A marriage pact between teens becomes oh so real in this endearing tale of second chances, hopes, and dreams. Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Only Ever You by CD Reiss, along with my impressions of it, then discover more about this book through Ms. Reiss’ insight into this book. In honor of this charming and sensual romance make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a digital copy of this book as well as a $25 Amazon GC too!
Ms. Reiss Giving Insight Into This New Release....Only Ever You is about a girl who planned for everything but never got what she hoped for, and a dweeb who hoped he’d to marry the girl, but never planned for it.
Rachel and Sebastian have an interesting history. They were friends as kids, but have lost touch as adults.....
They’re really strangers when they reunite at 30, but they’re burdened by what they think they know about each other. Sebastian was supposed to be an artist and Rachel was supposed to be a screenwriter. They have to shake all that stuff loose before they can see each other. When they do, they’re strangers.
I think attraction between strangers is real. Sexual heat is real. But "hearts and flowers" are earned. (I know that sounds like I’m your dad telling you to mow lawns, but that’s where the magic is. Not the lawns.) In the time just before you’re struck by lightning there’s a real electricity. It’s pure potential and anything can go wrong. It’s the best thing ever.
When they were kids they made up a 'contract' to get married at 30—which is pretty much panned when they do meet up and have the most awkward first kiss EVER. How do they overcome such an incredibly uncomfortable situation?
They overcome it by running away!
Sebastian is thinking “now or never” because he thinks Rachel’s never going to think he’s any cooler than when she sees him in the office of his own company. And she isn’t ready because her whole idea of herself is tied up in what a failure she is. Neither one of them is feeling good enough about themselves to have a really hot first kiss, which is the same reason they’re not ready to get married.
Rachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.
The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither was the string of heartbreaks. Or the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.
It’s hard to stay practical and on point when everything takes a left turn.
Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.
Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, but he also still has their handwritten marriage contract.
No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.
But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.
After I left her and CJ with Lucinda, I spent the weekly staff meeting wondering if Rachel was the same warrior I’d loved or if she was more the woman who’d held her laptop to her chest as if she needed protection.
I was obsessed.
I had to know.
Her text came in as I was leaving the meeting.
I need to check that we’re kidding.
Before I could finish typing a response, I caught her coming out of the bathroom with her laptop under her arm.
Alone. Me and her. Nothing between us but the question of who we were and how we fit.
She didn’t have a chance to finish. I crowded her back into the bathroom and locked the door behind us.
“Kidding about what?” I said.
“About getting married.”
“Why would that even be a question?”
“Our parents have been in negotiations about it.”
My mother couldn’t keep herself from talking if she tried, and I was her favorite subject.
“It might be a little soon for marriage, but—“
“Soon? I don’t like you seeing what I do for a living while you’re in a glass-walled office overlooking the ocean. I mean, I’m not marriage material, and the odds are that’s never going to change.”
“I don’t see why a date’s off the table.”
“Do you know what’s going to happen if we date?”
The list of possibilities was as long as my arm. I could have counted them off, from “We decide we hate each other” to “We end up in bed.” But I didn’t, because I was still trying to figure her out.
What did she want to hear?
With her wide eyes and parted lips, what did she want? Did she have a fondest wish where I was concerned? Was she leaning forward? Was her expression soft and yielding?
My mind spent too long deciding what to say, so my body spoke for me.
I kissed her hard and was met with teeth and stiff resistance. It was a kiss I’d wanted since I’d had hairless armpits and a voice somewhere in the low soprano range. I’d dreamed about it. Fantasized about it. Thought about it so hard in the middle of the night I could practically feel it.
But never, ever in my fantasies did she push me away so hard I fell back against a towel dispenser, watching her face twist into surprised rage as the machine spit out a ragged rectangle of brown paper.
“Messed up. I know.”
“Then why? What is wrong with you?”
She was livid, just like she would have been. Just like she should have been.
The tiger within Rachel was in there, and my attempt to tease her out had probably alienated her. She’d be right to never speak to me again.
“I’m sorry,” I said with my hand on the door lock. “I misread you. It won’t happen again.”
I started to open the door, but she held it closed.
“If we date, my mother’s going to get her hopes up that I’m going to settle down. And I’m sorry, Seb, but if we break up while she’s in chemo, it’s going to crush her.”
“You don’t even know if she’s sick again.”
“You’re right.” She pointed a rigid finger at me as if I were her mother. “I’m going to make her tell me.”
“You’re really beautiful when you’re telling it like it is.”
She slid her hand off the door. Having been called out, the warrior was sent into hiding.
No. I wouldn’t accept that. I wouldn’t allow it.
“Let’s just go out and catch up,” I said. “Saturday.”
“Can’t. Saturday’s the soonest I can talk to Mom.”
I unlocked the door. “I’m sorry about . . . the thing.”
“No, wasting paper towels. Of course kissing you.”
“Next time, give a girl a little warning.”
Next time? Her eyes darted to the door. Was she calculating the distance to her getaway? Or making sure it was closed?
“How about now?” I asked.
“Fair warning. Now.”
I stepped a little closer and put my hands on her arms. Not right away. I let them hover an inch away before touching her to give her the chance to move away. A chance I was sure she’d take.
But she didn’t move away.
Not this time. When I laid my hands on her biceps, she leaned in to me just a little. I smelled the floral lotion on her skin and a hint of cool water on her breath.
“Really.” I slid the laptop from her arms and placed it on the counter. “This is your warning.”
You’re doing this. I cannot believe you’re doing this.
“It doesn’t feel like a warning,” she said, and again—I noted—she didn’t move away.
“Flashing red lights.” My lips brushed her cheek, heading for her mouth. She felt better than I ever imagined. “A buzzer, maybe.”
“Just a kiss?” she asked, her lips moving against mine.
Before I could consummate what she was agreeing to, I was smacked by a swinging door.
“Oh!” CJ said. “I’m sorry! I was looking for you.”
Rachel snatched up her laptop and walked out. CJ raised an eyebrow with good reason, since I was in the ladies’ room. I left, and we all gathered in the hall.
“Well,” Rachel said. “Thanks for showing us your tedious financial-sector company.”
“Thank you for coming,” I said and let them walk away. I could have done or said much more, but not without getting her into trouble. She glanced back at me when they turned the corner, as if she wanted to make sure I was still there.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
When it comes to books they seem to fall into three categories...Amazing and unforgettable reads, pleasant reads that I quickly move on from, and those that had flaws and just didn’t work. Luckily this book falls under the second category courtesy of its charming and drool-worthy hero, Sebastian. A former teen nerd who’s grown up to be a wealthy and handsome man, Sebastian won me over from the very beginning as his attraction to the brash and protective girl next door showed a slow burning connection that ultimately caught fire. With each turn of the page I was won over by the sweet and sensual connection between Sebastian and Rachel and was rooting for them every step of the way to finally claim their HEA.
Sebastian Barton was a skinny and dorky teen who was bullied and treated like crap by schoolmates with only his neighbor Rachel his unwavering support and protector. In matters regarding him she was vocal and strong-willed in her defense and it warmed my heart that she was always in his corner. Those years had him looking up to her though and led him to finally fighting back. It also had him to seeing her in a romantic light, but with his insecurities he never brought his feelings to light. He did however agree to a marriage pact that would have the two of them marrying if they were still single by the time they both turned thirty. Years have passed, painful relationships with others have ended, and they’ve finally come into contact with each other again. They’ve changed though, both emotionally and physically, and for Sebastian he’s definitely changed for the good. He’s grown into his looks, become very tempting, with an air of confidence surrounding him. He’s still a bit cautious when it comes to handling Rachel’s heart, but he’s done with waiting for her any longer and has no shame in using their pact to win her over in a story that made me smile. Sebastian’s a delightful hero, a loving son and caring friend. He’s become successful over the years and has every right to be proud of his accomplishments, but he’s never arrogant about any of it. When it comes to women he’s been less successful as every woman has been compared to Rachel and been found lacking. His most recent relationship tried to take away his growing self-esteem and it’s clear he’s been left bruised by his ex which made ache for him. It’s usually the heroine who’s inexperienced, but in a wonderful twist it’s Sebastian who’s full of uncertainties and insecurities with his admission of that fact endearing him to me all the more. Throughout this story, through each word and deed, Sebastian pulled at my heartstrings and I fell for him completely in this romance full of heartfelt moments.
Rachel Rendell became Seb’s friend and protector the day they met and she defended him at every turn, even when it put her future in jeopardy. She and Seb were the best of friends growing up with a bond they thought would never end and which had them making a marriage pact for when they turned thirty. The ensuing years saw them drifting apart though, their lives going in very different directions. By now she expected to be a rich and award-winning writer, married, with children but fate hasn’t been kind and she’s now feeling like a failure. The years apart from Sebastian have tamed her fire, made her full of doubts and leery of being outspoken. With Sebastian missing that side of her it’s their being together again that inspires her as the two of them slowly turn a teenage marriage pact into an adult HEA. I ADORED the teenage Rachel, loved her strength and loyalty, and like Sebastian I too missed that side of her as an adult. She’s been beaten down by life, beaten down by her mom’s fight with cancer, and I could relate to those feelings of expecting more from yourself and not getting it. While I could empathize with her, I was also left frustrated at times and I wish she wouldn’t have wasted so much time with Sebastian within reach. He made his intentions obvious from the moment they reunited and she made a joke of it. He often reached out in subtle and overt ways only to have her bring up her feelings of inferiority, almost as a way to push him away. Her hesitations and negativity though added unnecessary roadblocks to a story that started with a delightful premise.
While on a whole I enjoyed this tale there were parts of the story that dragged a bit too, parts that slowed this story’s pleasant flow a time or two. Along the way fun and flirty banter was balanced with sexual tension that kept me turning the pages in a connection that I truly believed in despite Sebastian and Rachel’s years apart. The foundation laid as teens captivated me completely and put me fully on board for their journey to HEA. Along with the appealing main couple I was also charmed by both sets of parents and their comically manipulative ways. By the turn of the final page I found this a charming tale full of heart and soul that will warm reader’s hearts.
My rating for this is a B+
*I got this book from Netgalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well hauling buckets. Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood, California, to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere—but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.
Reiss is frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut, which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood. If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine. Text cdreiss to 77948 to get a notification whenever she has a new release.
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