The Summer of (Fictional) Love is almost over, but we can’t close it out without talking about Sarah Hegger’s Nobody’s Fool. Thanks to Netgalley and Tasty Book Tours, I get to tell you what I loved about this book today – and don’t forget to enter the giveaway, too!
In Sarah Hegger’s latest Willow Park Romance, long-held crushes and past frenemies reunite–and wonder if there’s ever a second chance to make a good first impression. .
Holly Partridge had no plans to return to Willow Park, Illinois, until her troubled younger sister Portia fled her home and aimed herself straight at Holly’s high school nemesis–too-gorgeous-to-be-true Josh Hunter. Riding a manic bipolar high, Portia’s only a danger to herself, but Holly needs to find her before she crashes. That means asking Josh for help.
The ultimate love ’em and leave ’em lothario, Josh was never good for anything but a broken heart. But now he’s lending a hand when Holly needs it most–and revealing surprising generosity and compassion. Has Josh shed his bad boy ways? Or is Holly suddenly grown up enough to acknowledge her own mistakes? Trusting Josh could be a disaster–or the first step in banishing the past to make way for a future happier than Holly ever imagined.
Holly made a pathetic sight. She’d lost her pencils in the downpour and her hair clung like rattails to her face and back. She stood with her head bent and her shoulders slumped, water pooling in the bottom of her jeans and splashing over her Converse sneakers. The rain had plastered her clothes to her body.
Time to get very wet. He snagged a complimentary Scants umbrella and prepared to best his dragon. Despise him now, did she?
“Hi again.” Josh almost took a self-preserving step backwards as the blast from her eyes broadsided him. He held the umbrella over both their heads.
“Ah, perfect.” She threw her hands up. “This is all I need right now. Why did I think it couldn’t get any worse?”
Josh inched the umbrella over her head. Rain streamed down his neck and under the collar of his shirt. In seconds he was as wet as she was. “Is something wrong?”
“What do you think?”
Her body thrummed with tension, her hands clenched by her sides. He got the feeling this was about more than the rain.
“I wouldn’t bother.” She snarled at the hot pink canopy above her soaking head. “Keep it for yourself. That pretty shirt of yours must have cost more than my car is worth.”
She was probably right, but this wasn’t the time to say so. “Where’s your car?”
“Okay.” She was right about the umbrella. The rain bounced off the canopy and streamed over the edge and down his head. “Should we—?”
“My car is not here because it’s missing.” Her face grew flushed as the volume rose. Anger emanated off her in waves.
“Because some miserable, fuckwit, son of a bitch, asswipe, bastard, pissant, dickhead, wanker, prat, git stole it. They stole my car.”
And thar she blows!
Not good. Her car had been stolen. It explained the standing in the rain.
She went quite red in the face. “They stole my car.” The level of rage reminded him of his mother trying to get her three six-foot plus sons to do her bidding.
Josh was impressed and a bit scared for his life. Holly got mad good and proper, and her swearing was near legendary. He wasn’t sure what a wanker, a prat, or a git were, but they couldn’t be good.
Ah, dammit! Her nipples pressed against the nearly transparent fabric of her shirt. Her voluminous diatribe floated over his head.
He needed to focus on the problem.
“Are you looking at my breasts?”
“Um…” There wasn’t much he could say as he had—totally against his will, of course—been ogling the cinnamon-tinted peaks of her nipples. “Are you sure?”
“You are such a dog.” Her eyes disappeared into narrow lines of death.
“Are you sure your car was stolen?”
“I’m standing here without clothes, money, a passport, and a bloody car and you’re getting your ya-ya’s out. Weren’t those girls in there enough for you?”
The Bambi/Barbie/Bubbles thing swung back to haunt him. “About that—”
“I don’t care.” She stormed to beat the crap out of the weather. “They stole my car and everything in it.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. Words failed him. The situation sucked, no two ways about it.
“Did you call the police?”
“Of course I called the bloody police.” She waved her hands around as punctuation.
Josh kept a sharp eye on her hand punching through the air. “What—?”
“Did you think I was standing out here waiting for the car to magically reappear? Or perhaps you thought I was waiting for a big strong man to come and tell me what to do?”
Actually, she’d hit perilously close to the truth. He’d been about to offer his manly arm for her rescue. “You’re getting wet.”
“You don’t say?” She glared up at the umbrella.
He kept the umbrella right where it was. There had to be something he could say to make this seem a little less dire. But nothing came to him. His eyes burned to drop down and get another look. Do not look at her breasts again. Do not look at her breasts again. Do not—
“Would you like to wait where it’s dry?” Inspiration, when it struck, was dizzying.
“Where?” Her eyes narrowed. Her freckles stood out against her skin in a way that was totally adorable, and she’d probably eviscerate him for even thinking it.
He pointed across the street. “My condo is over there.”
“I know that.”
She ground her teeth and gave a long-suffering sigh. “Yes. I went there first and your doorman told me where to find you.”
“Philip told you where to find me?” Philip needed to be a little less free with the information. Not really the issue right now.
“Yes.” Her chin stuck out in open challenge.
He’d ask Philip later and have a much better chance of surviving the encounter. Also lessen the risk of imminent drowning.
“You can see the street from my window.” Josh motioned to a wide picture window on the top floor. “You’ll be able to see when the police get here.”
“Of course you have the penthouse.” She scoffed and threw her hands up again. “Tell me, Joshua Hunter, in your charmed existence, has anyone ever had the temerity to steal your car?”
“Er … no.” She made it sound like a bad thing.
“Typical. Sodding typical.”
“Someone once stole my iPhone,” he offered by way of consolation.
She snorted and crossed her arms over her lovely breasts.
The rain subsided to a steady torrent. The cuffs of his pants were wet. He must be as prissy as his younger brother said because the pants were D&G this season, and he liked them. “The condo.” Getting out of this rain would be a good move. “Would you like to wait there for the police?”
“I have to find Portia.” Her lips tightened into a straight line. “I don’t have time for this. I have to find her.”
Her eyes gleamed fever bright, and Josh had the horrible feeling she held back the tears by sheer force of will. “She could be anywhere and she isn’t—I have to find her.”
“But first you need to speak to the police and they’re on their way.” His gut screamed at him. There was a story here. “Did you say your money and your passport were in the car?”
Her shoulders drooped and she heaved a huge sigh. “And my clothes.”
Not good. “Okay, first things first, let’s get out of this rain.”
“I’m not going to your lair.”
His damsel refused to be rescued. Not really surprising.
“What about the foyer?” He mentally congratulated himself for his quick two-step shuffle. “You can wait in the lobby until the police arrive.”
“And then we can talk about what else we can do to get you out of this mess.”
“Don’t patronize me.” She sloshed after him to his building.
“I’m not patronizing you. Now, be a good girl and come along.”
The Bond Between Sisters – Guest Post from Sarah Hegger
A lot has been said about Nobody’s Fool dealing with mental illness. Holly’s sister suffers from bipolar disorder, as did their mother. But the book is also an homage to older sisters for me.
Throughout my life, I’ve seen older sisters take charge and responsibility. Maybe older brothers are the same, but I’m not as aware of it. My sister is a perfect example, and being almost seven years older than me, she did a good amount of the raising of me (address all complaints in her direction). Older sisters play a maternal role in their sibling’s lives. Now I’m sure there are all sorts of theories and schools of thought as to why this is, but in this book, I just wanted to show it like it is.
My oldest daughter, only a year between her and my youngest, does the same thing. There are times when she is just plain bossy, and others when she is full-blown mama bear.
Holly has become mother to her three sisters. Portia’s mental illness makes Holly’s role as caretaker even more ingrained in her. Add to that another sister who is happy to mentally stay in her teens forever, and act out without taking responsibility, and you can see Holly’s dilemma.
However, like all mothers, Holly needs to learn one of the hardest lessons of all—when to let go. But having said all that, it doesn’t negate for me the love and sacrifices Holly has made to take care of her sisters. Or, for that matter, the love and sacrifices I owe my sister for.
So to big sisters everywhere, from a bratty family baby—thank you!
Are you an older of younger sibling? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Nobody’s Fool tackles a tough subject: mental health; specifically, bipolar disorder. In many books I’ve read that tackles a tough subject like this, it often happens one of two ways: the bipolar is such a minor blip that you wonder why it was ever even brought into the book, or it overshadows everything else because the author is too determined to show all they know about it.
In Sarah Hegger’s novel, however, this is not the case. Bipolar takes center stage in the fact that Holly is in search of her younger sister, Portia, who’s gone off her meds and is heading hard and fast toward a major depression. If Holly can’t find her in time, there’s no telling what might happen to Portia – but given what Holly knows about their mother, who also suffered from the illness, it won’t be pretty. She has one clue to her sister’s whereabouts: Josh, the guy Holly couldn’t stand in high school.
This is the first book I’ve written by Sarah Hegger, but it certainly won’t be the last. I enjoyed her writing style, and the deft way she handled the inclusion of a mental illness in the story.
The characters were wonderful. Well written, full of depth and heart and passion, each character was unique and beautifully detailed. While there was a secondary character or two that I didn’t care for much, I still felt sympathy for them because of how well they were written.
The story itself was also very well-written, detailed, and enjoyable. I could understand quite well Holly’s plight: wanting her own life, but feeling that her sisters needed her too much for her to pursue it. It was easy to see how their childhood shaped their adult lives.
Holly and Josh’s relationship was full of passion. Whether that passion was fueled by anger or lust varied from time to time, but the passion was always there. Holly was very independent and determined not to rely on Josh, and he was just as determined to help her, so it was always amusing to see the sparks fly between them. Even better was seeing all the sneaky little ways he helped her, and her reaction when she would finally catch on to them.
The sexual sparks were a bit lacking for me. For some reason, the passion in those scenes felt a bit forced, as though the scenes were included because they had to be, rather than because they were natural to the relationship developing between them. The rest of the relationship between them, and the development of that relationship, was believable, though.
I enjoyed this book very much, and would really like to read more about Holly’s sisters in future books.
Find Nobody’s Fool and the entire Willow Park series on Goodreads.
Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.
Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.
You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and win:
(1) $50 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $20 Amazon Gift Cards and 5 copies of Nobody’s Fool (Paperback for US, eBook for International)
You can follow the rest of the tour here, to read more reviews, guests posts and interviews with Sarah Hegger.