Double Review: The Best Part of Me and Not in My Wildest Dreams (Books #1 and #2: McKenna Series) by Jamie Hollins

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He’s content to stay in the shadows… Ewan McKenna’s days and nights are filled with drink orders, beer kegs, and noisy bar customers. Now that he’s put his tumultuous past behind him, he’s more than happy to live a solitary existence running his family’s pub. After years of walking the line between good and bad, Ewan now needs control and order to rest peacefully at night. What he doesn’t need is the fiery, intriguing woman who’s found her way into his thoughts and his bed.

She’s ready to step back into the light… Spending the summer getting her hands dirty in her aunt’s garden in a tiny town outside Boston is exactly what Quinn Adler needs. She’s ready to shake off the grief of losing the people who meant the most to her and to start feeling again. What she doesn’t expect is to find a man who sets all her senses on fire. When the pieces seem to be nearly in place for a bright future, everything falls apart.

Will Quinn’s love be bright enough to cut through the darkness of Ewan’s past?  

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Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Ewan McKenna is a most unusual man.  Despite his youth, Ewan is perfectly content with his life, something most don’t achieve until they are far older than he.  Ewan runs his family’s bar in Ballagh, a small town outside of Boston, he engages in the occasional bare knuckle scuffle to burn off his aggression, he minds his own damn business, and he has a no-strings-attached woman in his bed any time he desires.  Ewan has sown his wild oats, done some very bad things, and learned from his lessons.  He has no desire to repeat the mistakes of his past and it is that very thing that keeps him from entangling himself with a woman for more than one night.

Quinn Adler has been living in a fog for the better part of a year following the death of her parents and the need to drop out of her graduate program.  Everything Quinn knew and loved was taken from her in a single horrible moment and she’s trying to find her way again.  In that spirit, Quinn has packed her bags and moved in with her elderly aunt in Ballagh for the summer.  She fully intends to immerse herself in the landscaping of her aunt’s property and try and sort out what she wants for her future.  What she doesn’t intend to do is become entangled with a man even if he is the hottest thing she’s ever, ever seen. 

From the beginning, Quinn and Ewan have a prickly relationship that involves a whole host of aggravating one another.  Neither seems to be able to say the right thing and both try to maintain and air of confidence as a way to mask their respective insecurities and attraction to one another.  As the days and weeks go by, Quinn settles into life in Ballagh.  She makes new friends, she learns the lay of the land, and she even tempts cranky pants Ewan into something more than a one night stand.  Just as Quinn starts to believe she can be happy again and have a life beyond her sadness, Ewan pulls the rug out from under her and unsettles her world once again.

The Bottom Line:  From start to finish, this book was all about Ewan!!  Even when he’s got his head planted firmly up his ass, he’s still the strongest and most enjoyable of characters.  He’s gruff and grumpy, strong and sexy, and stubborn and loyal.  In all, he’s just short of perfect.  Make no mistake, Quinn is quite likeable too and she becomes more so as the story unfolds.  Quinn blossoms as the plot deepens, she finds her way out of the darkness and forges a future for herself and Ewan, you know, once he pulls his head out of his ass.  This read is an excellent blend of drama and naughty, past and present without any one aspect overwhelming another.  In addition to Quinn and Ewan is a strong cast of secondary/supporting characters who nicely round out the story.  Overall, I found The Best Part of Me to be a very good start to a new series.

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Source: Netgalley and purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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Holy Hell!!  Darcy Owens is a woman after my own curse word laden heart!! 

Since she was ten years old, Darcy Owens has been in love with her best friend, Sean McKenna.  For a decade, Darcy has sat aside and watched as Sean has dated his way through the greater Boston area without ever stopping to look and see the woman right in front of him.  Knowing Sean is dense beyond belief, Darcy has satisfied herself with simply being his foul-mouthed, hilariously blunt, always there when he needs her, friend.  Yeah, it sucks being friend zoned.

Sean McKenna is the consummate good time guy.  If there’s a party to be found, a beer to be drunk, or a woman to be hit on, Sean is there.  While he may play harder than most, Sean also works hard.  Sean has dedicated his life to building his contracting company and making it nothing short of a roaring success.  He works with a partner (who is also a mentor) and between the two of them, they are ready to tackle a huge, reputation making project.  If Sean, his partner, and the company are going to pull this off, they’re going to need an interior designer and Sean just happens to know one.

When Sean brings Darcy into the hotel project he finally begins to see her as something more than his forever friend.  Trouble is, he still isn’t quite seeing her as a woman, but as a girl who has some really cool skills he needs to get a job done well.  It isn’t until another man on the project starts sniffing around Darcy that Sean finally opens his eyes and gets a mind-blowing look at the woman before him.  What he sees scares the holy hell out of him and he must make Darcy his.  All he must do is overcome several problems including: 1) Darcy’s emotion-laden speech laying out her precise feelings for him, 2) her not telling him about being a card-carrying member of the virginity club, 3) the whole “what if we wreck our friendship” problem, and 4) Sean getting the hell over himself, being a man, and owning up to his feelings for Darcy.  Should be simple!

The Bottom Line: Darcy makes her big, bold, sassy presence known in The Best Part of Me and just rolls on in bigger, bolder, and sassier in Not in My Wildest Dreams.  Since they were ten years old, Darcy and Sean have been perfectly paired.  They have always been there for one another, always supported one another, but never crossed the line from friends to lovers.  Darcy doesn’t push the issue until she is forced to and Sean is just too dense to see what’s right in front of him.  Though the struggles these two go through aren’t pretty they sure do strengthen and solidify Darcy and Sean as a couple.  In fact, I think as the series moves forward, these two are going to become the center of the group and I am all kinds of excellent with that scenario.  Onward and upward, Jamie Hollins.  I’m ready for the next book in the McKenna series.

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About the author and where to find her:

jamieJamie Hollins was born and raised in rural Northeast Ohio. After graduate school, she embarked on a perilous career in Human Resources where she met plenty of real life characters. When she’s not writing or chasing after her toddler, she enjoys reading and golfing. Jamie lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and their dog, Winston.

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2 thoughts on “Double Review: The Best Part of Me and Not in My Wildest Dreams (Books #1 and #2: McKenna Series) by Jamie Hollins

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