mouth with one hand, a lazy, athletic gesture that makes me look at lips, soft and…shit, Pippa, you cannot be doing this right now.
I finish half of my drink in one swallow.
“Yeah,” I say. “Nervous.”
He raises an eyebrow. I wish I could do that. “Yeah? Do I make you nervous, Pippa?”
I blush. Stupid admission. Yes. “You’ve decided to call me Pippa?”
He smiles. “I feel weird buying someone named Phil drinks.”
“Ah, got it.”
He leaned forward onto his arms. I smell the alcohol on his breath; he’s more than a little bit tipsy at this point. “So, did you feel it change?”
“I didn’t feel anything change.”
“When you finished third,” he bites his lip and slides even closer to me. He leans and whispers in my ear. “You know, nobody feels sorry for you anymore. Now that they think you might be in the way again.”
I look back, over the people I know, and then up at Hunter. “Everyone here is an adult. We all want the same thing. We know that.”
He laughs. “You think Laurel’s going to go quietly if you keep beating her?” He shakes his head. “I saw you go today. You weren’t even trying. If I could see that, then I’m sure everyone else could”
“I was trying.”
“Not like you used to.”
“You never saw me ski before, so…”
“I know what playing scared looks like. Trust me. I was that guy for a long time,” he nods. He looks down at the bar.
“What’s your point?”
“Nothing.” He shrugs: “You seem like a cool girl. And I know what it’s like. One year I was the down on his luck kid and everyone was happy to see me win. The next year, I was just the competition. And I couldn’t figure out why people I thought were friends weren’t my friends anymore. Things change when you win. When it’s you, you’re the last person to realize what’s happening.”
I nod. “Oh, and you’re just looking out for me?”
“You don’t have to believe me.”
“No,” I say. I step back. “I never said I didn’t believe you. Thanks, I guess.”
“Laurel hates your fucking guts, by the way.”
“Yeah. So I’ve heard.”
He shrugs, not saying anything back to me.
“So, what’s your deal with her? She’s your girlfriend?”
He takes a long sip of beer, buying a little more time. He swallows and smirks. “I guess it depends on whether you want to come home with me.”
A flush rushes to my face. I didn’t think I seemed that easy. Or like I wanted him that badly. “Excuse me?”
“Do you want to come home with me?”
I stare at him. “How much have you had to drink?”
“Not that much,” he shrugs. “Interested?”
“No,” I say indignantly.
“Yeah, then, sure. I guess she’s my girlfriend.” I stare at him for a few seconds.
“What? Changed your mind?” he asks wickedly.
“No.” I shake my head. “Have fun.”
“I’ll try, Philly.” It really doesn’t seem like he cares that I’ve said no, and he definitely doesn’t care if I’m pissed off. But I am pissed off—both by the question and by the fact that he’s leaving with Laurel so soon after asking me if I wanted to go home with him.
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About the Author:
Audrey Bell lives in New York City, where she indulges her SoulCycle addiction and expresses her passionate hatred of the 6 Train. You can find her reading in Central Park, overcaffeinating at Starbucks, or trying to kidnap her neighbors’ Maltese puppy. She loves hearing from readers
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