“Beautifully Broken Spirit is a beautiful, emotional and memorable friends-to-lovers romance with a dash of intrigue and suspense that ensures you stay on the edge of your seat.”– Frolic
Beautifully Broken Spirit, an all-new beautiful and emotional standalone in the Sutter Lake Series from Catherine Cowles is available now!
She’s always been his safe place to land.
Jensen has shared a special bond with Tuck for as long as she can remember, their friendship a language that never needed words. But as life threw her one curveball after another, that secret language turned to stony silence.
He’s always been her protector.
Tuck has looked out for Jensen since the day she was born. As his best friend’s little sister, he’s tried to keep her firmly in the friend category. But she’s always been more.
All it takes is one moment of weakness to send Tuck’s fiercely guarded walls crumbling to the ground. As a new fire burns between them, someone watches. Someone who doesn’t like the new life Jensen’s building for herself.
And they’ll stop at nothing to keep her in the dark.
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I usually don’t dive into a new-to-me author series, regardless if they’re standalone stories or not, three books in, but I had been hearing great things about Catherine Cowles’ Sutter Lake series, and I was definitely intrigued by the synopsis of Beautifully Broken Spirit, and the fact that I’m a total romance junkie when it comes to the best friend’s sister and friends-to-lovers’ tropes made me jump ahead to book three and see if Sutter Lake is a small town that I’d enjoying being in and getting to know its residents, and I can’t wholeheartedly say if this was a real place, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
I’m all about a character-driven story line – one that provides a clear perspective on all that the hero and heroine have endured, what they’re up against in the present, and why they, ultimately, make the decision to go all in with each other, even if the timing or circumstances aren’t ideal.
It’s not easy to convey a character’s longing in a way that resonates from the pages of the book, but Cowles does that with Tuck’s feelings for Jensen. He’s been there for her as her friend, never crossing the line because he respects Jensen’s brother, his best friend, too much and has very personal reasons for keeping everything plutonic…but there comes a point where he can no longer stop his desire or his need to claim her as his own and once that happens, it’s abundantly clear just how necessary they are for one another and just how amazing they can and will be, as long as they keep openly communicating and figure out a way to deal with the outside forces of stress that seem to be piling up around them.
Amidst Jensen and Tuck’s burgeoning relationship, there are a few complications that threaten to pull them apart before they can even really get started, which means that these two need to stay strong and know that their place is by each other’s side regardless of what anyone else says or does.
Catherine Cowles created a great backdrop for her characters in her Sutter Lake series, and now I need to go back and read the previous two books because this world and its cast of characters are exactly the kind of stories I enjoy reading.
4.5 Poison Apples
“Hey, Little J.”
My entire world seemed to tunnel as my vision went black, and my knees buckled.
“Shit!” Strong hands caught me before I could hit the floor. I blinked rapidly as Tuck’s face came into focus. His expression was full of worry. “Are you okay?” He settled me into one of the café chairs.
My stomach pitched. “I’m fine. Just got up too fast. You startled me.”
Tuck’s brow furrowed. “The door was unlocked.”
“Well, I thought I’d locked it.”
Tuck let out a sound that was a cross between a sigh and a growl of frustration. “You need to be more careful. Anyone could’ve come in here, and you wouldn’t have even known. Just because we live in a small town doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions.”
I pinned him with a stare that should’ve had him taking a step back. “I know that. Believe me, I of all people fucking know that.”
Tuck winced. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
I waved him off. “I know.” I pushed up to stand, but the world turned wobbly again, and Tuck pressed me back into the chair.
“Oh, no, you don’t. When’s the last time you had something to eat?”
I tried to think back. I guess I had missed lunch. “A granola bar in the car on the way to drop Noah off at school?”
This time Tuck did growl. “You need to take better care of yourself.”
My skin prickled. “I take fine care of myself, you big behemoth.”
“I’m not seeing a whole lot of evidence of that lately. You take care of everyone but yourself.” I opened my mouth to argue, but he kept right on going. “You stay right here while I go fix you a snack.” Tuck pinned me with a hard gaze. “You move a muscle, and I will paddle your ass.”
My jaw came unhinged, but simmering heat pooled low in my belly. My hands fisted. What the hell? Before I could regain any semblance of the ability to speak, Tuck had turned on his heel and strode towards the kitchen. Had I actually hit my head? Was I now in some sort of coma-induced alternate universe where Tuck threatened to spank me? And why the hell did some part of me like the idea?
I was clearly in some sort of hunger-induced brain misfire. That was the only reasonable explanation. I did all kinds of crazy stuff when I went too long without sustenance. Yes, those crazy things were generally something like eating an entire pan of brownies in one sitting. They weren’t typically the burning desire to climb one of my best friends since birth like a tree. But hunger could make you do lots of insane things.
Tuck emerged from the kitchen juggling a plate with the largest sandwich I’d ever seen and a tall glass of what looked like apple juice. He came towards me with what I could only describe as a swagger. Had his hips always moved like that when he walked?
Don’t get me wrong, I knew Tuck was attractive. Hot even. I’d had the requisite crush on him throughout my middle school years and even into high school. But he had always treated me like a little sister. Someone he liked hanging with. But never once had he given me even a single hint that he was interested in more than friendship. And I’d grown up. I’d put him firmly in the big-brother category. So, why, all of a sudden, was my body reacting to him?
It had to be my dry spell. Could it even be called that if it was as dry and vast as the Sahara? I needed to get laid and stat. Because the last thing I needed was to fall for a guy who was a walking one-night stand.
Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.
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