ONCE BURNED Sadie Howard never dates a guy more than once-but Fate has other plans for her when it comes to Aiden Downey, the one that got away. Aiden loved her, left her, and broke her heart. Yet suddenly she’s bumping into him at every turn, driven to distraction by his wicked grin and rock-hard body. Now she can’t resist finishing what they started-as long as she doesn’t let herself fall in love…
TWICE AS TEMPTING Aiden Downey threw away the best thing he ever had when he let Sadie go, and now he’s determined to win back the woman he’s always wanted. Sadie agrees to let him into her life-and her bed-as long as there are no strings attached. But Aiden’s not about to make the same mistake again. Can he convince her to take a second chance on a once-in-a-lifetime love?
HARD TO HANDLE is the second chance love story for Aiden and Sadie. It starts off when they meet for the first time since their sudden break-up at Shane and Crickitt’s wedding where they are the Best Man and Maid of Honor. They both realized the love they had for each other was still there, but while Aiden tries to apologize in hopes they can start over, Sadie is still too prideful, hurt and angry at Aiden for the way he ended things. (Their initial meeting, whirlwind romance, and break-up is in the prequel novella Can’t Let Go).
Luckily for Aiden, fate seems to step in several months later when Sadie is forced to work with him. He grabs this opportunity to spend time with her and show her he not only regrets his previous decision, but still cares deeply for her and believes they are meant to be together. There are many ups and downs to his pursuit as Sadie is quite stubborn and gun shy about trusting another man with her heart since it’s already been broken badly. Twice. The second time by Aiden. She keeps finding herself drawn in by him, but then panics, and pulls back. She finally decides to offer him a physical relationship only, but Aiden wants it all. Marriage, kids, and forever are his end game. It becomes a matter of how far he is willing to go for the woman he loves, when she is too stubborn, prideful, and controlling to trust the love they have is the happily ever after kind.
I have to say Jessica Lemmon did a great job drawing me into the struggle between these two characters. Aiden was amazing and so sincere. He was a man who had been burned by his cheating ex-wife, then lost his mother who he was very close to (and in the process of standing by his Mom and her last wishes lost Sadie), nearly died in a horrible motorcycle accident yet had come out the other end with a clear vision of the future he wanted for himself. He was gorgeous ( Sadie often refers to him as a golden Adonis), strong yet unselfish, alpha man in every way and not afraid to be honest about his feelings. Especially to Sadie. He continually tells her how special she is to him and shows her his devotion and love.
Sadie has also been deeply hurt. First when her ex-fiance, Trey dumps her about a month before the wedding because he is in love with her younger sister, then marries her instead of Sadie. Then when she meets Aiden, he quickly breaks through all her walls and steals her heart only to leave her even more devastated than Trey when he suddenly breaks their relationship off so he can leave the state to be with his mother while she receives a specialized treatment for her cancer. She decides she is destined to always be left and vows to never marry or let someone close enough to leave her again.
Lemmon tells their story in a way that is at times heartrending and emotionally intense, yet humorous and lighthearted at others. It was easy to see they belonged together and interesting to read about their journey to their HEA.
*I received this eBook for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I rate this story 3.5 stars.