The boy next door is now the man of her dreams.
From New York Times bestselling author CD Reiss comes a story of friendship, romance, and growing into a love that was always there. Only Ever You an all new swoon-worthy standalone is available now!
Rachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.
The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither were the string of heartbreaks. Or her the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.
It’s hard to stay practical and on-point when everything takes a left turn.
Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.
Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, he still has their handwritten marriage contract.
No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.
But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.
I love authors who showcase their writing prowess by shifting gears and stepping outside of the kind of romances they’re known for into something completely different. CD Reiss is known for her dark romances, and in her latest release, Only Ever You, readers get a lighter side of Reiss’ storytelling, and as she tells Rachel Rendell and Sebastian Barton’s story, she meshes several romance tropes together to illustrate how a childhood pact made between friends becomes something tangible as adults and maybe even essential if meddling family members, a fake marriage, and rediscovered feelings with a little bit of faith have anything to say about it.
What I find most intriguing about Rachel and Sebastian’s story is the way that Reiss crafts her characters – both when they knew each other in high school and then when they reconnect 10 years later. The characters’ defining characteristics seem to shift drastically when they cross paths after a decade – the once independent and strong-willed Rachel is no longer due to a series of heartbreaks and her inability to achieve her self-made goals, and the new Sebastian is someone who doesn’t need another person to stand up for him because he’s become a successful, sexy, alpha male all on his own.
The path to a happily ever after for these two characters was a bit nerve wracking, if I’m being honest, because it felt like, at times, Rachel was too narrow-minded when it came to their ‘fake’ relationship, and I’m sure a huge part of that was because of her fear and her cynicism, but Sebastian seriously wore his heart on his sleeve, and I wanted Rachel to see him…see all of him because he was all in back when they were just friends and now even more since they reconnected, and I needed to feel like Rachel understood everything she could and would have with Sebastian.
I enjoyed Only Ever You, and while I had some concerns with Rachel and her hesitancies toward going all in with Sebastian, I adored Sebastian’s transformation to hot nerd and how he helped Rachel to remember the girl she used to be so that she could get past all her heartache and reclaim her independence and feel love from a man who has only ever seen her.
4 Poison Apples
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“Plan a wedding?” he asked. “Just because it’ll make you happy?”
My first instinct was to minimize. Call it nothing. Say the plans didn’t have to be big. We could just say we were getting married in city hall in three years.
But I was committed to the pitch, and that meant no backpedaling.
“Yes. The whole thing. A hall. A band. A long white dress. A honeymoon in Paris. It’s all talk, but if we’re going to talk, we might as well talk big.”
“You really want to do this?” he whispered.
Did I? No, I didn’t. But even though it was an insane lie for an intangible result, something about it felt ambitious. As if fake dating him was fine and dandy but faking a marriage was reaching for the stars. Thinking small hadn’t gotten me anywhere. Somehow, this was going for the glory.
Leaning in to me, he breathed on my cheek. The arm he’d draped over the railing stroked my hair. His lips moved to my jaw while he caressed the back of my neck.
“Let’s do it,” I said. My brain had become completely untethered from my body. I would have said yes if he’d promised me a plate of chicken.
He kissed me, and for a second I didn’t kiss him back. I was too stunned at his gentleness. I was a feather pillow, bending under him, barely holding my shape.
I was going to regret this. He was handsome. He was a wonderful person. I wanted to kiss him. A little pucker. A little change in the angle of my head. A taste of his tongue on mine. A little groan I had no control over before we were in full make out.
Oh my God. My body was praying for more, and my mind was reminding me not to get attached because in the end he was still a guy I was attracted to, and guys I was attracted to broke my heart.
“Gross!” Tiffany said from the driveway. Not expecting to hear her so close, we yanked apart. “You’re eating her face, dweeb.”
She rolled her eyes so hard I could only see the whites.
“You came out here to criticize how I kiss my fiancée?”
It was on.
About CD Reiss
CD Reiss is a New York Times bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up she’s at the well hauling buckets.
Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.
She’s frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood.
If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.
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