Before and After You, an all-new heartfelt small town romance from Hope Ellis, is LIVE in Kindle Unlimited!
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Before and After You by Hope Ellis
Series: Leffersbee #2
Published by Smartypants Romance on October 19, 2021
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher
Leigh D’Alessandro is a fighter. She fought to escape her dysfunctional family, to end a soul-killing marriage, and to build a new life in a small Tennessee town. When the fate of the community hospital she works for is threatened, she’s primed and ready for battle. What she can’t fight any longer is her unshakable attraction to her best friend’s brother, who has a notorious reputation and triggers all her worst fears about trust and betrayal.
Walker Leffersbee is a lover. At least that’s the reputation he’s built in his hometown. Scion of a prosperous Tennessee banking family, he’s a known ladies’ man and a confirmed bachelor. His hands are full as he juggles competing demands from his family’s bank and his growing property renovation business. The last thing he needs is to give in to his long-standing craving for his sister’s headstrong and hot-tempered best friend. Especially because she’s the only one who knows the secret that threatens to upend his life.
When a home renovation project brings them too close for comfort, they both struggle to withstand the growing heat. As they grow closer helping each other navigate family minefields, Walker learns that love is not a four-letter word, and Leigh realizes that some battles are meant to be lost.
But Walker’s secret is the one thing that could keep them apart, unless they both decide to fight for the love they never looked for but now can’t live without.
‘Before and After You’ is a contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #2 in the Leffersbee series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe.
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I stopped in my tracks, my breath catching in my throat.
Indecision glued my feet to the floor, halting my progress as I stared at his frozen profile. I briefly considered turning the opposite way and retracing the same route I’d used coming down.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see him.
That wasn’t the case.
Well, not exactly.
But there were several reasons why his sudden appearance was damned inconvenient.
First, Walker was the older brother of my best friend in the world, Zora Leffersbee. But I didn’t consider Walker to be my brother, not by any stretch of the imagination. Through all the years we’d known each other, our relationship had continually evolved. He was as supportive of me as he was of Zora. But we both knew he didn’t think of me as a sister.
Which led to the second problem.
Walker Leffersbee was sexy. Sexy as hell. The kind of sexy that always took my brain captive with the grimy bass line of a 90s R&B song and thickened my blood for the heat of inevitable battle. We were always locked in some kind of mental combat, our traded barbs and jabs never quite masking the powerful current of attraction between us. He would have been easy to ignore if my attraction to him were based solely on his physicality. I’d bounced on more than one pretty man in my day and managed to keep my brain cells unscrambled. But he was hot as hell with all those intriguing layers. Damn it. I didn’t have brain space to deal with Walker right now.
I stiffened, surfacing from my thoughts. Walker straightened and ambled closer. He moved with the lumbering grace exclusive to big men, a very slight bowleggedness lending his walk a kind of deliberate, sexy swagger. Advancing, he squinted slightly as if trying to make me out in the muted lighting of the hospital’s basement floor. He stopped only three feet away from me.
I disciplined my eyes, sternly instructed them away from the just-right fit of Walker’s huge shoulders in his white broadcloth shirt. I did not allow my eyes to notice how the tip of his conservative navy tie arrowed the path to his tapered waist and the slightest imprint of powerful thighs just visible in his dark slacks. I refused to dwell on how beautifully his perfectly sculpted dark goatee contrasted with the deep mahogany of his skin.
My fingers clenched against the empty wish for a cigarette.
He wasn’t nearly as circumspect, making no effort to disguise the frank assessment in the gaze that slowly crawled upwards from my clogs in slow degrees. I didn’t miss the banked heat in his eyes when his stare finally met mine.
“Golden Boy,” I said, feeling a perverse pleasure at having launched the opening salvo and earning the answering curl at the corner of his lip. He hated that name, I knew. Hated it whenever I reminded of him of who he was. Son of the richest man in the county, heir apparent to a growing banking empire in Tennessee. Why this bothered him, I’d never know. It was hardly a secret, not with him and his father on billboards advertising his family’s bank around Knoxville and Nashville. But that didn’t make it any less fun to pick at him.
I feigned surprise. “What, have you exhausted all the Disney villains? We’re into the Harry Potter lexicon now?”
His answering smile was sharp and wicked. “You know, there are just so many names for the devil. I don’t think I’ll ever come up empty-handed when it comes to you.”
“Good to know. What are you doing here?” I flicked a pointed glance at the doorway to Radiology he’d evidently just come through, and I noticed the orange paper had somehow disappeared into his pocket by the time he greeted me.
And … cue the third complication.
Walker Leffersbee and I shared a secret, and seeing him here had just made it much more, well, complicated.
I really enjoyed this one! I had a feeling when I read the first chapter in the SmartyPants Sampler a month or two ago that this was going to turn out to be another one I enjoyed. The enemies to lovers that this romance started out as was tinged with a bit of more friends to lovers in a way. Leigh and Walker had been kind of friends because of Leigh being best friends with Walker’s sister Zora. Even the banter was more playful than enemy-like. But the attraction was there, as Leigh said at one point, from the first time she’d seen him. And Walker had good reasons for the way he was, but he wasn’t quite as all that as Leigh made him out to be a manwhore. But family issues definitely made Leigh leery of Walker, and no one could blame her. And wow, when she went home, the surprise waiting for her there? What in the world is wrong with her family! Or I guess her mom I should say. That was horrible, and they should have told her for sure before she just happened to see it like that unprepared. The relationship as it developed between Walker and Leigh moved at a very perfect pace in my opinion. I was a little irritated with Walker’s reaction after he ended up in the hospital. I always hate when that is how a character behaves. But it worked, and kind of made sense.
Now, I have to say, even as much as Octavia, or Tavia, made herself unlikable in this, the little snippets we got out of context of things she said that were going on with her made me very ready to read her book. I’m also thinking, since she’ll be in Chicago, that we might get some time with the Knitting in the City series women from Penny Reid’s books!
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Hope Ellis is a health outcomes researcher by day and writes romances featuring sexy nerds by night. She hopes to one day conquer her habit of compulsively binge-watching The Office.
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