Former best friends find themselves back together with the past hanging over them in an emotionally intense journey of forgiveness in this New Adult romance. Keep reading to get a tempting taste of The Bet by J. Beck & C. Hallman, along with my impressions of this book, then add this frenemies to lovers tale to your bookshelf. In honor of this first installment in the North Woods University series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC as well as a Kindle Fire too!
“He was my best friend…” I say more to myself than her.
“Yeah, so was I but you seem to have forgotten that part of your life.”
The bet was simple.
You draw a name from the hat.
That’s the girl you have to seduce.
The girl you have to make fall head over heels in love with you.
It wasn’t hard for me to do, in fact it was something I did all the time. I was known for breaking hearts. Sex was just that, sex. And it didn’t take me very long to get a woman on her back.
And then I drew her name: Jules Peterson.
My former best friend. My first kiss. My first love. She shattered my heart into a million pieces three years ago. She left me right when I needed her most.
And as fate who have it, she had entered my life once again, at almost the perfect time.
She was a transfer, fresh meat, and she had just put a target on her back. It was my turn to make her pay. It was my turn to break her heart.
Holding onto that hate, that anger, that f*cking heartbreak. It does something to you. It breaks you, and it broke me, it tainted me, just like I would do to Jules.
She used to be my everything, but now she was nothing but The Bet.
My heart is racing, and my breathing is shallow now that we're face to face. He’s still angry, nothing but hate and sadness reflecting in his eyes. It's then looking at him, seeing those emotions swirl that I realize I’m not mad at him. I don't hate him for doing this.
I couldn't, not even if I wanted to. Instead, I feel something entirely different…I feel remorse. I feel sorry that this is what he has turned into, sorry that there is no love in his life, that he's lost the light, the kindness he once had.
Feeling a need to bring back that man, I grasp onto his shirt, grabbing a handful of the fabric, pulling him even closer while lifting up my head from the mattress. I don’t think. I simply press my lips to his and kiss him. His lips are warm, and I inhale his scent, diving headfirst into the emotions he's pulling deep from inside me.
My mouth fuses to his, a hunger clawing at my belly. The sweet innocent kisses we shared before when we were kids is nothing compared to this kiss. This kiss holds a need, a possessiveness I want to grab onto.
Remington deepens the kiss and for a moment, I forget about how hurt we are, how angry we’ve been over losing each other. For a moment, we’re the same people we used to be using the strength of our kiss to say things neither of us ever could.
But the moment passes just as quickly as it started and within seconds, he's pulling away, his lips swollen, his chest heaving. I catch a flicker of confusion that mirrors my own in his eyes before he jumps off the bed, immediately turning his back to me. I can hear him fastening his pants back up. I’m shocked, my thoughts disheveled, but one thing sticks out in my mind. I don't want what we just shared to end already.
“What are you doing?” I ask, my voice weak. I don't want him to go, I don't want him to run away from me, not after I've caught a glimpse of the boy I once knew. I stare at his broad shoulders, his muscles rippling beneath his shirt, his body full of tension.
He wasn't expecting the kiss, or my reaction to him and maybe that's what he needs, to be shocked. I don't really know, but I can't let go of what happened. I'm waiting for an answer, but it never comes, and though I'm not surprised, I am hurt.
“Don’t go!” I order, but he’s already out the door, slamming it closed shut behind him, leaving me sitting on the bed naked from the waist down with nothing but the memory of his lips on mine. What did we just do? When I feel like my legs are steady enough to hold my weight, I slide off the bed and pick up my discarded clothes. Just as I’m pulling my panties up, the door flies open again.
Cally stands in the doorway her mouth gaping open, betrayal and hurt in her now cold gaze. “You knew I liked him! How could you do this to me? I thought you were my friend.”
“It's not like that, Cally.” And it’s not. She wouldn’t understand that though. No one would. No one knows of the past we share.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
I’ve read books by Ms. Beck before and enjoyed them very much which is why I was so happy to get my hands on this release. While with this release I found the author’s typical intensity, I also found a tale full of frustrations and unexpected twists and turns that kept me glued to the pages. Set in the college world it’s a tale of second chances, a tale of moving on from a painful past of anger to forgiveness and HEA.
It’s a bumpy journey though, one that left me often angry with the hero and his immature anger over why his former friend left all those years ago while putting her in jeopardy through his actions now regarding his frat brothers. The years have allowed his anger to fester and it’s made him bitter with actions here that were anything but heroic and Remington was somewhat diminished in my eyes despite his attempts at redemption. He may have been willing to sacrifice himself to help Jules after the fact, but he’s the one who put her in the dangerous hands of a smarmy frat brother in the first place. His actions ultimately cast a shadow over his and Jules’s burgeoning romance and made their romance a bit hard to envision for me, but despite that I still found myself invested in their story. It’s a story that pulls at the heartstrings, points out how deep anger can ruin a person’s life and how freeing forgiveness can be.
While Remmy was a disappointment for me in some ways, Jules was an admirable heroine who rolled with every punch thrown her way. As children she and Remmy were inseparable, they were each other’s rock until the day she was forced to leave him behind. The years haven’t been kind to her though with the death of her father and brother and being able to see Remmy again was going to be a highlight for her...until she discovered his intense anger directed at her. His initial reactions to her were truly hurtful, both in words and deeds, and I cheered her on as she went toe to toe with him every step of the way. Jules was put through the wringer throughout this tale...all due to Remmy’s misplaced anger and though he did a bit of groveling it never felt quite enough as Jules deserved a bit more of a HEA. That’s not to say I didn’t like them together because I did. Once they put their pasts behind them they were an appealing couple, the journey to get there though is hard to forget.
The twists and turns of this book kept me fully invested in this story as did the likable heroine. Each blow to her is one I felt myself and many of the more painful moments came from a tarnished hero who never fully won me over but put in a good effort in making amends. On a whole this was a solid series starter that gave me a cast of secondary characters who left a lasting impression. One of the stand outs was Seb who was wise beyond his years and actually talked through things instead of letting misunderstandings fester. I hope to see more of him as he showed himself to be a true hero...along with being drool-worthy. Kudos to this duo for not taking the easy path to HEA as it’s a path that preyed on every one of my emotions.
My rating for this is a C+/B-
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
J.L. Beck & C. Hallman are two ladies with a love for coffee, books, and the bad boys who live inside them.
They’re a dynamic duo who love writing all genres of romance, from erotica, to suspense. To date they’ve written ten books together and don’t plan to stop any time soon.
When they aren’t writing you can find them making jokes, discussing their next book, arguing over cover photos, and of course drinking more coffee.
They’re humble, and truly blessed to have found such amazing readers.
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