Where to Buy*:
Reviews of Bailey's Previous Novels:
Too Hot to Handle (#1) -- TBQ
Too Wild to Tame (#2) -- TBQ
Raw Redemption (#4) -- TBQ
Worked Up (#3) -- TBQ
Wound Tight (#4) -- TBQ
Let’s get this out of the way first, because I know this kind of story won’t work for all. Peggy and Elliott first met 3 years before the start of this book. She was a senior in college (22) and a cheerleader. Elliott’s older (not sure an age is ever given) – and the head coach of the football team. So we’ve got the older hero, younger heroine, but we’ve also got that fact that he was technically in a position of power at the college, though not over her in any way, and she was in school, though obviously well above the legal age. Like I said, I know that just those facts alone will lead to some not picking this one up – and that’s fine! We all have our limits, no need to explain yourself. I’m not usually seeking out these kind of stories, either, but Bailey made it work and work well for me here.
So we’ve got a few different romancelandia catnips going on here: second chance romance, and an older hero who is a widower and single dad. I’m pretty sure I just heard some serious one-clicking going on there! :) As I said, Bailey did this story very well, and I truly cared for these two and their journey to a HEA. There’s some real emotions packed in – Elliott’s guilt over his wife’s death, his guilt over not being there for his daughter, as well as his mixed up feelings about wanting Peggy, both back then and still. For what it’s worth, Peggy was the one who initiated things between them 3 years ago; he was NOT one of those coaches/teachers that pursue the younger woman, which IRL and in romance is always creepy. That’s not a concern here, and I promise you, despite her younger age, Peggy always had as much, if not more, control over their relationship, she had her own agency.
They saw each other for most of that one year, though always in secret. When graduation came, and Peggy realized that Elliott’s guilt (he’s a very devout Catholic, and it’s shown throughout the book) over their relationship wasn’t going to go away, that there wasn’t going to be anything more between them, she left him and never looked back. But she couldn’t forget him or move past him, not really, and the next 3 years saw her breaking off 4 engagements because the men weren’t Elliott. Now, as she and her siblings are on this cross-country road trip to honor their mother, she makes plans to stop back at the university during Alumni Week – but she’s really only there for one reason: to get Elliott out of her system once and for all before truly moving on with her life.
Of course, it’s never that simple, is it? Because even though Elliott still has his guilt and his demons that he’s fighting, he’s been missing her, too, and he can’t seem to just walk away, not again. He’ll have to work through his baggage and embrace what they have together if things are going to end differently this time around.
Their relationship is so good, and I admit, I was a bit unsure at first because the age difference and his guilt about it all could have made it all go sour, fast. It did not, and that’s because Bailey is a great writer and made it all work. She’s an auto-buy for me and I trust her; I’m glad that my trust was not misguided here.
Peggy and Elliott’s relationship dynamic was so great. It’s sexy, of course, but also sweet and romantic and gave me feels. As much as I loved seeing them try to work things out the second time around, I also really loved seeing the glimpses into their time together 3 years ago. These flashback scenes were sprinkled throughout and definitely added to the story and the characters’ development.
And Elliott’s grand gesture at the end? *swoons forever* I absolutely loved that part.
We also see bits of two future couples in this book. One new, one that readers have known from book 1.
One of Elliott’s football players, Kyler, has to drop off the team in order to return back to his family; they’re losing their farm, and while his plans had been to go pro and save it, he’s out of time and has to go back and figure out some way to help them out right now. When Peggy hears about this, she comes up with a plan to help turn a fundraiser the cheerleaders were already doing into a fundraiser for Kyler and his family. During all this, Peggy also realizes that she’s good at this sort of thing, and now has an idea of what she wants to do with her life. Anyway, Kyler is getting a novella in June, as he tries to get back his high school sweetheart, and I cannot wait!
As to the other couple, all I can say is BEL IS NEXT AND MY BODY IS READY. BEYOND READY. SO DAMN READY. I NEEEEEEED HIS BOOK. *pets the intense, tortured man with a heart of gold for Sage*
And also this tease from the very end:
If you’ve been reading this series, you’ve no doubt fallen for Bel already, and I am sure that his book is truly going to kill me. But oh, what a way to go . . . His book, which wraps up the series, will be out in September. Anyone have a time machine I can borrow? For reasons....
You could read this one as a standalone (or any of them, really), but if you want to get a better look at the four siblings, their stories, and especially see the glimpses of Belmont leading up to his HEA, I would suggest reading in order. You won’t be lost by jumping around, but reading in order will just add to the overall story enjoyment.
Now, yes, I loved every bit of this book (obviously – it’s getting a rare 5 star rating from me!), but I can still see the few minor issues, too. For example, I didn’t feel like there was much time spent really going over Elliott’s acceptance that their relationship was not something to be ashamed of (because of his religious upbringing). I did feel like he went from constantly beating himself up about that for all these years to pushing it aside and not thinking of it again, with nothing shown in between. So my point is, yes, I can see where there are things that are not “perfect”, but I did not care one bit because the overall story was perfection for me. “I loved this book” does not always equal “This book was technically flawless”, after all.
Too Hard to Forget is now my favorite of this series so far. But I think – hope! – that Bel’s story might well and truly kill me with feels and everything. Is it September yet?
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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.
*Note: The quotes used belong to Tessa Bailey; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.
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Until Next Time,
*TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!