Monday, April 17, 2017

[ARC Review]: "Too Hard to Forget"

romance novel covers, contemporary romance, Royal Pick, Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey
Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Forever (April 25, 2017)
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance


This time, she's calling the shots.

Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he's been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy's determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she'll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist. 



Where to Buy*:
More Info:


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



My Review:





Peggy the bombshell. Peggy the liar. Peggy the mediator. Peggy the grief-stricken. The angel. The devil. The baby. The old soul. You never know what you’re going to get. Especially now. But look closer. She’s not what you’re expecting.




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.




She’d tried to convince herself accepting the proposals was a way to force herself into Elliott-recovery, like some kind of penis immersion therapy that would finally blur the past and repair her heart.




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.




“Elliott.” Her own words surprised her so much, she barely realized she’d spoken. “Tell me…” 

“Tell you what?” He breathed into her ear, kissing the lobe, drawing it between his teeth. “Let’s hear it, baby. I want to know everything that goes through your head when you’ve got me inside your tight pussy.” 

The words came out in a rush, as if they’d been hiding from her all along and needed to escape before she reeled them back in. “Tell me you missed me.” 

Elliott’s head snapped up, his gaze homing in on her, disbelief crackling like a fireplace fire in his expression. Before Peggy could draw a bracing breath, Elliott jerked her off the bureau and walked her toward the bed, laying her in the center and coming down on top of her, muscle pressing softness, without ever withdrawing from her body.

[...]

“Miss you?” He grated the incredulous question, dropping his mouth to her temple. “You left me without a soul. I can barely remember the days since you left. They passed without me feeling a single thing. Because you are feeling for me. You’re the only thing that keeps me from being numb. Twice in my life you’ve turned me back into a living, breathing man, and missing you…missing you, Peggy, doesn’t even begin to cover it. You revive me.”




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* 




“When I don’t feel like myself,” he murmured for Sage’s ears alone, but Peggy heard anyway, “it helps when I hold you. It could work for you, too, maybe.” 

A wrench turned in Peggy’s gut and she honest-to-God wanted to sob her heart out. Just ached to drop into a fetal position and weep for mankind. It was how she felt ninety percent of the time when in Belmont’s company because the storm of emotions building inside of him wasn’t hidden anymore. Ever since this trip began and he’d revealed the search for his birth father, she could feel his turmoil every time she came within two feet of his gigantic presence. 

Peggy eased closer to the pair, intending to intercept the laser-like intensity Belmont was laying on her best friend, but Sage moved faster, sliding her arms around Belmont’s waist, laying her head on his chest and holding. Tight. Belmont rocked back on his heels, eyelids falling like metal garages to conceal his blue eyes, so different from the rest of the Clarkson siblings. He made a sound that could only be described as utter, broken bliss, before wrapping his brawny arms around Sage. 

“Please feel better,” Belmont said quietly. “Please stop hurting.” “I will. This is already helping,” Sage whispered back, her breath hitching when Belmont lifted her off the ground, burying his face in her neck, his back expanding with deep inhales.




And also this tease from the very end:




And now it was just the two of them. Just him and the woman he alternated between wanting to carry around on a plush pillow and…wanting to use one hand to tear her dress down the center, while the opposite one climbed up her thighs.





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.




“A fool is the kind of man who pushes away someone who makes him laugh. Makes him think. Makes him want to try harder and love harder and live harder. Live at all. That’s what Peggy Clarkson did for me. Twice in my life. Twice more than I earned. And this heart she woke up inside me loves her. It’ll beat for her until it stops altogether.”




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? 



5 STARS! 


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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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If you want to look through all the quotes I shared, check out my Twitter!


Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on April 27th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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  *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!

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