Friday, January 25, 2013

Unwrapping: Review of COLLIDE, a Barker Triplets novel by Juliana Stone

I hope some of you read Juliana Stone's first book in her self-published The Barker Triplets series, OFFSIDE, because it was fabulous. Well, even though she offered me an ARC of her second book, COLLIDE, and newest release in the series, I declined because of my reading schedule but purchased it as soon as it came available. In the end, I couldn't resist slipping it into my reading schedule. Couldn't resist because having met Shane in OFFSIDE, I couldn't wait to experience this hero in his own second chance story with one of the Barker Triplets. I was not disappointed, in fact, I am even more in love with this sexy hunk of man!

***Copy purchased for my own personal reading but more than willing to share my honest and unscripted opinion with the world.

Blurb for COLLIDE:

A second chance never looked so good…

Bobbi-Jo Barker has been in love with the wrong man for years. A man who doesn't fit into the perfect, controlled life she's created.A man who not only broke her heart but nearly destroyed her. So the fact that he's back in town shouldn't matter because he's all wrong for her, or so she thinks...

Shane Gallagher, prodigal son, ex-con, and all around hellion, has returned to the small town of New Waterford to mend fences and get his life back. What he doesn’t count on are the feelings he still has for the one woman who can break him—the one woman who is totally wrong for him.

And yet, as Bobbi and Shane are thrown together and begin to navigate a life with each other in it, neither can deny the attraction they feel, or the emotions that come with it—the good and the bad. And so the question becomes… can these two damaged souls survive a second chance at love?

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Shane Gallagher came home from a stint in prison to New Waterford, MI four months ago. Since then, he's tried his best to keep his distance from Bobbi-Jo Barker since she's getting married on St. Valentine's Day. To try to keep his thoughts off the woman he can't seem to clear from his brain, Shane has traveled to the next town and settled into the one place that, although filled with memories best forgotten, is the last place he expects to run into the woman who still holds his heart. The very last thing he expects to see is Bobbi come storming into the dingy bar, dressed in her wedding gown  - on her wedding day - and order up tequila. Tequila has always put the t in trouble when it comes to Bobbi-Jo Barker.

Bobbi's gut is telling her that marrying Gerald Dooley is a bad idea - a very bad idea. Upon arriving at the church, she just can't bring herself to go in and asks Gramps to keep on driving. When she goes, to the one place no one would find her, to drink away her guilt, her misgivings, her fear and her heartbreak - heartbreak not over Gerald but over the one man who still drives her crazy sexy with a look or a word - does she expect to find him there. After nearly getting herself into a situation that could've gone very bad, she allows Shane to rescue her from the bar. But instead of taking her home to face the family, and Gerald, in a drunken, distraught state, Shane takes her to his place. The next morning, Bobbi wakes with a screaming hangover, in a bed she doesn't recognize, with a dog bouncing around her, wearing nothing but a man's tee shirt and her black panties. (I'm still amazed that she was wearing black panties under a white wedding gown but whatever goes, I say.)

Shane can't get Bobbi out of his mind, even as he tries and tries. He's got too many things on his mind to be thinking about her but he just can't seem to let her go, especially since she spent the night in his bed without him touching her. Not that she hadn't made a good try at seducing him but she was drunk and surprising himself, he was a gentleman. At first, Bobbi is concerned that something did happen between them but then after finding out that nothing did, she wants him all the more. It's Bobbi who makes the first move but it's Shane who takes control -  only to lose it again when after a passionate night of amazing sex, he wakes to find her gone.

Now, his need for Bobbi Barker is full blown. He knows he should stay away from her. He knows being with her will only cause trouble, and right now, his family is more than enough trouble for him. But Bobbi is like the sweet nectar that draws bees and he just can't stay away. So, Shane proposes a solution to their mutual problem - sex with no strings - sex just for sex sake - a totally sexual relationship with no emotions involved. Another night of rousing, passion-filled incredible sex that only he and Bobbi can create, an unexpected emotional admission while in the throes of passion by Bobbi, and Shane is rethinking everything. But there are secrets, there are misgivings, and there are regrets. Regrets from the past, fear of regretting the future, and a secret that torments Bobbi almost to the point of losing Shane once more. But this time, Shane decides he's no longer a quitter.

Let me just say this - Shane Gallagher is THE bad boy, he's everything that our common sense tells us to run from as fast and as far as possible, but I am totally in love with this man. If he were real, I'd trade in my husband for him. Good thing he's only imaginary, huh? Normally, when this happens I tend to get a bit jealous of the heroine who gets to enjoy a man like this but I know that if Bobbi Barker were real, she and I would be great friends. I think it's one reason I fell so hard for Shane - it was so very easy for me to step into Bobbi's shoes. I know this lady.

COLLIDE by Juliana Stone is wonderful, enticing, passionate, emotional and such an excellent continuation of the first book, OFFSIDE, that instead of feeling like months since I read the first one, it feels more like it never ended but that I merely turned the page. We revisit with Logan and Billie, we experience Betty a bit more and begin to feel some emotional sympathy for the third triplet. But, in the same way that Bobbi was not very likable in OFFSIDE, with her bitchiness towards Billie, we find ourselves feeling the same way about Betty.

Juliana Stone is incredible in the way she can take a simple second-chance love story and draw us in to the mixed up world of the Barker Triplets and we actually enjoy being there. Normally, a simple relationship-based contemporary story would not have me clamoring to snatch it to read as soon as it's published but I've been eager to read this one ever since reading OFFSIDE and now I'm looking forward to book three just as eagerly. Whether she can write another hero to put Shane in a corner, we will have to wait and see - somehow, I suspect Juliana will be able to do it. Juliana never seems to disappoint - the heroine or us. I've read nearly everything that Juliana Stone has written and have to say that her writing simply keeps getting better. To produce such incredible characters on her own without the guidance of a publisher's editors, is impressive and inspiring. I did catch a few places where her editing suffered - missing words - but perhaps she needs better beta readers. Volunteering for the job, if she needs me. 

I highly recommend COLLIDE by Juliana Stone to anyone who loves to read a passionate, emotional, and spark-filled second chance love story. If you haven't read OFFSIDE, don't worry, you can always go back later but I do recommend these be read in order just because the experience is so incredible, so amazing, and so swoon-worthy. Whoever knew that imagining a man sanding a table could be so dreamy! I did not want this book to end. I wanted to keep on living with Bobbi and Shane.

Happy Reading Everyone!

COLLIDE, a Barker Triplets novel by Juliana Stone, self-published, available in ebook formats anywhere ebooks are sold including Smashwords.



Jaye Shields said...

Great review!

Amy Valentini said...

Thanks Jaye - this is a great read and the goods one are easy to review. ; )