The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.
In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.
Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.
Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.
An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.
Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.
Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.
All we have to do is trust enough to fall.
The air between us shifts. I’m filled with a strange giddiness, wanting to laugh for the fun of it, but I’m also too warm, my limbs oddly heavy as if simple movements might be too much for me.
His tone turns soft and cajoling, teasing the truth out of me. “Are you going to tell me what you do?” When I say nothing, the corners of his eyes crinkle. “I see. You’re going to torture me a bit.”
The warm, fuzzy feeling grows as I shrug. “Torture feels apropos in this scenario.”
He hums again, taking another step toward me. “What makes you think I won’t like being tortured by you?”
The heat of his body and the scent of his skin makes my head light and my pulse pound. How did it get to this point where the highlight of my day is flirting with Jax Blackwood? Despite the thrill, I know I’m in over my head. I haven’t gone out on a date in months because I form attachments, I get emotional, and then I hurt when they inevitably leave. And this man will leave. He is as bright and fleeting as a camera flash. I’ll be left with the image of him seared into my memory and nothing more.
I tell myself all of this, the voice in my head as stern as possible. But it doesn’t make me back away. It doesn’t stop my body from somehow straining toward his without even moving. Because it might be stupid of me, but I want to feel something that isn’t planned. Something, for however briefly, that’s real.
He’s too attuned to me not to notice. John’s lids lower as his attention slides down my body before easing back up to my face. Slowly, he rests his forearm on the wall beside my head. “Tell me, Stella,” he murmurs.
“No,” I whisper back, flirting, even though I shouldn’t.
His biceps bunch as he leans in, a smile dancing on his lips. “Tell.”
My breasts graze his chest, and I feel it in my toes.
“You’re crowding me.” I hate how breathy I sound.
“Can’t help it.” His voice is a rumble, the heat of his breath playing over my skin. He ducks his head, drawing close until our lips nearly brush, and when he speaks again, his tone is almost conversational, except for the husky quality that touches deep within my core. “You smell like strawberries. Fucking delicious.”
My lids flutter, and I swallow hard. “Ordinarily, I’d call you out on that cliché but since I’ve been eating strawberries, you aren’t exactly wrong.”
His chuckle is slow and easy, as he eases back and his gaze slowly travels over my face. “Were they sweet, Stella Button?”
He’s looking at my mouth like he might try to find out. My lips tremble in response, and John tracks the movement, his breathing getting deeper, faster. “You have two freckles on your lips. One on the top lip and one on the bottom corner.”
Those damn freckles. They were the bane of my adolescence. I hid them with lipstick and silently cursed whenever someone mentioned them.
Freckles don’t have any feelings, but I swear it’s as if he’s touching them.
“You’re just noticing this?” I try to make it sound like a joke, but it comes out weak and thready.
His own lips quirk. “Oh, I noticed. It’s distracting as hell. They’re like two little dots of butter toffee. Makes me want to lick them, get a taste.”
Oh, God. Lick them, please. I can almost feel it. I want to feel it.
No. Bad Stella. Behave.
John’s lips part a fraction like he just might take that taste.
“Back off,” I whisper. And yet somehow my traitorous hands find their way to his sides, running over the waistband of his jeans, holding him there.
John makes a sound deep in his throat and tilts his hips, pressing them against mine. A distinctly thick bulge nudges my belly. Both of us lose a breath, and then he’s closer, his cheek touching my temple. “You’ll have to let me go first.”
My thumbs slide under the edge of his shirt and find smooth, taut skin. A tremor goes through his body. I try to think, search for what the hell we’ve been talking about.
His lips brush the crest of my cheek as he murmurs against my skin. “Tell me what you do, Stella. You know you want to.”
My smile feels illicit. Somehow the action is directly tied to all my happy parts, making them draw hot and tight. “I don’t think I do.”
Another hum. “Liar. You’re dying to.”
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
This is a review and most likely a philosophical rant with some honesty chucked in for the hell of it. You have been warned and I may have put some spoilers in.
“There is no such thing as perfect. Human beings make mistakes. Humans who feel greatly often make the biggest ones. It’s the intent that counts. Is it a mistake based on hate, selfishness, or moral cowardice? Give them no quarter. But an honest mistake backed by a true heart is another matter entirely.”
Ms. Callihan doesn’t lie about the content of this book she puts it all out there and I went in with trepidation more than I expected because I know, I can relate, and it broke my heart but, in a way, it gives hope as well. It is a topic that is ostracized not matter how much attention it garners at some point it disappears again until at the most opportune moment you are reminded of the ugliness of the world and what it can lead to. If you hadn’t realized this is the philosophical part.
Characters & Chemistry
This is the review part Stella Button Grey is average. Average looks, body etc. Her thoughts not mine. She does have fantastic hair though. A Jack or Jill of all trades but really, she is a professional friend. She is about to be kicked out of her unit. Her Dad and money. She has no family and only friends that touch the surface.
I liked Stella but some of her insecurities I could relate to but others not so much. She is a carer and a giver. But no one cares for her or really gives her what she needs or wants.
John Jax Blackwood is one of the leads in the rock band Kill John yet with all his fame and fortune he suffers from depression and anxiety until one day it just becomes too much. But with all the progress that he has made in the last two years he can’t forget who he is. He tried to take his life two years ago. How can it not affect a relationship in anyway?
I adore John, but I prefer John and I see him as John and not as Jax even if he is a rock star. I feel for him. He must fight something every day and every day you can not let it off the leash. It feels as if you are a couple of steps away from being where you were. If you hadn’t realized this is the philosophical part.
When these two meet on a snowy, stormy night in an almost empty grocery store their life is forever changed. Stella knows he seems familiar, but she can’t quite pinpoint it. But numbers aren’t exchanged but they both left a lasting impression on each other.
Writing, Plot & Pace
This author is a fantastic writer IMO and I can’t get enough of her although I am yet to tackle on of her other series, but I must be in the right frame of mind. She hits every emotion be it good or bad. She makes you feel although you don’t want to. She captures you with her words.
Two years ago, there was an event that lead the band to question life, question fame and to question what you really know about your closest friends. Each dealt differently with the aftermath, but things were never the same.
For those of you who are iffy. He talks about his man whore days but once he meets the heroine he doesn’t try anymore. Oh, and one more thing that is kind of gross is he got an STD in his throat. Score. Nice one dude. More than anything else I felt sorry for him. It was how he dealt with things.
To get John out of his PR nightmare Brenna asks Stella to be his paid girlfriend, John flips because he made that mistake once and isn’t prepared to do it again. But then they date for real and get to know one another.
This book won’t be for everyone because he depicts a difficult topic of a life filled with darkness, the blackness of that gaping hole. The guilt and doubt that can eat at you until you fade then only then will you get an inkling of how the Hero fills in this book.
For each person with depression it can similar and but not quite the same.
Ms. Callihan brings out those subtleties of the feelings of both the heroine and the Hero. But how can you escape your own thoughts as they are always there. Nothing in life is black and white.
There is more depth to Fall as it tackles some serious topics than book 1 & 2. But it doesn’t make it any less of a beautiful book and John is my all-time favourite Hero here.
This is a series one of a kind rock romance series to read. It is a breath of fresh air.
What touched me the most when it came to the author’s note at the beginning was that people with mental health issues aren’t all doom and gloom. That there are often extremely intelligent, talented, funny and charismatic people. John is no exception and I absolutely loved him. By the way reach out to anyone if you do have problems.