Double Review: Giving It All and Trying It All (Books #3 and #4: Naked Men Series) by Christi Barth

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Logan Marsh never stays in one place for long. Through his family’s foundation, Logan spends his days traveling to the world’s most dangerous places to deliver disaster relief, which really puts a damper on his sex life—until he reconnects with his high-school crush. Stranded together in the Caribbean, they enjoy a steamy fling that awakens feelings Logan has ignored for too long. But family drama calls him away from her sweet embrace . . . or so he thinks.

Brooke Gallagher loved being a home economics teacher and cheerleading coach. Then an unexpected tragedy forced her to take some time off. Now she’s back in D.C. and despite the intensity of her tropical encounter with Logan, she’s shocked to bump into him again. Logan’s dealing with his own issues (including a newly discovered half-sister) and he’s itching to get back on the road. More than anything, Brooke wants to be there for him. But first, he has to decide if love is enough to keep him in one place.

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Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

**Spoilerish for previous books in the series**

For the better of every calendar year, Logan Marsh is unreachable.  Though he’s a trust fund kid with no financial need to work, Logan has chosen to spend his life serving as a disaster relief worker for his family’s foundation.  Ever since he literally led the rescue effort to find his friends in the Alps, Logan has had a driving need to help others in distress.  For the most part, Logan lives out of a duffle bag and beyond the next disaster, Logan doesn’t do much planning for the future.  The only regret he has about his life is how much he misses when he’s off the grid.  You know, stuff like two of his best-friends getting all attached and entangled in long-term relationships, his father’s illness and impending retirement, and the appearance of a half-sister he knew nothing about.  Yeah, you miss a lot when you’re off the grid . . . . .

Brooke Gallagher just can’t seem to get past the heartache she has experienced since the death of one of her students.  Everyone, including her therapist and parents have told Brooke it’s time to move on, but she is lost in the fog of heartache.  In an effort to “snap her out of it,” her parents sent her on a tropical vacation.  Unfortunately, a hurricane blew in just after she landed leaving Brooke sure she’s never going to catch a break.  But, the universe has a sense of and need for balance which manifests as Logan Marsh stranded in the same airport as Brooke.  Brooke and Logan were the best of friends in high school and she has carried a torch for him ever since.  Maybe a girl can catch a break. . . . .

The unexpected reunion between Logan and Brooke starts out as an agreed upon one-night stand.  Brooke is on the verge of leaving DC and Logan is just waiting on the next natural disaster to pack his bags for another round of off the grid.  But, things don’t always go according to plan which leaves Brooke and Logan spending increasing amounts of time with one another.  With Brooke, Logan feels connected to his life in DC and better able to handle some of the huge changes that are happening in his life.  Brooke isn’t just a sounding board, but a voice of calm and reason; she helps Logan see things from different perspectives which allows him to move forward.  And there’s the spectacular sex 🙂

Brooke cherishes her time with Logan.  They have such a long history which makes their relationship comfortable and familiar.  Their high school friendship has blossomed into something so much bigger, better and that frightens Brooke to no end.  Logan has made it crystal clear, he isn’t a long-term kind of guy and he will be leaving town which just breaks Brooke’s heart.  Rather than tell Logan how she feels, Brooke chooses (yet again!) to keep her feelings to herself and hope all will work out for the best in the end.

The Bottom Line:  Yeah, the Naked Men series is still going strong with the addition of Logan and Brooke’s story.  Logan carries so much guilt that he is nearly crippled by it.  Logan’s need to help is in overdrive which causes him to be blinded to alternative ways to help others.  For Logan, it takes huge changes thrust upon him and Brooke’s support to help him see he van have it all and not also be selfish.  What I enjoyed most about this read is the role reversal.  Logan is sort of the drama queen and Brooke is the steadying force that calms him down and helps him see what his life can be if he is open to change.  In effect, Brooke and Logan are exactly what the other needs and this makes for a very sweet romance.  As you should expect by now, there are also some yummy naughty bits, some drama, and some serious funny in this read.  I told you, the series is still going strong 🙂

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Order. Attention to detail. Never leaving anything to chance. These are the qualities that make Riley Ness such a terrific federal agent . . . and a pain in the ass to everyone else. The only time Riley lets loose is when he’s hanging out with his closest pals. So when he’s thrown together with gorgeous, flighty Summer Sheridan, Riley’s brain tells him she’s a ticking time bomb—but his body doesn’t want to play by the rules.

Riley has to be the most irritating man Summer has ever met. The brooding hunk thinks he needs to teach her a few lessons about real life, while she’d rather show him how to enjoy it. But her BFF’s all but engaged to Riley’s best friend, and besides, their intense physical chemistry is all too real. Summer just needs Riley to try to meet her halfway and take a chance with the one thing that matters: his heart.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

**Spoilerish for previous books in the series**

Riley Ness is the planner among the Naked Men.  He is the organizer, the cautious one, the check-the-supplies-multiple-times guy.  In short, Riley never allows himself or the other ACSs to go or do anything without considering and assessing every possible danger.  Nothing escapes Riley’s critical eye!  What do you expect from a guy who was lost in the Alps as a teenager? 

As an adult, Riley has taken his threat assessment skills to a whole new level.  Though his parents had aspirations of Riley holding a prominent position in some lofty organization, Riley has chosen instead to work in the traffic division of the NTSB.  Along with his team, Riley assesses wrecks and collisions from every angle to determine what caused the accident and if there are any measures that can be taken to prevent similar situations in the future.  Riley is all about safety and he will do whatever it takes to ensure no one else suffers the way he and the other Naked Men did when they were kids.  Riley’s attitude and exactitude haven’t ever caused him problems where the ladies are concerned until he meets Summer Sheridan.

Summer is everything that triggers Riley’s anxiety.  She is reckless, spontaneous, adventurous, and doesn’t give a damn about planning for the future.  Summer’s presence in Riley’s life isn’t going to end anytime soon since the best-friend of Griffin’s girlfriend.  The only thing Riley can do to prevent her from causing a dreaded anxiety attack is to avoid her at all costs.  Trouble is, she smokin’ hot and likes to push his buttons at every available opportunity.  Riley doesn’t just sit there and take it which means he is constantly interacting with Summer and they’re constantly pissing each other off.  Sounds like just the right recipe for some angry/awesome sex, right?

Angry sex is all it should have ever been between Riley and Summer, but as they begin to open up to one another, they find true friendship and the basis of a real relationship.  Both are oxen-level stubborn which means changing even a little or compromising is going to be difficult.  Riley wants Summer to be more careful and Summer wants Riley to be more adventurous.  What ensues are moments of hilarity, sweetness, naughtiness, and pure terror.  Both are stretched way beyond their comfort zone before all is said and done and both are certain that if they aren’t careful, they’re going to lose the best thing that has ever come into their respective lives.

The Bottom Line:  The Naked Men series slows down a bit for me with this fourth installment.  I am still loving the actual Naked Men so much, but Summer is a bit hard to take.  Summer tends to be very aggressive in her attitude and behavior which makes her somewhat off-putting.  With that being said, I ended up liking Summer once all the madness played out and she Riley got to the HEA.  As with each of the reads, the story of the Naked Men as a group has evolved as more women come into their lives.  I like to see this playing out as the romance in each book plays out.  There is evolution among the individuals and the group as a whole which keeps the series both consistent and fresh.

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About the author and where to find her:

christiCHRISTI BARTH earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.  Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

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