Series: (Cotton Bloom #1)
Author: Laura Trentham
Review Format: eARC
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martins's Press
Rating: 5 Stars
A river divides Cottonbloom in two: the upscale enclave on the Mississippi side and the rundown, rough and tumble side in Louisiana. They’re worlds apart—but nothing can build a bridge like love…
Cade Fournette never had it easy Cottonbloom. He stuck around long enough to raise his orphaned siblings and then hightailed it out West—and never looked back. Even though he’s made a success of himself in Seattle, Cade never lost the toughness and the angry edge that helped him survive down South. His only weak spot: the girl he left behind…
Monroe Kirby came from the wealthy side of town, but that didn’t protect her from her mother’s drinking—or her mother’s boyfriend. It was Cade who did that, on a long-ago hot September night, before he disappeared…along with a piece of her heart. Now Monroe is a physical therapist who can fight for herself, and it’s Cade who could use some conditioning when he makes an unexpected return back home. Will he and Monroe pick up where they left off and finally explore their mutual passion—or will the scars and secrets of the past divide them once more? -Goodreads
Monroe's lips silenced the rest of his question. The champagne on Cade's tongue was almost as intoxicating as his scent. The music from the great room drifted, muted and unrecognizable. As if slow dancing, he wrapped his arms around her and turned them enough so he could close the door, leaving them in silence, except for the ticking of a clock.
His hands roamed her bare back, slipping inside of her dress to brush the top curves of her buttocks. She pushed him backward against the wall. Infinitely stronger than her, he could have held his ground or taken charge at any point, but the fact that he let her lead only made her want him more. She was done listening to logic, done fighting her hunger for him.
She wanted him.
Cupping her cheeks, he pulled his lips from hers. “And again you do the unexpected.”
“Unwanted?” she whispered.
“Does it look like I’m protesting?” His breath puffed against her cheek before he kissed her once more, slipping his tongue alongside hers, before his mouth retreated once more. She tipped into him seeking more. He took her weight, bracing his legs farther apart, but evaded her mouth.
“I watched you dancing with Tarwater. What are you playing at? Is he the man you want to be seen with and I’m the one you’re keeping for the dark?” A thread of emotion in his voice tied itself around her heart and bound her. Was he jealous? Hurt? Angry?
“Do you think I’m using you?” She pushed off his chest.
“You know I’m not staying long.”
She did know. She just didn’t want to think about the day he would walk away from Cottonbloom. And from her. “What are you getting at?”
“I think you get something from him you can’t get from me and vice versa. He has clout in this town, but I’m the man that you want in the dark and in your bed, aren’t I?”
“If you think all I care about is my standing in this town, why did you follow me?”
“Because I want you. That’s why I came.” Belligerence instead of seduction beat at his words. Underneath was a boy who did care what Cottonbloom thought of him. He hadn’t always been the poor swamp rat sneaking around in the dark.
“All you want is sex?”
“If that’s what you’re offering.” His voice softened, and he squeezed her hips and fit them together. “I can be rough and dirty and a little bit dangerous if that’s how you want me.”
Arousal flared even as the gentleness of his touch belied his coarse words. He skimmed his good hand from her hip to settle under her breast, his thumb running up and down the exposed skin in between. Her nipple puckered, begging for his touch.
“Is that what you want, sweetheart?”
Her body shifted toward his instinctively, seeking to anchor itself to him, needing to draw from his heat and strength. “Th-that’s not what I want.” Before the words were even out, she knew they were untrue, or at least a partial truth. Sex wasn’t all she wanted. But she did want it.
“Don’t lie to yourself or me.” He dropped his lips to the shell of her ear and nuzzled. She grabbed the lapels of his jacket. “I could take you right here, right now, with the Tarwaters and all of crazy Cottonbloom a few rooms away. And I’d make it good, Monroe. I’d make your body sing. I’d make you beg before giving you everything you need. Then, you could walk back out into that damn party like nothing happened. No one would know the things you want to do in the dark with a poor, dirty boy from Louisiana.”
Her body sang a song of longing and need. She wanted to stay in the dark with him the rest of the night, but there was something even more important she needed to do. With the effort of separating strong magnets, she pried her body from his, opened the door, and took him by the wrist.
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