Hold Me Close
The O'Leary's #6
By: Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing July 21, 2105
Leave it to the O’Learys to make romance a family affair…
Maggie O’Leary is finally coming home to Chicago. After more than a year in Ireland, she’s ready to make a plan for her future. But first, she’ll have to confront the tragedy that scarred her so deeply. Asking for a job in the family bar is the first step, and it’s one her family isn’t entirely happy about. At least Shane Callahan, her best friend in the world, is behind her a hundred percent. He’s also a hundred percent more lovable than she remembered…
Shane is determined to keep Maggie safe, even if it means working three jobs and giving up sleep to be around during her shifts at the bar. But when Maggie boldly tells him she needs more than a loyal friend now, Shane knows a single night together won’t be possible. The idea of spirited Maggie in his bed is electrifying, but will she believe he wants to give her his heart, too?
They ate their dinner and watched the movie, with Maggie curled up close to him. They laughed and joked about the characters, and when closing credits came across the screen, he leaned over.
Maggie didn’t say anything, but her eyes widened. This was it, the moment he’d wanted for a long time. His fingers wrapped around the back of her neck and her pulse throbbed against his palm. Only her rapid heartbeat let him know she wanted this, because the rest of her was stock-still. Her eyes told him she wasn’t afraid.
“Relax,” he whispered against her lips.
And she did. She closed her eyes and her lips softened. He brushed against them, her breath quickening. He tried to follow his own advice, but there was no turning back now. This was no friendly kiss meant to comfort. This one conveyed his lust. He’d wanted this for so long, he almost couldn’t control himself.
She was everything he imagined. Soft and warm, gentle and open.
His heart crashed against his ribs and his blood thundered through his system, urging for more. But this was Maggie, his friend and soon-to-be-lover. She deserved better, so he kept the kiss soft and slow, as slow as he could bear.
This was it. Shane Callahan was kissing her and oh my freaking God was it good. A giggle bubbled up but was squashed by how good the kiss was. She tried to focus to remember what it was like to be kissed like this, but she couldn’t concentrate. His tongue ran along her lip and eased into her mouth. Shane was gentle and slow, but he controlled every move, every shift, every second of pleasure.
She grabbed his shirt and held on, needing to pull him closer, to feel his body touching hers. She felt the tingle of excitement and wanted to hold that feeling. Shane deepened the kiss, his tongue swirling around hers. While his hands stayed near her face, touching her jaw, her neck, her hair, hers roamed down his chest.
Time ceased to exist. The only air was the breath they shared.
By the time he pulled away, she was pliant and beyond relaxed, yet her nerves still thrummed with excitement. Maggie opened her eyes.
Shane’s thumb stroked her cheek. “You okay?”
“More than.” She leaned forward, wanting more.
Shane took the hint and shifted closer, angling his head and capturing her mouth again. Part of her wanted to feel silly. This was Shane, her buddy. She never knew he could do this. She imagined an awkward fumbling between them. Not this kind of simple magic.
Her heart raced and then her blood weighed heavy in her veins as lust took over. His fingers threaded into her hair and pushed it aside. His lips left hers and he kissed a trail across her jaw to her ear and down her neck. His hands finally—finally!—began to move over her body. He skimmed down her sides, barely brushing the sides of her boobs.
She gripped his head as he continued to lick and suck at her neck, his hands spanning her rib cage before they moved up and pressed against her breasts. Her nipples were hard points, sticking out, begging for attention. Using his whole hand, Shane kneaded one breast and then the other while he returned to her mouth just in time to swallow a moan.
Her entire body hummed and thrummed. If she had never vibrated with need before, she knew exactly what it meant at this moment. She tugged at his T-shirt and pulled it up to reveal his tight muscles and line of hair leading below his waistband. Desire pooled low in her belly and she welcomed it.
She trusted Shane to make this happen. She shoved at his pants, barely getting past his hipbones before he shot away from her.
“Whoa. Slow down, there.”
“What? No!” She reached for him, but he pulled his hips away.
He grabbed her hands and held them. “Maggie.” His voice was strangled. Inhaling deeply, he leaned his forehead against hers. “Slow, Mags. I’m not stripping you on the couch.”
“We can go to my bed. It’s not that far.” The bulge in his pants made her mouth water.
He sighed, then kissed her cheek. “Good night, Maggie.”
Wait. What? He was walking away? She jumped off the couch to follow him. “Shane Callahan.” He looked over his shoulder. “Get your butt back over here and finish what you started.”
“I will. Just not tonight.”
“Why the hell not? What’s the point of getting me all hot and bothered and then walking away?”
He walked back to where she stood and held her hand. “You trust me, right?”
“We do this my way.” He kissed her again, this time on the mouth. Their lips interlocked and she still wanted more, but he pulled away. Again.
He walked to the door, and as he opened it, facing the hallway, he said, “One more thing. Don’t finish without me.”
The man was crazy. He got her horny and now he expected her not to get off at all?
When she didn’t respond, he turned to face her. “I mean it. You agreed to do this my way.”
“You’re insane.” She crossed the room and poked his chest. His very hard, muscled chest. “You don’t get to control my body. I can do whatever the hell I want.”
He smirked. “But what you want is me. Whatever you can do alone won’t be enough. Trust me. It’ll be worth the wait.”
He didn’t wait for a response. He walked across the hall to his apartment, leaving her gaping at him from her door. He waved with a smile as he opened his door.
She slammed hers shut. Unfortunately, it barely took the edge off her frustration.
Rape is not an easy subject, but I think Maggie's struggles with moving forward are well portrayed. I liked that there was a bit of a build up leading up to Shane helping Maggie get over the issues with sex, but I didn't really feel the chemistry between them. The communication between them is very poor after their night together and I found it frustrating. I love friends-to-lovers romances, but this one fell a bit short for me. Overall it's an enjoyable read, and if you've read the previous books in the series, you'll probably enjoy it.
I received an ARC via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.