Series: Chikalu Falls, #2
Release Date: September 10th, 2021
CW/TW: Mentions of suicide
When I moved to my sister’s small town, I was looking for a fresh start—no more shallow relationships, no snotty fake friends, and definitely no charming, dirty-talking musicians.
We had a fun, red-hot night together and we agreed that hooking up was a mistake, a one-time thing. But when my dream bakery location happens to be right next door to his bar, every day I’m forced to see that chiseled jawline and remember the feel of his incredible body on mine.
No. I’m starting over. I have rules. No more bad habits, definitely no falling in love. No matter how hard he tries, hooking up with him again would prove I’m the flake everyone expects me to be.
But here I am, stuck between wanting to make something of my life and wanting to grab him and make another delicious mistake.
“Honey, you aren’t just some girl. When you’re here, in my home, I can feel it. Every part of me knows it. I’m just waiting for you to catch up.”
I thought Lena Hendrix had smacked me in the feels when I was reading Finding You, but nothing prepared me for the way my heart and soul exploded as I was reading Keeping You. In keeping with Lena’s brand of steam, the second book in the series is also powerful and tackles grief, finding love and yourself in a beautiful way.
After snapping at her boss and walking out, Honey James finds that she’s been living a different life than the one she originally wanted. She put so many of her dreams on hold and sacrificed her happiness just to make it in the world. But with nothing holding her back anymore, she decides to move to the town of Chikalu Falls and start over. After all, if her sister Joanna can do it, why can’t she? Except, the last time she was in the small town, she had a steamy one night stand with the most eligible bachelor and Honey is afraid that being around him again will only make her break all of her rules. Colin McCoy is not only the owner of the most popular bar in Chikalu, he’s also a musician who gave up his big dreams after the death of his brother. Colin’s been carrying this weight around for years, holding himself responsible and refusing to let himself go even a little. However, the presence of Honey in his life is his undoing and the more they see each other and touch and share heated looks, the less he can avoid his feelings for her.
Oh my lawd, Honey and Colin are SO GREAT. Yes, they’re insanely hot together, but it’s so much more than that. They’ve got that one night hanging over their heads, so both of them know what the other is like in bed, but that doesn’t really change their connection and their friendship. They provide each other the relief they need in so many ways. Colin is more himself around Honey and she doesn’t have to be someone else with Colin. They like each other, which instantly amplifies their relationship. Their banter is spot on, their flirting is delicious and their sexual chemistry will set your kindle on fire. Honey’s made herself a set of rules to follow and all of them relate to Colin in some way or the other, which has her fighting her attraction for him constantly. Colin, on the other hand, has no qualms letting Honey know how he feels at every stage.
“I was coming apart at the seams over this woman, and she acted like it was no big deal.”
I loved just how open Colin is with his love and desire for Honey. Pining is great, but when the hero is pining constantly for the heroine? I am so totally here for it. And these two are just so incredible together. There’s no doubt in their minds that they want each other, but they’re still being careful about taking that step.
Honey is a tough woman, she’s hardworking and passionate and she’s driven to start her own business. She pours her heart and soul into everything she does. I think she might be joining the list of book girlfriends, because her feisty and sassy spirit had me hooked right from the start. I loved what we got to see of her in Finding You, but to have so much more to work with and learn about her made me love Honey even more. Colin is a broody singing lumberjack with a heart of gold. He’s not a grumpy guy, he’s just 100% sex appeal and I loved it so damn much. Yes, the weight of his brother’s loss weighs him down and he makes some not so great choices in life every now and then, but I absolutely loved him from head to toe.
If you thought Finding You was hot and steamy, you’re in for a treat. This one takes it up to the next level and rocks you to your core. It’s wild, dirty and hot. And there’s also some angry sex tossed in there to get you panting while fanning yourself. Sure, the sex is great and it’s wonderful and Lena has done such an incredible job of making you feel like you’re in the scene. But you know what’s even hotter? Their chemistry. I’ve already said it once, but lemme say it again – their friendship, their connection, their bond and everything non-sexual that they share is really what is so hot. They lean on each other through the good and the bad, they rely on the other when things don’t feel right and even without asking for it, the other person is sometimes just there to provide support. I’m all about couples like that.
“Why do you feel so good?” she asked.
“I think I was made for you, baby.”
Another aspect of this book that I really truly loved was the scenes between friends (old and new) and familial connections. The town embraces Honey as one of their own almost instantly and she makes friends with literally everyone she meets. I love how most of the townsfolk didn’t see her as a threat or an outsider and how they made her feel welcome right from the start. Colin’s friendship with Lincoln and Decker is just so fantastic. We got a lot of that in the first book, but I feel like it was so much deeper in this one and I look forward to what kind of shenanigans and fun times these guys get upto in the next book! But one of my favourite relationships and a minor one at that is Colin’s relationship with his twin sister, Avery. They have this really great conversation that made me so happy, because I believe siblings need to talk about relationships and sex and messing up in love, it’s not just about the family, it’s about everything!
I cannot wait to return to Chikalu Falls and see what the other characters get up to as Lena continues the series, because I am champing at the bit to see what happens in this small town that has my heart.
Thanks to Lena Hendrix & Social Butterfly PR for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.