Hot Shot by Karina Halle
Release Date: January 9th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Hang Le
Delilah Gordon has a secret.
She’s been in love with her best friend and the boy next door, Fox Nelson, since she was six years old.
And while most of her friends and family know about her unrequited crush, the one person who remains oblivious is Fox himself. To Delilah, it’s better this way. She’d rather pretend that they’re just friends, even though her feelings for the moody rugged mountain man are anything but tame.
Fox Nelson has a secret too.
As a wildland firefighter or “hot shot,” Fox parachutes into danger every day he’s on the job, risking all to fight wildfires that threaten ranches, forests and thousands of lives. But while Fox’s job is only for the brave, inside he feels anything but. The more he grapples with his raging demons, the more he realizes Delilah is the only one who can put out the flames.
As the two friends grow closer – and more intimate – than ever before, the more complicated their relationship becomes.
And Delilah has one more secret to reveal.
A secret that will change both their lives…forever.
Start this series of sexy standalone, today!
So, if you’ve read many of my reviews, by now, you’re probably fully aware of the fact that I’m a high school English teacher, which means that stories and all their glorious words are so my jam. I adore the written word, especially when it’s used in a way that consumes me…that articulates a book’s setting and characters so well that I can’t help but be immersed into the majestic descriptions of where the story takes place and submerged in the fluctuating emotions of the hero and heroine as they experience everything that the author forces them to endure.
Multifaceted, lyrical storytelling with dynamic characters whose depth continues to be learned even towards the end of the story makes my heart happy and my soul overjoyed at the privilege to read, in a genre that is perceived as nothing more than porn/smut, such amazing writing beyond the canonical works that ‘should be’ read by everyone. And time and time again, Karina Halle proves just how fantastic
I have to admit that I was a bit unprepared for Fox Nelson’s story because while his brothers, Shane and Maverick, had a variety of issues to contend with in each of their own stories, they had nowhere near the amount and kind of demons that their oldest brother has been fighting, rather unsuccessfully, since he was a child. I couldn’t help but want to heal the wounded hot shot every time Karina Halle revealed his inability to love…the blame he places on himself over something that was way beyond his control…the risks he takes as a hot shot wild land fire fighter just so that he feels like he has a life worth risking.
Fox is just like the fires he fights, meaning that one misstep from those around him or one self deprecating action of his own will light his fuse, sending him in a downward spiral and setting off a consuming fire within him – one that has the potential to burn everything in its wake, including any chance Fox and Delilah have for making it through the flames of their combined secrets, lies, and half-truths.
Delilah Gordon can’t remember a time she didn’t love Fox Nelson, and while she’s never admitted it aloud, everyone around her, except perhaps a rather oblivious or in denial Fox, knows how Delilah feels about the hot shot, and while she’s never regretted standing by his side for all these years, she wants and needs more from him but doesn’t know how to articulate it in a way that will keep their friendship safe and perhaps even lead to what she’s always wanted from Fox – his heart.
Readers can’t help but feel for Delilah and her overwhelming love for this reckless and hardened man; all she wants is to be loved in a way that sets her heart on fire and allows her to be consumed in the best possible ways, but that doesn’t seem like a likely conclusion when Fox doesn’t even love himself enough to deal with his past and his unresolved anger and pain.
These Nelson brothers and the women who love them are quite the amazing crew, and while I’m sad to leave North Ridge, I’m eager to see where Karina Halle will take her readers next because if there’s one thing I’ve come to know about Halle and her writing is that even though she’ll break our hearts into little pieces with angst and conflict, she always mends them with endings that illustrate just how powerful love can be.
4.5 Poison Apples
It’s dark now and quiet except for the crickets. In the distance, the town of North Ridge glows, the lights giving way to the dark mountain ranges behind it and beyond that, a clear, starry sky.
I immediately feel better but it’s not enough. I need to walk, to get my head on straight, to get my heart to stop caving in.
I head down the slope to the barn. It’s second nature to want to come here during hard times. Growing up, if anyone in the house was fighting—and it was usually Shane and Fox—this was where you’d find them afterwards, licking their wounds.
Right now the barn is empty, all the horses are either in their paddocks or the pastures. I glance up at the hayloft and contemplate going up there when I hear footsteps behind me.
I immediately stiffen. It’s funny how you can feel someone’s specific presence without seeing them.
“What’s wrong with you?” Fox asks gruffly from behind me. Typical. Even if he’s concerned, sometimes he comes across like it annoys him to be concerned.
I take in a deep breath and turn around. “I don’t know,” I say, my voice measured. “Just felt a bit nauseous.”
He studies my face intently, so intently that I look away, my eyes drifting over the empty stalls. “I thought maybe I’d pissed you off somehow,” he says.
Is he baiting me?
I meet his eyes. “Why would you think that?”
“You could barely look at me during dinner,” he says, taking a step toward me until he’s a foot away. “Was it something I did? Is this about Conan?”
He’s so damn earnest in that last question that I have to laugh. I fold my arms across my chest. “No, Fox. This isn’t about your squirrel. It’s not about anything. I’m just…tired.”
I can tell he doesn’t believe me and the intensity has changed in his eyes. They’ve become more focused on me, like he’s seeing me for the first time and nothing else around us matters.
“I like this,” he says, his voice sounding thick. He takes a strand of my hair between his fingers and runs them down. “Your hair is so long. You should wear it down more often.”
I roll my eyes and hope I’m not blushing. “You guys are all the same. A girl wears her hair down and puts on some makeup and suddenly you realize that she’s actually hot. It’s like She’s All That come to life.”
Oh shit. I probably shouldn’t have said that last bit out loud since it’s a whole bunch of assumptions and I’m not one to flatter myself like that.
But he just grins. One of those cheeky, warm smiles that makes his eyes crinkle at the corners, the dimples appear in his scruff. He doesn’t smile like that very often and every time he does for me, it makes me feel…invincible.
“Del, I’ve always thought you were hot,” he says, still smiling. No awkwardness or hesitation. He just comes out and says it.
And now I am blushing. “Yeah right.”
“What?” he asks, tucking my hair behind my ear and—hell—his touch causes warm shivers to wash down my back. “It’s true. I mean, look at you.”
Don’t read into it. Don’t read into it.
“Do you remember that birthday party where we played spin the bottle?” I ask him, my voice sounding broken.
He nods. “Kind of.” But he doesn’t remove his hand, keeps playing with my hair.
I don’t know why I’m feeling brave all of a sudden but I am. “Well you spun the bottle and it stopped right at me. No mistake about it. And you got up and said it was stupid and left. Fox, we were good friends and you acted like kissing me was the worst thing on earth.”
His dark brows knit together but his eyes stay warm. “You remember that?”
“Fox. I’m a woman. I’m always going to remember when a boy rejects me, especially my best friend and especially at a young age.”
“But we were young. And I was pretty stupid back then.”
“You thought I was gross.”
He lets out a soft laugh. “I can promise you I did not think you were gross.” His hand then leaves my hair and trails down my arm to my hand. Sometimes Fox holds it and I know I shouldn’t think anything of it but every time he does I wonder if he realizes what it does to me. Then again, I’m starting to think he’s oblivious to absolutely everything.
“I didn’t kiss you,” he goes on, “not because I didn’t want to. I did.” He swallows, shrugs. “I just didn’t want our first kiss to be from spin the bottle.”
“What do you mean? Our first kiss?” I repeat, my pulse quickening.
“I don’t know, Del. Back then, I kind of assumed that we would end up together at some point. You know all through high school I had just been waiting to make my move and ask you out. At least figure out if you liked me or not. But then you started going out with that guy with the big ears, what was his name, Ryan McGee? And that’s when I realized that it was probably all in my head. You were just a friend. A sister, even. And I was just a brother to you.”
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
This is way too much to process.
Fox thought we’d end up together.
He actually liked me back in high school!
“You look shocked,” he says, raising a brow. “I thought it was pretty obvious.”
“Obvious?” I blurt out. “No. No it wasn’t.”
He lets go of my hand and shrugs with one shoulder. “It’s funny how life goes, isn’t it? It was probably for the best anyway. Could you have imagined us dating? Being a couple.”
Yes, fucking yes.
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
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