Thursday, September 15, 2016

The One Real Thing by Samantha Young - Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life.  Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations.  But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her.

Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for…

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Source: e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Many of you are aware of Samantha Young through her On Dublin Street series. Though I'm still working my way through them it was a no-brainer that I'd have to check out her new endeavor. Set in a small town where everywhere you turn is a friendly face ready with a warm greeting, The One Real Thing has a different vibe to it that made me wishing I could visit it myself.

Jessica is a hardworking doctor at a women's prison where she stands out among her peers because of her generous compassion towards all the inmates. She has this inherent belief that no one is truly bad, they just happen to do bad things. At the prison, she discovers a series of hidden letters within a book written by a former inmate. These letters and the tragic story that is relayed through them, have an unexpected effect on Jessica, ultimately inspiring her to find the intended recipient. Before she can back out of it, she makes Hartwell her getaway destination so she can deliver those letters and get some R&R. Away from her stressful job, Jessica finds solace in the calm and friendly seaside town. It's not until she runs in to Cooper that she understands what has been amiss. Jessica and Cooper are older and jaded having been through their fair share of disappointment. She has spent most of her life trying to "fix things" as a doctor and hide away behind her career, while he has always been the one taking care of things. Pursuing a relationship is a big gamble for both of them since they both come with baggage.

There's more to Jessica's story than meets the eye and it's a sad one that's held her back emotionally. In a way, it takes a village to help Cooper and Jessica find their way to each other. It's a close-knit community of people who look out for one another. I like how Young has set potential storylines in TORT through some of the other characters in town, one of them being quiet bookstore owner, Emery. I admired how Jessica's slow connection to the elusive young woman was played out. There's definitely something in her backstory that I hope gets explored in a future book. This particular storyline also showcased Jessica's amazing patience and empathetic nature which made her my personal hero. The only character I didn't take to immediately was Bailey, one of Cooper's friends and the owner of the bed and breakfast where Jessica stays. The two of them become instant friends which is great, it's just that her personality came on a bit too strong for me. Regardless, I was relieved that Jessica was experiencing a beautiful companionship. As for the man of the hour, Cooper ... yeah, he's gorgeous, he's resourceful, he's a no-nonsense kind of guy but the BEST thing about him is that he was not once intimidated by Jessica's credentials. That kind of a man is a keeper! And the two of them make one hot couple! As for the rest of the locals, they're lovely and welcoming - I was starting to feel like Hartwell was home myself!

The One Real Thing will bring on all the feels. At first the synopsis sounds like it has all the makings of a Lifetime movie but I think it surpasses that initial impression. I thought that the hidden letters would take center stage in the story but they're only the catalyst that gives Jessica that push to snap out of her solitude. It's always fun to read about a community that not only charms its way into your heart but also heals what's been hurting for so long. I think everyone comes to a point where they question what they're doing, if they're happy, if it's worth it. Jessica and Cooper are no different so it's a delight to watch them dance around each other until they get their acts together. Sure, The One Real Thing is a lovely romance but it's also an ode to finding yourself in all the chaos. 

~ Bel

About the author: 

Photo source: Goodreads

Samantha Young is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series, including Moonlight on Nightingale WayEchoes of Scotland Street, and Fall from India Place, as well as the standalone novel Hero. She resides in Scotland.

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Why did it feel like having sex had complicated things so much? Usually sex was complication-free for me.
But before that night I’d been completely sure that Cooper was interested in exploring something more with me, and now I was freaking out that his interest would wane now that he’d had me.
I shook my head slowly. “No. It was good.”
He scowled, his arms tightening around me so much there wasn’t an inch of space between us. “It was better than fucking good, Jessica.”
I scowled back and pushed at his chest for some breathing space. “Well, I’m sure you’d know all about that.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“You use the word ‘fuck’ a lot.”
“It’s a good fucking word.”
I was tempted to laugh at how disgruntled he sounded and he seemed to catch my amusement because his hold on me eased.
“What’s going on in your head, Jess?”
I thought about evading this conversation. I’d never had to have an adult, open conversation with a man about sex. However, I realized, somewhat reluctantly, if I wanted something more with Cooper Lawson I was going to have to give him more than I was used to giving.
I couldn’t change his past, but I could figure out what it was he wanted in the future by just being honest and asking the question.
“You still want something with me, right? This”—I gestured behind me to the table—“it wasn’t just about sex.”
“No,” he said. “It’s not just about sex.”
As I heaved a sigh of relief, he let go of my waist to cup my face in his hands, dipping his head down to mine so our noses almost touched. He stared deep into my eyes and I shivered. I felt like he was trying to see right into my soul.
“I’m in this for the long haul, Doc. I was before you walked into my bar tonight, but now, after the best fucking sex of my life, after how wild that was, there’s no way I’m letting you walk out of here without me.”
And there he went doing it again.
His words resonated deep within me along with giving me that deep, sexual belly flip of arousal.
My fingers curled into the top of his biceps. “Best sex of my life, too,” I murmured. “It stunned me a little. Confused me . . . I thought maybe . . . you . . . this was old hat for you . . .”
He gave me a crooked grin. “You think I make a habit of fucking women in my bar.”“You could,” I said. “You are definitely a man who could pull that off.”Cooper threw his head back in laughter and I pressed my body deeper into his to feel his joy.
And then he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.
Just as I’d suspected, he was a really good hugger.
When he pulled back he was smiling gently at me. “You’re the only woman I’ve had in my bar.” He let me go only to take my hand in his. “No one sits at that table anymore.” He gestured to the scene of the best sex we’d both ever had. “It’s now a shrine.”
“You can’t do that!” I was mortified at the possibility of people finding out why there was a table in Cooper Lawson’s bar that no one was allowed to sit at.
“I can. It’s my bar. I think I’ll even carve ‘Coop and Doc were here’ on it.”
Finally getting that he was joking, I made a face. “Funny.”
“You’re slow on the uptake tonight,” he teased.
“My brain was just frazzled by the orgasm to beat all orgasms.”
He squeezed my hand. “You up for more brain frazzling?”
I shivered at the thought. “Definitely.”
His eyes darkened. “Let’s go back to my place.”
Exhilarated by the prospect, I followed him, and it wasn’t until we’d stepped outside the bar into the cool night air that I said, “I don’t suppose you know where my panties are?”
“I do, actually.” He led me to the back of his bar to the parking lot. A dark-colored GMC was the only truck there.
“Um . . . could I have them, please?”
He stopped me at the passenger side of the truck, pressing me up against the car. “Why?” he whispered against my lips before he kissed me deeply. He came up for air a few seconds later. “You’re not going to need them where we’re going.”
The nagging pressure between my legs increased. “You are so very, very good at stringing the exact right words together.”
He kissed me again.
“You’re just good with your mouth in general,” I murmured.
Cooper grinned and brushed his lips over mine. “In the truck, Doc.” 


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