Sunday, February 7, 2016

{ arc } review || WORTH IT ALL by Claudia Connor

Loveswept | April 19, 2016 | Contemporary Romance
The McKinney Brothers, book 3


After a car accident stole his dreams of pro football, JT McKinney has made a new life for himself far away from his old one. He spends his time in a prosthetic research and development facility, his attention on machines instead of people until a chance meeting with a young mother and her five year old daughter who need his help. He'll have to let go of the past if he wants a future.
amazon | bn | itunes

{ about claudia connor } .

New York Times bestselling author Claudia Connor attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and spending her days putting on paper the stories in her head. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.

{ review } .

Please note: There was a ton of excitement when writing this review. I don't believe there are spoilers, but sometimes my excitement gets the best of me...

I have been {probably, impatiently} waiting for J.T.'s story since the moment he smirked at Matt when he talked about love and children with a small family he'd barely just met.

"You move fast," J.T. said, with an irritating smirk. "Evidently so does she."

That last bit was muttered into his glass, but Matt didn't miss it. "What the hell did you say?" He wanted to jerk the little punk up by his shirt, but J.T. already looked remorsefull.

His brother stared into his ice tea. "Nothing."

Matt was close to all his siblings, and he loved his youngest brother, but the kid walked around with a growing chip on his shoulder Matt couldn't figure out...
Worth the Fall, arc edition

And then again when Gracie was talking to Stephen about people with missing limbs.

The car door opened and closed behind them and Gracie turned her head. "He looked sad. I'd be sad too if I lost pieces."

Gracie's innocent words twisted hard in his stomach. His youngest brother had lost a piece and J.T. was well past sad...
Worth the Risk, arc edition

But we readers had to get through Stephen and Hannah first -- one year ago this week -- to finally figure out all that was Jacob Thomas McKinney. Now, I'm a devoted Claudia Connor fan so I was aware every time she had to push back things with All's publication and whatnot, but that didn't mean I wasn't excited to finally see the words "It is finished. As of 3 am this morning WORTH IT ALL is officially done and JT McKinney is on his way! Can't wait for you to read it!! My celebration begins after a nap." -- and to find it on NetGalley just a couple short weeks later.

And like Jagger before it on Friday, I knew this was a drop-everything-to-read book. So, promptly after reading "The End" on Jagger, I switched open this bad boy and didn't put it down until it's very own "The End".

Ms. Connor has an awesome ability to write these men -- but I have to be honest, her ability to write children is absolutely phenomenal, and it is likely the reason watching Matt fall for Abby was a #1 in my book. And while I loved Stephen and Hannah's journey, shed a few (couple hundred) tears, it just wasn't Matt and Abby.


J.T. has arrived. And "tiny brother" has outshone Matt.

Just sayin'.

It's hard to remember that Ms. Connor has only penned three books. Each of these McKinney books have been so well written, it makes one wonder what fears were holding her back from telling Matt and Abby's story. People weren't sure that she'd be able to produce a second book to the caliber that book one was -- and she did. At that point, she had true believers (...I always did) and J.T. and Paige's (don't forget Casey!) story does not disappoint in the least bit.

J.T. (or "Jake" as he introduces himself to Paige as -- something that good friend, Simon, will heckle him about over and over again) ran from home after an accident left him an amputee. Words that were spoken to him in anger have driven him to stay away but he's made a name for himself. He and two friends, Simon and Lynn, have started a state-of-the-art prosthetic company. They make prosthetics for every limb, every desire, every terrain. It is with his company that J.T. takes the opportunity to talk to Paige...

Paige is a single-mom to an adorable little girl who, due to a growth defect, had a leg amputated. Casey is bright and smart, funny and sweet. She dislikes her prosthetic, but she still manages to be an extremely independent five year old. J.T. first makes the acquaintance of Casey, as she piles down a large plate of fries and talks to him about her turtle. J.T., while he goes to the diner Paige works at for the food, he mostly finds a reason to go to look at the pretty blond (and even almost asks her out, showing the reader that this once cocky McKinney man has nerves and awkward times) -- but when he discovers that the little spitfire is her daughter, past words start to haunt him. But it's Casey's bare limb that has him itching to talk to Paige.

Being the youngest, with his brothers all leaving the house well before he was a teen, J.T. has struggled to live up to the examples they made. He always strove to be like them, as younger siblings tend to do, but an accident forced him to realize he'd never be them. J.T. has trouble throughout the story with grief from all those years ago, and with it, he has trouble feeling that he deserves something as good as Paige and Casey. Watching him as he fights this internal battle never felt stagnant, but rather felt like a true personal growth.

Paige has had her struggles and the very last thing she wants for her daughter is to live the life she herself did. Paige does an excellent job raising her daughter and rarely, if ever, takes time for herself. She feels immense guilt the few times she spends time with Jake, but with help, she learns that it's ok to carve out time for yourself. Ms. Connor wrote Paige in such a lovely way. She's a little bit awkward due to her lack of socializing, yet she's an incredible mother. Paige was a standout character in Ms. Connor's world, in my opinion.

Casey and J.T.'s conversations throughout the story were so freaking sweet and fun. J.T., who stays away from his nieces and nephews, connects with Casey instantly and these two become thick as thieves. From moments of understanding but not pushing:

[Jake] kept bouncing [the ball] off the tops of his feet, alternating right and left, before giving it a final flick and catching it in his hand. "You want to try?"

Casey eyed the ball. "I'd have to put my leg on."

"Yep, you would," he said evenly, letting it be her decision.
Reminder: this was an arc version. Quotes may differ in final edition. those undoubtedly popular two-against-one times:


"You know what I think about your serious Mommy voice," Jake said, his own voice low and full of innuendo.

"That you're about to get in trouble?" Casey offered.

Jake sent Paige a hot look. "Yes, I'm in trouble and--"

"Fine." Paige cut him off, distracted by his mischievous grin that had her insides quivering. "No dessert for either of you."

"What!" They both protested in unison. those sadly sweet moments that only a child can give:

[Casey] lifted her head from his arm and peered up at him with those summer sky baby blues. "Do you think..." She paused glancing at the ground in front of her. "Do you think you could ever want a little girl with one leg?"

The bottom dropped out of his stomach and the world from under his feet. His chest squeezed so tightly he couldn't get a breath...

...every moment of J.T. and Casey was heartwarming and heart-wrenching.

I loved catching up with the McKinney clan. Serious Annie, of Matt and Abby's clan, as well as fun-loving Jack, are both high schoolers now. Oh, be still, my heart. And Hannah's rehab camp is doing extremely well -- we see a lot of Hannah and Stephen with this ranch. It becomes more than evident that any misgivings J.T. had about his family and especially his brothers, was simply on his part.

So while, yeah... I'm really honestly sorry you have to probably wait until April to get your hands on this youngest McKinney man,  I suggest you pre-order. Double check he's on your to-read list.

You'll want to.

{ previous reviews in series } .

Worth the Fall 5★ { review }
Worth the Risk 5★ { review }

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