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Blog Tour: A Little Bit Like Love: Brooke Blaine


A Little Bit Like Love (South Haven #1)
Brooke Blaine
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Genre: Contemporary Romance/MM Romance
Released June 27, 2017
Buy Amazon | Amazon International (Also Kindle Unlimited)

What if you had everything in the world you wanted…except the man you’d left behind?

Jackson Davenport, the charismatic, strait-laced heir to the Davenport fortune, has a secret. One he’s been hiding since he graduated from South Haven all-boys academy—and that secret’s name is Lucas.

When a work trip takes Jackson back to his old stomping grounds, memories of the year he shared with Lucas come crashing to the surface. With growing pressure from his father to settle down and take over the family business, Jackson knows he’s on borrowed time, and sets out to find the free-spirited daredevil he once knew.

But Lucas isn’t the same man he was eight years ago.

One night. A shattered heart. And an endless parade of nameless faces. Lucas Sullivan is South Haven’s ultimate playboy, a reputation he’s honed since the only boy he ever loved left without a trace. To the world, he’s brash and confident, an in-demand artist who spends his days designing one-of-a-kind pieces and his nights as king of the downtown scene.

Many have tried and failed to get past the barrier he’s carefully constructed, but it’s the shy, studious boy he once coaxed out of his shell who still haunts him.

Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it was lust. Or maybe…it was a little bit like love.


Jackson Davenport is a serious, competitive, charismatic business man working for his father's company in Connecticut. Now he is returning to Georgia for a business deal...near the All Boys Academy he attended and where he first loved and lost. His life has always been controlled by his father to the point that he was left heartbroken and never really had feelings for anyone else. He works, he goes through the motions, and does what is expected.

He never really thought that his ghost from the past, Lucas Sullivan, would still be there. But he had to at least satisfy his curiosity. Lucas used to be kind of a lost boy, but was also strong and free-spirited. He was Jackson's best friend and first love. He gave Jackson his whole heart, but ended up hurt and alone. In the past eight years he has become a closed-off manwhore who has walls up to keep people out. His facade portrays him as untouchable, angry, selfish, stubborn, and arrogant. It hides the core of a broken man who is scared to let anyone in and have a chance to hurt or leave him. And he is also still sad and angry over events that transpired in the past. 

As they are face to face again it inevitably comes time for hard conversations about their history. But neither really had the full story. They have both been living in the shadows of secrets, lies, misunderstandings, and manipulation. But coming to terms with the past, does not make the present much easier. No matter what their unresolved feelings are, they still live separate lives and Jackson has obligations and some secrets. And Lucas' defense mechanism is to push people away for self protection and he is pretty good at self sabotage as well.

But at least temporarily they begin to enjoy a reprieve to their loss and loneliness and find friendship and feelings again. It is a time of reconnecting, mending hearts, healing from the truth, and the possibility of second chances.  This wealthy, straight-laced yankee and the artsy southern boy who does not mind getting his hands dirty made a great contrast, but something about their souls just fit together too. As walls started to break down, I enjoyed their flirty banter, innuendo, and chemistry. I could feel their connection, their shared disappointments and pain, and the intense longing they had for each other.

This is an emotional, heartfelt, sexy, angsty, and humorous second-chance love story. It is told in dual points of view and flashbacks (although a couple of times I felt the flashbacks took me a bit out of the story). But overall, it flowed well and kept me enthralled. The characters are well developed, likable, and I could understand their motivations and issues.  I thought the drama and even their sometimes strong reactions were believable based on the character's personalities and history. I was emotionally connected to them both even though there were times I wanted to shake them. I enjoyed their dynamics and rapport.

There are a few twists and surprises. There are issues to deal with from the past and the present, before they could even consider a possibility of a future. They both have demons and issues to face. They both have fears and insecurities. They are on borrowed time again and both are afraid to deal with the hard questions and decisions. They loved and lost once and barely survived, but the stakes are even higher now.

This is a great start to a new series from Brooke Blaine and I am hooked. The side characters are also intriguing and interesting. I am looking forward to more with the burly tattoo artist and bartender, Shaw, and the stylish, intuitive, and outgoing, Bash. 

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

A Little Bit Like Love is my first exposure to Brooke Blaine, and while I had some (mostly) small issues while reading it, I enjoyed this rather angsty second-chance romance overall and believe this to be a book that most who read it will love not only for the smoldering heat between the lead characters but also for the sense of desperation it invokes through the setup of a relationship that cannot succeed because of the characters’ circumstances.

During his senior year at an exclusive all-boys high school in coastal Georgia, Jackson Davenport was completing the first steps toward his prescribed future, following in his father’s footsteps at the family firm. He didn’t count on falling for the new kid. But from the moment he met Lucas Sullivan, he was hopeless caught in Lucas’s magnetism, building up to the one night that meant everything to Jackson before the pull of the path his father set for him separated them, a path that could never accommodate Jackson being in love with a man. Eight years later, Jackson returns to the area on a business trip only to have a few overheard words from a stranger flood his mind with memories of their time together, rendering him unable to resist the idea of seeing Lucas again. What he finds is a man very different from the boy he wanted in school. On the outside, Lucas exudes an air of brash confidence due to his reputation as both a talented metalworking artist and as the man notoriously known for never leaving the club with the same man twice. The latter, though, is a cover for the pain of abandonment, especially that of Jackson’s disappearance from his life.

Apparently I have a bit of an undeserved reputation for not being fond of second-chance romances. Granted, it’s a trope that even in the best written story can fall horribly flat for me, though it depends almost completely on how believable I find the reason behind the first chance’s ending and how much history the pairing has prior to the start of the novel. The best plot twist in A Little Bit Like Love comes when the truth is revealed about what happened in the weeks following high school graduation, so along with the fact that Jackson and Lucas’s past intimate moments are far eclipsed by the sexual tension surrounding the days after they meet again, the incredible chemistry of their impossibly ill-fated attraction guaranteed I would not have a problem with the trope this time. This impression was also greatly helped by the author’s smooth storytelling and writing style.

There is plenty of angst in this story, coming from both characters’ individual histories. For the most part, the drama that resulted was executed well, but in the few cases where I felt it wasn’t, it really wasn’t, so much so that it pulled me out of the story to ponder whether or not I could convince myself to believe what had just happened. It was part of a trend that made me feel like the story could have been improved if there had been a little more background development, particularly in Lucas’s character, in order to justify the level of drama his reactions were based upon. As it was, it didn’t quite keep from stepping into the realm of being melodramatic a few times.

That being said, as I indicated earlier, the storytelling in A Little Bit Like Love impressed me enough to make me want to read more of this author’s books. I hope, however, that it isn’t one of her writing trademarks to make extensive use of flashbacks. As with the drama mentioned in the previous paragraph, the flashbacks typically worked well, but the inopportune placement of one in particular—right in the middle of the sex scene that should have been the one that solidified their connection for the reader—resulted in me being completely pulled out of the story there and left me scratching my head in wonderment of what the author thought would be accomplished by interrupting the feelings she obviously wanted me to get from the scene.

Fortunately, these instances were far from common, so I was able to enjoy the story as a whole. And in case I’ve seemed overly critical, take heart in the fact that there was much about the book that I loved. For example, beyond Lucas and Jackson, the side characters that appeared throughout the story added to the depth of the story in a way I found satisfying. Two of these characters are clearly potentials for being main characters, separately I hope, in future books of the series. Also, the author deserves kudos first of all for making Jackson’s “girlfriend” not turn out to be a total dick upon her discovery of Jackson’s sexuality—though her initial reaction sure made it look like she was going to be…bravo for perfect execution of that scene—and secondly for not turning this into an ugly gay-for-you story. Jackson may have never acted upon his attraction to men other than with Lucas, and he actively tried to suppress these feelings throughout his life, but he doesn’t misguidedly cling to the label of “straight” once he realizes he’s willing to give up everything in order to have Lucas.

While the few issues I had were big enough to keep me from rating A Little Bit Like Love higher than I did, my first taste of a story written by Brooke Blaine was more than good enough not only for me to recommend this book for those who love stories of romances that look doomed to fail but also for me to add her to my list of authors to read again in the future.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of A Little Bit Like Love in exchange for this fair and honest review.

WITH THE NOTE from Principal Stewart crumpled in my fist, I stalked away from his office, away from the words I knew would haunt me forever.

“I’m sorry, Jackson. Your father is quite…insistent you return to Connecticut immediately.”

Immediately…immediately… With every echo of that word through my mind, my heart battered my chest, the ache to rip itself free of my body a plea I was helpless to honor. 

There was only one reason he would’ve demanded I leave South Haven before the end of classes next week. My father had been adamant I receive the best education his money afforded, choosing to ship me down to south Georgia to attend the most prestigious all-boys academy in the country. I’d done him proud, rising to the top of my class, and I’d been practicing my salutatorian speech for days. Skipping out on graduation and the pomp and circumstance and recognition that came with it? Out of the question. Which could only mean one thing.

He knew. Somehow he knew.

That was the only explanation for the letter in my hand, for the abrupt dismissal this late in the evening and this close to the end of the school year. My father hadn’t gotten to where he was by being stupid or blind, and I’d seriously underestimated how many eyes and ears had been watching me during my four years. Although it would’ve only been the whispers over the last few months that piqued his interest, only the last eight that he would’ve had any reason to give me a second thought.

And that reason wasn’t a what—it was a who.

The halls of the St. John’s dormitory were silent when I entered, all the students down at the mess hall for dinner, followed by the final bonfire of the year. So there wouldn’t be anyone around to see me sneak down the hall to where I knew I shouldn’t be going but couldn’t help myself. My feet seemed to move of their own accord, the countdown to my utter devastation causing me to pick up the pace. The private plane would arrive in a handful of hours, giving me just enough time to pack my things, but there was no way I could leave without a goodbye. Not going to happen.

I wasn’t ready. I was supposed to have more time. As a cold sweat of panic seized me, I balled the letter tighter in my fist and chucked it into one of the trash bins as I passed.

Screw my father. Screw the life he’d set out for me, the one I was destined to live and hate with every fiber of my being. I wanted to bottle up every one of his expectations and throw the blasted thing out at an angry sea to swallow up and tear apart instead.

I wished it could be as easy as that. I’d been able to fool myself into a sense of freedom, but the cell door was about to smash shut on every dream I’d let myself have these past few months.

His private dorm was at the end of the long hall, last one on the right, and I rapped on it twice fast, waited a moment, and then repeated the pattern that we used for each other. A few seconds later, the door swung open, and seeing the sole object of my daily and nightly thoughts standing there in front of me with a mixture of surprise and delight in his eyes made me think that coming here had been a mistake. It was only going to sink the dagger in farther.

“Hey…I thought we were meeting la—” Lucas’s words cut off and the smile curling his lips fell as he got a good look at my face. “What’s wrong?”

You should tell him. Tell him what’s going on and that it isn’t your fault. Look him in the eye when you tell him you can never see him again.

A shooting pain tore through my chest as I realized what this goodbye actually meant. I wasn’t saying I wouldn’t be seeing him for the next couple of days or weeks. When I left South Haven’s campus in the early hours of the morning, I wouldn’t be seeing him again…ever.

God, can I do this? Break his heart as well as mine?

No…no, I couldn’t tell him. He’d look for me, find me, and there was no telling what my father would do if that happened. The letter had been my old man’s warning. Disobeying his orders would mean consequences neither of us were prepared for.

“Jackson?” Lucas’s voice dropped low, and then he looked past me out into the deserted hall. When he didn’t see anyone to blame on my current state, he frowned and waited for an answer.

The words didn’t come, though, so I stood there staring at him, taking a mental snapshot that I’d store away in a place no one could find and destroy. His black hair was casually tousled, and I knew him well enough to know he’d worried his hands through it, maybe wondering if I wouldn’t follow through on our plans tonight. He wore a simple grey t-shirt and low-slung jeans on his long and lean frame, and the swirl of black tattoos he’d recently inked on his tanned skin could be seen peeking around his right bicep before disappearing from view behind the thin material of his shirt. He was striking, both in looks and personality, and to say I hadn’t been expecting the force that was Lucas Sullivan when he’d transferred to the academy eight months ago was an understatement.

Quite simply, I’d been lost to him the first time I laid eyes on him.

Forcing myself to shake off my dread, I said, “I’m okay,” and tried to believe it for his sake. 

“Well, you look like hell.” He leaned against the doorway, one of those charming half-grins cocking up one side of his lips. “Hell on wheels, anyway. What’d you do, run all the way here?”

Not too far off there. I didn’t even remember crossing campus to get to his dorm until I was in front of the building.

When I didn’t laugh at his teasing, Lucas’s expression fell again and his brows pulled down, a crease forming between them as his eyes, the color of a stormy sky, gave me a thorough once-over, looking for the source of my pain. He was silent for a long moment, but he must’ve seen something he didn’t like, because he stiffened and his jaw clenched. Then he took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.

“Tell me.”

“Tell you what?” I asked.

Lucas shook his head, his arms going over his chest. “I’m not helping you out here. If you came here for a reason, get out with it.”

Did he know? He couldn’t. I’d only just found out myself, and… No. There was no way. “It’s…complicated.”

“Complicated?”

“Yes.”

Lucas gave a humorless chuckle. “Jackson Davenport, I knew you were scared, but I never took you for a coward. If you don’t want to do this, you can man the hell up and tell me to my face.”

“What are you… I’m not…” I ran my hand over my face, struggling to understand the conclusion he’d come to for why I was standing at his door. My lack of a poker face had put him on the defensive. He thought I was here to reject him. An idea so completely unfathomable to me that it made my stomach turn thinking about it. “Lucas…you’ve got this all wrong.”

“Do I?”

“Yes. I’m not here to—“ I almost said “end things with you,” but I didn’t want to lie to him. I never had and I never would. Instead, I said, “Fight with you. I don’t want to fight.”

“Then why are you here, Jackson?” he asked, and my gaze fell to his lips. I’d tasted those lips only a few times, not nearly enough to quench a starving man’s hunger. All these months I’d wasted, warring with myself in my head, never letting myself have the thing I wanted most. And now I was down to a matter of hours. It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. But it was all I had, and I wasn’t wasting another second.

If I couldn’t tell Lucas how I felt about him, then I’d show him.

Finally.

Irrevocably.

And starting now.

BrookeBlaineBrooke Blaine 

Brooke Blaine is a USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary romance that ranges from comedy to suspense to erotic. The latter has scarred her conservative Southern family for life, bless their hearts.

You could say Brooke was a book-a-holic from the time she knew how to read; she used to tell her mother that curling up with one at 4 a.m. before elementary school was her ‘quiet time.’ Not much has changed except for the espresso I.V. pump she now carries around and the size of her onesie pajamas.

If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find - just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for ten years.




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