Best Books of 2016!

2016 has been one crazy year, and I can barely believe it’s already over. I don’t know if it’s just me, but time is seriously flying by so fast. It’s already been a year since the last time I made the “Best Books of 2015” post – which means it’s been another year filled with incredible books! And I apparently read over 300 of them 😂 So here are my top 16 reads of 2016 (in no particular order, except for the first), books I highly recommend everyone read if they haven’t already. These are the unforgettable books, the ones that have stuck in my head and stayed in my heart. What have been your favorite reads of the year?


1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads

THE HATING GAME!!! It was a tough decision, but my absolute top favorite read of 2016 is The Hating Game. I was SO impressed with this debut novel – it was everything I wanted in a romance and more. It’s funny, romantic, adorable, sexy, and did I mention funny? This is probably the book that has made me laugh the most I’ve ever laughed while reading. It’s an enemies-to-lovers office romance that is H I L A R I O U S. It was a pure joy to read this novel, and I’m dying to see what else Sally Thorne has in store for us. P.S. JOSH TEMPLEMAN IS EVERYTHING!!!

“I hope it’s not too forward of me to say, but your eyes are incredible, Lucy. I die when you blink.”


2. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me & Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata 

TWoWaM: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Wait for It: EbookPaperbackGoodreads

OBVIOUSLY I had to include Mariana Zapata, my new favorite author ever. Winnie is a close second to The Hating Game (though neither have been able to surpass the ultimate fav, Kulti). This is sports romance at its finest, so if you love anything in that genre, especially football romances, Winnie is your thing. And, if you’re a fan of the fake marriage trope, READ THIS! Aiden is the perfect grumpy hero and Vanessa is such a relatable, genuine heroine. Mariana Zapata never ceases to amaze me with her stories, and Winnie was a total winner in my book.

Like football and art, like anything that anyone in the world has ever wanted, love was a dream. And just like a dream, there were no assurances behind it. It didn’t grow on its own. It didn’t blossom without food to feed it.
It was the greatest in its subtleties.
It was the strongest in its selflessness.
And it could be forever with someone who wasn’t afraid to never give up on the possibilities it presents.

And then there’s Wait for It – which only cemented Mariana Zapata as a favorite author of mine and the queen of slow burn. It was beautiful, heart-wrenching, and everything in between. I loved all of the characters, especially the kids. I honestly don’t know what to say about Wait for It besides the fact that it was an unforgettable read I loved so damn much and that everyone needs to read it.

There was a lot of things about love that you could only learn after you’d faced the real kind. The best kind wasn’t this soft, sweet thing of hearts and picnics. It wasn’t flowery and divine. Real love was gritty. The real kind of love never quit. Someone who loved you would do what’s best for you; they’d stand up for you and sacrifice. Someone who loved you would face any inconvenience willingly. You didn’t know what love was until someone was willing to give up what they loved the most for you. But it was also never letting them make that choice, either.


3. Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

Unbreak My Heart is probably my most reread book of 2016. This book is the literal definition of angst, and it was one of the few books this year to make me cry. I don’t even have the words to describe the tumultuous emotions the author wrung out of me while reading this. It was an experience, to say the least, and one everyone has to try. You’ll probably hate the hero (like me, lol) but even so, it was totally worth the read.

It had always been Kate. My hands shook as the truth seeped into my pores. It had been her since I was just a stupid kid.


4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

EbookHardcoverPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

Rhysand aka THE LOVE OF MY LIFE! This book destroyed me in the best way possible. I honestly don’t know why I ever held back on reading the ACOTAR series, but I’m so glad I finally succumbed because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This series alone is the reason why I’ve gotten back in YA fantasy, and even into NA fantasy. The writing, world-building, and characters is beyond fantastic. But now I’m DYING for the third book!

“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”


5. The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz

The Saint by Tiffany Reisz The Angel by Tiffany Reisz The Prince by Tiffany Reisz The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz

The Siren: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Angel: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Prince: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Mistress: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

If there’s one series that has messed with my mind completely and I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s the Original Sinners series. Tiffany Reisz changed my entire outlook on BDSM and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Y’all, these books are unforgettable masterpieces, so beautifully yet simply written I bow down to TR. If you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend reading this series (and yeah, I know I’m totally late to the game with these books, but I’m just glad I finally read this). Nora is my all-time favorite heroine – I kinda wanna be her when I grow up.

“I know people think erotica is just a romance novel with rougher sex. It’s not. If it’s a subgenre of anything, it’s horror.”
“Horror? Really?”
“Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear.”


6. The Player by Kresley Cole

The Player by Kresley Cole

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

The Master was one of the best books I’d read in 2015, so to say my expectations were high for The Player would have been an understatement. But thankfully, Kresley Cole didn’t disappoint and I got another alpha, heroine-obsessed Russian billionaire hero to fall head over heels for. The con artist heroine couldn’t have been more different than the hero, but together they were explosive. This was such an addicting read – if you were a fan of The Master, trust me, you’ll love The Player.

“Imagine a pitch-black room with a single candle lit in the center,” he said, his voice gone low. “The room is the world. You are the candle.”
A shaky breath escaped my lips. “How can you be so sure about me?”
He leveled his spellbinding gaze on my face. “When you’ve been in the dark as long as I have, moy ángel, there is no mistaking the light.”


7. My American Duchess by Eloisa James

My Review • Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads

This is one of my all-time FAVORITE historical romances ever! It was my first Eloisa James book but judging by how much I loved it, it for sure won’t be my last. The duke hero is beyond perfection – the way he adores his American duchess made me swoon madly. And the heroine herself is so quirky and adorable (I totally fell for her myself). If you love historical romance (and even if you don’t – I’ve made a lot of non-HR readers read this book), you absolutely must read My American Duchess!

“You are my American duchess,” Trent said gruffly, his finger tracing the shape of her cheek. “You pour milk into tea at the wrong time, but you do everything else the right way. I love the way you speak. And I love what you say. I’ve never met another woman who is as fascinating.”


8. Beast in Shining Armor by Cassandra Gannon

Ebook • Goodreads

A friend on Twitter rec’d this book to me, and I’m beyond glad she did. The A Kinda Fairy Tale series a humorous twist on fairy tales, and Beast in Shining Armor focuses specifically on Beauty and the Beast. This book is stinkin’ hilarious – it’s up there as one of the top books that have made me laugh the hardest. The hero is just so sardonic and sarcastic, and the stuff that happens is the laugh-out-loud kind of ridiculous that I love. Also, the hero is a “Bad” prince who’s been in love with the heroine since kindergarten, but they’ve also been enemies since kindergarten (long story) and she’s currently usurped his throne yet he’s trying to win her heart. Swoon, right!?

“I have longed for you my whole life. There is nothing in this world or any other that I want more than to be with you, Belle.”


9. Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

This is one of those books that made me so HAPPY while I was reading. It was charming, hilarious, sexy, and utterly heartwarming – and it’s about farmers! Apple farmers!! Ugh, I loved this book so much, especially Griffin. He is so adorable and all big, sexy, protective, and caring. He and Audrey made such a cute couple. And hello, do you see that cover!? You need this book for that alone (but I promise, the inside is just as good as the outside 😉 )

Whether it was convenient or not, Audrey and I just fit. We’d always been good together. It’s just that I’d never allowed myself to imagine a future where we shared everything. A bed. A home.
A name.
Hell. That got me panting. I wanted everything. There was nobody else who got under my skin like she had. To think of her as mine seemed like an impossible luxury.
It’s the only luxury I’ve ever been greedy for.


10. Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton

My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads

This is the PERFECT second chance romance/military romance! I’m usually picky about both tropes, but Into the Blue hit all the right buttons for me. There’s some good angst, good grovel, and the hero is desperate to win back the only woman he’s ever loved. I love this series SO much – if you’re ever in the mood for some good military romances, the Wild Aces series is a must read!

You couldn’t fake what we had. Couldn’t duplicate it. We were so fucking lucky to have found each other once, and even as I’d always suspected it, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that letting her go was the biggest mistake of my life.
Now I needed to fix it.


11. Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Fast Connection surprised me in the best way, because I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about one of the heroes. He was a total dick in the first book, but he was completely redeemed in this one. The romance gave me all the squishy feels – I felt so much for Dominic and Luke. The authors write seamlessly well together and the characters blew me away. The silver fox and his adorable (former) player made me laugh and swoon. I totally need more Megtino books!

“He’s completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other.” I intertwined my fingers. “We fit. We need each other.”


12. Next to Never by Penelope Douglas

Ebook • Goodreads

I know this book doesn’t come out until 2017 but I read it this month so I’m counting it! And it’s only a few weeks away from release 😉 Reading this novella made me realize how much I’ve missed the Fall Away characters. Next to Never was the perfect way to introduce the second generation of characters while still rewarding fans of the Fall Away series with cameos of the original characters. Honestly, there’s so much to love about this novella – Quinn, Lucas, Jared (aka my love) but now I’m dying for more!


13. Managed by Kristen Callihan

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

This book was so much better than I expected, especially after the okay first VIP book, but Kristen Callihan upped the ante in Managed. I loved the endearing characters, the sweet romance, the delicious chemistry, everything! Sophie is a sweetheart of a heroine, and uptight, closed-off Gabriel has definitely met his match in her. This was the perfect opposites-attract read, and there’s the added bonus of sexy rock stars to make things more fun 😉

“I’ve lived my whole life denying myself what I truly want. And yet I cannot turn from you. Haven’t you realized it yet? I am yours. I will always be yours, whether I touch you or not.”


14. The Fallen World series by Laura Thalassa

  

#1: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3: EbookPaperbackGoodreads

I got SUPER into NA fantasy this year, which I’m so happy about. I need more books in this genre! Laura Thalassa had been on my tbr for a while and I finally got to her Fallen World series, which I pretty much read back-to-back, non-stop. I was utterly addicted to the post-apocalyptic world the author created, with the hero as a villain and the heroine who hates him, sent to marry him for peace. The story is unlike any other that I’ve read – it’s dark and violent, but such a gripping read! I also highly recommend Laura’s newest book Rhapsodic, which is another fantastic NA fantasy romance!

Once upon a time we were innocent, and then we were not.


15. Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

Has there been a Penny Reid book that I haven’t enjoyed? She always writes such smart, adorable romances. Grin and Beard It charmed the pants off me – it’s a sweet, slow-burn romance between a Latina celebrity actress and park ranger Jethro Winston. Jethro has no idea who she is and some mad flirting and banter ensues. This was such a fun, light-hearted read with adorable MCs.

Pleasing her—my woman—cherishing her, loving her had no comparison. Satisfaction, desire, fulfillment were woefully inadequate words. So responsive. So incredible. So . . . mine.


16. Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

Elizabeth Hoyt is becoming one of my favorite historical romance authors! I’ve only read a few of her Maiden Lane books, but I love the series so much already. Duke of Sin is the best I’ve read so far – it has the perfect anti-hero duke who falls for his tough, proper housekeeper. The story is wicked, funny, sexy, complex… the MCs are able to match each other intellectually, which made for some fun reading.

“This is who I am, Séraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”


I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s and an even better 2017!

lacey


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Top Ten Tuesday {21}: Top Ten Underrated Books

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s theme is…

Top Ten Underrated Books:
Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads


My Review • EbookPaperback • Goodreads

  1. Bittersweet (True North #1) by Sarina Bowen ~ Bittersweet is one of my FAVORITE book of the year!!! I have so much love for this sweet, funny, endearing romance. It’s somewhat of a second chance romance since the MCs hooked up back in college, but now, years later, they meet again and sparks fly. Oh, and Griffin is now a hot as hell farmer! I recommend this one to everyone who loves unique contemporary romances.

 
Beast in Shining Armor: EbookGoodreads
Ghost Walk: EbookGoodreads

  1. Beast in Shining Armor/Ghost Walk by Cassandra Gannon ~ Cassandra Gannon is a new-to-me author this year, and she’s probably the best author recommendation I’ve ever received, because I’m OBSESSED with her books now. She’s not that well-known, which is a shame because her books are AMAZING!! They’re hilarious paranormal romances with obsessed alpha heroes that I can’t get enough of. Beast in Shining Armor is a sweet, sexy Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Ghost Walk has a ghost hero and a time-traveling heroine determined to clear the hero’s wronged name. If you love PNRs, you NEED to give these books a try!!


My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

  1. Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn ~ This is one of the few books this year to make me ugly cry! It’s got angst on top of angst, and I absolutely loved it. The heroine falls for her dead best friend’s husband – wrong, but it feels so, so right between them. It’s not an easy read, but if you give it a try, it will so be worth it in the end.

 
#1 ~ Fly With Me: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Into the Blue: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads

  1. The Wild Aces series by Chanel Cleeton ~ This is one of my favorite military romance series – the writing is wonderful, the heroes are swoon-worthy and head-over-heels for the heroines, and the heroines are tough, independent, and kickass. Into the Blue just released today FYI, and it’s an amaaazing second chance romance!


My Review • EbookPaperback • Goodreads

  1. Crashed Out (Made in Jersey #1) by Tessa Bailey ~ This is one of the HOTTEST books I’ve read from Tessa Bailey, which is saying something. It’s got an older heroine and younger rock star hero – and holy hell, was it fun to read about the hero winning over the reluctant heroine. Crashed Out is one of my faves from Tessa – the rest of the series is fantastic as well!


My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

  1. Addicted (Outlaws #2) by Elle Kennedy ~ Who doesn’t love friends-to-lovers, right!? Well, this one is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world, and best friends Lennox and Jamie are badass mofos who’ve had each others’ backs since they were kids. I really, really enjoyed this one – and it’s crazy hot too. If you want a friends-to-lovers erotica, this one’s a must read.


My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

  1. Playing with Fire (Hot in Chicago #2) by Kate Meader ~ A firefighter heroine and a Chicago mayor she hates – this is the perfect enemies-to-lovers romance that I absolutely loved reading. It’s hot, the chemistry is on fire, and Eli’s got a dirty-talking mouth that will make you blush like crazy.

Cuff Me by Lauren Layne
My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

  1. Cuff Me (New York’s Finest #3) Lauren Layne ~ Lauren Layne is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, and Cuff Me is without doubt my favorite of all her books. It’s a friends-to-lovers romance years in the making between homicide detective partners Vincent and Jill. Vincent is a gruff, grumbly hero and Jill is sweet and adorable – it’s opposites attract at its finest.


My Review • Ebook • AudibleGoodreads

  1. The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #4) by Jessica Clare ~ I’m a sucker for billionaire romances, and Jessica Clare never fails to deliver fun and sexy ones. This one’s a new favorite, with an accidental pregnancy and a groveling hero – it’s SO much fun to read!


My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

  1. Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt ~ If you love anti-heroes, this one’s a must read. I read it perfectly well as a standalone – it’s wicked, funny, sexy, and one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read. A not-so-good duke who falls for his prim and proper housekeeper – what’s not to love!?

What underrated books do you love?

lacey


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Release Week Blitz + ARC Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

Unbreak My Heart Blitz

Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn is here! This book completely wrecked me in the best way – I highly, highly recommend this for those who love emotional books!

Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn
Series: Fostering Love #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
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What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane. . .

Buy Links:
Amazon EbookAmazon Paperback • Audible • B&N
BAM • Google Play • iBooks • Indiebound • Kobo • Powell’s

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HOLY FREAKING GOD!!!!!

Oh my god. OMGGG. This book. This freaking book!!! I honestly can’t believe I love Unbreak My Heart as much as I do… but holy god, this book wrecked me. It’s been so long since a book made me ugly cry – I rarely ever cry for books, much less ugly cry – but Nicole Jacquelyn just broke my heart with this story. I knew going into Unbreak My Heart that it would be an angst-fest – I’m a big fan of angst myself, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the kind of story the blurb suggested, but when my blogger friends loved it and told me to give it a try, I did – and it was totally. worth. it. I loved this book so, SO much. I’ve already reread it a few times, and I’m blown away every time. Unbreak My Heart is already one of my favorite books of the year – this heart-wrenching, gripping, unputdownable book is a must read!

Loving your best friend’s husband… it’s just not supposed to happen, right? But Kate Evans has been in love with Rachel’s husband Shane for years, even before they ever met and married. Kate and Shane were childhood friends… until he threw her away for Rachel. And heads up, that’s not even the most hurtful thing he’ll do to her in the book. Over the past ten years, Kate has been there every step of the way for Rachel, never feeling bitter or angry towards to woman married to the man she loved – Kate has the heart and soul of a saint. She takes care of Rachel’s children when Shane is away on duty, treats and loves them like her own, which is why when tragedy strikes and a pregnant Rachel is killed in a car accident, it’s Kate who’s there to take care of the children and newborn child.

One year later and Kate has practically given up her life for Rachel and Shane’s children, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sage, Keller, Gavin, and Gunner are her new life and love now… and Shane is just as separate from her life as he ever was, despite being home more for the children. But one night of drunkenness and temptation changes everything – and not necessarily for the better. To say Shane is cold, brutal, and even cruel is an understatement – he is the ultimate asshole towards Kate, but Kate takes it for the children. She’s not about to let anything Shane says or does keep her away from them, and for that I admired her. But I HATED Shane. Absolutely loathed him. This widowed Shane is so selfish, immature, and cruel – I honestly didn’t believe that I would ever end up liking him. Time and again, he treats Kate badly, only to regret it yet act cold and distant. My heart ached for Kate and what she goes through… my gut churned and tears would well up in my eyes for all the hurt in this book.

I’d pushed her aside for so long that there was no foundation to build on. Just a mess of shattered pieces that I’d crushed with a sledgehammer every time she’d grown closer than I was comfortable with.

But then – I don’t even know how Nicole Jacquelyn did it – the moment Shane realized he fucked up the best thing to ever happen to him… I started sobbing buckets and LOVING the book. The culmination of all the emotions got to me, and I was sucked even more into the book that I thought was possible. Did I love Shane? No… but I didn’t hate him anymore either. The way he’s desperate and begging for another chance, a thousand chances, to make it right with the woman who’s always been meant for him – holy god, did I cry for him, for them. The character development in Kate and especially Shane blew me away, and I couldn’t believe that I was sympathizing with such a hurtful man, but I was. I was rooting for their HEA like crazy, aching for them to have the happiness they both deserved.

It had always been Kate. My hands shook as the truth seeped into my pores. It had been her since I was just a stupid kid.

I don’t even have the words to describe the tumultuous emotions the author wrung out of me while reading this. It was an experience, to say the least, and one everyone has to try. If you’re scared to read this book like I was, trust me, it will so be worth it in the end. I ended up smiling through my tears, my heart wrecked from Shane and Kate’s story. It takes a while to get there, but you’ll believe in these two characters and their romance by the end of the novel. If you love angst – READ THIS BOOK. Just have a little patience with it (and Shane). ❤

5 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s an excerpt from Unbreak My Heart! ❤

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I don’t remember the drive to the hospital or even where I parked that afternoon. I can’t recall what the nurse looked like as she searched for Rachel’s name in their computer system or the walk toward the room where I waited for someone to speak to me.

The first thing I remember clearly is the white-haired doctor’s kind face as he sat down across from me, and the young chaplain’s small smile as he chose the chair to my left. Their words became a litany that I would hear in my dreams for years.

My Rachel was gone, but her son was alive and in the NICU.

“Is there anyone you’d like for us to call? Any family or friends that you’d like to be here?”

The question jolted me out of the fog that seemed to be getting thicker and thicker around me. Dear God.

“I’ll make the calls,” I answered, looking blankly at the wall. “Can I have some privacy please?”

“Of course. I’ll be right outside if you need me,” the chaplain answered, reaching out to pat my hand. “I’ll take you up to the NICU when you’re ready.”

The room was silent after they left, and I fought the urge to scream at the top of my lungs just to hear it echo around me. I understood then why people hired mourners to wail at funerals. Sometimes the lack of sound is more painful than the anguished noise of a heart breaking.

My hands shook as I pulled my phone out of my front pocket and rested it on the table in front of me.

It only took a moment before the sound of ringing filled the room, and I rested my head in my hands as I stared at the name across the screen.

“Hello? Kate? What’s wrong?”

“Shane—” I said quietly, my voice hitching.

“What? Why are you calling me?” His voice was confused, but I could hear a small thread of panic in the urgency of his words.

“I need you to come to Tri-City Hospital,” I answered, tears rolling down my face and landing on the glass screen of my phone, distorting the letters and numbers.

“Who?” His voice was frantic, and I could hear him moving around, his breathing heavy.

“Rachel was in an accident.” I sobbed, covering my face to try and muffle the noise.

“No,” he argued desperately, as I heard two car doors shut almost simultaneously. “Is she okay?”

I shook my head, trying to catch my breath.

“Kate! Is she okay?” He screamed at me, his anguished voice filling the room as I’d wanted mine to just minutes before.

“No,” I answered through gritted teeth, feeling snot running down my upper lip as I heard him make a noise deep in his throat. “She’s gone.”

He didn’t say a word, and less than a second later, the connection was broken.

I rubbed at my forehead, trying to convince myself that it was all just a nightmare. Where was I supposed to be? What was I supposed to do now? My best friend in the entire world was there in that hospital, but not really. I couldn’t bear to see her. I couldn’t help her. Where the fuck was I supposed to go?”

I made my way to the NICU as quickly as I could, and within minutes, I was holding my new nephew in my arms. The nurses told me that he’d passed all of his tests with flying colors, and I was in awe as I sat down in a rocking chair, cradling him to my chest.

“You sure got a shitty beginning, little man,” I murmured against his fuzzy scalp, rocking back and forth gently. “I’m so sorry, buddy. You’re probably missing your mama and that warm bubble you’ve been in for so long. I can’t help you there.”

I sniffled, closing my eyes as tears rolled down my cheeks. My whole body ached, and even though I had that little boy in my arms, the whole day seemed like some sort of surreal dream, foggy in some parts and crystal clear in others. I wanted to hop up and take his sleeping, little form to Rachel, to tease her about the weird Mohawk thing he was sporting and make joking comments about how men always seem to sleep through the hard parts of life. I wanted to see her smile proudly at the sturdy boy she’d produced and grumble that I was hogging him.

I wanted everything to be different.

I hummed softly with my eyes closed for a long time, holding the baby close to me. It was quiet where we sat, nothing breaking up the stillness of the room until I heard someone open the door.

“There he is,” the nurse murmured from the doorway.

My eyes popped open to see Shane’s ravaged face just feet from me. He looked like he was barely holding on. I swallowed hard as his red rimmed eyes took in his son carefully before rising to meet mine.

“Is he okay?” he asked thickly, searching my face. I’d never seen him so frightened.

“He’s perfect,” I answered, my voice throbbing with emotion. “The nurses said he’s a rock star.”

He nodded twice, reaching up to cover his mouth with his hand, but before he could say another word, he was stumbling and falling to his knees with an almost inaudible sob.

Reading Order: Fostering Love series

 

#1 ~ Unbreak My Heart: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Change of Heart: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

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Nicole JacquelynWhen Nicole Jacquelyn was eight and people asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told them she wanted to be a mom. When she was 12, her answer changed to author. Her dreams stayed constant. First, she became a mom, and then during her senior year of college—with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool—she sat down and wrote a story.

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Ten (10) trade paperback copies of UNBREAK MY HEART

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