A Bookworm Review by Ana
Hard to Love
I give this book 5 stars!
Have a look at the blurb:
From USA Today bestselling author Willow Winters comes a heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat gripping, romantic suspense.
She was too good for this world. I was too far gone to push her away.
I grew up in this life, and now I run these streets. Blood and violence taint everything I touch.
Everything but her. She was my constant through it all.
Just a touch would singe and soothe.
Just a look would tempt and torment.
She became my escape and my addiction.
I only survived because she was by my side.
I should’ve known better than to indulge.
I should’ve known better than to let her fall for me.
It was only a matter of time before the danger bled into what we had.
I was Laura’s downfall. Problem was, she was mine too.
Hard to Love is book 1 of the Hard to Love, romantic suspense, series.
I can tell anyone that wants to listen that I will read every single book from this lady and think it’s not enough. She knows what she’s doing. She knows how to capture our attention as well as our heart.
Willow Winters is the best. Her books are to die for and it’s Hard not To Love.
Her writing is raw and wild, intense and emotional with a touch of hotness and darkness. Just saying.
Hard To Love is her latest release and tells the stories of Seth and Laura.
I’ve been wanting to go to know more about Seth since the first book from the Merciless series. He’s that enigmatic. This book will let us know more about him.
Seth is always surrounded by a dark cloud. Being inside the drugs and crime business will make that to any person. He doesn’t think that he’s capable of loving someone let alone be loved by anyone until Laura.
Laura is struggling. From a young age, she was used to fighting for what she wants and to help the ones she loves. Her grandma was her everything and after her death, her world crumbled. She thought that the love of her life was going to be there with her but sometimes…
I was so freaking mad when this book ended… Mad I tell you… Why Willow? Why? Why?
This book was perfect until it wasn’t… Dayum… Why is it over? Why?
Superb plot, very well written, super engaging and intense. Darkness surrounded every page and it was nearly impossible to stop reading…
It was page after page of suspense, desire, and darkness. Jesus… I’m stunned…
I said that I was mad, but not in a bad way. This author can’t write a story that I don’t love. She can’t.
Now I’m going to be insane waiting for the next one…
Willow… Oh, Willow… Why? Why woman? You’re lucky that I love you… Just saying…
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
A Few Teasers:
On the west coast and several years before meeting the Cross brothers.
This hour of night, the floor-to-ceiling windows reveal nothing but black outside. Pitch black. Inside, though, the lights shine brightly and keep everyone in this place invigorated. The bass of the music thrums in my veins just as it lightly vibrates the hardwood floors beneath my polished oxfords.
Wrapping my hand around the steel rail that runs along the second-floor loft, with my office behind me, I watch the bright blue lights fade to nearly black in time with the beat. Bodies sway, drinks are poured, and life moves on.
My bar is the hottest spot in all of Tremont. The women, the money, all the shit that goes down in the back rooms—it’s all mine. Everyone wants in those black glass double doors. Thank fuck for that. It took nearly a year to get my name back, to get the money, both dirty and clean, flowing easily without someone wanting me dead along the way.
A year of recovering from the damage that was done.
A year without her.
A year cleaning up the mess and taking care of shit that nearly broke me. Between all the fights and all the drugs, none of it compares to what happened last year. Two days until the date.
A gruff exhale leaves me as I force away the memories and focus on what’s in front of me. The perfect location, the perfect setup. The perfect fucking life I’ve been building.
The name of the bar mirrors every inch of what’s inside. Allure. It’s designed to lure in customers and to keep the drinks flowing, the hips moving, and the money streaming in. The bar is seductive with polished black marble waterfall counters that gleam, their shine visible from all the way up here. The deep cobalt velvet sofas on opposite sides of the seating area are just as enticing as the women who perch themselves there with crystal glasses containing pink cocktails in their manicured hands as they let out peals of feminine laughter. Black crystal chandeliers drip from the ceilings.
Club Allure is about escaping from reality via luxury and illusions of grandeur.
The basement though… and the back rooms… those are the real moneymakers, all of it under the table, and how I earned the fear and respect that comes with my name.
It’s also what led to enemies. You haven’t made it in this world until someone tries to take what’s yours. Until someone wants to challenge you. Until someone wants you dead.
I learned that hard lesson a year ago. And the ones who came for me? Their deaths didn’t go unnoticed by anyone else who thought they could take from me.
An eerie prick travels down my spine as my mind wanders to places in the past. Back to when I was a different man. Things change when the ones you love the most leave you. Just as I think about everything that happened before this, just as the memories invade the present, I swear I hear her voice.
It’s only a memory. She’s only a memory. I remind myself like I’ve done so many silent nights, only to have my gaze drawn to the sound again.
The crowd doesn’t part for her; she blends into it, which is what she always wanted.
I see her though, and everyone else blurs as I focus on her alone.
My grip tightens on the rail and everything pauses around me. My blood runs scorching hot. Her dark brunette hair cascades down to her lower back. In distressed dark denim shorts and a silk cream tank top that hangs low on her back, she makes her way straight to the bar. I watch as the corners of her lips turn up at recognizing the two men behind the bar. They’ve been my crew since the first day… she was there too.
She was always there, always a part of us.
Connor sees her first, dropping the empty glass he’s holding on the counter to reach across the bar. When he calls out, “Babygirl,” Roman looks up from the set of four shots he’s pouring and grins at her.
It’s too loud on this floor to make out everything they’re saying. It’s all smiles and hugs, though. Warm, friendly greetings. It steals any heat I had and leaves a chill to settle over my shoulders, slowly wrapping its way around me as the time ticks away.
The two of them barely let her get a word in as they talk, but she laughs—fuck, I can hear that sweet mirth all the way up here. Just like I can see the rosy flush in her cheeks when she agrees to take a shot with them. Just like I can see the dip in her throat that I used to lick when she throws back the shot of clear liquid.
It’s been a year, but I swear I remember the way she tastes.
It takes a minute before she asks them something. She rocks on her heels as she waits for an answer and both of the guys look around the first floor.
It’s when they point to Derrick that the hate creeps in. That chill on my skin turns to ice and I decide I’m sick of waiting.
She asked for Derrick. Not me.
My eyes are trained on her as I make my way down the stairs. My jaw is set as it is, and I can’t change that fact for the world right now. Past the masses dancing on the floor, I make my way easily to where Derrick’s seated in a leather wingback chair on the far edge of the wall where security is located.
A woman turns around, tall and slim, when I brush past her. I barely notice anything about her except the short red dress that clings to her curves. She smiles when she sees it’s me, her eyes hopeful but she quickly lowers her gaze and backs away.
Maybe it’s the hate in my glare that told her I’m not in the mood for these games tonight.
I’m barely contained, hardly capable of a single rational thought as that last moment I had with Laura runs through my mind. The past and the present swirl in front of me, hitting me harder and more forcefully than the strongest cocktail I could drown myself in.
Laura plants a kiss on Derrick’s cheek… It’s short lived and her smile is sorrowful.
The anger that carved itself into a glower relents and dims. Even a year isn’t enough time. There will never be enough time passed to make it better.
Regret is my enemy. Guilt its friend.
I’m standing there like a lion stalking his prey when Laura turns around, not looking where she’s going, brushing stray strands of hair from her face as she bumps right into me.
“Sorry,” she quickly breathes, and then she looks at me. Her blue eyes have flecks of gold in them, and like a concoction of emotion they swirl as she stares at me. Her lips are slightly parted, and they stay like that. Open and waiting with disbelief.
“Laura.” I say her name and feel the thrill of doing just that simmer in my blood.
“Seth,” she whispers. Her shoulders drop slightly and then she covers herself, as if instantly cold.
“I um, I had something to give Derrick,” she tells me, but her eyes don’t stay on me. They stray, unable to keep my gaze. I watch the cords in her neck tighten as she swallows; I can’t help but notice how her hands keep nervously playing with the hem of her shirt.
“You afraid to see me, Babygirl?” I ask her lowly and that gets her attention. Those beautiful blues find mine and for a moment, I feel everything all over again.
The undeniable lust, the tormented love, and finally, the loss. It all echoes in her doe eyes.
“Should I be?” she asks me, her cadence caressing. Her teeth sink into her bottom lip as she holds her breath waiting for my response. That lip I used to nibble as she moaned my name. Lips that used to kiss me and only me.
“You should leave.” I push out the words, feeling a wash of cold run over my flesh. It comes back in waves, but the loss takes so much with it.
She swallows thickly with a nod and turns to leave without another word. Her thick hips sway and my gaze stays pinned to her until she disappears behind the double doors. She doesn’t look back.
She never did.
“You fucked up.” Derrick’s deep voice carries over the beat of the music. His eyes stay glued to the television that displays over eight feet of the white and blue bars of an equalizer, changing with the rhythm.
It mocks me. The fact that everything in this place keeps moving, mocks me.
He takes a swig from his beer bottle, not bothering to look at me.
I have to close my eyes and breathe. Without her here, all that’s left is anger.
I already know I fucked up. I take in a steadying breath as my teeth grind together.
The music keeps going. The women keep laughing.
My muscles twitch, consumed with a feeling of restlessness, the need to move, to do something.
“We both fucked up.” Derrick’s remark makes me open my eyes. Slowly and with a loathing for all of this, for everything I’ve built since she’s been gone.
“Boss,” Connor calls out, sliding a tumbler of whiskey over to me. I stare down at the glass, remembering everything. Watching it play out like a movie across the surface of the amber liquor.
Rowan calls out, “Boss,” at the same time as someone else, but all I can picture is the night she left. The memory goes backward in time until I’m with her that morning, kissing her lips, feeling the dip of her waist. The voices around me lower in volume until I hear “Seth” instead.
There’s never a minute. Never a quiet moment.
If there was, none of that shit would have happened.
I hear her tell me she loves me. I can practically feel her lips against the shell of my ear and the warmth that traveled down my shoulder that morning.
I didn’t know I’d never feel that warmth again. I didn’t know. But I should have.
It was all my fault.
With the single bellow of a roar torn from deep in my chest, I throw the glass in my hand recklessly at the flat-screen TV. The glass shatters, falling like rain, crashing into the liquor bottles lining the bar.
Connor and Rowan have to duck and cover their heads as I seethe, drawing in a breath and then another. I’d feel more remorse if she hadn’t spoken to them, laughed with them. I’d feel guilty if she hadn’t given her smiles to them so easily, when she didn’t have a damn thing to give me.
I’m a bastard; I’ve always been a bastard.
“Get out,” I say and my command ricochets in the large open space. Stunned faces stare back at me, the bar silent save for the occasional tinkling of glass shards. No one moves and that’s their mistake too.
“Get the fuck out. We’re closed.” The low threat isn’t hidden and a sea of women in short dresses suddenly start moving. No one looks at me for more than a split second as the patrons grab their shit and head for the door.
My crew stays where they are, their eyes on me. All but Derrick. He doesn’t look at me. He takes a swig and stares at the broken TV as if it’s still a visual for the nonexistent music. Even as Connor and Roman ask me if I’m all right, I watch him staring blankly at the broken glass.
“If you want to help me,” I begin as I finally look Roman in the eyes to answer him, feeling the rage subside but something else still lingers as I continue, “clean up this fucking mess.”
The two men who are some of my best friends look at me with sympathy. I see it staring back at me in their eyes and it makes me grit my teeth. With the sound of my blood rushing through my ears, I grip the collar of Connor’s shirt and bring the steadily spoken, low threat to his attention as I say, “Don’t ever let her in here again.”
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2HWizB8
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2Qsytau
Add to your TBR: https://bit.ly/33umxeu
About the Author:
Willow Winters is so happy to be a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Contemporary Bestselling Romance Author. She likes her action hot and her bad boys hotter. She certainly doesn’t hold back on either one in her writing!
Willow started writing after having her little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during her pregnancy with Evie she continued to read and she only wanted to read romance. She was reading a book a day — sometimes two.
In January 2016 Willow was staying up late with Evie and just thinking of all these stories. They came to her constantly so she finally sat down and just started writing. She always wanted to do it so she figured, why not? Today Willow cannot be happier for making that decision!
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