Review & Excerpt: Only You by Denise Grover Swank

Only You by Denise Grover Swank
Series: A Bachelor Brotherhood Novel (# 1)
Release Date:  October 25, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Pages:  368
Source: book provided by NetGalley

 

 

Never say never . . .

Romance isn’t an option for Holly Greenwood. With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-alteringly hot neighbor . . .

Ex-Marine Kevin Vandemeer craves normalcy. Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world’s craziest women. At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor.

After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn’t play by the rules . . .

 

Review: Only You by Denise Grover Swank is the first novels I have read by this author. I was really happy that I did choose to read it. This genre, contemporary romance, was definitely up my alley. I love anything with romance inside and this had plenty of it. The instant raw magnetism between man and woman is a lure unlike anything. That chemistry one feels towards another. The undeniable feeling inside the gut, telling you to go after what you want. But then life has to make something so simple a complicated mess. All of these situations were beautifully presented in this tale. I could not get enough.

The characters are the kind to wrap their lives around a reader and pull them into the book. I felt excited, happy, and thoroughly entertained. Denise Grover Swank also created moments full of humor and wisdom. Then there were the moments where readers will not only see but feel the characters’ moments where they wanted to die of embarrassment right on the spot…family has an interesting way of making the characters’ lives more interesting.

Only You is indeed the perfect title. Denise Grover Swank introduced two amazing characters. There’s this sweet yet sassy wedding planner who happens to stumble on her sexy next door neighbor’s life. She happens to work for his mom and needs that job to help support her grandmother. Then, there’s that sexy male neighbor. He’s a former Marine who swore off of women. Particularly, because each woman he has been in a relationship with has proven to be crazy. But when his gorgeous next-door neighbor falls on his front step, there’s no going back. Something snaps or sizzles between the two. Their journey forward will be enticing, bumpy, but worthy of every reader’s attention. I had trouble putting this novel down; addictive from the beginning to end. Overall, I highly recommend it to all.

 

Danielle

 

 

 

 

Excerpt

“Oh! I know! The lasagna. Take it over as a welcome to the neighborhood offering,” Melanie offered.

Holly gasped. “You traitor! You didn’t make that lasagna for me! You made it for me to take to him!”

“Calm down. I had no idea he was moving in today—only an idiot would move into that house—but why not use it to your advantage?”

“If you think he’s an idiot, why do you want me to meet him?”

“Maybe he’s an adorable idiot… with a rippling six pack. I mean, he is flipping the house. Hot construction guy…no shirt…”

“Am I meeting him for me or you?”

“You, sunshine. I’m with Darren right now, remember?  Besides, no one said you were looking for your future husband. You’re just looking for a good time. Now go.”

Holly tossed the mail on the kitchen counter. “I’m not sharing my lasagna.”

“It’s a huge dish, Holly. You don’t have to take him the whole thing. Just take part of it.”

She didn’t answer.

“Come on. You know you want to…”

She did. Kind of. But the thought of walking over with a casserole filled her with dread. All she needed was a large L painted on her forehead. The whole move reeked of desperation.

“I’ll clean up the dishes for a week,” Melanie said.

She leaned her butt against the kitchen counter. “Two.”

“Are you kidding me?” Melanie asked in disbelief. “Why am I paying the price for you to meet a guy?”

“I’m perfectly fine sharing my lasagna with Killer.”

“When I come home I’m taking that lasagna over to him myself. All of it.”

She would too. Holly let out a guttural growl. “Fine. But if I do this, you can’t bug me about not dating for an entire month. I’m marking on the calendar in the kitchen in case you forget.”

“Okay. One month, but you have to make an effort to talk to him, otherwise you can’t hold me to the date part.”

“And how do you know I won’t just tell you that I did?”

“Because you’re a terrible liar. I’ll know.”

Holly pushed out a sigh. “Melanie…”

“Text me when you get back.” Then she hung up.

Grumbling, Holly pulled the thirteen-by-nine casserole dish out of the fridge. The question was how to take it to him? Cut some out and put it on a plate? That would look tacky. She could give him the entire thing.

No freaking way that was going to happen.

She found an eight-by-eight dish in the cabinet then cut what looked like an eight-inch square in the pasta. The transfer was a disaster. Picking up a piece that big was unmanageable and the lasagna broke in half. She put both pieces in and tried to pat them back together, but it was obvious it wasn’t whole. It was also obvious the lasagna hadn’t started out in the original dish—one look at the one-inch gap on one side was proof enough of that. She popped it in the microwave for five minutes while she started to throw together a salad then stopped. If she wanted to impress him, salad wasn’t the way to do that. And damn her, but she did kind of want to impress him. She grabbed two beers out of the fridge and put them in a small brown bag. The microwave dinged and she pulled out the lasagna, trying to smash the cheese over the gaps, then gave up and covered the entire mess with aluminum foil. She tossed a fork and a napkin into the brown bag with the beers then took a deep breath and headed out the door.

Why was she doing this?

She glanced back at the messy kitchen, pots and dishes from Melanie’s cooking filling the sink.

She hated doing dishes…

Killer followed her out the door, then let out his displeasure when she shut the door before he could get out.

“I’ll be back, you big baby,” she said to the door then started across the yard, the dog’s angry yaps following her.

Great.

She stood at the bottom of his porch, looking up at the partially open front door and listening to her cousin’s disgruntled dog. The casserole dish was burning her hand and she was having serious second thoughts. Her new neighbor was going to think she was a nut case—which she was, courtesy of her cousin. All she had to do was dump this off then head home. Sure she was supposed to try to talk to him, but she’d drop off the food, exchange a few pleasantries, then leave.

Easy peasy.

She quickly climbed the two steps to the porch and sidestepped the hole in front of the door. This place was even more of a disaster than she thought. She rapped on the doorframe and waited. Killer renewed his barking efforts and she glanced over at her house, worried Mrs. Darcy would hear him and call animal control.

“Hey.”

She whipped her head around, her breath catching when she saw the man standing in the doorway. He had to be the most good-looking man she’d ever seen. He was tall, tall enough she had to tilt her head to look up at him, but the view was worth the effort. His dark brown hair was cropped short, but the unruly short waves suggested he was growing it out or needed a trim, and while she didn’t care for men with beards, the few days growth of stubble on his face made her fingers itch to touch it. His chest and shoulders filled out his light gray T-shirt and the previously noticed dark jeans clung to his hips. Never in her twenty-nine years had Holly reacted to man like she was now. She was literally tongue-tied.

His chocolate brown eyes swept from her face, down her body, then back up again, as he stood in place waiting for her to say something.

She’d heard of women doing this, acting like an imbecile over a man, but not her. Never her.

“Can I help you?”

“I…uh…” she stammered.

Lines creased his forehead as he frowned. “Are you okay?”

Oh, my God. She was making an utter fool out of herself.  She cast her gaze to the floor, trying it get herself together. Say something, Holly. Anything. The hole in the porch floor caught her attention. “I can’t believe you’re actually moving into the Miller house. It’s falling apart.”

The blood rushed to her face. Oh, my God. Did I really just say that?

He laughed, but it sounded pained. “So I’ve noticed.”

Why was she so awkward? Why couldn’t she be more like Melanie?

He shifted his weight, his shoulder leaning into the door frame. “Unless you’re a very generous Jehovah’s Witness, I’m guessing that’s for me?”

“Uh… yeah…” She looked down at the dish in her hand, now all too aware that it was still hot. She tried to shift it from her palm to her fingertips, the dish tipping sideways. It started to fall and she tried to catch it with her forearm, but the man grabbed it from her hand.

“Whoa. Runaway casserole.” He chuckled. He stood in front of her now, so close she could smell his musky shampoo mixed with his sweat, which wasn’t as bad a combination as she would have expected. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Her chest tightened and she forced herself to take a natural breath.

“Yeah…” Jiminy Christmas, Holly. Get yourself together. “It’s lasagna.”

“Even better.”

“I didn’t make it.” Brilliant. Just freaking brilliant.

He laughed and lifted the loose foil. “So you got a frozen lasagna from Costco and stuffed part of it in this casserole dish and brought it over to impress me?” He grinned at her, his gorgeous brown eyes dancing.

“What? No!” Oh, God. Could she just turn around and go home now? Did this constitute talking to him?

He watched her, waiting for further explanation.

“I…uh…” Then she remembered the bag in her hand and shoved it out toward him, punching him in the stomach. He released a soft grunt.

Could this get any worse? She started to take a step back, but he shifted the casserole dish and grabbed her arm, pulling her forward until his chest stopped her. She rested her free hand on him, feeling his hard muscles under her palm.

Oh, my God. She was touching his chest. His sexy chest.

Panic washed through her and she tried to jerk away but he held her firmly in place. She hadn’t dated in awhile and she knew a lot of the new dating apps had changed the rules. Did bringing a man food mean she wanted a booty call? She was going to kill Melanie.

She narrowed her eyes, then said in a haughty tone. “I’m not ready to sleep with you yet.”

An amused grin spread across his face. “While I’m happy to hear that’s on the agenda for later, that’s not why I’m holding you now. You were about to step into the hole.” He tilted his head toward it.

Her eyes sank closed and her face combusted.

He dropped his hold on her arm and took the bag, moving slow like she was a skittish animal. “What’s in the bag?”

“Beer.” She couldn’t bear to look at him, instead taking a couple of steps backward, while making sure to avoid the hole. “Yeah… I… You’re busy…”

“I can’t accept your store bought lasagna,” he said, sounding serious.

Who didn’t eat lasagna? “What? Oh… you don’t eat meat? Oh! It’s not store bought. My cousin made—”

“It looks like there’s enough for both of us. I figure maybe we should have dinner together before we hop into bed.”

“What? Oh.” This had moved well past disaster and was quickly moving into relocating to another state to avoid ever seeing him again territory. Her breath caught again at both his suggestion and the way he was watching her now—a mixture of curiosity and interest. Well, hello. She’d just let him know she was thinking about sleeping with him. Still, she’d never had a man look at her with such intensity and a shiver ran down her spine.

His eyes held hers and she felt herself melting.

“There’s only one fork in the bag.” That was brilliant. Why was she still standing here? Run! But her feet had somehow become disconnected from her brain.

His grin turned wicked. “We can share.”

Her face burned at the thought of their mouths touching the same utensil. Her eyes shifted to his mouth and she suddenly wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Would he hold her tightly to his chest like he had moments ago?

Oh, my God. She had just turned into every clichéd woman she’d made fun of since high school. What the hell was happening to her? Without another word, she spun around and ran back to her house, her foot catching on a tree root and making her stumble. She looked back at him, horrified to see him watching her, his amusement mixed with confusion.

When she got inside the house, she shut the door and locked it, wondering if she could convince Melanie into building a six-foot privacy fence to run the length of their property.

Because there was no way she could ever face that man again.

 

 

Author Bio

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese, which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty (in her own mind) Facebook comments and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

You can find out more about Denise:

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