4 star book review for Her Forbidden Hero, contemporary romance novel by Laura Kaye—available in book stores and retailers.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been reading a lot of intense drama lately. And while I enjoy those types of stories, sometimes it’s nice to read a story that’s relatively straightforward. Laura Kaye is my go-to author whenever I’m in the mood for contemporary romance with just enough angst to make things realistic and a HEA that’s guaranteed to be sweet. Her characters are always likable and while the plot is engaging, it’s never overdone or contrived.
Her Forbidden Hero exemplifies all of these qualities. Both main characters are dealing with the aftermath of some slightly dark events, but their determination to find happiness is wonderful to witness. Once I started reading, I was instantly hooked. This totally hit the spot!
We begin with Alyssa Scott, who’s just graduated from college and is moving back to her hometown Frederick, Maryland (*WOOT* MD shout-out!). Her newly-minted degree in restaurant management and event planning makes Whiskey’s Music Roadhouse the perfect place to get her first post-college job. Sure, she’ll have to start as a waitress, but there’s the opportunity to learn the business and work her way up to the management side. Of course, there’s the added bonus that Marco Vieri, her older brother’s best friend (and her LONG TIME crush), also works at Whiskey’s as a bartender. This will be an awesome opportunity to get to know him again, now that he’s returned from military service in Afghanistan.
As for Marco, he’s a little shocked to see Aly again. She’s not the little girl that he and his best friend Brady used to take care of. Even still, the idea of her working in a rowdy bar makes him nervous. Add in his growing attraction, and being around Alyssa day-in/day-out seems like a bad idea. Ever since being discharged from the Army Special Forces, Marco has been dealing with some serious PTSD. There’s no way he would want Aly to deal with his level of brokenness. Protecting Alyssa is second-nature for Marco, even if this means protecting her from himself. However, he’s about to find that Aly is fully grown and can be persistent when it comes to pursuing what she wants.
I really, really like Alyssa. She’s so determined to be happy. No matter the difficulties, Aly always picks herself up and tries again. Her optimism is particularly unexpected given the loss she experienced in her childhood. I think if you were to ask Alyssa, she’d attribute her positivity, in part, to the love and generosity she received from Brady and Marco. Sure, she went away to college and forced her way out of her shell, but Aly readily acknowledges that these two men made a lot of sacrifices for her happiness. Brady and Marco then went on to make sacrifices for their country through military service. So, Aly feels she owes a debt. Besides, she’s always shared a special connection with Marco. For her, it makes sense that their relationship would grow into something romantic.
But Marco’s no slouch either! He’s gorgeous and has the most loyal and giving heart. These two are actually quite similar and it’s no surprise that, from chapter 1, the attraction between them sizzles:
…she stepped into his embrace. The instant her chest came in contact with his, she knew she was in trouble. His arms wrapped around her and hugged tightly. He kissed her hair and Alyssa squeeze right back…had he always been this muscular? This tall? This broad? His body totally encompassed hers, and every ounce of attraction and affection she’d ever felt for him came roaring forward…
The feelings are not at all one-sided:
She might have been small in stature, but between the long chocolate waves of her hair, the way her V-neck shirt shaped over her breasts, and how those damn jeans hugged her, there was no safe place to look and not think ‘woman’. And it was a short trip from that thought to wondering how she would feel under his hands, in his arms…
Unfortunately, for Marco, Alyssa is strictly off limits…not just because of she’s his best friend’s little sister, but because he, himself, had changed:
While she thought she was looking at the guy she’d known four years ago, and for a lifetime before that, she had no idea he was only half the man he’d been. And when she figured it out, seeing the realization on her face would slay him. Even if she could grow to accept who he was not, would it really be fair of him to ask her to accept less than she deserved? Because Alyssa Scott deserved it all.
*SIGH* I want to hug Marco to my bosom and junk-punch him at the same time! In any event, he finds it very difficult to keep pushing Aly away, and when he finally gives in = FIREWORKS:
He bent his head, trying to think, and his lips found the stretch of skin where her neck sloped into her shoulder. He kissed her, once, twice, his tongue snaking out to taste the crisp lake water from her skin. Alyssa inhaled and tilted her head to the side, inviting his exploration. He couldn’t resist. He licked and kissed up her neck until he reached the soft indentation beneath her ear. He sucked at her there until she was panting in his arms…She wrapped her whole body around him—arms around his neck, legs around his waist. And Marco was gone.
She wrapped her arms around his big shoulders and urged him down. When he gave in to her demand, she parted her legs and made room for his lean hips in the cradle of her thighs. His body came down on hers, pulling a moan from deep in her chest. His weight, his heat, his hard, cut musculature—he felt like everything she’d ever needed or wanted. In that instant, she knew she’d never tire of holding him in her arms, feeling his body cover hers…
But is this enough to convince Marco to let go of his hurt and guilt…to open himself up and take a leap with Alyssa?
At the end, there are a couple twists that complicate things for Alyssa and Marco; however, as I mention before, the angst isn’t overdone. While the HEA goes a little farther than I would have anticipated, it’s still very sweet.
I recommend Her Forbidden Hero to those who want contemporary romance that feature a leading man who’s former military, a hero and heroine with slightly dark pasts, and also enjoy a lot of UST that gets HOT once fulfilled. Add it to your Goodreads TBR list and get your copy today!