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Friday, April 8, 2016

#Review #Excerpt Thrown Down by @mstessabailey @InkSlingerPR

by Tessa Bailey

He has one last chance to deserve the girl of his dreams...

Overachiever River Purcell was never supposed to be a struggling single mom, working double shifts just to make ends meet. Nor was she supposed to be abandoned by her high school sweetheart, breaking her heart into a thousand jagged pieces. Now Vaughn De Matteo is back in town, his sights set on her...and River is in danger of drowning a second time.

No one believed Hook's resident bad boy was good enough for River. Not even Vaughn himself. But he'll fight like hell to win back the woman he never stopped loving, to keep the daughter he never expected, and convince himself he's worth their love in the process––even if he has to rely on their fierce and undeniable sexual chemistry.

But even as River's body arches under his hungered touch, the demons of the past lurk in the shadows. Waiting for Vaughn to repeat his mistakes one last time...


This book is definitely a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. There is so much to the story between River and Vaughn, it’s completely tangled together in a mess of events.
Vaughn is definitely a damaged/tortured hero. He was pretty much your typical, young, bad boy. In an industrial town where there really is no wealth to be found, there are still “the haves” and the “have nots.” The difference is that most of the “have nots” resort to criminal behavior, and such was the case with Vaughn. He was angry at his circumstances and lashed out, but it only furthered his self-loathing and opinion that he was dragging River down with him. After a tour in the military, the demons were compounded and eventually, with a little persuasion, he let them drive him away. Leaving River devastated …and pregnant.
He’s grows up and matures, doing his best to put them behind him. I wish I knew if he would have gone back to River on his own eventually. However, he finds out about the daughter he didn’t know existed and returns to claim them both.
Vaughn is definitely an alpha, especially in the bedroom. As usual with Tessa’s books, I was reaching for the ice water. These two burn! But, Vaugh also shows humility and a willingness to be led, instead of taking the charge (on some things). His self-doubt wore on me a little though, I felt like it dragged on in the story when it wasn’t needed.
River was a tough nut for me to crack. I couldn’t decide if I liked her, not that I went the other way exactly. I just felt at times like she was too much of a doormat and even worse, she was living in ignorance. River’s dad heaped negativity on Vaughn, feeding his already almost non-existent self-worth. Never standing up to her dad and finding out why he had such animosity for Vaughn might have gone a long way in preventing the events that kept them apart. As an adult, she mulls over it still, but again, she doesn’t confront the situation until it comes to a head.
The “misunderstanding” trope is always a hard one for me to swallow. If people would act a little more rationally and actually communicate, they could most often be avoided. Now, sometimes I understand why emotion takes over and talking things over isn’t considered. In this case, I can’t say for certain that Vaughn wouldn’t have eventually left anyway. But, if he had opened up to River about the talks with her dad, both of them, again, it might have changed the course of events for the better.
The author definitely took an interesting path for this book. The circumstances of these characters are incredibly real. They struggle with jobs, bills, and day-to-day living. There is no “fix-all” where they are suddenly financially stable and able to ride off into a fairy-tale sunset. Vaughn didn’t go away and become rich. River didn’t go to college, get a good job, and become completely independent (all though, she certainly does her best and it’s admirable). And, if they get together in the end, they’ll continue to live the life that most of us know. Struggling and working hard to get what we want and make our dreams come true.
It definitely made the characters more real, however, at times, it was a little discouraging. Especially when it comes to the town they live in and the references of not being able to get out of it. There is always a way to move on, no one is completely stuck anywhere. I would have liked to see them leave the town and its memories behind. But, to each their own and the author clearly didn’t see that as their future and I have to respect the choice since the characters live in her head, not mine.
Overall, I enjoyed the read, though it could have used a tad more levity. It brought me down sometimes and didn’t really pick me back up. I’m glad I read it, but it’s not a re-read for me. It definitely made me curious to know the stories of some of the other characters and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series. Let’s face it, I’ll read anything Tessa Bailey writes!!


Forty-nine months and three days.

That was how long it had been since he’d seen her.

Vaughn swayed to the right, his shoulder slamming up against the wall. Then he kind of just hung there, counting forward and backward from one to ten. Not helping. Not helping. His stomach pitched at the sight of River walking through the drunks, like a nurse walking among the wounded on a battlefield. She could still knock his lights out on sight. Not that he’d doubted it for a second. But God, if it were possible, she’d grown even more beautiful over the last forty-nine months. Her blond hair was tied up in a ponytail, a pencil stuck through the base, in a way he remembered well enough to make his throat go raw. In a short black skirt and fitted white T-shirt, River tried to look the part of indifferent barmaid, but didn’t pull it off.

Not by a stretch.

Eyes Vaughn knew were just a shade darker than cornflower blue flitted to each table, and her fingers tugged on the skirt’s hem self-consciously every time she approached a new one. When she fumbled with the notepad, recovering with a nervous laugh, a choked sound left Vaughn. “Riv,” he whispered.

She looked up so fast, he might as well have shouted. The sudden impact of having River’s focus on him after such an extended period of time without it released a rushing sound between his ears, blocking out the sad lounge act…and apparently someone asking if he needed a table. Because when Vaughn snapped back to reality, a man he towered over by at least a foot was in his face. Snapping his fingers.

“I wouldn’t…” Vaughn shook his head to clear it, experiencing a resurgence of anger, this time for having his attention diverted from where he needed it to be. On River.

“I wouldn’t advise snapping your fingers in my face again.”

“Why’s that, huh?”

A toss of blond hair snagged Vaughn’s gaze as his angelic ex-girlfriend zigzagged through the crowd, drawing more than just his notice. Ah no, quite the opposite. She was putting on an unwitting show for every man in the room, attracting lecherous looks by virtue of being her beautiful self, light in a dark tunnel, same way she’d always been.

Finger snapped in front of his face. Again. “This is my place and I asked you a question.”

“This is your place?” Vaughn asked. God, one hour back in Jersey and already his accent had thickened from water to oil. “You hired River Purcell to clean up tables?”
“That’s right.”

Vaughn plowed a fist into the underside of the man’s jaw, watching him fall backward onto the sticky concrete floor with detachment that slowly morphed into satisfaction. So much for calm, he thought, shaking out his right hand.


Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

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