Series: Citrus Pines, #2
Release Date: November 5th, 2021
CW/TW: Anxiety and panic attacks, character with military related PTSD, mentions of suicide, violence
When Blake Miller roars into town on his motorcycle, all broody and broken, suddenly Mr. Right doesn’t seem nearly as appealing as the deliciously muscled, gruff, bad boy who avoids emotional attachments. To top it off, he’s her new client. The one man she can’t have and shouldn’t want, because she cannot cross that line professionally. Until he makes her an offer her body can’t refuse…will her heart overrule her head?
Deputy Sheriff Blake Miller has to do the one thing he hates. Open up and let someone inside his tortured mind. Unfortunately, he’s required by the terms of his employment to work with a psychologist to overcome his issues. And to make matters worse, his new psychologist is none other than the sexy as sin mystery woman he’s spotted around town.
As she gets under his skin with her prying questions and sassy attitude, he finds himself wanting to open up for the first time ever, and it terrifies him. But if he’s going to be completely vulnerable with her, then he wants something in return. Can he get her to agree to a deal that will save them both and give them everything they’ve always wanted?
I was so lucky to have a chance to read an early draft of Color of Love and from that moment, Justine and Blake have lived in my head rent free. This story is so wonderful and deep, but also sexy and fun. If you read It’s Only Love, then you’ve met Justine since she’s one of the girls in the group with Christy and Taylor. And you’ve also encountered Blake as he helped Taylor out with her annoying ex. And now these two get to tell their story and you get to fall head over heels in love with them just like I did.
Justine is a therapist in the small town and she’s got her fair share of clients, but when she’s not working she can be found hanging out with her girlfriends and performing on stage at the Rusty Bucket Inn. I loved Justine so much. She’s got an affinity for orange, she’s sexy and fun, and she’s absolutely a badass and totally confident in everything she does. And she’s a really good therapist too, always putting her patient first and ensuring that they are at their best when they leave her office. Except when her patient happens to be Deputy Sheriff Blake Miller. He’s got more than a chip on his shoulder, but that has a lot to do with the fact that he’s still dealing with PTSD from his time in the army, his late wife’s suicide and witnessing another suicide before he was fully recovered. Blake’s got cracks and he just wants to fill them up, without having to talk about it all. He’d rather just go through the motions and not open up to being vulnerable or showing emotion. It’s really hard not to love Blake, because he’s so wounded and struggling. But like the alpha male that he is, he hides it behind his gruff and grumpy exterior all of the time.
Their relationship is a combination of insta-lust and a delicious slow burn. Both of them are attracted to the other, but because Justine is Blake’s therapist, she’s drawing a line at what they can and cannot do. Besides, Blake’s not the most receptive of the therapy at first, so it’s not that hard to stick to their sides of the room. There’s something about a couple that wants to be in each other’s presence, but also can’t handle it because of the way the other makes them feel. Blake is constantly turned on and frustrated with how desperately he wants Justine, and she’s handling it a little better. At least on the surface.
“He’d looked tragically beautiful, his scowl etched deeply across his face, her reluctant hero. She would bet her life that he only ever considered himself the villain when he was anything but.”
As Lila would say, there’s a good amount of filth in this book and it made me all kinds of happy. Justine and Blake have a great emotional relationship, but their physical relationship is one that sets your kindle on fire.
The scenes that really broke my heart and warmed it in equal measure were the ones where Justine and Blake connected on a deeper level. As his therapist, she’s open to hearing his dark and deep secrets and Justine takes so much care to help Blake navigate through the mess in his head. The scenes where she drops the formality of being his therapist to just be his friend, holding his hand and guiding him through his panic attacks are so beautiful.
I can’t forget talking about the friendships in this book! Justine, Christy and Taylor have such a great friendship, but I loved how easily Beau and Dean welcomed Blake into their basketball games and their inner circle. I also love Rebelle so much and her story is one that I am aching to read more of. The little snippets we got of her in this book made me so greedy for more, but I’ll be patient.
Thanks to Lila Dawes for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.