Review: “Tagging Up” by Carrie Aarons

Series: Callahan Family, #5

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 24th, 2021

Add to Goodreads | Amazon.in (Available on KU)

CW/TW: Emotionally abusive parents, childhood illness

All Anna Callahan wants is her independence.

Being the youngest member of her immediate family, and massive network of cousins, she’s always been sheltered. That ends now. After graduating with her masters in nursing, she’s ready to move out of her parents’ house, whether they support that decision or not. While wallowing in the guilt of that choice at the local bar, she bumps into the one guy she shouldn’t go near.

A player for her family’s team and her cousin’s best friend, Clark should come with a warning label. Not only because he’s the league’s number one playboy, but because he’s significantly older than her.

Unfortunately, they can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other. That initial night together leads to scorching glances across public parties, secret hookups in hidden places, and way more than either of their hearts bargained for.

But being with Clark means lying to those closest to them. When their secret is finally discovered, it sends the already skittish bad boy running for the hills. And although she claimed to want freedom with no strings, Anna can’t help but feel the sharp pull to be with him forever.

Clark Nyle swore a long time ago he’d never be committed to anyone.

After watching his mother ruin his father through adultery and abandonment, he knows that love is for masochists and he certainly isn’t one. Baseball and living life like every day’s a party are his only two passions.

Then his father dies, and he’s forced to question everything. It leads to a barstool, too many drinks, and into the backseat of his car with the one woman he should never have touched.

Now that he’s gotten a taste of Anna, he can’t stay away. Even if their secret affair comes with way too many consequences. Her family owns the team he plays for, not to mention his best friend would cut off his balls if he knew what they were up to. Plus, he doesn’t want anything long-term, and eventually he’s going to break her heart.

But the more time he spends with her, the more he seems to want a different future than the one he always planned on. Until they’re found out, and he’s forced to choose between his demons and the disapproval of his closest friends … or her.

 

I refuse to accept that this is the last Callahan Family book, because I feel like they’ve become such a big part of my life and I’m not ready to let them go! And what a journey this family has been on from picking up the pieces of a broken baseball franchise to having some of the best players in the league to falling in love in places you don’t expect. And Tagging Up, is the perfect conclusion to this wonderful story. I’d also like to point out that it’s still weird to read a romance novel where the female lead shares the same name as me. But this Anna is definitely a character to aspire to be!

As the youngest of the Callahan brood – her father is a cousin of the older Callahans – Anna is always treated like a kid. She’s worked her way up in life and in her career and now she’s a nurse with big dreams, but her parents and brothers and cousins all treat her like she’s fragile and breakable. Which only goes to push her buttons and piss her off more. As the only member of the family not partaking in the baseball business, Anna also has dreams of moving out of her childhood home and making a life for herself. Except, her family are less than supportive and don’t accept that she’s 23 and well on her way to achieving great things. I loved Anna so much, because she was feisty and sassy and she fought for what she believed in, but also loved her family so much that she struggled to hurt them with her decisions. She’s also confident and outgoing, not shying away from sex and what she wants in the bedroom – which just adds a whole other layer of awesomeness to who she already is.

And then there’s Clark. If you’ve read Control Artist, you’ve already met him. He’d been Dahlia’s steady bed buddy because she met and fell in love with Garrett. And that’s exactly who Clark has been to everyone on the team and otherwise. He’s handsome, charming, sexy and always ready for a good time. But what Clark hides under all of that is the truth of why he’s not letting anyone into his life or letting himself love anyone else. Clark’s got baggage in the form of a messy childhood with two complicated parents and its taken a toll on him. I really liked Clark. I have a weakness for Carrie’s heroes and she does them well, but Clark is definitely a big favourite (right after Hayes from Warning Track). He’s passionate about the sport and knows that it’s the one place where he will never screw up, so he pours all of himself into baseball all the time. And he’s good. He’s admired and respected, guys like cheering for him and women like sliding into his homebase every night. It works.

Till Clark and Anna meet at the local bar and everything changes forever!

This book is hawt. I remember seeing Carrie post about how the final book in the series would be a scorcher, but I don’t think I was fully prepared for just how wild and hot it would get. Clark and Anna are drawn to each other that first night they meet, but it’s only much later that the sexual tension builds and explodes every time they’re around each other. Clark’s willpower was constantly tested whenever Anna was around and I love it when the hero can’t fight his desire and lust, and just takes the moment the heroine is offering with arms and legs spread wide open. I’m not one for public sex, but good god, these two make me like it a whole lot. That’s how hot the chemistry is guys, it’s just so good and it’s fantastic every step of the way. While Clark is constantly afraid that Anna is going to want a relationship, she keeps reminding him that she’s good with just sex, as long as she gets a lot of it. I really really loved that, because we don’t always get heroines who are ready to toss feelings to the side and just go at it like bunnies. While Anna does have feelings for Clark, she’s not letting them overwhelm her. If anything, she’s falling for him slowly as she peels back the layers and discovers new things about him.

There are just SO MANY things working against them and it’s so heartbreaking to watch them come together and fall apart over and over. But at the same time, it just shows you the strength and resilience of a person like Anna and it makes you love her more. Their relationship is complicated, for lack of a better word, and that also tests the boundaries of their own issues and problems. But it’s clear that when they’re together, Clark and Anna are better. Ugh, I just loved how much of each of them we got to see and experience and how much we got to enjoy them together. It filled my heart with so much joy and sadness, because of course the series is coming to an end!

If you’ve been following the Callahan Family series then you’ll be happy to see a whole heap of familiar faces from the other books. Tagging Up will leave you feeling full of love and joy, because this family is one of the best!

Thanks to Carrie Aarons and Grey’s Promo for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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