Pepper Chapman refuses to throw in the towel. Six months ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life. Blinded by grief after her mom’s death, Pepper abandoned the man she loves. Now she wants a second chance at everything she gave up: strong hands driving her to ecstasy . . . a deep voice whispering naughty promises in her ear . . . the future they’d planned since they were teenagers. So Pepper comes home looking for forgiveness, ready for a new beginning—if he’s willing to give her a shot.
Retired MMA star Tank Sherman may be used to low blows, but Pepper’s emotional sucker punch left him reeling. Trying to ignore the pain and forget the pleasure of her body beneath his, Tank is prepared to ring the final bell on their relationship. Then Pepper shows up out of the blue, radiating pure sex. But Tank won’t let himself get hurt again, and that means resisting the heat that still burns between them. Because if he takes Pepper back, he knows he’ll never be able to let her go again.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Sometimes, life just keeps on kicking you while you’re down and no amount of love and support is going to pull you through. For Pepper Chapman, life didn’t just kick her, it backed up and took a running start. When she just couldn’t take anymore, Pepper left her long-term boyfriend and the home and business they were building together. For six months, Pepper has lived and worked in Bali with no connection and no contact with her old life. Needless to say, walking back into her life and reclaiming what she left behind isn’t going to be easy.
Tank Sherman has dealt with some heavy blows in his life but the loss of his one true love, Pepper has left him at a total loss. Without even so much as a goodbye, Pepper left him and their budding business high and dry. Left with the choice of soldiering on alone or giving up completely, Tank opted for the former and has spent the last six months bringing he and Pepper’s dream to life. The Octagon is not just a restaurant but a full service bar with an area reserved for regular, live music. The menu – both the food and the wine – is excellent and varied and reflects both Tank and Pepper’s love of both. Too bad only Tank has been around to see the success the Octagon has become.
The night Pepper walks back into his life, Tank is both totally turned on and totally pissed off. Once he accepted Pepper’s absence, Tank got on with life and closed his heart off to all comers. With the exception of three disastrous dates with a crazy lady, Tank has avoided all romantic encounters. Though he doesn’t want to admit it, he is still head over heels in love with Pepper but it is going to take more than a smoking hot body and some sweet talk to convince him of her newfound commitment to him and their shared life.
Pepper instantly recognizes Tank’s hurt and anger and accepts it for what it is, her damn fault. She knew leaving Tank was a bad decision but she wasn’t good for him or even herself when she walked away. Getting Tank and her old life back isn’t going to be easy but she decides the second she sees him, she is going to let her actions reinforce her words and prove to Tank that she really is back for good. Pepper dives into the restaurant with both feet and makes her feelings for Tank explicitly clear both verbally and physically. Being near him is a balm to her soul and she is willing to go the distance to prove herself.
As it turns out, circumstances keep throwing the two closer and closer together and it takes very little time for Tank to admit what’s in his heart. Before being a restaurateur, Tank was an MMA fighter which brought him great success, loads of fans, and some serious haters. With his personal life already in turmoil Tank doesn’t have much room for more but more, there is. First, there is the break in to Pepper’s loft apartment, then there’s the creepy dude watching Tank and Pepper from the street, and then there’s the constant feeling of being unsettled, as if something is always just the tiniest bit off kilter. As you might well expect, everything comes to a head all at the same time which means decisions and choices must be made quickly if everything and everyone is going to come through all the drama unscathed.
The Bottom Line: After the Hurt isn’t a hard read by any means and I was able to get through it very quickly as most readers will. It’s a good read but there are some issues throughout including why Pepper and Tank don’t have “the talk” about her absence far sooner than they do, how no one but Tank and his sister seem to know Pepper despite her having lived in the area for years and years, the somewhat awkward encounters, and the cheesy names. There are no glaring errors in this read and I liked it but it isn’t something I got overly excited about. In fact, it has been just a week since I finished the book and as I write my review, I found myself having to really look back to be reminded of some of the bigger moments. There isn’t anything new under the sun here but After the Hurt can still go on your TBR, just not so much near the top.