Thursday, May 15, 2014

REVIEW: The Wardham Series by Zoe York

Welcome to Wardham


Welcome to Wardham, a sleepy village ready to explode with new-found passion. This bundle contains the first three titles in The Wardham Series by Zoe York.

Between Then and Now (prequel novella)
Their story didn’t start with a fairytale romance. Their marriage wasn’t chosen for love. But they still chose each other, time and again.
Romance is the last thing on Ian's mind. He's juggling the family farm and a second job, his kids are a crazy handful and every time he gets close to his wife, Carrie, she snaps at him. Their relationship has always had a sizzling physical connection, and he needs to find a way to leverage that into reconnecting on a deeper level before it’s too late.

What Once Was Perfect (Book #1)
She shuttered her heart and walked away. Now he has a second chance to get it right.
Kyle and Laney shared a perfect summer 12 years ago, and have never moved past their breakup. Now she’s back for the holidays and they have a chance to work out things out and move on with their lives. But moving on doesn’t make sense when you’ve finally reconnected with the only person you’ve ever truly loved.

Where Their Hearts Collide (Book #2)
The girl next door meets the cop of her dreams at exactly the wrong time.       
Karen’s finally decided what she wants to do when she grows up. Too bad it’ll mean leaving behind her new neighbour, who’s stirred up a different kind of grown up feelings. But when he rebuffs her attempt to have a fling before she leaves Wardham, Karen knows it’s for the best. A clean break, no messy emotional entanglements. Too bad Paul’s right next door, and everywhere she goes. And he makes a pretty convincing case for getting entangled.

The Wardham Series continues: pick up When They Weren’t Looking (Book #3), available now, and look for Beyond Love and Hate, a Wardham novella coming in June 2014.

Zoe York lives in London, Ontario with her young family. She has an English degree and works at a university, so it was probably a foregone conclusion that she'd write a romance novel one day. She's currently chugging Americanos, wiping sticky fingers, and plotting super-secret books about heroes in and out of uniform.

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Please contact Zoe in early March 2014, or visit her website


Between Then and Now

“Don’t do this, not tonight.” His features pinched together. He didn’t let go of her hand, but the easy softness in his grip faded, replaced with a subtle tension that told her it was an effort to keep touching her.
“I’m not doing anything,” she whispered. Tears threatened, hot bubbles at the edge of her vision.
“You’re dragging old shit into a new argument. Shit I didn’t even know was in your head. An argument I didn’t even know we were having.”
“We’re not!” Were they? Was it all one big fight that just ebbed like the tide? “I don’t know why I said that.”
He didn’t answer. He didn’t need to. She tentatively lifted her gaze to read his expression, but he didn’t look over at her, instead keeping his eyes on the road ahead. A muscle twitched along his jaw and she squeezed his hand, willing him to turn and see her. See that she wasn’t mad. That she was just scared and strangely alone, and not dealing with that well.
“I don’t think we were a mistake.”
“Damn straight.”
“But we weren’t in love when we got married, Ian. That’s never going to be something I forget.”
“Never asked you to.”
“We just can’t talk about it.”
“We can talk about it, babe. But you can’t yell at me about it.”
“I didn’t yell.”
“You cried. That’s worse.”
“Didn’t cry. No tears.”
“Sad voice, choked up…sounded like crying. Carrie, that kills me, you know?” He dragged a deep breath into his lungs. “I just wanted an evening without a fight. Come on, let’s go in.”
With a start, she realized they were home. “Wait—” she unbuckled her seat belt and reached across the center console. “Slide your seat back.”
“Carrie, I’m not—”
“Give me a chance to get the mood back, please?” She was grateful she’d worn a skirt tonight. “Scoot back and close your eyes.” He still hadn’t moved, but at least he wasn’t getting out of the truck. “I want to show you what I’ve got on under this skirt.”
Thank god for his healthy libido. A lecherous grin spread across his face as he flicked his gaze to her hemline. “Please tell me the answer is nothing.” She waited for his gaze to hit hers again before offering a slow nod. His already smoldering interest caught a burst of oxygen from her answer, and while he slid his seat back with his left hand, his right arm was hauling her into his lap. “We gotta stop fighting, babe.”
“We weren’t fighting,” she whispered.
“We were doing something,” he muttered as he arranged her thighs on either side of his, his thumbs pressing hard into soft flesh. “And it wasn’t this.”

What Once Was Perfect

They sat like that for almost an hour. At one point, Kyle was convinced that she had fallen asleep, but he didn’t want to risk losing the moment, and he couldn’t see her face without shifting. Her head was tucked under his chin, and he didn’t mind not being able to see her face, because her hair smelled amazing, an intoxicating blend of honey and some kind of fruit. Thank god her ass was perched high on his thigh and her legs were bent over his other arm, because in the space beneath he had developed a brutal erection. He couldn’t remember ever being this turned on by cuddling before, except maybe in those first few weeks of dating when they were still working on rounding all the bases.
He remembered every single day of that spring, the long string of her firsts: Laney slowly peeling off her t-shirt in the barn, then crossing her arms against her chest; her sliding across the bench in his truck, straddling him, grinding her jean-clad pussy against his cock; getting completely naked in a hotel room after the Science Society Formal Ball, wanting to punch a hole in the wall after their only condom broke. Laney had made that night worthwhile anyway, sliding his cock between their bodies, holding herself open, rubbing against the length of his cock until they both shattered apart. They’d spent the night wrapped around each other, and when Laney wrapped her warm little hand around him in the shower the next morning, he thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He returned the pleasure before check out, and two weeks later when he moved into his first apartment, they had an entire box of condoms at the ready.
She lifted her head and he was torn between wanting her to see where he had wandered in his mind, and hoping she’d return to her original position so he could keep smelling her hair like a pervert. He didn’t dare think that she might be wandering around the same spots on memory lane, even when she pressed her forehead against his chin, then rubbed up his face until her lips connected with his jaw. Kyle stifled a groan and eased her legs down to the ground, freeing his arm to press between their bodies.
“Laney, sweetheart, that’s not a good idea.” It’s brilliant, asshole, shut up. He could barely grind out the words. His body was not on board with being noble.
 “Probably not.” She pressed against his hand, flat against her upper chest, stretching her body to reconnect with his face, and the upper swell of her breast filled his palm. This time the groan was louder. “Tell me to stop.”
“We’re going to regret this.” Freud would have a field day with the battle royale going in his head. Baser instincts were definitely gaining traction.
“Probably. Tell me to stop.” Her lips found the corner of his mouth, at an angle, and then her face turned again and they were sharing the barest of open mouth kisses, her bottom lip resting on his, pressing it down. Her eyes were wide, pupils dark and full of want. He didn’t see any hesitation, only heat, and his resolve slipped. One kiss. He let her breath slip into his mouth, hot and moist, and he was lost, disoriented in a mixed fog of memories and unfulfilled fantasies.
With a slight jerk, his extended arm relaxed, allowing Laney to crawl back on his lap, straddling his hips this time, and she looked down at his erection with a smirk. “I knew you didn’t want me to stop.”
“Wanting you to stop and knowing you should are two different things. Hell no, I don’t want you to stop.” He dragged a ragged breath into his chest and ran his hands down the sides of her body, squeezing her hips, tracing over her thighs and then up again, harder this time, sliding his palms under her sweater and over a thin cotton tank top hiding underneath. “But I don’t want you to hate me either.”

“I’m not an innocent college kid anymore, Kyle.” She wiggled her hips, trying to slide closer to the bulge in his jeans. “I like sex. You make me think of sex. I’m all fired up from fighting. Let’s go.”
It should have been an ardour-dousing wakeup call, the casual offer of something that was once so special to her, to them. The higher-thinking part of his brain was protesting that something was wrong, that Laney couldn’t possibly want a booty call, but all Kyle could focus on was the easy confidence that she had gained, how she must have gained it, and his primal need to re-possess that which he had lost took over. He could hear raspy need in his voice and he didn’t care. “Now it’s your turn to tell me to stop, sweetheart.”

Where Their Hearts Collide

Karen grabbed a bag of all-purpose flour, and strode away, swiping baking powder and a bag of chocolate chips as well. She dumped the supplies on the conveyor belt at the first checkout, then headed for the dairy section. “Need eggs?” She tossed the question over her shoulder, but didn’t wait for a response. She needed a minute to compose herself. This reaction was bizarre. She’d only had one conversation with the man. Sure, she’d observed him in a creepy stalker fashion for weeks, but they barely knew each other. She’d gotten carried away with some romantic fantasy of the good-looking cop next door.
“Megan says we need milk.” Paul stepped up beside her. Karen looked around. “She got sucked into your magazine display.”
“For dunking.”
“I’m sorry?”
“The milk. We’ll need it once the cookies are cool.” He grinned. “Or so I’ve been instructed.”
Good lord, that smile could light up a room.
“It’s a classic combination,” she breathed, kicking herself as the words came out sounding funny. He must have heard the warble too, because his gaze dropped to her mouth and lingered for a moment. “What kind do you want?”
He flicked his gaze back to her eyes and blinked. “1%, I guess.”
“It’s behind the last door there.”
He brushed past, close enough for her skin to prickle, but not quite making physical contact, and she sucked in a breath. He paused, because how could he not have heard it, but then he opened the cooler and pulled out a bag of milk.
They stood for a minute, her with the eggs, him with the milk, and then he smiled again, but this time it seemed wistful. “You’re an interesting neighbour to have, Karen.”
“Thanks, I guess.” Her lips curled up of their own volition. “You’re unlike any neighbour I’ve ever had.”
“I came to Wardham for peace and quiet, you know.”
She couldn’t contain her surprise. “You think I’m a troublemaker?”
He grinned. “I’m quite certain you are.”
“And you don’t like trouble.” It spilled out before she could filter the words into something less pleading. “I mean—”
“I have a professional interest in avoiding it.” He interrupted her, but his tone wasn’t rude. It was warm and low and full of…heat? He stepped closer. “On a personal level, I have a history of liking trouble more than I should.”
Oh, shit. “I’ve never been trouble before,” she whispered.
His knuckles brushed hers. Milk, eggs and a boatload of issues apparently stood between them, but at that moment, all she could feel were the hard, hot points of contact as the back of his hand pressed into her skin.

Sarah's Review:
Thanks to Zoe York for reaching out and asking us to review.  I hadn't heard of this series, so this was a great surprise for me!  All three of these stories were easily read over a weekend.  It happened to be a weekend that I was down due to medical reasons and was not allowed to type.  

Between Then and Now: 
I loved that this story was about a married couple reconnecting and overcoming what one thought was the reason they were married to begin with.  These two characters had to overcome some obstacles during their relationship, but they found a way to reconnect.  

What Once Was Perfect:
 What I loved about this story was that is was a second chance at getting to be with the one you love despite what happened in the past.  I love when high school sweethearts are able to find their way back to each other after a few years, or a dozen in this case, and make their relationship work.  Everyone does stupid things when you are young, but how you grow and change as you get older is what can determine how a person really is.  

Where Their Hearts Collide
I love when a man in uniform is the hero of the story but I really enjoy when the alpha male personality is taken down a notch or two when they find the one that they want to be with.  These two characters had to overcome a few obstacles to get what they wanted.  What I loved about the relationship with the ex-wife was that it wasn't filled with drama and they worked together to make things work.

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