Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Worth The Fall (McKinney Brothers #1) by Claudia Connor {Review + Giveaway}

Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected Publication September 9th 2014
Loveswet Romance
Kindle format provided by publisher via Netgalley

Prepare to be swept away by a talented debut author with a passionate, powerful story to tell. They meet on a beach. . . . Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers. They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family. But a week is all it takes. . . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

In the spirit of being completely honest I'm going to confess that the first thing I noticed about this book was the cover. How could it not catch your eye right? It's pretty sexy. Aside from the fact that there's an abundance of abs, the mans hand placement is the guiding light. The second thing I noticed was the synopsis. It sounded like a sweet, sexy and romantic vacation fling kind of story with some steamy romance sure to follow if the cover has anything to say about it. But this book was much, much more than the cover and synopsis could ever do it justice. I almost feel like nothing can prepare you for the poignantly heartfelt and beautiful story that unfolds within it's pages.

The setup is very simple, Matt and Abby meet at the beach while both are on a vacation of sorts. Matt is on medical leave from the SEALS after a head injury sidelines him and Abby is taking her kids on one last week of fun and sun before the Summer ends and school begins. Matt only intended to stay for a few days but after meeting Abby and her children he's drawn back to them over and over again seeing them out and about and can't resist spending time with them. Her adorable kids draw him in with their questions and play requests but it's Abby and her quiet beauty and strength that holds his attention. As they get to know each other a friendship starts to build and before long Matt extends his trip to be able to spend the remaining time he has at the beach with Abby and her kids. They play in the water, build sand castles and have movie nights and by the time it's over and time to say goodbye, Abby and Matt have formed a deeper connection that "just friends" isn't going to satisfy. The only problem is that Matt and Abby live in separate states. The distance alone poses a problem but there are other circumstances at play that threaten to stand in their way if they take it any further than one week at the beach. 

The characters in this story were both deep pools of human emotion and conflict that I felt throughout the entire story. Everything about them from their own personal story to their inner turmoil and demons captivated me. I think Abby's story gripped me the most because she was dealing with a lot up front. A young single mother upon first glance you find out as the story continues that her husband died in a plane crash six months previously and not only that but she's also carrying his child. A child he never knew about upon his untimely demise. That alone was enough to have me feeling like a blubbering mess but the depth of Abby's character is what lies in her past. A father who passed away and a mother who couldn't take the burden of living without him and took her own life, to which a young Abby witnesses firsthand. From there she was put into several foster homes, none of which actually stuck. One particular couple left a young Abby behind for a move to China but took their family pet leaving young Abby a crying, screaming, scraped up mess in the middle of the road as they drove off. All of these things plus a husband who was never really there to begin with and left her alone also during their marriage have combined to make Abby a gun shy, un-trusting person who would rather be alone because her motto is "People Leave."  How could I not love a heroine whose been abandoned by everyone she loved? Parents who left her alone and scared with no family to care for her, a husband who treated her at best, like a robotic baby maker and left her to clean up the mess until he too, died. This time with four small children and one on the way. It was no use fighting it. I loved her instantly. The strength it takes to raise children was one thing but to constantly keep going with all she's dealt with made Abby my hero early on. The ultimate affection that I felt for her character came not by her attributes alone. It happened by watching Matt and how he saw her. Little things he picked up on that endeared him to me while solidifying my love for her.

Matt McKinney. Just saying his name makes me inhale deeply and causes my heart to start fluttering like a flock of birds are taking flight. He's a great guy, and you can gather that from the synopsis alone judging by the fact that he's a Navy SEAL. They are like the best of the best regardless of what the Marines say. They fight harder, longer and stronger than any other group of military. They do the dirty work nobody else can. Matt was driven by so many things throughout the story. His love for his team who were closer than brothers. A promise to a dying best friend that he wouldn't stop fighting and an inner thirst for more in life besides what he's seen and done so far that seems to be fulfilled the longer he's involved with Abby and her kids. It wasn't enough that he played with her kids at first when they met on the beach, Or felt a connection to them and showed patience and kindness at all times. Matt became all things for them, to them and with them. He stepped into the role of friend, guardian and father figure flawlessly. I already thought he was an amazing guy but seeing him step in to take care of someone else's children did something visceral to me I can't fully put into words. I'm always amazed at how selfless it is for a man to take on another mans kids and do so without complaint or jealousy or any other grievous emotion. Just purely motivated by love and genuine affection for them and their mother. I have a very close guy friend who did the same thing and I remain in awe of him and the relationship he has with his wife and her kids. It's a beautiful thing to me and one of Matt's best qualities in this story. Every time he threw the football with Jack, let Gracie put barrettes in his hair, rubbed Abby's baby bump and tenderly spoke of his affection for mother and child or had quiet moments with Abby's oldest and most introverted daughter Annie, I wanted to die. I literally wanted to crawl inside myself and cry forever. The moments with Matt and Abby were special and beautiful but the moments he spent with her children were, for lack of any better words, amazing. Just simply awe inspiring amazement. 

Beauty wasn't the only emotion I felt with this touching story of a young widowed mother and the man who steps in to care for them. I also felt a great deal of strife along with the beautiful moments. Matt and Abby take their relationship to the next level after leaving the beach and real life takes over. Dealing with the miles apart, Matt's continued involvement in the SEALS and Whether to get out or fulfill a promise to a dying friend all play a part in the tug of war between the two. Together they have to overcome Abby's abandonment issues as well as meeting Matt's family who at first are less than thrilled with his "Just add water" family. It was touch and go for a while especially when Matt takes another assignment breaking a promise to Abby that he wouldn't leave again and damaging the already fragile trust she placed in him. I worried for a while that it was too late for these people I had invested so much of my heart into but the way the author brought everything around full circle left me breathless and crying. I don't cry often but the emotional landscape of this story changed so much that even my Iron fortress couldn't withstand the beating. 

The most amazing thing about this book and it's author is...they are both a debut. This heartwarming, amazingly deep and gorgeous story was a FIRST for Connor. My jaw hit the floor several times thinking to myself "This woman was born to write. Plain and simple". Some people just have it. Every single thing the author wanted me to FEEL was felt. It hardly does the story justice to say I enjoyed it but would be more accurate to say I wanted to crawl inside the story and live there I loved it so much. Worth The Fall is the first in the series focusing on the McKinney brothers and I have to say, with this one being so amazing right out of the gate...I'm not sure the author can top it but I am absolutely looking forward to her efforts. Beautiful, amazing, fantastic, superb...there aren't enough adjectives to describe the kind of story I just read. If you like deep and emotional stories of love and romance with some cute kids and endearing triumphant moments thrown in, then Worth The Fall won't disappoint you at all!


"If you could have sex with your eyes, you two just did it." Maybe it hadn't been invisible to the rest of the world. Had Matt felt it? "Nothing there, huh?" Abby froze, the towel halfway down her leg. "You think he holds his sister like that? You two almost started a fire, and that's not an easy thing to do in the middle of a water park." eARC 30%

"So, you've known her what, two or three weeks, and you're that sure?" Matt nodded into the dark. "She's..." He shook his head. How did you put into words the moment you found your heart? Like he'd always known her and at the same time been waiting for her his entire life. Laughing green eyes, heart stopping smile. Sings the wrong words to almost every song. And so very scared of letting anyone close. He hadn't meant for it to happen. Couldn't have predicted Jack hitting him in the back with that ball. After that, it hadn't mattered. "She's everything." eARC 53%

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He liked watching her when she didn’t know. There were no games. No trying to impress him. Just beautiful and real. The kind of woman a man would do everything in his power to keep. He at least wanted to keep her for now.

Abby settled in the chair beside him, and a calm washed over him like the waves of the Atlantic. For the first time in a long time outside of work, he felt like he knew what he was doing. Knew where he was supposed to be.

She shifted and he imagined her cute little bottom wiggling in front of him. Abby. He liked to say her name, liked to think it. He felt the air move, inhaled her scent as she leaned closer. Looking her fill, was she? Well, he’d make damn sure he got his turn. He forced himself to breathe slowly and evenly until he couldn’t take it anymore. “You’re staring,” he said, opening his eyes and angling his head, catching her in the act.

She jerked back all discombobulated. “No, I’m not.”

“You were.” But she wasn’t nearly as close now, making him regret interrupting the moment. “I felt you.”

She gave him a snarky look, if one could call it that on such a gorgeous face. “You couldn’t have felt me. I didn’t touch you.”

“Well, I did.”

“Superhuman powers?” she asked.

He smiled. Snarky voice too. “Close your eyes.”



She made a point of watching the kids.

“I’ve got the kids. Trust me,” he added.

With his last words, her eyes snapped back to his. She searched his face, but finally her eyes closed.

Her chest rose and fell as she breathed, the top of her bathing suit cupping soft, sweet breasts. He leaned close enough to see each fine hair of her feathered brow.

Unable to fight it, he cupped her face, gently smoothed the furrow between her brows with his thumb. Her eyes popped open, and he dropped his hand but didn’t move back. An involuntary smile stretched his face as a warm feeling spread through him. Happiness maybe?

“Could you feel me?”

“Of course I could.” She averted her gaze and tucked flying strands of her hair behind her cute little ear. “You were touching me.”

Yep. He had an effect on her. And she couldn’t hide it worth a damn. His smile grew.

He’d let her think she could. For now.

“What?” she asked, catching more silky strands in her fingers.

She has no idea how beautiful she is. Then, realizing how close he was to putting his lips

to hers, he forced himself to sit back. “Don’t fight it.” “Huh?”

“Your hair.” He could smell it from here, the wind blowing her scent over him. “It wants to be down.”

Keeping her eyes on his, she slowly pulled the elastic band from her hair and all that dark silk tumbled down past her shoulders. Damn. He needed a diversion.


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About The Author:

Claudia Connor attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. After years of making up stories in her head, she finally decided to try writing them down when a friend told her oh, so kindly, that talking to imaginary people was in fact NOT normal. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and travel, but spends most of her time these days putting the stories in her head on paper. Worth the Fall is the first book in The McKinney Brothers trilogy. The second book, Worth the Risk, is set to be released in January 2015. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.


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