As we near the unofficial end of summer, with Labor Day coming up this weekend, we get to the last few reviews in the Summer of (Fictional) Love. Today’s review is Renita Pizzitola’s Just a Little Kiss, thanks to Netgalley’s generously providing me with an advanced copy and Tasty Book Tours allowing me to host. There’s a giveaway for a couple of mugs and some great ebooks, too.
In the sizzling new novel of Renita Pizzitola’s Crush series, Felicity knows that “Summer Boys” are only good for one thing. But what if hooking up with the right guy could lead to a fresh start?
Like most of the residents of her dead-end beach town, Felicity Daniels doesn’t know what she wants from her future. Instead of college, she’s waiting tables at the local grille where she’s more likely to run into the guy who was the love of her life—until one decision changed everything. Now as this year’s tourist season kicks in to high gear, Felicity realizes that whatever she wants isn’t going to be found here.
Mason Hayes is the quintessential Summer Boy: hot, impulsive, and born without strings attached. While in town helping with the family fishing charter, he plans to have a little fun—and hopefully get over a certain girl. He’s never had a long-term relationship, but when he meets Felicity, he wonders if he’s found the girl who could change that.
With her heart still in repair, Felicity’s happy to have a distraction like Mason, but her best friend thinks he could also be her ticket out of this town. What’s the harm in using him to escape more than just her boredom? After all, he is just a Summer Boy, and they never stick around. But after one kiss, Felicity wonders if only one summer with Mason will ever really be enough.
I spun at the sound of a girl’s voice. Not overly loud but way too chipper for—what time was it? Two, maybe three in the morning? Who the hell was even up at this time, besides me?
I squinted, trying to make out the approaching figure. “Hey, uh . . . I didn’t realize anyone else was out here.”
Her silhouette slowly came into view on the neighboring boat. She tucked her hair behind her ear but it did nothing to tame the waves tumbling over her shoulders. And it hit me . . . I knew that hair. I knew that body. Hell, I’d even memorized the face to go with it. God knows I’d spent enough time staring at it this afternoon. I cleared my throat then said, “You’re—”
“Colby’s friend.” Her words came out too quick, almost nervous, then she added, “And from the restaurant.”
Yep, I knew exactly who she was, and I’d also committed her name to memory in hopes of getting just this chance. “Felicity,” I said.
It was too dark to make out the subtle features of her face, but I was pretty sure a smile appeared, which almost helped me forget about my stomach being so wrecked.
What was she doing out here? Not that I minded the surprise visit, but it was the middle of the night, so did that mean . . . “Do you live out here? On a boat?”
“Yeah.” She shifted and tucked her hair back in another failed attempt to manage a curl. The slight shift brought her into better view under the pier lighting. And it was confirmed. Her lips were curved into a sweet smile.
I felt my own mouth twitch up, mirroring her expression, despite the headache from hell and my lingering desire to jump overboard.
“This is my family’s boat.” She semi-shrugged, “But sleeping on the water takes some getting used to.”
I shook my head, convinced I wasn’t cut out for life on the water. “Not sure I ever will. I’m ready to crash in my car at this point. The worst part is I’m supposed to be up in a few hours to head out there.” I nodded toward the ocean.
She glanced at the water then back at me. “I couldn’t sleep either . . . I was out here and, well . . . I hope you don’t mind the intrusion.” She stammered over her words then lifted her hand that was holding something. A bottle? “I have this old family recipe for motion sickness,” she went on. “It really helps if you want to give it a try.”
She probably thought I was such a wuss for not being able to handle a night on the water but, hell, I wasn’t too proud to accept whatever cure I could find. “I’ll try anything.”
She smiled. “Hang on, I’ll walk it over.”
“I can grab it.” I climbed over the boat railing then stepped onto the wooden pier separating us and forced my feet to steady. Going from rocking to firm land actually made me feel worse.
I took a deep breath then walked the few steps across the pier to her boat, trying to find my bearings again. The phantom rocking slowly subsided, and I relaxed a bit.
“Here you go.” She handed me a small glass bottle.
“What do I do with it?” I held it in the light of the pier. Oil sloshed around the sidewall.
“You rub a little behind your ears.” She gestured to the soft spot right above her jaw, and my gaze tracked her finger then slowly drifted down her neck.
I could think of a few other ways to take my mind off motion sickness. Of course, none of those would help with the fact that I needed to be ready to work in a few hours. Fuck. And with that little reality check, I twisted the cap off the vial and sniffed the contents. It was minty but also kind of sweet. “Smells good. What’s in it? Or is it a secret recipe?”
She smiled. “It’s lavender, peppermint and some other stuff I can’t remember.”
“And I put it on like this?” I capped the bottle with my index finger, flipped it upside down then rubbed the oil behind my ear. “Or are you totally screwing with me?” I teased. “Because this does smell a bit like perfume, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the guys put you up to this.”
With a laugh, she shook her head. “I promise it’s to help. But I wouldn’t put it past those guys to mess with the newbie, so keep your guard up.”
I recapped the bottle and reached to hand it back.
“Keep it. You’ll need it out there.”
“Thanks.” I sighed at the reminder. “Can’t really pretend I’m excited about that. How long before it works?”
“Not long. Of course, it’s better if you use it as a preventative, so you may want to put it on again before you head out.”
I shoved the bottle into the pocket of my shorts. “I have no idea why I agreed to this. I’m going to get eaten alive out there,” I muttered, more to myself than anything else.
“Is this your first time working on a charter boat?”
I glanced back at her. “Uh, I’ve been deep-sea fishing twice in my life. Last time was three years ago. I have no clue what I’m doing.”
“Well . . . it’s nice of you to help your uncle.”
Help my uncle. Yeah. That made my reasons seem much less personal and a whole lot more selfless, although . . . “After tomorrow, he may decide I’m not much help.”
Felicity smiled. “It won’t be that bad. The crew’s friendly, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate the help either way.”
I fought back a grin. “So are you always this nice? Because we both know I’m a liability out there.”
“It’s all the waitressing, I guess.”
She was killing me with that smile. And maybe it was mind over matter, but my nausea also seemed to be subsiding, and the headache was more of a dull pressure along my forehead. Now if only I had something to look forward to after my first day of work . . . “If I survive out there, maybe you can join me in a celebratory drink.”
“So is that a yes?”
She paused, her lips parted slightly as if I’d completely caught her off guard with my invitation. So I asked again, “Join me for a drink?”
“Um . . . sure.”
I cocked a grin, happy to have gotten at least one shot at her, and patted my pocket as I backed across the pier. “Thanks for the family remedy.” I hopped over the railing of my boat. “And if the guys don’t throw me overboard, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She turned, but paused and glanced back. “Hey, Mason?”
“How long are you in town?”
“It’ll be nice having a neighbor for the summer.”
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! Not that I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but it was even better than I anticipated.
Just a Little Kiss is about Felicity, a girl whose broken heart has led her to have only superficial relationships after a breakup, and Mason, a guy who thought he was in love with his female best friend until she found someone else.
With both main characters only about nineteen or twenty years old, I would definitely consider this a new adult romance – and since I’m now thirty-six, I am no longer a new adult. Which is part of where my surprise came from.
Pizzitola wrote these characters with such depth and emotion that I easily found myself able to identify with them, despite how much older I am. I was quickly reminded of how it felt to be young, new to love, and trying to figure it all out.
Felicity was incredibly relatable. I could sympathize with the adrift feeling that comes with starting your life and having no idea what exactly that means. And having been in relationships that didn’t work out, both my choice and theirs, it was also easy to identify with that feeling that it’s not worth opening up to the whole experience and it would be better to keep things simple and superficial.
At the same time, I could also really relate to Mason. His frustration with Felicity was certainly understandable. His determination to be with her, to prove to her that he would stick around and wanted more with her, was sweet.
I was truly unsure for much of the book whether or not their romance would go beyond a summer fling. Though it was clear that Felicity was developing feelings for Mason, it was also clear that she wasn’t comfortable with that, and that she was fighting them. It was also obvious that she was so confused about her life and what to do with her future, and that confusion left me even more uncertain whether or not she could handle having a long-term relationship with him.
I really enjoyed the way it all played out. I enjoyed the back and forth of their conversations, and the way the relationship progressed, and even regressed at times. It was all honest, raw, and believable. Every argument they had, every step forward or back, it all tugged at me. I laughed, I cried (bawled like a baby), and rooted for them through the whole book.
I’ve never read Renita Pizzitola’s books before this one, but this one was all I needed to know that she deserves a spot on my favorite authors list. She wrote a beautiful love story that breaks your heart even as it puts it back together.
Find Just a Little Kiss and the entire Crush series on Goodreads.
Renita Pizzitola is the author of New Adult contemporary romance and Young Adult fantasy. When not writing, she can be found feeding her caramel macchiato addiction and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two children.
Loveswept is hosting this giveaway, where you can win:
One Loveswept Mug
One Flirt Mug
Ebook copies of:
JUST A LITTLE CRUSH by Renita Pizzitola
CRUSHED by Lauren Layne
AGAINST THE CAGE by Sidney Halston
POSSESS by Laura Marie Altom
AFTER MIDNIGHT by Kathy Clark
MAKE YOU BURN by Megan Crane
MY HIGHLAND LOVER by Maeve Greyson
BREAKING NOAH by Missy Johnson and Ashley Suzanne
A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE by K.J. Charles
FORBIDDEN by Jacquelyn Frank
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You can follow the rest of the tour here, to read more reviews, guests posts and interviews with Renita Pizzitola.