Cover Design By Hang Le
Nora O’Brien chased a dream from Indiana to Scotland, so sure it was the right thing to do. Three years later she was left in her adopted country with nothing to her name but guilt and regret.
Until Aidan Lennox entered her life.
Older, worldlier, a music producer and composer, the sexy Scot should never have made sense for Nora. But somehow in each other they found the light they were looking for, the laughter and the passion—the strength to play on despite their past losses.
But when life dealt Aidan another unlucky hand, instead of reaching for her he disappeared. The agonizing loss of him inspired something within Nora. It fired her spirit— the anger and hurt pushing her forward to take control and reach for her dreams.
Finally pursuing a career on stage while she put herself through college, everything is how Nora wants it. She’s avoiding heartbreak and concentrating on her goals.
Sounds easy but it’s not. Because Aidan is back. And for some reason he hates Nora.
He’s determined to be at war with her.
And she has absolutely no idea why.
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Since Nora O’Brien was eleven years old, she’s dealt with messy and painful experiences, always losing a part of herself with every loss…every dashed dream…every bitter interaction. But what she always had was her imagination, and the way she brought a story to life and filled other people’s lives with cherished moments and memories allowed her to remain innocent and alive, until the one man she gave everything to destroyed her in irreparable ways, solidifying her fear of loss and shaping her to be a woman who no longer lives in fantasies because it gave her too much hope…too much light amidst the messy nature of reality.
I think every reader will be able to identify with any of the number of trials Nora has to endure as well as her reaction to them; she may think she’s selfish for her thoughts and her inability to be fully present in the lives of those who see her as a vital part of their lives, but Samantha Young provides the introspection that readers need to see why Nora has to be true to herself…true to the woman she hopes to be…true to the life that she dreamed of but never could quite obtain because of a set of uncontrollable circumstances.
Aidan Lennox is quite the enigma in Play On, which makes it difficult for me to truly assess my thoughts on his behavior and actions throughout both parts of the book. I never saw him as Nora’s saving grace; I actually thought Sylvie claimed that spot, but the way things played out between Nora and Aidan, the first time around, didn’t set too well with me and then to witness his deliberately cruel treatment of Nora, after the time spent apart, made me question his true feelings for Nora, especially due to the circumstances that led to their estrangement.
A part of me felt like the second part of the story moved too quickly; it didn’t expound on the ways Nora changed in those 18 months between losing Aiden and Sylvie as well as herself and then making strides to be a better version of herself – one who accepts who she is and the things she has done in her past, and while a big part of her transformation is going back to the States and atoning for the pain she caused by leaving so abruptly, I needed more insight to truly understand all that she dealt with during this time and how focusing on herself allowed her to move forward more so than anything else.
‘…everyone changes, bit by bit, day by day, Nora, while somehow staying the same…we’ve got nothing to fear from the people we were yesterday…Just because it takes more than falling in love to find yourself doesn’t mean that losing yourself in another person can’t be fucking beautiful.”
These sage words from Aidan to Nora towards the end of their story solidify what they’ve been struggling to understand as they work through their respective losses and while not allowing fear to control one’s actions is a difficult concept to bring to fruition after being manipulated by it for so long, realizing she’s survived and actually grown despite it is what gives Nora the push she needs to move on.
4 Poison Apples
The searing glance Aidan had given me before he drove off killed the smile as anticipation enveloped me.
Not long later, I got a text with his address and a time. I texted back a simple “I’ll be there” response.
And now here I was.
With my palms sweating.
I pressed the buzzer to his apartment and some seconds later heard his delicious voice, “Hello?”
The door buzzed and I smiled as I stepped inside, thinking that sometimes he was a man of few words.
Aidan lived on the second from the top floor and when the elevator binged open, it was facing his apartment door—he was standing in it, his arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the doorjamb.
My breath caught as I took him in. He was pure masculine, rugged perfection. Every time I saw him, he grew more attractive. His soulful eyes were focused on me as mine took in the fact that he was wearing a different T-shirt from earlier and ragged jeans. His hair was still wet so I knew, like me, he’d just had a shower.
Shivers tickled down my spine at the reason why. I stepped out of the elevator before the doors closed on me and approached him slowly, still drinking him in, disbelieving really that this kind, funny, smart and unbelievably sexy man was gazing at me like he thought I was all those things too. His eyes drifted down my body slowly and then rose, lingering over every detail, until they came back to my face.
“I like this dress,” he said.
I smiled softly. “You’re easily pleased.”
Aidan took my hand and led me inside his apartment, but I didn’t have a chance to look at it because he was speaking again, distracting me. “No, I didn’t used to be.” He closed the door, locking it behind us. “I used to be an arsehole.” His expression was almost one of wonder as he looked down at me. “A picky, womanizing arsehole.”
I tensed, not really enjoying the idea of him and other women. And picky? I remember Sylvie telling me her uncle dated the most beautiful women she’d ever seen.
I tugged on my cardigan, wondering what possessed me to wear it.
“Don’t.” It was as if he sensed my sudden insecurity, sliding an arm around my waist and drawing me to him. My hands fluttered down on his hard, warm chest, and I tilted my head back to keep eye contact. “You’re perfect.”
“My hair is too short.” I touched the strands at my nape. “It used to be long.”
“I cut it because of Jim,” I told him sadly…
Aidan squeezed my waist in reassurance.
“But I loved my hair too,” I said, feeling stupid about the whole thing. “I know it’s only hair … but I’m mad I cut it.”
He studied me so long, I was almost afraid to ask what he was thinking, but I shouldn’t have been. Aidan released my waist with one hand to brush his fingers through the bangs that had grown out past my ears. His fingers curled around my ear, his thumb stroking my cheekbone, and his eyes caught mine with a fierceness that made my belly squeeze. “You could shave it all off, Pixie, and still be so bloody beautiful, I can’t concentrate on anything else when you’re in the room.”
Wow. I exhaled slowly on his name, “Aidan.”
His eyes closed as if he was in pain and he dropped his forehead to mine. His cologne washed over me, the heat of him prickling my skin like I’d stepped out of an air-conditioned room into the hot sun. “I want to hear you say my name like that when I’m inside you,” he murmured against my lips.
About Samantha Young
Samantha Young is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows. Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us was published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017. Play On is an adult contemporary romance and the first in a brand new series set in Scotland.
Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for Hero. On Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.
Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.