Blog Tour: Worth the Wait: Claudia Connor

Worth the Wait  (McKinney/Walker #1)
Claudio Connor
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Expected January 10, 2017

He doesn't know how he's lived without her, but he knows he doesn't want to anymore. 

Nick Walker found his one and only when he was just nineteen.

Found her.
Loved her.
Lost her.

Now this FBI Special Agent will do anything to win her back.

Nick Walker thought nothing could destroy what he had with Mia. He certainly never thought he would be the one to destroy it. But when his sister was taken, even getting her back couldn't save him. She was his responsibility. He was supposed to protect her. And he'd failed. 

Now ten years later, Mia James is in Special Agent Nick Walker’s path once again and this time he’s determined to shed the weight of guilt and finally claim the future that was always meant to be theirs.

But it won’t be easy. Mia’s heart was shattered by Nick and now, just when she’d pieced it back together, it’s been broken again, bringing their past to the surface, including her own secret about that day everything went wrong. 

We met Nick Walker in Worth the Risk when Stephen McKinney fell for Nick Walker's sister, Hannah. Nick's life was completely altered when he was nineteen and he became guardian to his three younger brothers and two year old sister, Hannah. And his life veered off course again when Hannah was abducted in her early teens. Those events and his perceived failures and guilt changed him and caused him to push away the only woman he ever loved. 

Nick met Mia when he was struggling as a single student and new father figure. And they traversed the road from friends to lovers to co-parents for many years. They did it together. They took on challenges, obligations, and distance. Their future looked full of possibilities until one day ruined it all and set off a course of events that they never recovered from personally or as a couple. And now ten years later, they have come face to face again.

Nick is now a hardened FBI agent. He has not let anyone in since Mia. He takes protection of his sister seriously and that includes worrying about her having a new boyfriend. He works tirelessly and is lonely and void of any true happiness. He can't forget the pain guilt, anger, regret, and loss from the past. 

Mia is now a counselor. She not only shares the same feelings about their past, but has had another life situation that has left her ever more lost and lonely. She only ever loved Nick. But he pushed her away and she couldn't reach him. She has her work and friends, but lives a solitary life with no real joy.

These two were the perfect couple who shattered in traumatic circumstances. They weathered many challenges by supporting each other for a long time, but a terrible situation finally broke them. Nick retreated into himself and she finally gave up herself. But neither really realized it was going to be a permanent break. 

Their lives veered off in different directions and they just had to live with the void and memories. And now that they are in the same place again, she is terrified of opening herself to being hurt again and left even more broken. Nick still has a lot of lingering issues, but once he decides what he wants, he is also very determined. They both have so many unresolved emotions...so much pain, loss, and love that had been stored stagnant but never went away. 

But they have no hope of finding happiness or moving forward unless they can truly face their pasts, tell all of their secrets and fears, be vulnerable, and let it go. But it is frightening and requires trust, patience, and determination. And they need to be able to forgive themselves and each other, and let their shields come completely down.

This brings back many old friends including Matt and Abby (Worth the Fall), Hannah and Stephen (Worth the Risk), Lizzie McKinney, Luke and Zach Walker (and makes mention of the elusive Dallas Walker). I enjoyed getting to see both views of some of them in the past and present and see bit more into their future. All of the Walker brothers are interesting due to their personalities and careers since they are Army Special Forces, a firefighter, and a DEA agent.

I love this world that Claudia Connor has weaved around these two sets of siblings. Their stories have depth, serious issues to overcome, and bring out all kinds of emotions. The characters are not perfect. They make mistakes and are broken in some way, but they are also resilient and have big hearts that just need to love and be loved. The family bonds and emotional ties run deep, sometimes adding tension and other times adding humor and a sense of camaraderie. I got sucked into this one right away, and really felt for these characters. I adored Nick and Mia together past and present. 

My only complaint was that at times I got a bit confused about what time we were in and it would take me a bit to get my bearings, but she did label the past scenes to help. But overall, I loved their story and getting more with all of these characters. It was a beautiful, heart wrenching, passionate story of true love, loss, forgiveness, and hope that spanned around twenty five years.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Nick Walker stepped into a parental figure long before he anticipated the role after his parents died suddenly. As a 19 year old, acting as guardian to his teenage brothers was challenge enough, but he also had a 2 year old sister to take care of, as well as his college load.

He meets Mia while trying to find balance in his new situation. Her lightness and acceptance of his responsibilities eased his stress in a time when he needed it most. As they became close, they found a balance in their relationship that quickly included co-parenting, raising Hannah together.

But Hannah’s abduction knocks Nick’s entire being off kilter and nothing in his life remains the same, even after she is found. His already protective nature kicks into overdrive and his need to protect Hannah costs his own relationship with Mia.

Ten years later, they are face to face once again. They are both still carrying the hurt from their failed relationship, but Nick is determined to right his wrongs. Mia is terrified of being hurt again, and she quickly realizes he could hurt her even more this time around than the last.

I loved that the characters, at least in part of the story, have the weight of life’s experience coloring their views. Not only do they have their shared history, they also have the separate lessons learned in their years apart. There is a sweetness in the scenes from the past that shows the innocence of their feelings for each other, but also portends the pain they have yet to feel. 

This was such a deeply touching story spanning decades. It was endearing, heartbreaking, sweet, and deep. Watching the McKinneys and Walkers from a different perspective made it even more fun to read. The McKinney brothers are back, as well as Hannah and the other Walker brothers. This is a great connector between the two families as well as a foundation for a new series following the Walkers. 
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

~twenty-four years ago

Nick pressed two fingers into the sleep deprived headache pounding in his temple and tried to concentrate on professor Jenkins’s explanation of ideal gas law. He circled a line of notes, ignored the knock on the auditorium door until he heard the familiar cry. Hannah, who he’d left in the university daycare two hours ago.
The high pitched wail wasn’t his two year old sister’s hurt cry. It was her scared cry with a touch of pissed off. In the six months since their parents’ death, he’d learned to tell the difference. He’d learned a lot of things. Like if he didn’t take her to the bathroom, she’d likely wait too long and have an accident. Like green beans made her throw up, but she’d eat them if he told her to. And she would never, ever go to sleep without Mr. Bunny.
He was up, out of his seat, and halfway down the auditorium stairs before his professor laid his pen down.
Nick’s eyes narrowed on the young blonde in an oversized sweatshirt with silk greek letters sewn on the front. She held a sobbing Hannah dressed in the sunny yellow sundress he’d picked out that morning. She hadn’t been crying when he left her. Now her eyes were red and snot mixed with tears dripped into her mouth. Hannah lunged for him. His arms engulfed her small body and his heart squeezed like it always did when she held onto him.
“I stay you,” Hannah said. Each word tumbled out of her with a jerk of her tiny shoulders.
“What happened to her?”
“Nothing happened to her. She hasn’t stopped screaming for the past hour and she bit three people. We can’t keep her like that.”
Several responses came to mind.
She’s just a baby.
She missed her nap.
And the loudest of all, it was my fault for leaving her.
Hannah raised her head to look at him, giant tears hanging from golden lashes. “I bite.”
“Well. At least she’s honest.” Professor Jenkins turned his questioning eyes to Nick. “She yours?”
He hesitated, but only a second. “My sister. But yes, she’s mine.” And at that moment she became even more his, which seemed to be the case every day. Every day, a little more his.
The McKinney/Walker series is a spin off of the McKinney Brothers series and characters do cross over. 

They meet on a beach
. . . 
Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers.

They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family.

But a week is all it takes. . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

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When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind. 

Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.

Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes. 

Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.

“Read Claudia Connor for a consistently raw and emotional love story,” recommends Carly Phillips. Now the swoon-worthy McKinney Brothers series from this bestselling author continues as JT, the youngest of the trio, discovers that only love can make him whole.

She’s fighting for control. . . . Paige Roberts learned to fend for herself growing up. Now she’s doing everything possible to give her daughter, Casey, the stability she never had. But when the vivacious five-year-old decides she’s done wearing her prosthesis, Paige faces her toughest challenge yet: trusting a handsome, brooding stranger who simply wants to help.

He’s struggling to connect. . . . JT McKinney lost more than his leg in a car accident that stole his dreams of pro football. Eight years later, he's made a new life for himself far away from his old one. His business is developing cutting-edge prosthetics and he’s more than happy to turn his attention to machines instead of people. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing.

Will they take a chance on love? . . . When JT gets the chance to help Paige’s daughter, he takes it. He never planned on the two of them tearing down his walls or teaching him to believe in himself again. Paige might not believe in happily ever afters, but JT wants more than anything to be her prince. They’ll both have to let go of the past if they want a future.
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.

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