Monday, September 17, 2018


Everyone knows that if you play with fire you’ll end up getting burned… What happens when you attend a first responder’s bachelor auction with your best friends? Well, if your name is Madison Kelly like me, your friends end up bidding on a date for you with your high school crush. That’s right. Even back when I was ‘Fatty Maddie’ to all my classmates, I had eyes for the quarterback of our football team. Not like I was the only one. Mauro Bianco may fight fires for a living, but he still sets my heart ablaze. One look at the rugged, muscular man he’s turned into and I want to slide down his pole. One date. That’s all I’m committed to. A few hours and I can tuck him back into that tattered old shoebox in my closet. As always, the universe has other plans. I never would’ve predicted that in a matter of days he’d turn from my dream guy into my enemy.

I really enjoy Piper Rayne's work so I was excited at the opportunity to read something new from them. Add in the fact that this is the start of a trilogy of interconnected standalones and I was even more excited. I'm a sucker for a second chance romance and was ready to see their spin on it.

Maddie is a pretty relatable character, I think. A bit of a nerd in high school who had a crush on the hot, upperclassmen athlete. She's come into her own since high school, but there's still a bit of the shy girl underneath who's afraid to let Mauro get too close. I thought she was smart and funny when she let herself be. She's a woman I could see myself hanging out with.

Mauro, man, his hotness that was there in high school just intensified as he got older. He's a sexy, smart, kind and guarded firefighter. I mean, where can I find one of those?? He definitely pursues Maddie and I loved watching him break down her walls.

Now, these two have chemistry and heat. They have a past-even though only one of them really remembers it. I'm not sure I'd call what they have exactly a second chance romance but some elements are there. I believed in these two as a couple, both inside and outside the bedroom. Good thing Mauro is a firefighter because their sexy times were definitely hot.

There were some things that I didn't exactly love about this book. There's some drama that I just didn't think needed to be added in regards to Mauro's former partner's wife. It was just a bit cliche for me. It didn't add to Mauro and Maddie's story so it was just a bit distracting.

The supporting characters were fun-even if they were a bit overwhelming in spots. We needed to be introduced to them since they're the focus of the next books but I almost found myself more intrigued with them at times.

The banter here was fun, witty and sharp. I found myself smiling often as I read this book and I definitely fell for Mauro. I would recommend this book and look forward to the next in the series.

Is it a second chance romance if only one of the people involved remember the first chance?

Mauro and Madison went to high school together. Sort of. He was a Senior, she was a Sophomore with a giant crush on him. They have a quick moment while he's drunk, and he doesn't remember it the next day.

So, 11 years later, she's still hurt and he's just a little clueless as to why. He sees a gorgeous woman who bid on him at a bachelor auction seems to want nothing to do with him.

This story is fun. I was laughing in places, and I was really engaged with their romance. Mauro is all in. He loves Madison. She's it for him.

There was a lot that worked in this story. Unfortunately, there were also some parts that I struggled with. Not enough to ruin the book, but definitely parts that I struggled with.

The wife of his best friend. This entire storyline was pointless and felt a little awkward and out of place. I do see that it was to help show the readers that Mauro was all in...but that was clear. We didn't need this and the scenes with her pulled me out of the story.

The 10 ratings felt juvenile. Does anyone refer to themselves by their "rating" number? Maybe. One time. In college. But not 11 years out of high school, at 29 and 27 respectively.

The ending was a cliffhanger. Sort of. And, don't get me wrong, I don't mind cliffhangers. But when the book is a standalone, this needs not to happen. The relationship isn't the cliffhanger, but things going on with Madison's friends are, events surrounding work related things are, as the fate of a minor but central character. It's a cliffhanger in the way that Nora Roberts writes them...but it's still a minor one.

The other characters were too prevalent. This is the first book in an interconnected series, so I get that there needed to be some introduction to the other characters, but I feel like I know them as well as I do Mauro and Madison. Which means the pacing of this title was a struggle for me.

I generally love these authors, so feeling a little let down at the end of this book is tough. But I am going to say I recommended it. I liked it. Yes I wanted more, but that's possibly because I'm used to more from these authors.

I'm looking forward to the next in the series and I do recommend this title.

My brothers widen their stances, share a look of amusement and cock their eyebrows at me. “Hate to break it to you, but Maddie didn’t bid on you. Lauren did.” Luca laughs while Cristian chuckles. “I’m going out with a Madison and she didn’t go to our high school. Which reminds me.” I pull out my phone. “Maddie is Madison, you idiot,” Luca says. “Her and Lauren were my year.” “I went to high school with Madison?” I try to let her face come back to me, and though I can picture her bright blue eyes and long chestnut hair, nothing about her is familiar from high school. “Yes, but she definitely wasn’t hanging out at the bonfires and football pep rallies.” Luca grabs his helmet off his bike. The only responsible thing I’ve seen him do in the last few years. “Well, shit and she doesn’t even want to go out with me? Her friend bid on me?” Luca straddles his bike with a grin. I look over to Cristian, but he’s putting his shirt back on and starts fiddling with his earbuds. They obviously think this conversation is over. “Yeah, but we’re all in the same boat.” Cristian’s thumb moves over his phone screen. “Maddie’s awesome and I think you’ll have a good time with her.” “She seemed pretty quiet and way too accommodating,” I say. Luca kicks his stand up, letting the bike rock a little under him. Cristian’s hands freeze on the screen of his phone. “And that’s bad?” he asks. “I want a woman who knows what she wants. Has her own damn opinions. Doesn’t just agree with everything I say.” Cristian peeks over his shoulder, a look of amusement that matches Luca’s. “You want a girl to come up and grab your nuts?” “I want a girl who knows what her favorite food is, has an opinion about where she wants to go for dinner, likes whatever sports team she likes and doesn’t default to my favorites.” I stuff my hands into my pockets, digging out my keys for my truck. “Well then, Maddie might not be the one. Like I said, she’s nice.” Cristian slaps me on the shoulder. “Treat her good though, okay?” He inserts one earbud. “What do you think I’m going to do, leave her in Garfield Park?” He puts his other earbud in. “That’s not even funny man. I have a friend in that district and the shit that goes down there...” He shakes his head. Cristian loses the entire point of my statement—the fact I’m not a jackass. I’m not Luca. “It’s one date,” I say. “And who knows, maybe she’s nice but still has a wild streak.” Christian again glances over to Luca who’s smiling like he’s fucking Mickey Mouse. “Well, good luck on your date,” he says. Cristian jogs away and Luca’s bike starts up. I head to my truck. The conversation is over, but I’m curious now. Where’s my damn yearbook?

Piper Rayne, or Piper and Rayne, whichever you prefer because we’re not one author, we’re two. Yep, you get two USA Today Bestselling authors for the price of one. Our goal is to bring you romance stories that have "Heartwarming Humor With a Side of Sizzle" ( caught us, that's our tagline). A little about us... We both have kindle’s full of one-clickable books. We're both married to husbands who drive us to drink. We're both chauffeurs to our kids. Most of all, we love hot heroes and quirky heroines that make us laugh, and we hope you do, too.

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