Title: Just the Thing
Author: Marie Harte
Series: #2 in the Donnigans series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks - Casablanca (July 4, 2017)
Synopsis: A FLING MIGHT BE JUST THE THING...
Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn't prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life―along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won't give him the time of day.
Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She's been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn't until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.
Soon they're sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.
My Thoughts: So, I have a confession to make. I requested this book from the publisher based purely on the cover. I'm happy to say that it totally worked out for me because I've now found a new to me author I can happily binge read.
The Good: Both the main characters in this book are broken. Gavin, by his PTSD and survivor's guilt after 3 of his good friends are killed in action over seas while he was in the medical unit healing from a previous mission. Zoe is also suffering a tragedy and dealing with her own demons. Despite them being broken I loved that this book really looked at their healing process. It was portrayed in such a healthy way. We've all experienced loss, I liked that this book didn't gloss over the grieving process and portray the new relationship between Gavin and Zoe as a "cure" for their grief. Their relationship was not a case of instalove but rather a build up over time. We were never blindsided by the I love yous because we saw them grow together as a couple. I really loved this.
The Donnigans are quite the family. Their prank wars were epic and I loved every minute of their interactions. The extended family (Harte wrote about in her McCauley Brothers series) was intriguing as was the tattooed woman, Del, who married into the family during the course of this book. Lets not even start on her family, who appears to be in her Body Shop Bad Boys series. I really love when series books connect like this.
I also would like to mention that during the course of the book I might have teared up a couple of times. Or it was allergies. But seriously, Gavin just broke my heart watching him go through his healing process.
The Bad: I really had a hard time with Gavin's "I'm a Studly Man" mentality. Overall I think he was portrayed this way to contrast between the public Gavin and the mentally anguished Gavin, but for me, he came across a bit too egocentric at times. In addition there were a couple instances where I had to pause and remind myself this man was supposed to be in his early 30's. Some of the things he said came across as a frat boy, barely adult male.
Last thing, at times the book felt a bit too long. I'm wondering if some additional editing could have happened to reduce the page numbers. This might have worked but it could have also happened at the expense of the carefully woven romance. Oh and if you are not someone who appreciates super steamy sex-capades you might want to stay away from these books. The sex is scorching and plentiful. I totally didn't mind this but put it in the "bad" just because I know this is something someone else will be wary of.
In a Nutshell: Despite my issues with Gavin and his Ego I loved this book. I'm looking forward to Hope Donnigan's story and in the future Theo's as well. I'm going to read the McCauley series as well as the Body Shop Bad Boy series. I'm really excited to read more of Marie Harte's contemporary romances.