A country star looking for a comeback has one last shot at fame—and he might just have one last shot at love.
Naomi Mallard is a fixer by nature. And as PR manager for Nashville’s Shooting Stars record label, she’s facing her biggest fix: redeeming country music bad boy Chance Colburn. But in Naomi’s eyes, a police record and a stint in rehab are the least of Chance’s sins. He has spent his life running from demons and making tabloid headlines that have sent his career into a tailspin. Now he’s struggling to find his muse and maintain his newfound sobriety, all while counting on the woman he once betrayed to repair his tattered reputation.
Naomi is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but that’s not easy when an unexpected injury forces the former couple into disturbingly close proximity. Will mending their once-broken relationship be Naomi’s best save yet? Or will Chance’s past wreck any hope for a future together?
First Meeting Excerpt
“Answer your damn phones!” she yelled at the useless piece of metal in her hand.
“Unless that’s connected to a string and a can on the other end, I don’t think it works that way.”
Annoyed by the sarcasm, Naomi replied, “Screw you,” and imme¬diately regretted saying something so horrible to a stranger. But when she looked up to apologize, the person she found was no stranger.
Chance Colburn flashed his trademark bad-boy grin, and Naomi’s body tightened in response. Memories, both good and bad, filled her mind, and she was torn between physical longing and the intense need to punch something.
“Hello, Nay,” he purred, transporting her back seven years to when she had lived to hear that nickname on his lips. Back when she’d been ready to give up everything to make a life with him. Too bad he hadn’t been willing to do the same.
“Chance,” Naomi replied, her voice barely a whisper as her heart pounded in her ears. “I . . . I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Broad shoulders shrugged beneath a worn Johnny Cash T-shirt. “I was getting tired of all the happy birthdays. ‘Screw you’ is a sentiment I’m more comfortable with.”
“I, um . . .” Naomi tucked a dark lock behind her ear as she cleared her throat. “I planned to come find you.”
Brown eyes held her hazel gaze. “No, you didn’t.”
Calling her bluff shouldn’t have been sexy, but her body begged to differ. “Shouldn’t you be inside?”
“You’ve been avoiding me,” Chance accused, ignoring her question.
“I told you. I intended to find you.”
He shook his head, sending a strand of jet-black hair trailing over his left eye. “I don’t mean tonight,” he said in his deep Texas drawl. “You make it tough for a man to apologize.”
If Chance was trying to throw her off-balance, he was doing a spectacular job of it.
Squaring his stance, he slipped strong hands into the front pock¬ets of his black jeans. Regardless of the venue, Chance maintained his casual style. Ruggedly handsome and screaming virile male—from the thick black hair dancing along the edge of his collar to the snakeskin boots on his feet. And the parts in between could bring a woman to her knees, as Naomi knew all too well.
“That’s part of the recovery process,” he explained, eyes cutting off to the distance. “Making amends for all the damage I did along the way.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” Naomi replied, words clipped. She needed this to be over.
“Your forgiveness isn’t required,” he continued. “Or expected.”
Silence reigned. Hell no, she didn’t forgive him. But she saw no point in bringing any of this up at all. Not after seven years of nothing. That’s when she’d needed the apology. Back when he’d slept with her boss.
“What do you want me to say?”
“Well,” he offered, “we’ve gotten the ‘screw you’ out of the way, so maybe a ‘go to hell’?”
Naomi couldn’t help herself. The bastard always could make her laugh. Almost as much as he’d made her cry.
If he could be man enough to offer an apology, she could be wom¬an enough to accept one. “I don’t want you to go to hell, Chance. My job of redeeming you in the public eye is already going to be difficult enough. Explaining how you dethroned the devil in his own house might be more than even I can handle.”
His rich chuckle filled the stately hall. “Fair enough.” After a less awkward pause, he asked, “How’ve you been? Other than becoming a PR powerhouse. I always knew you’d rule the world someday.”
“You give me more credit than I deserve.” Naomi could barely run her own life, let alone the world. “But I’m good. I’d ask you the same question, but that seems unnecessary given the press coverage.”
“Don’t believe everything you read.” Chance leaned in as if they were suddenly old pals. “Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, right?”
Despite the tentative truce, one apology didn’t erase the past.
“Chance, as a member of the Shooting Stars staff, I will do all I can to promote you and your forthcoming album, but I’m not interested in being your friend.”
With a silent nod, he stepped back. “Right. There’s the ‘go to hell.’”
He was not going to make her out to be the jerk here.
“You can’t really expect anything more than that. Not after what you did to me.”
Holding her gaze, Chance said, “I’d say it’s what I did for you.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You got out before I could really screw up your life. Be grateful, Nay. Some people weren’t that lucky.”
Before she could reply, Chance strolled back into the small ball¬room, and it was all she could do not to scream at his back. He’d slept with her boss as a favor? Really?
Going to rehab may have gotten Chance Colburn off the bottle— for now—but it sure as hell hadn’t cured him of being an asshole.
I liked the way the book grabbed hold of me right away and got my attention. A lot of books take a few chapters to do that, but this one captured me quickly. Chance was a huge country star, but the alcohol took him and his career down, and now, fresh out of a stint from rehab and trying to get his career back on track, he’s signed with a label that is putting the time back into getting him back on track with a new album. Assigned to be his publicist is a woman that he betrayed years ago, Naomi. Naomi is determined to maintain a professional relationship and do her job, but has she really quit loving Chance?
Slowly but surely, this story gives you a background on both main characters in a very organic way, with both of them opening up to each other. One of the things that was a bit over the top was Naomi’s meddling mother, and I only wish Naomi would have stood up to her long before she did, but when she did, it was quite satisfying. Naomi grows before the reader’s eyes as she finally begins to stand up to both her mother and Chance.
A nice read by another new-to-me author, and I look forward to reading more from her and definitely going back for the first book in the series.
Reviewed by Cyrene
4 1/2 Stars