IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU by Jessica Scott (March 31, 2015; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
She plays by the rules . . .
Captain Ben Teague is many things: a tough soldier, a loyal friend, and a bona fide smart-ass. He doesn’t have much tolerance for BS, which is why he’s mad as hell when a trusted colleague and mentor is brought up on charges that can’t possibly be true. He’s even more frustrated with by-the-book lawyer Major Olivia Hale. But there’s something simmering beneath her icy reserve–and Ben just can’t resist turning up the heat . . .
. . . and he’s determined to break them
The only thing riskier than mixing business with pleasure is enjoying it . . . and Olivia can’t resist locking horns–and lips–with Ben. He’s got more compassion in his little finger than any commander she’s ever met, a fact that makes him a better leader than he realizes. But when the case that brought them together awakens demons from Olivia’s past, she will have to choose between following orders–or her heart . . .
“You don’t like being in command, do you, Ben?” she whispered. The air was thick between them, heavy with unsaid things.
He shook his head. “It’s too much responsibility for other people’s problems. I’m not qualified to judge someone else’s screw ups,” he said.
He shifted so he could face her, his body angled toward hers. A shadow partially concealed his face, casting it in hard lines and a dozen shades of grey.
“You’re not supposed to be perfect to be a leader,” she whispered. Her voice cracked, hung on the tension in her neck from sitting a little too close.
Silence filled the space between them. Heavy and warm and crackling with latent energy.
He licked his bottom lip, his gaze locked with hers. “I don’t want to be either,” he said. His voice was a husky whisper filled with need.
Her breath caught in her throat. A hesitant movement. A breath closer. This was monumentally stupid. Infinitely so.
And yet she parted her lips, her entire body trembling in anticipation of the faintest touch of his. He was there, just there. A breath separated them. Nothing more.
It was a hesitant kiss. A light, teasing brush of his top lip against hers. Her breath mingled with his, threading between them and urging her closer. She met his eyes, waiting. Wanting. Needing more of this deeply sensual man who made her feel so many writhing, hungry things.
It was forever before either of them moved. Her breath was locked in her throat. Then she felt it. His palm slid over her cheek, his fingers rough on her skin. Warmth penetrated her, wound its way over the surface to slide beneath her skin and stroke something long dormant to life.
Need. It was need that made her lean toward him. Need that made her part her lips and trace his mouth with her tongue. Need that made her nip his bottom lip and thread her fingers in the short hair on the back of his neck.
Need that made her gasp in pleasure as his tongue slid against hers, twining in that sensuous dance that brought her blood to life. Heat pounded between her thighs, an aching, pulsing want that scorched her like nothing she’d ever felt.
She gave herself over to the sensation, to the pleasure of his touch. Knowing it was a mistake and far past caring as her breath finally released, mixing with the heated strokes of his tongue.
She eased back after a moment, before she did something monumentally stupid, like crawling into his lap in broad daylight.
“We really should talk about those legal packets,” she said against his mouth.
His smile was unexpected. “Wow, you are hell on a man’s ego,” he said.
The laugh caught her off guard and she rested her forehead against his as she struggled to regain her composure. Something opened against her heart, something unexpected and warm.
For a brief moment, it was tempting to throw caution to the curb, to nuzzle his mouth with hers, to absorb his taste andwarmth.
And then reality kicked in.
“We really should head back. We’ve got that meeting in two hours,” she said.
He smiled. “Always responsible and focused.”
He brushed his thumb over her lip as he said it. This was something nice.
It was going to be an interesting legal briefing, that was for damn sure.
I’m new to Jessica Scott’s writing, and I can honestly say that after reading It’s Always Been You, she will definitely be moved into “automatic one-click” status for me. I absolutely loved this book. My favorite thing about it is that it is so different than what I’m used to reading. With most romance novels, the characters fall into insta-love, and there’s not a lot of relationship development, and it makes the story a little less believable. That’s not the case here.
Captain Ben Teague has been thrown into a commander position that he doesn’t want, but is trying to make the best of the situation. This new job puts him working with Major Olivia Hale on case files for problem soldiers, and there is definitely no “love at first sight” going on here. Ben struggles with the fact that his new position will require him to punish men that he has worked and battled beside for years. His compassion and history with some of these men seems to cloud his judgement, causing him to have to decide to do what’s right by army standards, or his own beliefs.
Major Olivia Hale does things strictly by the book. This is a lesson that she learned the hard way when a case when wrong years earlier, and she feels that she is partly to blame. When Ben seems to care more about a soldier brought up on charges of child abuse than he cares about the well-being of the family, Olivia sees red. The case hits too close to home from her, bringing up memories from her past that she has never really let rest.
While working on these cases together, Olivia begins to see that there is more to Captain Teague than she originally thought. She sees that he is strong and caring, and wants to do whatever he can to help these men, when all anyone else seems to want to do is turn their backs on them. While she admires his compassion, her priority is doing things by the book. And although he knows how to push her buttons and make her beyond angry, she can’t deny her attraction to him, and the chemistry that is building between them.
As been starts to turn to Olivia for advise on his problem soldiers, she slowly becomes more to him. And he soon realizes that the case that bothers him the most seems to bother her the most as well, but for entirely different reasons. When Olivia finally trusts Ben enough to reveal some of her past to him, he sees why she is so determined to protect the family involved.
As Ben and Olivia begin to open up to each other and spend more time together, a beautiful relationships blossoms. Although neither of them were looking to get involved, it is exactly what they both need. They become each other’s sounding board and source of comfort and strength. They basically become each other’s everything.
It’s Always Been You is beautifully written. A must-read that I can’t recommend highly enough. 5 stars.
About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs; wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well-adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house. She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one ofEsquire Magazine‘s Americans of the Year for 2012.
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