Today, we are so excited to welcome Cassia Leo to our blog as she celebrates her new release, Relentless.
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Claire Nixon is a twenty-year-old college dropout with a secret.
To Claire, Adam Parker is just another flirty customer at the cafe, until a chance encounter and seemingly innocent comment spurs a bet between them. The bet is simple: If Adam can get Claire to reveal the secret that made her drop out of college, she has to re-enroll. If he doesn’t succeed, she gets to keep her secret and he has to stop stalking her at the cafe.
Claire thinks she has this one in the bag. She’s perfected the art of forgetting her past. But she isn’t prepared for Adam’s relentless pursuit or for him to share his own secrets. And she’s definitely not prepared for her rock star ex, and her secret, to come banging down her door one year later.
New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language, drug use, and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
With every choice you risk the life you would have had. With every decision you lose it.
So I feel like I have been saying a lot of this lately but I’m going to say it again – this was my first Cassia Leo book and it will certainly not be my last! I have had the privilege of reading many new authors that I have never read before and I am so happy to be a part of this blog tour for Cassia.
When the book opens, I am immediately drawn in by the opening scene…it will captivate you instantly and you will not want to put this book down! I read it in one sitting – that’s how great it was!
Claire Nixon is 20 years old, she doesn’t go to school and works in a coffee shop. She’s honest, upfront, doesn’t like any uncertainty and constantly meditates to relax throughout the day. She has had a rough life starting with the loss of her mom to a drug overdose when she was 7 years old. Her life continues on this tough path as she has lived in foster homes, has been homeless and has even dropped out of a top college. She has a secret that she is living with that she keeps tucked inside and she doesn’t share with anyone.
Her life takes a turn for the better when she meets the new tenant in her apartment building – Adam Parker. Adam is 22 years old, works for his father at his construction company and besides being HOT is a genuinely sweet guy (though he does have some anger issues – oh and a secret he is hiding too!)
Their light hearted banter makes me smile and laugh out loud. He is good for her…he reminds her that life is worth living and that you should enjoy every moment. I have to mention that I really enjoy their game of Question Tennis – I could not stop smiling!! 🙂
And so you are aware – there is a love triangle in this book as we are introduced to Claire’s rock star ex-boyfriend, Chris. Claire and Chris grew up together in a foster home and had an undeniably strong bond and connection. They were together for a long time before Chris became famous and had to move away for his music. Claire let him go at the time because she never wanted there to be any resentment – she wanted him to live his life. Despite really liking Adam, I also loved Chris for different reasons.
“Life is only as hard as you make it, Kell. You have to let go of the past or keep carrying it on your back like a fucking pile of bricks.”
Everyone has secrets and we realize in this book that no one is perfect. Will this cast of characters be able to trust each other to open up to one another about their pasts? When Adam realizes that Chris is her ex-boyfriend and his competition, who will she choose?
I LOVED this book! It was one of those books that had you so mesmerized that you had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next. I thought it was very well written and very engaging though I did wish that it was longer. There were a lot of open ended questions that I look forward to seeing resolved in book 2, Pieces of You, scheduled for release on May 17th.
An ARC was provided by the author for an honest review.
Enjoy a scene from Relentless in Adam’s POV:
Claire watches me watching her as she undresses next to the creek. She has the kind of body that begs to be taken. Most of the girls I dated in high school were surfers who ran in our circle. They had strong bodies. Claire is tiny compared to those girls, almost fragile. But nothing about her personality is fragile, which is why I’ve fallen so fucking hard for her.
“You look like you’re ready to devour me,” she says once she’s removed everything but her yellow bikini.
“Devouring you is the least I’m going to do to you,” I say as I grab her hand and lead her into the creek.
The bank of the creek is muddy and we both slip as we reach the water’s edge. She screams as she flails and throws her arms around my waist. I laugh as we both fall sideways into the water.
She screams again and kicks away from me. “Oh, my God! Something just brushed up against me!”
Julia and Locke burst into gut-busting laughter as they watch her freaking out. I lock my arms around her waist before she can climb out of the creek. Her skin is slippery and we both fall back into the water again.
“You asshole!” she shouts as she attempts to push me away, but even as my arms weaken with laughter she can’t fight me off.
“It’s just a fish. It’s not going to kill you.”
I pull her further into the water and she stops fighting when the water reaches the top of our chests. The water is nice and warm, having been warmed by the summer sun all day long, but it has a stagnant briny smell that’s not as refreshing as the smell of the ocean. Claire grabs my hands and I loosen my grip as she turns around in my arms. Julia swims past us and I splash her. Locke climbs out on a tree limb until he’s dangling over the creek.
“Get a life!” Julia squeals as she splashes me back.
Claire’s brow furrows, but she doesn’t even bother to block it as some of Julia’s splash attack hits her in face. She’s mad. If she could only see the mucky weed tangled in the back of her hair she’d be even more pissed.
I brush a bit of mud from her cheek and she turns her face like a stubborn child. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out with our hillbilly creek,” I say as I try to keep myself from slipping my hand inside her bikini. “I promise if you feel something nibbling your foot you can leave.”
“You’re so funny.” She swipes her thumb across my bottom lip to wipe away what looks like a soggy piece of a leaf. “This creek is disgusting.”
“It’s the lack of sunlight that makes it look gross. It’s really not that dirty.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Okay, how about a joke to calm your nerves?” She rolls her eyes and I turn toward Julia. “Hey, what’s the joke about the melons?”
Julia swims back toward us. “What does it mean if life gives you melons?”
I turn to Claire and she cringes as if she’s anticipating another bad joke. “It means you’re dyslexic.”
After an hour or so of mucking about in the dark and trying to convince Claire not to leave, she’s had enough.
“Come on, Claire, the critters are half the fun!” Locke hoots as he dangles from the same tree branch. “They’re harmless so long as they don’t slither into your swimsuit.”
I grab Claire’s foot before she can swim away and yank her backward. “You can’t leave yet,” I say as I wrap my arms around her waist and press my chest against her back. “We haven’t even played Marco Polo yet.”
I slide my hand over her stomach and down toward her bikini bottoms. She spins around to face me and I expect her to slap me. Instead, she throws her arms around my neck and wraps her legs around my waist. I smile with surprise as she squeezes her legs tightly, crushing herself against my growing hard-on.
She leans in and whispers in my ear. “If you take me inside, I’ll play Marco Polo with you upstairs.”
I slide my hands inside her bikini bottoms and take both her sweet ass cheeks in my hands. I let out a groan of frustration as I kiss her neck, tasting the muddy water on her neck. If it were just the two of us out here I’d be deep inside her right now.
I tear my lips away from her neck and pull my head back to look her in the eye. “Not here. I want our first time to be perfect and this is not the right place or the right time. Not that I don’t want to take you upstairs and destroy you. Just not tonight.”
“I can see your boner from here!” Julia shouts at me from as she attempts to pull Locke off the tree branch.
I shake my head and set Claire down on the creek bed. She doesn’t look disappointed with my reaction to her offer, but it only takes a second for her to squeal at something in the water.
“Ouch!” she screams as she reaches down to grab her foot.
“I kicked a rock. Fuck!”
She swims for the edge of the creek and this time I don’t yank her back. My heart pounds as I follow her out of the water and onto the muddy bank. I race toward her as she plops down and tries to get a look at her foot. It’s covered in mud and it’s too damn dark out here to see anything.
As soon as I reach her, I scoop her up in my arms. “Let’s go clean it up.”
“Put me down. I can walk.”
“Fine,” I say as I set her down on the grass.
Her face screws up in pain as soon as her feet hit the ground, but she holds back her screams and curses this time. She’s too fucking stubborn. I reach for her again and again she pushes me away.
“You’re not carrying me. The house is like a quarter mile away. It’s too far. I can walk.”
I turn my back to her and look over my shoulder. “Hop on my back. I’ll be your horsey.”
She shakes her head as she climbs onto my back. “In case you couldn’t tell, I’m trying not to make several comments about riding you.”
I smile as I hook my arms under her knees and trudge forward. “In case you couldn’t tell, I’m trying really hard not to ride you.”
And to be fair…here is a POV from Chris’ POV:
I toss the empty Capri-Sun pouch into the waste bin under the kitchen sink then gaze at Claire across the kitchen island. She’s sitting cross-legged on the barstool. Claire is the only person I’ve ever known who has to sit cross-legged at all times. It’s one of the quirks I love the most about her.
“What are you grinning at?” she says as she looks up from the magazine she’s reading.
“Why do you read that shit? None of those girls are as beautiful as you.”
“I read it for the articles.”
I round the island and stand behind her as I wrap my arms around her waist. “I know a few articles I’d like to do away with today,” I say as I bury my face in her neck and taste her skin. “Happy birthday, baby.”
“Stop. What if your mom walks in?” she says as she pries my arms off her and pushes me back.
“They just left. They won’t be back for at least three hours. Come upstairs with me.” I spin the barstool around so she’s facing me. “Please.”
She narrows her eyes at me as a smile curls her lips. She grabs the front of my shirt and pulls me toward her.
Her lips hover over mine as she whispers, “Okay, but only if you promise not to sing the birthday song.”
I laugh before I plant a quick kiss on her lips. “Asking me not to sing to you on your birthday is like asking me not to breathe. Not gonna happen.” I grab her hand and pull her off the stool. “Come on, babe.”
I grab her hand and she follows me upstairs to her bedroom. My mom doesn’t know shit about us, but I’m going to tell her as soon as Claire gives me the all-clear. I can’t stand keeping this kind of secret. I want to everyone to know how much I love Claire.
We get to her room and she starts straightening up, putting away clothes and straightening the pictures of us she has tucked in the frame of her mirror. I come up behind her and press my body against her as I reach for a picture of us. I slip the picture out of the mirror frame and hold in front of her face. It’s a picture of us in front of the movie theater the day we went to see Iron Man 2. She was wearing a T-shirt I bought her and I remember how hard it was to not touch her as Jake took the picture. Of course, inside the theater the “no touching” rule didn’t apply.
I hold the picture up in front of her face as I kiss the back of her neck. “This was one of my favorite days. This is the day you told me you loved me.”
She spins around and looks me in the eye. “Yeah, but I loved you for a long time before that.”
I toss the picture onto the floor and grab the back of her neck as I mash my lips against hers. Her tongue slides over mine and I instantly get hard.
“Fuck,” I whisper as I pull her toward the bed and lay her down.
She wraps her arms around my neck as I put one of my legs between hers and lie on top of her. I slip my hand under her shirt and her skin prickles with goose bumps. She’s so fucking soft. I slide my hand farther up and her body goes rigid.
“I love you,” I whisper against her lips and she immediately pushes me off.
I sigh as I lie back next to her.
“I’m sorry,” she says as she stares at the ceiling. “I’m just scared that it’s going to hurt and then I’ll feel different about you. I don’t want to feel like you’ve hurt me.”
I flip onto my side and kiss her cheekbone as I slip my hand under her shirt again, eager to feel her skin again. I try not to be possessive with Claire. That’s not what she needs. And I’m pretty good at knowing what Claire needs. I trace my finger around her bellybutton and she smiles.
“I could never hurt you. You’re my Claire-bear,” I say. “But I can’t fucking lie. I want to be inside you so bad.” I continue tracing a light circle, imagine my fingers between her legs and this hard-on is getting unbearable. “I want to make you feel as good as you make me feel.” I lift her shirt and lay a soft kiss on her belly. Her skin is warm against my lips. I want her so bad. “But I’ll wait as long as it takes.”
She brushes my hair out of my face as my lips hover over her belly. “I love you,” she whispers and I scoot up to plant a quick kiss on her temple before I spring off the bed.
“I’ll be right back, babe,” I say as I leave to get my guitar.
Who do you think you would choose – Team Adam or Team Chris?! Claire has a hard choice ahead of her – we can’t wait til Pieces of You!
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About the Author
Cassia Leo grew up in Florida and moved to California after graduating with a degree in journalism. She worked at two small newspapers before discovering her passion for writing romance. Her favorite color is lavender and her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills.