Monday, May 18, 2015

review || ONCE UPON A SEAL { blog tour }

Meet the Military Men of the Lucky Thirteen Series in Once Upon a Seal by Suzan Butler!

Coming May 19th is the fifth novel in the Lucky Thirteen series, ONCE UPON A SEAL from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Suzan Butler! Read how a small town girl starts to change her perceptions after conversations with a reclusive former Navy SEAL.

Check out Suzan’s recent post about summer reads on Fresh Fiction!

Follow the tour and you could win some awesome prizes!

Once Upon a SEAL by SM Butler

Publisher: Souring Phoenix Press (5/19/2015)
Series: Lucky Thirteen
Genre: Military, New Adult Romance
Source: Barclay Publicity
Purchase links || amazon | bn || add to goodreads

Rating: ★★★1/2

Maddie Benson has spent her entire life in Sugar Falls and has never ventured—nor wanted to venture—beyond her small town’s safe borders. But when her delivery job takes her to the doorstep of one very reclusive, former Navy SEAL, Sebastian McIntyre, her small town perceptions are challenged with every conversation they have. It’s not long before she’s losing herself—and her heart—to the mysterious man behind the door.

Bastian’s scars are deeper than the surface. They’re embedded into his soul, and he’s content to keep them buried. But the second Maddie ends up on his doorstep with her sparkling smile and her sunshine hair, his quiet new life shatters and she just might be able to excise the demons he’s tried hard to keep tucked away—if he lets her in.

When Bastian’s old life comes haunting them, he knows he should let her go. But the light she shines on his soul keeps the darkness within him at bay. Letting her go may take more strength than he has, and keeping her close could get her killed.

about Suzan || Suzan Butler writes adult contemporary romance and has a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination. She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing naughty books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that's when it's quiet in the house. She loves to hear from readers.

Suzan also has a monthly newsletter she shares with her alter ego, New York Times and USA Today bestseller, S.M. Butler, who writes new adult romantic suspense and military romance. In the newsletter, you'll find information about new releases, updates on future books, contests, giveaways, get first peek at new covers, and find out where she'll be visiting through books signings and conventions throughout the year.

{ excerpt } .
Tommy’s Grocery was the only grocery store in Sugar Falls. We had a lot of older folks that lived out in the country, so I frequently ran out deliveries for them. But as I surveyed the contents of the delivery I had now, making sure I had them all, this wasn’t for one of the older couples, and I hadn’t recognized the name on the order either. Sebastian? It sounded like a younger guy. Why couldn’t a younger guy come get his own groceries? 

And it wasn’t a particularly large order either. Lots of fruits, vegetables, a package of razors. So I imagined he was a clean-shaven health nut. Not that I cared either way. I got paid no matter what. And honestly, even though it was hot outside, I still liked getting the fresh air and not being stuck in the store all day. 

The house wasn’t a rundown piece of crap like I expected, which was further evidence that it wasn’t an older man. The house was cute, gorgeous and had colorful flowers lining the front porch. Pretty walking stones framed the sides of the circular driveway. The grass was slightly overgrown, but mostly, the yard was well- landscaped. Someone spent hours on it regularly. This was not the work of a landscaper. This house was cared for with love, by someone who liked working with his hands. 

Which only made me more curious of the owner. 

I got out of my truck and grabbed the three bags from the passenger side. The heat beat down on me as I walked up. I rapped sharply on the door and waited. It was solid oak, with two rectangular window panes spanning half the height of the door. The decorative glass obscured a clear view of the inside, but I could see a vague shape of a man coming toward the entrance to the house. 

But the door didn’t open. A gruff voice barked, “Who is it?” 

“Maddie Benson. I have your delivery from Tommy’s.” As if for emphasis, I lifted one arm so he could see the shape of the bag through the decorative window. 

“Just a sec.” His form moved away. A minute or two passed as I waited for him to return. He came back, and the chain rattled as he unlocked it. I started forward when the door cracked open, but he didn’t let it open. “Leave it on the mat.” 

Slowly, I set the bags down. “Okay. Um... It’s twenty-five sixty.” I squinted my eyes to look through the glass, as if that would make it easier to see him. 

His hand snaked around the door, holding a twenty and a ten. The hand was large, fitting the massive shape I could make out on the other side of the door. “Keep the change.” 

I took the bills from him. “Thanks, um...” I glanced at the ticket in my hand, skimming over it quickly. “Mr. McIntyre.” I stopped. McIntyre? “You’re related to Jenny?” 

The door slammed shut in answer. 

I glared at the shut door. Wasn’t that just nice. Was this how he treated everyone or was I just special? I almost wanted to knock and tell him what an asshole he was, but instead, I turned and headed back to my truck. 

{ review } .
Ah, another novella for today! This one, however, is a new adult contemporary. Prior to reading it, I found book one, KILLING HONOR, was free so I wanted to read through that story. While these two books are on opposite sides of the series, I thought maybe I could learn some things about this SEAL group Thirteen by reading the previous book.

The entire time I was reading KILLING HONOR, I just knew I'd read it before but I couldn't figure out where. was in one of the 'SEALS of' anthologies! It was nice to revisit Brody and Devyn's story. I forgot how much I enjoyed it due to it's nature -- young SEAL, who's married with young twin daughters, who's gone and fears bringing the war home with him, and therefore the pull of separation that happens in that relationship. Loved it the second time, as much as I did the first.

While Brody nor Devyn make an appearance in ONCE UPON A SEAL, a few other members of the team do, and it was enjoyable to see them. Watching the interaction between Candace and Dylan made me go and immediately put DYING COMMITMENT on my To-Be Read list -- and I have to say that for the book covers, that one is spot on; the male model is grinning, and that embodies Dylan.

Our lead in this story is Sebastian -- Bash to his sister, Bastian to all else. He's a younger twenty-something who was a SEAL -- and in a mission gone terribly wrong, he came home badly scarred. He has a hard time with the 'came home' part, let alone the fact that a monster reflects back at him in the mirror. After trying to live in a public lifestyle, yet being pointed at and shied away from, he becomes recluse -- the only person, really, to ever see him being his sister, Jenny.

Jenny runs the local store (grocery, hardware... in this little 800-person town, it's the all-to store); Bash will call in his grocery order on Monday, and his sister always delivers on Tuesday.

I want to say Jenny had a motive -- however, it really isn't spelt out that way -- but one day she can't make the run so she sends Maddie.

Maddie and Bastian form a friendship through a cracked door -- he refuses to let her see him but learns he enjoys her company. They sit and talk about anything and mostly everything, and even will hold hands now and then at Bash's insistence. When Bastian learns that Giroux (you meet that one in book one, too) is coming after all of the Thirteen team, he's sure to make sure Jenny is safe -- never for a moment considering his new friendship to be a threat.

I rather enjoyed this story. I was sad that Bastian hid from life, as well as Maddie after their friendship was formed. However, as nearly unlikely as it is this day and age, I loved that their relationship was built off of conversation -- looks were never on the table. Sure, he was attracted to her, but because of his fears, she wasn't given that same opportunity of attraction -- but still, she fell for him.

Suzan's writing-style fits well in the novella world, I feel. I think she also does really well in this new-adult/suspense/military world, as well. Granted... I like her hockey stuff too, so... ;)

{ giveaway } .

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