Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: Don’t Touch My Petunia (Book #2: The Holloway Girls Series) by Tara Sheets

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The Holloway women each have a special gift, passed down through generations, each one a little different. Juliette possesses a magical green thumb, which makes her job managing the local florist shop a dream. She may be a bit wild, but she knows what she wants: to save enough money to buy the shop from her boss. Then in marches Logan O’Connor, more annoyingly handsome than ever, turning all her plans upside down.  Logan hasn’t been back on Pine Cove Island since he was eighteen and broke Juliette’s teenage heart. Now it turns out he’s her boss’s nephew–and will be spending his days remodeling the shop and barking orders. At her.   For the sake of the business, Juliette will have to ignore their simmering attraction and work with Logan. But that doesn’t mean she has to make things easy for him. Because no one knows better than she that one tiny, perfectly planted bit of garden magic could uproot Logan’s own plans and keep him out of her way. And nothing would make her happier. At least that’s what she thinks . . .

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Source: NetGalley and Purchase          My Rating: 5/5 stars

The Sophomore Slump is a very real thing!  The first album comes out and you LOVE the band, the second (sophomore) album comes out and you question your life choices.  This phenomenon translates to the book world too; the first book in a series is amazing while the second book makes you a very sad panda and wondering if you can get those hours of your life back. 

With that being said . . . . .

I LOVED Don’t Touch My Petunia, the second book of Tara Sheets’ The Holloway Girls series.  There is no sophomore slump here and I am once again reminded that waiting a year between books is often worth the wait.  From the opening lines to the very last page, I was highly invested in this story, totally engaged, and wishing I didn’t have to sleep and adult so I could read it all in a single sitting. 

With the exception of her cupcake-making cousin, Juliette has no other family who truly cares about her existence.  Her mother passed away when Juliette was a child and her father simply checked out because of his grief.  Thankfully, Juliette is a Holloway and it is through her particular gift, the ability to connect with nature, that she has found contentment in her life.  Her yard is a glorious, riot of color and greenery, her back-yard leads directly into her beloved woods, and her job in the local flower shop is a haven.  In fact, Juliette’s long-term plans include buying the flower shop and enjoying her working environment for the rest of her life. 

But, as the saying goes, “Man plans, God laughs.”

Intruding on Juliette’s life and plans is none other than Logan O’Connor, the boy (now delectable man) who broke Juliette’s heart a decade ago.  With not so much as a backward glance, Logan walked out of her life, joined the military, and has returned bound and determined to ruin Juliette’s life and organizational plan.  Logan is her boss’s nephew and while the boss is away, Logan has been tasked with completely revamping the flower shop and making large construction-like changes to the entire site.  In one fell swoop, Juliette feels her life spinning out of control.  What’s more, Logan is incredibly attractive, bossy, argumentative, sexy, intelligent, yummy, and infuriating. 

With a healthy dose of denial on both their parts, Juliette and Logan try to find a way to work together.  Juliette wants her boss impressed with her ability to run the shop on her own, Logan wants to get his work done with minimal interruptions from Juliette, and neither wants to admit they are crazy attracted to the other.  Oh, and they may actually like each other.  Though she won’t admit it to Logan, Juliette unexpectedly likes the modifications he’s making to the shop, and though he won’t admit it to Juliette (or himself) Logan likes the wildness Juliette brings to his life.  With more than a few stumbling blocks, several misunderstandings, at least one capsized boat, and a tree house, Juliette and Logan have their work cut out for them if either is going to achieve their happily ever after.

The Bottom Line:  I am so excited to have gotten an advanced copy of this book as it has been a highly anticipated read for me for quite some time!  I was not disappointed 😊  This book checks off all the boxes for me: great characters, witty/funny dialogue, just enough drama to be entertaining, but not overwhelming and angsty, a good heat level for the overall read, some light paranormal bits, and most importantly, a damn good story!  For me, this is a matter of quality over quantity.  Yes, I love getting a lot of books from an author, but if they aren’t well-written then I’m going to give up.  Tara Sheets has taken the time necessary to write, edit, and produce a fine book that I was happy to wait for and I will continue to wait as this fine series develops.

Excerpt from: Don’t Touch My Petunia (Book #2: The Holloway Girls Series):

It was ten o’clock in the morning by the time Logan strolled in to work. Juliette tried to tell herself it didn’t matter; his job was his business. But that wasn’t entirely true. As the standing manager of Romeo’s Florist Shop, it was her responsibility to oversee everything that went on, which included the business of Romeo’s slow-moving, swaggering nephew.

“Nice of you to finally make it in,” she said when he came through the back door. She’d spent the morning swamped with customers and orders, and in the middle of it she’d had to deal with Logan’s lumberyard delivery all by herself.

He walked over to the coffeepot and poured himself a cup from the new machine. His face looked drawn, and there were dark shadows under his eyes.

Juliette crossed her arms and opened her mouth to speak, but Logan held up a hand.

“Before you start,” he said, “you should know that my answer to everything for the next five minutes is going to be ‘coffee.’”

“You should know that you’re late,” she tossed back. “We open at eight o’clock here.”

He raised his mug in salute and took a sip.

“The lumber company stopped by this morning at eight-thirty,” she continued, “and since you weren’t here, they started dumping all the supplies by the front walkway. And this time, the store was filled with customers.”

Logan leaned against the counter and regarded her with bloodshot eyes. He took another slow sip.

“What is wrong with you this morning?” she blurted. “You look like you drank one too many shots of tequila last night and had to crawl home on your lips.”

His mouth lifted at one corner as if he found her amusing.

“It’s not funny,” she said with growing annoyance. “You’re supposed to be here on time so you can handle all the remodel stuff.”

He closed his eyes and rubbed his face with one hand. “A friend kept me up all night.”

An image of the pretty blonde from the bonfire flashed across Juliette’s mind. She’d been wrapped around him like a human pretzel, and it hadn’t seemed to bother him.

Juliette bristled. “Look, if you want to party all night long with Suzy Sunshine, go right ahead. But you’re still expected to show up on time and get some actual work done here. The rest of us have to do our jobs. I’m sure Romeo wouldn’t be thrilled to know you were dragging in two hours late on your second day of work.”

Logan stopped with his cup halfway to his mouth. “Suzy Sunshine?”

“That girl from the barbeque.”

He frowned. “You mean Bella?”

“Whatever.”  She wouldn’t know. Because she didn’t care.

“We weren’t partying,” he said casually. “Not all night, anyway. I wasn’t up for it.”

She had the sudden urge to throw something at him. Instead, she smiled sweetly. “Stamina problems, huh? Not a shocker. It’s your second day on the job and you can’t even keep up.”

Logan set his cup on the counter with a thud, an unspoken challenge in his eyes.

All Juliette’s nerve endings went on high alert. She suddenly felt like a rabbit in plain sight of a wolf.

His gaze slid lazily down her body in a sensual caress, then back up to linger on her mouth before meeting her eyes. “I have no problems keeping up, Juliette.”  He drew her name out on his tongue like he could taste it. “I’d be happy to prove it to you, if you don’t believe me.”

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About the author and where to find her:

Tara SheetsTARA SHEETS is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her work has earned first place recognition in literary contests nationwide and her debut novel, Don’t Call Me Cupcake, won the 2016 Golden Heart® award sponsored by Romance Writers of America®. Tara began her career as an author in the Pacific Northwest, inspired by the rain and the misty mountains and the rivers of Starbucks coffee.  She now lives in the warm, wonderful South where she can stand outside with no coat on, and she finds that pretty inspiring too.  When not writing, Tara enjoys life with her book-loving family and a book-eating dog named Merlin. She is represented by Sarah Phair at Trident Media Group. 

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