Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hootie's Review: On The Rocks (Last Call #1) by Sawyer Bennett

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Publication Date: February 17th 2014
Publisher: Big Dog Books
Series: Last Call #1
Pages: 260
Format: eARC
Source: Provided by author for review

He left to travel the world for fame and glory, but only after spurning Gabby Ward and crushing her young heart. Now Hunter Markham has come back home to the sand and salty breeze of the North Carolina Outer Banks so he can open up Last Call, a beach bar nestled among the dunes of the Atlantic. Gabby Ward is not happy that Hunter has returned. Bitter over his rebuff years before, she’s content to stay far away from him and his dangerously charming ways. Gabby’s well-schemed plans to ignore Hunter go up in flames when he presents an offer to her that she simply can’t refuse, throwing them together in a common quest to each reach their goals. Working together day in and day out proves to be problematic for Gabby, who soon realizes that the feelings she had for him are still very much alive. Hunter struggles to reach through to Gabby’s cold heart, all while starting a new career away from his life as a top ranked, professional surfer. What starts out as a mutual business arrangement soon turns into a passion that neither of them can continue to deny. Hard choices lay ahead for both of them when Hunter is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to return to the pro surfing tour. Choices that could destroy what they have built or take them further than they ever had dared to hope.

My Review:

Some experts say that it's impossible for a man and woman to be friends with each other because one of them will eventually want more. Steve Harvey believes it and he's the guru for love and relationships so it must be true. As is the case with Gabby and Hunter. They've been friends since they were young with hunter's sister Casey being Gabby's best friend. Proving my earlier point Gabby has always been in love with Hunter but only from a distance. It isn't until after she graduates high school that she finally gets up the nerve to make her move on Hunter. He's a total ladies man though, well known on the surfing circuit as the hottest thing since the devil went down to Georgia. When Gabby finally kisses Hunter it's everything she always hoped it would be but doesn't turn out exactly as she planned when Hunter rebuffs her, leaving her young heart broken in his wake.

Five years is a long time to harbor a grudge against somebody but Gabby does it very well in her hatred of Hunter. After their electric kiss on her graduation night their relationship took a turn for the bitter. Being best friends with his sister Casey didn't ensure she would be able to avoid him, so gatherings where the two were together over the following years were tension filled. Now that Hunter is back home after retiring from his surfing career to be there for his twin brother Brody who has been released from prison Hunter opens Last Call along the beach with Gabby in the running to handle the remodel.

So this was a fun story. I've been wanting to read it for a while because I'm a huge fan of Sawyer's work but for some reason I kept putting it off. I think I was scared of replacing the characters I loved from her Off Series but quickly learned my heart made room for these new additions. Gabby was entirely lovable and fierce. She no longer has stars in her eyes about life and love after her encounter with Hunter but the bitterness that night left behind hasn't really helped her any. She's tried to move on but her heart can't let go of Hunter. Gabby is a woman who's had to roll with the punches and that made her more appealing to me having went to the school of hard knocks myself. Still attending actually. After the death of her father she dropped out of college to take over his construction business and got her contractors license to ensure his legacy would live on. She's damn good at what she does and being a woman in a male dominated field she struggles to break that glass ceiling every day. The bid to remodel Hunter's bar means a lot to her, not only to prove to him she can do it but to everyone else who doubts a woman can do a mans job. Gabby is another fantastic female lead penned by Sawyer who I adored even in her bad moments. She pissed me off a few times and her actions later in the story had me extremely nervous and on edge. I couldn't breathe right for a bit.

One thing Sawyer is amazing at doing is creating a male lead that is so believably flawed yet lovable that you have no other choice but to love them. (Well maybe except Matt Conover from her Legal Affairs serials but I digress lol) Hunter may just be my favorite of her guys with his beach boy charm, sexy good looks and boy scout honor. Wanting to give up his dream to help his brother Brody, who is fresh out of the Pen, made me love him with the fire of a thousand Volcano's. Brody wasn't easy to love or be around but Hunter was determined to be there for him no matter what he needed and ended up giving him a job at the bar when nobody else would hire him. Giving Gabby the remodel job was a nice thing to do but it wasn't because he felt bad for hurting her all those years ago, it was because he believed in her work and knew she had amazing potential. A man who believes in and stands behind a woman with no chauvinistic attitude is hard to find but Hunter was written to be a stand up guy. Being around Gabby on a daily basis caused him to reevaluate the reason he ran from her and his growing attraction to her now. I enjoyed watching him sort through his emotions towards Gabby. She wasn't the young teen he remembers but is now a full grown, beautiful young woman and he's still a guy so it's only natural to feel things for her. Hunter never had a moment where he frustrated me or made me mad at him. He was such a wonderful guy and his devotion to his family only added to his charms. He wasn't the typical book guy that makes me extremely nervous because you never know how they'll handle conflict. He was smart, and calculated and didn't let his emotions completely run his life.

Another thing Bennett rocks my socks with is her full emersion of secondary characters into the story. They don't just stand quietly in the background until they're called upon but integrate so well with the main characters that they almost share the spotlight. Casey grabbed my attention from the first mention of her and the wild things she does. The ways she chose to handle her feelings of her brother's incarceration intrigued me and made my heart bleed for her. Granted she totally owns her sexuality, I can't wait to dig beneath the layers of sadness and sex to get to the heart of her. Brody's closed off personality hurt me deeply not only for him but for his family. Apparently he's a different man since going to prison. I'm excited about his book because I'm curious about what he did to get such a life changing sentence. 

The beachy feel of this book took me out of reality and made me forget that I was sitting in a tiny cubicle at work reading. It may have been raining outside of my window but inside this book I was sitting in the warm sand with the sun on my face with a terrific view of the Atlantic. On The Rocks made me happy, it made me squirm (in a good way) and made me nervous. Ex girlfriends show up, stupid decisions are made, characters fight and love is made but there is never a dull moment. I felt like a ballet dancer on my toes constantly waiting on the shoe to drop and break my heart. Thankfully Sawyer writes romance that is exactly that. Romantic. Sweet. Tender. Fierce and Strong. Gabby and Hunter have a rented a condo in my heart as favorite couple of hers right next door to Ryan and Danny. I'm looking forward to the next book, it being Brody's story. Sawyer Bennett writes amazing love stories so if you haven't yet experienced any of her couples, I suggest you block out some time on your schedule and get started. It'll be so worth it!


~ He's too charming, too vivacious. He'll suck me in like a pit of quicksand, and I'll be helpless to claw my way out. eARC 20%

~ "You two remind me of two kids who like each other but don't understand it. So rather than confronting it, you pick at each other, letting your confused emotions come out as anger and stupid words." eARC 24%

~ She looks at me, right this very moment, with heat and desire, and I have never wanted another woman the way I want her now. If I could freeze this moment in time, bottle this feeling, and sell it, I'd be a fucking millionaire ten times over. eARC 31%

~ It was that touch that caused my heart to stand up and wave the white flag of surrender to him. I realized at that moment, that I hadn't truly opened back up to him since he crushed me years before. But I was open now. eARC 69%

  About the Author:
 photo SawyerBennett_zps59043f28.jpg
USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn't have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.


  1. I thought you'd already read this! I'm really glad you loved On the Rocks so much. I adored Hunter and Gabby too.
    Great review!

  2. Annnnd adding to my wishlist. I've had her others on my tbr list for a while. Her heroes sound amazing!

  3. You know I love Sawyer and I am enjoying this series, but like you, it took me a while to read it. I think I like Brody just wee bit more than Hunter. Nice review.


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