***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***Chasing Serenity by Eden Butler
Series: Seeking Serenity, #1
Published by Self-Published on October 15, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, New Adult, Romance
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Graduate student Autumn McShane has had her share of heartbreak. She’s been abandoned and betrayed and she lost her beloved mother in a tragic car accident five months ago. That loss damaged her body and fractured her spirit but she’s learning to recover, until her ex-boyfriend returns to town, intent on making her life miserable.
Declan Fraser hates her ex as much as Autumn does, but the last thing she needs is to put her trust in the hands of another man, especially one like Declan: his hard body and lulling Irish accent makes more than a few girls weak-kneed. The talented rugby player is rude and sarcastic, with tattooed, muscular arms and a cocky attitude, but he's the only one who can help Autumn win an ill-advised bet that, if lost, could cost her more than she's willing to pay. The reluctant alliance between Declan and Autumn stirs up cravings she doesn't want to admit, but Declan is a hard man to resist.
Just when Autumn starts letting down her carefully constructed walls to the sexy bad boy, he betrays her when she needs him most. Autumn suspects Declan has secrets, and she is determined to uncover what drove him away from her, even if that means fraternizing with the enemy. But will the truth return Declan to her arms or add to the scars on her heart?
Autumn McShane has had a painful past. Her father walked away from her mother and her when she was a child. Her world was turned upside down when this happened because her father was her hero and she never knew why or understood why her father left. Then Autumn loses her mother in a horrific accident that left Autumn’s body broken & lasting scars to remind her of this tragic event. While Autumn is dealing with this lost her boyfriend at the time runs off to pursue his dreams leaving her when she needed him most. All of these things have taught Autumn to not rely on anyone else and that people no matter how much you love them will leave you.
Declan Fraser lost his mother too at a young age. He was raised by a stranger who grew to mean the world to him. He loves playing rugby and he’s just moved across the pond to come over and play the game at the University in the small town of Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is a small Irish settlement outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The folks here take their rugby seriously. Declan fits right in with all the expats with his sexy Irish brogue, cocky attitude and his love for rugby!
When Autumn runs into Declan for the first time she was not impressed. Declan kisses her out of no where while intoxicated and Autumn lets him know her displeasure by kicking in his “bollocks”! LOL. Anyway with that bad first impression of Declan in her mind it takes Autumn a bit to warm up to the sexy Irish rugby playing newbie in town. With an ex interfering, a long lost father popping back up and a less than perfect first meeting will Autumn and Declan have a chance at all? 😉
Autumn, Autumn, Autumn (shakes head)! Eden Butler gives us a very well developed, strong, stubborn heroine in Autumn. She is no wilting flower. I found that refreshing since I tend to think most heroines so far in the new adult genre a bit weak. With that said Autumn still had her moments in this book that made me want to slap her silly and tell her to get the stick out of her butt. Especially at the beginning of the book Autumn comes off a bit judgmental and a prude to me. I get why she’s like that…believe me I get it. I loved how she picked herself up after all she’d gone through but it still didn’t stop be from wanting to give her a swift kick to the butt at times. Through all this I still enjoyed her character though. You can’t help but still love the girl. She had spunk and she had determination.
Now Declan…wow! He totally made this book for me. I love me a sexy Irish hero and I found that and more in Declan Fraser. He’s cocky, sarcastic, sweet, funny and schmoking HOT. His character is like an onion…with layers. Each page turned we start to slowly learn more and unravel and understand what’s behind the sarcastic and cocky attitude that makes Declan tick. There is a lot of depth to him. The things I kept discovering about him just made me love the sexy boy more! Best part was his love for geek shows. His conversation with Autumn and her girlfriends when he reveals his geek side was too cute. I love me some Declan Fraser and he’s been added to my list of memorable heroes.
Autumn has some great girlfriends. Sayo, Mollie and Layla are there for Autumn through it all cheering her on and supporting her through all the craziness and sadness. They were another favorite part of this book. I wanted to pull up a chair and be asked to join their group. They were that awesome and I wanted to be their friends too. I am so happy each of these ladies will be getting their own story! Woot-woot. Their friendship and interactions was another added plus to this book. Some of my favorite moments were when the girls were together. Their banter and teasing reminded me of the conversations I’d have with my girls!
The setting of this book in the small town of Cavanaugh was like it’s own character as well. The town itself and their rugby loving way added to the story. I swear I wanted to hop on a plane and find this town..but alas it’s not REAL! There are a lot of fun moments in this book and we are introduced to many characters that kept the book moving along smoothly. Tucker the ex gave the readers someone to root against. There was an unexpected twist at the end. I knew something was up but hadn’t expected the twist to be that so that was a nice surprise.
I wish there had been more time spent with Declan and Autumn’s developing relationship. I wanted a bit more time seeing them as a couple before the twist kept them apart through the second half of the book. I also wish we had seen a bit more of Autumn’s reconciliation with her father. It played in the background more than I liked. Her father was someone that captures your heart and you can’t help rooting that he’d be able to gain Autumn’s forgiveness. Overall this was a strong start for a newbie new adult author. I really enjoyed the town of Cavanaugh, Declan, Autumn her girlfriends and even Tucker. I can’t wait for more from Eden. She’s one that you need to be on the look out for. I give my stamp of approval to this author and book. The story, characters and banter will keep you turning the pages!
★★ Book was read in September 2013. I own my own personal paperback and eBook copy. ★★
Books in this Series:
- Chasing Serenity (Seeking Serenity, #1)
- Behind the Pitch (Seeking Serenity, #1.5)
- Finding Serenity (Seeking Serenity, #2)
- Claiming Serenity (Seeking Serenity, #3)
- Catching Serenity (Seeking Serenity, #4) – Coming Feb 2016
Chasing Serenity ~ Excerpt
I run the tap and splash water on my nape not really paying attention as the door swings open. When I return to the mirror, Declan stands behind me.
“I really don’t have time for this.”
“No, you don’t. Uppity bollocks is waiting for you.” The heat from his chest warms me, settles into a hum that shoots straight to my stomach. He watches my reflection, eyes down cast, cool. I don’t like that expression or how his indifference seems to be forced.
“What happened to not reliving the past, McShane?”
I wad up the paper towel and toss it in the trash, glaring when Declan traps me against the wall. “Please leave me alone.” He doesn’t speak. When I move to the right, he follows, arm stretching out to stop me. His fingers trace the high arch of my cheekbone, down my chin to rest at my bottom lip.
“You can’t go with him.”
“Why the hell not?”
Declan’s forehead rests against mine. He’s so close that I can see his throat working, the pulse speeding on his neck. When he doesn’t answer, I push him away, intend to leave, but his hand slams the door closed. The lock clicking sounds against the cold tile floor.
The wall against my back is cold, uncomfortable, and I grope for the lock, eager to escape the imposing way Declan watches me, absorbs my features. When I touch the door, he reaches out, one arm on each side of my head. “He’s not the one, love. You know that. Deep in your gut, you know it isn’t Tucker.”
“Then who is it?” I can’t help saying. “It’s not you. You’ve told me that a thousand times. This…thing, this whatever we had, is over.” He starts to argue, but I stop him with a quick shake of my head. “No, Declan. It was your choice.” I want to know, God how I want a plausible excuse for his rejection. Was everything I felt between us a lie? Was I misguided in thinking every touch, every kiss was forced, not at all real? His collar is stiff with starch when I curl it in my hands. I inch my fingers up to rub against his bottom lip and notice his chin shake, the quick blink of his eyelids.
There is a moist gleam in his green irises that I know comes from more than just the beer he drank. “I wanted you so badly. I still—” when my eyes slam shut, Declan inches forward, his fingers fanning down my neck. I stretch, pull back from his touch, but he’s so close, his breath a warm hint over my collar. “You rejected me. I’m not going to play games with you anymore.” “I can’t…if you knew—” There it is again. The long withheld mystery that he can’t talk about. His “not a wife, not a family, not dying” secret that isn’t his to tell. I won’t let him keep doing this to me. “Help me understand then.” An inhale against my shoulder as he rests there and the tremors in his hands, his shoulders move me back into the wall. “You don’t know how hard this is for me.” His hair brushes my cheek when he raises back up. “I want you. God, do I want you.”
“Declan. Please. You have a girlfriend. You shouldn’t say things like that when you have Heather.”
“How do you know about her?” he asks, refusing to budge when I push on his chest.
“Was I not supposed to find out? She threatened me to stay away from you.”
Declan rubs his shoulder and I instantly miss the heat from his chest. The break is momentary. He adjusts his stance, returns his hand to the side of my face. “We’re not together.
I don’t want her, Autumn.”
I try to leave again, but his grip is unyielding and my efforts to walk away are weak at best. I could leave. I could easily slip from him and he’d likely let me go. But his eyes have me locked, frozen to my spot. His gaze goes everywhere; on my mouth, staring, as if he wants whatever mad things he’s thinking to break free from his mind. But I’m not a mind reader and I can’t do this. Not anymore.
“Tucker’s waiting for me.”
“No.” He slaps his palm against the wall next to my head and leaves his hand there. “Don’t leave.”
I stare at the sharp point of his nose, the small frown that parts his mouth, anywhere but in those brilliant green eyes. When he doesn’t budge, the anger bubbles again. I am frustrated and eager for him to understand how much he has hurt me. Tucker hasn’t tried touching me, not since that first date weeks ago, but Declan doesn’t know that. To his eyes, we are together. That unsettles him. I won’t tell him the truth; it’s a commodity that we both use in this push and pull game. I’m not stupid. I know whatever Tucker is holding over Declan is the reason he walked away from me. Still, I want Declan to hurt, to suffer like I have, to understand what it feels like when I think of him with Heather. It’s a small lie, but cruel enough to make Declan’s heart quake, an echo of the pain he’s caused me.
“I’m going with him, Declan. I’m going out with Tucker. I’m going to have dinner with him. I’m going to dance with him. I’m going to let him hold me.” His eyes flash and he pulls his hand away from me. “And when the night is over, I’m going to let him kiss me, let him touch me if he wants. I’m going to do all of that because he wants me and he isn’t afraid to show me how much he wants me. Because he isn’t a coward.”
Declan slams his fist against the wall and I don’t even flinch. I knew it was coming. I take a step away from him and he reacts instantly. His hand on my arm, pulling, my shoulders back against the wall, his voice angry, deep. “Does he touch you like I do?” He presses against me hard and I close my eyes, inhaling to settle my pounding heart, to ignore the way my body aches, how everything in me tells me to hold tight to him. “Does he kiss you like I do?” Declan doesn’t wait for an answer. He takes my face again and kisses me. His tongue slips into my mouth, and I let myself enjoy the feel of him against me, the sound of his moans vibrating in his throat. He won’t give me space, even as I angle my face away from him. His body is firm over mine and in that moment, I hate him. I hate the way his arms cage me to the wall. I hate how my heart races, how my body throbs with his scent, with the taste of him. When I close my eyes again, another attempt to block out all the sensations he raises in me, Declan grabs my chin. “Look at me,” he says, his voice firm, even lower than moments ago. “Fecking look at me, Autumn,” he whispers.
❃ Character Guest Post ❃
When Declan Knew He Loved Autumn
I’ve been gutted well and good. You see, I can’t say that I ever expected to have my arse handed to me, but I did. I’m not so fussed about that.
It wasn’t as if I was expecting this wild, insane woman to pop into my life, but there we are. She did and one small chat with this mad woman and it was over for me. Oh, I’m not saying that I fell in love with McShane at first sight. Truth be told, that first sight was a bit hazed beneath a shed load of whiskey. I do remember her wild, ginger hair sticking up from her hair tie. I remember how that tight, black, barely-there bra of hers hugged her perfectly. And the Saints know I remember her driving her knee straight to my knob. But it wasn’t until later, until she became my friend, that I realized I loved her.
And when that happened? When she got all fussed and panicked in the basement and there was not a bleeding thing I could do to calm her…I did what seemed natural. Kissed her. Snogged her rotten until she was calmer. It was meant to be a distraction. It was meant to keep her mind from the raging fear that had taken over her body. But Jaysus, I was the one overtaken.
That first kiss and I knew I was in trouble. My da had warned me plenty. “Women,” he’d say, “are God’s way of making us not act like complete wankers all the time, Deco.” Ha! I think he got that one wrong.
One kiss and she had me until her spell. One kiss and I was a hopeless, done-for idiot willing to do whatever I could to get another. And another. And more after that.
I tried to keep away. Tried to push back from her, least until she knew all that she needed. It killed me to do it, but I knew she’d hate me otherwise. But I couldn’t manage it. I couldn’t keep from watching over her, from making sure that my McShane was safe, wasn’t being manipulated by that tosser of an ex-boyfriend of hers.
I couldn’t keep from touching her, from wanting her, from wanting to be with her. It was like a sickness, that compulsion to be around her. That scared the shite out of me.
And then finally, finally, she loved me too. She wanted me too.
I have no idea what I did to deserve someone like Autumn. I don’t know if it’s luck or fate or just our paths crossing and God making certain that we stick together. Whatever it is,
I knew I loved her, knew I needed her right from the off.
From that first kiss.
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