Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blog Tour, eARC Review & Excerpt: Forever Your Heart by Mary Whitney

Mary Whitney blames Laura Ingalls Wilder and Margaret Mitchell for her obsession with romance novels.
At an early age, Mary fell in love with the Little House series and its dreamy hero, Almanzo Wilder, who only wanted Laura to be Laura. Like many women, Mary later graduated to the ultimate, tall and dark bad boy, Rhett Butler, who loved Scarlett despite her flaws.
Mary has lived around the U.S., and after a first career in the non-profit world and politics, she's settled in Northern California with her husband and daughters. She spends her days writing characters she hopes somehow capture the romance of Rhett and Scarlett and Almanzo and Laura. She's a firm believer in what Rhett says to Scarlett: "You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.

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I’m a journalist—Adam Kincaid, BBC reporter, to be exact, so I’m not going to bury the lead. I’m about to see the woman I never got over. 
I know that because I’ve been back in America for years now, and I still don’t date American girls. My dad would say I’ve come to my senses, sticking to my own British patrician kind, but that’s crap. Mum, the psychologist, would more wisely say it’s my unresolved issues around Nicki. My teenage years are long behind me, yet my guilt over her remains. So I’ve avoided all things Nicki, though the irony is she’s the one avoiding me.
Maybe if we see each other, we can both move on. Could she ever forgive me? Can you forgive yourself when you hurt someone you love? 
But please, don’t answer yet. I’ve jumped ahead of the story, and as a reporter, I should give you more background to get to the root of it all.
So let me tell you my story. Then you can be the judge.
NOTE: While this is the third in the series, it can be read as a standalone book.
Excerpt #1

By the time we reached my room, though, the bed had become obsolete. We kissed along the way, and I couldn’t get our clothes off fast enough. When Nicki was naked, I had to listen to her usual nonsense about her body. Women will never learn that men are simply happy that they’re naked. After I told Nicki she wasn’t allowed to criticize a body I loved, she rewarded me with a forceful kiss. I grabbed her bum, and she kissed me again with a giggle before jumping up and wrapping her legs around me. 
She was so close to me that it made the head of my dick feel like there was a homing device in it. The position must’ve unleashed something similar in her as well. She asked with a smile, “Shall we stand?” 
Feeling her wetness against me, I practically hissed, “Why yes, thank you,” and my lips met hers for another kiss. As our tongues tangled, it struck me that I now had a far more verbal partner in Nicki than before. I wondered what I could say that would be…inspirational. Sadly, I knew my limitations. I wasn’t like my cad cousin. I was far too proper and reserved to talk dirty. So I decided to say exactly what I wanted. “Put me inside of you.” 
The direct approach seemed to be just as good for her because she gasped, “God, yes.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Mary Whitney's superb crafting of Forever Your Heart makes this a story I would love to know more about. I admit that I haven't read the previous books in this series but it totally doesn't matter. It's about the same two characters at different ages and POVs so I dare say I wouldn't be bored reading them as prequels.

Adam and Nicki had a fiery relationship as teens (in Book 1) while Adam's father had a position as a college professor in the US. Short story, it was a typical teen story of angst, betrayal, and decisions made because of insecurities. They break up when his family moves back to London and their story picks up again almost two decades later.

I like that this story is told from Adam's POV. It offers a different and refreshing view of how a male thinks (not that I would claim to be able to read the minds of these difficult creatures nor guess what they would do!) while giving quite a good dose of British humor. His irreverent sidekick cousin David also adds liveliness while delivering lines to the ladies that would have given lesser men a black eye at the very least. These two are quite a pair.

Adam is unsure of how Nicki would receive him at the White House but applies for the position of correspondent anyway because he just feels that he must. That risk pays off when he can finally come clean about why he could never have a long-term relationship after that painful breakup. That spurs him on to pursue Nicki like he never could, which served to show what a sweetly sentimental, insecure, and self-deprecating man he is. No wonder she could never resist him!

And how could any man not notice Nicki? Her quick wit, shrewd intelligence, and obvious talent coupled with her delicate, petite looks would get any male's attention - hence the chasing done by Juan Carlos, Dan, and a slew of other men. But for her, everyone falls short of Adam, despite everything that happened between them before.

It's the first time I've read a storyline that successfully juxtaposed politics/economics, cultural classes, and romance. I think I could get addicted to this vein. Not often that the background is as interesting as the main story itself! Plus, the bickering and infighting among the correspondents in the lobbying capital of the world seems spot on. Can't have determined and assertive people together in one place without a catfight or three.

Little nuggets of realism make Forever Your Heart something believable. Convoluted foreign policies, diplomatic wrangling, manipulated information ... these are what we'd expect from politicians and journalists and Mary Whitney delivers them in spades. I look forward to reading her other books if they're all like this!

Excerpt #2

Muff gave Lisa a not very discreet once-over. I could tell she judged her to be a stereotypical, poorly dressed American backpacker and thus no competition for her. Of course, that didn’t mean Muff didn’t view Lisa as a threat. When she greeted her, her voice held the effortless insincerity of the British upper-class. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lisa.” 
Lisa didn’t respond well to being appraised by a snooty Brit. I wondered what she would say. It wasn’t in her nature to be insincere. I watched as she nodded with a slight snarl. “Yeah. Hi. Adam mentioned you.” Lisa then raised her eyebrows at me. She wasn’t impressed with my choice of women, but when she spoke, her voice was friendly. “Adam, I’m glad I ran into you. Can I talk to you for a sec?” 
“Certainly,” I said, though terrified at the thought. I turned to Muff to confirm it was okay. She dutifully smiled and walked a respectable distance away. 
After a last glance at Muff, Lisa wasted no time in putting me on the spot. “Do you have anything to say to Nicki? You left before I could ask you.” 
I stared blankly at Lisa as her question reverberated in my mind. I had so much to say to Nicki, but would she listen? I could hear Muff’s voice in the far background and turned to see her. With her mobile to her ear, she chatted away. I considered her for a moment. She was a good girlfriend, my father adored her, and we had a great many friends in common. As the daughter of the Earl of Selbourne, Lady Mary Selbourne was considered a special girl. 
But she didn’t make me laugh. She never caught me off-guard. She never tripped me up. There was never a time when she was the absolute first person I wanted to tell a story to. Muff was special, but she wasn’t special to me. As David had said, she wasn’t Nicki.
I focused on Lisa, someone who had always been skeptical of my intentions with her friend. Yet here she was, asking to deliver a message to her. After what I’d done to Nicki, I couldn’t request anything of her. She needed to come to me, and I’d learned to live with the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. 
My voiced tightened as I said, “Please…just tell her that I miss her.” I gulped hard and added, “I really do.”  

Excerpt #3

David had always had a way with women, so I humbly asked for direction. “So what do you think I should do next?” 
“Oh, you’ve got to take this one slowly. This is delicate. But not too slow. Not like last time.” Puffing his chest up and sitting a little straighter in his seat, he acted like the cocky bastard he was. “Don’t make me have to step in again and get things going for you. I can’t guarantee I’d stop this time. I remember she was a little minx and—” 
I punched his arm hard. “Don’t even think about it.” 
“It was a bloody joke,” he said, rubbing his bicep. 
“It wasn’t funny.” 
“Come on, Adam.” He shook his head. “You should be prepared that she’s probably seeing someone else. Pretty little thing that she is, she’s probably got a boyfriend. Someone like her isn’t going to be single.” 
“I know.” I looked at my beer, contemplating the thought I hated. 
“And you’ve got Felicity. Whatever the status is of that relationship.” 
“On hold while I’m out of the country.” 
“You haven’t lived in the UK for three years.”
“It works for us right now. She can date whomever she wants.” 
“But when you’re in London, you fuck like rabbits.” 
“We see each other sometimes.” I tried to say it with a straight face, but a smile betrayed me. 
“I try not to let that happen too often. It makes things messy.” 
“There’s a reason why we’re cousins,” he said with a laugh. Then he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Back to Nicki. If I were in this situation, I’d play it cool but not cold.” 
“How does that work?” 
“You need to approach her casually…take the pressure off. You’ll be seeing her every day, right?” 
“Professionally, yes. Every day. And when the president travels, we’ll be on the same trips.” 
“All that time together makes it even more important that you don’t rush things.” 
“Rush things? I can’t rush things.” I lowered my voice. “Remember, it isn’t ethical that I’m even thinking of doing this.” 
“Thinking of doing this? You are doing it.”

Excerpt #4

Throughout my travels the next day, I racked my brain thinking of how I could get Nicki alone—really alone—to tell her how I felt. It was time. I was tired of the game. Of course, I would wait as long as it took for her to come around, but I wanted to speed it up. 
I still hadn’t decided how to best approach her when I got a phone call from David the following morning. “Hey, Cuz. You can thank me again.” 
“For what?” 
“I booked a date with our two little birds for this weekend.” 
“David, I really don’t think they qualify as our birds yet.” 
“Speak for yourself. I’ve got Lisa right where I want her.”   
“Are you sure? Knowing Lisa, I bet she wouldn’t even like being called a bird.” 
“Fine. Then, she’s my swan.” 
Tired of his routine, I cut him off. “What did you plan? You know Sylvia is coming down on Saturday.” 
“That’s fine. She can join us. We’re going boating on the Potomac.” 
“Boating?” I was more of a rower than David, but that wasn’t saying much. 
“Yep. It was Lisa’s idea. I bet if I row her along, it will melt my ice queen’s heart. Sylvia can be in your boat.” 
Sylvia’s presence would make Nicki comfortable, but she was also going to be really fucking annoying. I grumbled, “Great. Thanks. You’re always thinking of me.” 
“Not really, but I’m happy to be of help when I can.” 
“Are you sure you can row a boat?” 
“Not at all, but I’m already planning on capsizing.” 
“Why on earth would you plan that? She’ll be irate.” 
“Maybe, but she’ll definitely end up half-naked.” 
I could envision a soggy Lisa ridding herself of a wet T-shirt. “It might work.” 
“And you know what comes after half-naked?” 
“Fully naked,” he said with supreme confidence.  

Tags: MF Romance, Politics

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