| This is a sweet story of learning to love and trust again after a bad relationship.|
Willa’s journey is a pleasure to read as she learns her own strength. Everett is perfection, dorky and strong, agreeable and determined.
If I had to complain about something, it’s how inconsistent Willa is. It’s repeatedly mentioned how she’s an actual genius, but she acts like an actual dumbass through most of the book. She’s all over the place and not in a good, relatable way. She redeems her self by the end, but it was tough to read at times.
Still overall enjoyable, just a little annoying at points. 4 stars
Everett Monroe can’t keep his eyes off his gorgeous tenant.
He’d like to put his hands on her too, but she’s prickly, closed-off, and gives new meaning to the word disgruntled. In other words, she’s his perfect match and he’ll do anything to make her see it too.
Willa Hill has finally left her teen runaway past behind and wants a fresh start—alone. Men are nothing but trouble and she’s had enough man-trouble to last a lifetime.
Too bad her irresistibly sexy, nerdy-hot landlord doesn’t agree.
When their mutual yearning becomes a white-hot fling and passion crosses carefully drawn, albeit one-sided boundaries, Everett finds himself in love and Willa finds herself in a pickle.
Because, unfortunately, when she returned to Green Valley, her problems came too.
When the past she escaped crashes into the future she finds herself wanting more than anything, will Willa stay in Green Valley?
Or will she run away again?
‘Carpentry and Cocktails’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #5 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.
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Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Tz7hu5
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/38fxQsm
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2TIn2iz
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2NLs363
We had danced together before, the night I’d first met her. Months ago, I’d been at Genie’s with Wyatt to have a few beers and shake off the day. Instead, I’d danced all evening with the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Every time I remembered holding her close, I had to fight against getting hard. Since that night, I had been half in love with her. The physical half was all in—I was attracted to her something fierce. The mental half didn’t know enough to start the fall, even though everything I learned about her drew me in and each day made me fall a little further. She was skittish with a fiercely sharp wit; she had been hurt. I could tell she was protecting a soft spot and it made me want to discover it so I could be the one to keep her safe.
But she had kept her distance from me—well, as much as she possibly could while living in the apartment in my basement—and we hadn’t touched again, not once. Having her crash into my arms just now was heady stuff. Her scent, the feel of her body, the warm press of her against me—she made me feel intoxicated, and I had yet to order a single drink. My heart was in danger, but I couldn’t make myself stay away.
“My sister…I’m sorry—” she stammered as she started to step back.
I tugged her closer instead of letting her get away. “Don’t apologize. Dance with me?” My hands drifted around her waist as I started moving us backward toward the dance floor.
“Oh, I don’t know if we should.” Hesitation flashed briefly in her eyes, but she acquiesced and followed me across the floor as I turned to hold her hand, giving it a gentle tug of encouragement.
Leaning to the side, I whispered in her ear as we walked. “It’s just a dance, Willard.” I pulled back and grinned down at her with a wink. Her gorgeous eyes—big and light blue like the summer sky—widened as she opened her mouth to say something, but I twirled her under my arm instead of letting her speak. Country music blasted through the bar, fast and wild. It left no room for hesitation. I yanked her into my arms. “Okay?” I shouted over the music.
My mother loved to dance; she taught all us boys how. A gentleman always takes his lady dancing. And maintains a respectful distance. I took a small step back, placing my hand on Willa’s upper back as our fingers linked together. With a step forward, she closed that distance to press against me once more. My lips curled up in a grin as her hand tightened in mine and her arm slid around my neck, hand drifting through the back of my tied-back hair. She wasn’t as immune to me as she pretended to be and I wouldn’t dare test that by stepping away from her again, even if it wasn’t gentlemanly. If she wanted me close, then that’s where I’d be.
Her gorgeous eyes twinkled in the lights as she smiled up at me and her body relaxed in my arms. “Okay, Everett. I’ll dance with you,” she breathed. Her voice was much too quiet to hear over the blaring music, but my focus on her gorgeous mouth allowed me to understand her words.
Quick, quick, slow—our easy Texas two-step was the same as everyone else’s on the floor but with her in my arms, this felt like so much more than a simple dance. I led her across the floor, spinning her out and pulling her back. I wanted to make her laugh again, like I did during our last dance so many months ago. I wanted her to want me as much as I wanted her. We had almost shared a kiss that night but were interrupted before anything could happen. She had the prettiest lips; full and soft and always pink. If I never kissed Willa before I died, it would be one of my greatest regrets. I had faith the right moment would present itself. As the song came to an end, I took both of her hands to spin her under my arms before dipping her low over my knee. Her ponytail brushed the floor as her neck arched back. She laughed, lifted her head and my heart skipped a beat as her eyes shone into mine with unbridled delight. Her sexy laugh tickled over my skin like I wished her hands would do and I felt the fall I was so afraid of coming even closer.
“God, you’re such a good dancer. Where’d you learn to dance like this, Everett?” she asked, slightly breathless and totally adorable as she beamed up at me. It seemed that dancing with Willa was one of the keys to get her to respond to me. I filed that fact away for future contemplation as I pulled her up and into my hold once again.
My smile turned sideways as I was about to admit my nerdy momma’s-boy truth to her. “From my mother,” I shouted over the music. “She loves to dance. My father tries, but he isn’t very good at it, so she taught all us boys how. We used to take turns two-stepping with her all over the living room.”
“That’s the sweetest thing ever,” she said. Score one for the nerds!
“One more?” I didn’t want to let her go yet.
“Sure, I have time for one more before I have to get back to work.”
With its slower beat and romantic lyrics, Lady Antebellum’s “I Run to You” changed the energy between us. The rise and fall of her chest as she sighed against me filled me with need as her forehead briefly rested on my shoulder and our fingers linked. I loved it that she was so tall. At six-foot-six I towered over most women, but Willa fit me just right. My need grew urgent as I wrapped my arm around her waist and my hand met the soft swipe of her skin, bared by the tied hem of her Genie’s tank top. Smooth and warm, it tempted me into thoughts inappropriate for our location. I inhaled a sharp breath to regain control. Dipping my head low, I took in her sweet scent as my cheek rested against hers—so soft. Her curly hair tickled my chin as my senses filled with nothing but her. Having her next to me felt right and I didn’t understand why. My heart raced out of control and I wondered just what it was about her that made me react so intensely.
She reminded me of a Palomino horse; all long legs, flowing light blond hair, and pale skin kissed with adorable freckles. Willa was some kind of wild, and totally free. I shut my eyes and pictured her running across her momma’s land up in the hills above town with her gorgeous hair flying behind her like a gold cloud, her laughter trailing through the air. God, she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I grit my teeth as my control started slipping away again. I was in danger of making a fool of myself. I was in danger of a lot of things, and a broken heart was at the top of that list.
“I love this song…” she whispered in my ear as she pulled away. Her head lifted from my shoulder as her hand trailed down my arm. She linked our fingers and I resumed leading her around the floor, rather than the slow sway we’d fallen into when the song started.
“Mm hmm,” I muttered as I gazed into her eyes and smiled faintly, at a loss for words.
She studied my face. “Everett, why do I always feel like when you’re looking at me, you really see me?” she murmured.
“I do see you. Sometimes you’re all I see,” I confessed, hoping it wasn’t too much, too soon.
Lowering her head, she tucked her blushing cheek into the side of my neck and sighed against my skin, leaving goosebumps in the wake of her breath. I continued leading her across the dance floor with my heart beating like crashing thunder bolts in my chest. I should be careful; I didn’t want her to end up being just another girl I fell for who didn’t want me back. Story of my life.
About Nora Everly
Nora Everly is a lifelong bookworm. She started reading the good stuff once she grew tall enough to sneak the romance novels off the top of her mother’s bookshelf and it has been non-stop ever since.
Once upon a time she was a substitute teacher and an educational assistant. Now she’s a writer and stay at home mom to two small humans and one fat cat.
Nora lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and her overactive imagination.
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