Too Hard to Forget (Romancing the Clarksons #3)
Forever / April 25, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital
Is white-hot drama featuring damaged protagonists your jam? Have I got some splendid news for you! Too Hard to Forget, the third installment in Tessa Bailey’s scorching Romancing the Clarksons series, is here, and it definitely brings the sizzle. And it brings the pain. And it also brings the painful sizzle. Gentle readers should be aware up front that this novel chronicles a second chance at love as experienced by a self-loathing college football coach and a four-times-engaged woman who can only achieve sexual satisfaction while her partner is spanking her and rasping the Lord’s Prayer into her ear. (There are kinks and then there are kinks.)
But if you can take it? Tessa Bailey can dish it out. Oh, boy, can she ever.
Three years ago, Elliott Brooks was the powerful, recently-widowed coach of a highly successful college football team. Peggy Clarkson was a gorgeous undergraduate cheerleader. She chased Elliott until he caught her, and they had a brief, clandestine relationship fueled by lust and guilt (hence the prayer and spanking) – Elliott, a devout Catholic, couldn’t forget the circumstances surrounding his wife’s untimely death and was tormented by the utterly sinful bad wrongness of his illicit relationship with a student. Accordingly, he ended up smashing Peggy’s heart into a million little pieces.
Now she’s back in town, and she fully intends to give him one tantalizing taste of what he threw away before she does unto him as he did unto her and saunters out of his life forever, leaving him (with any luck) a pathetic and shattered wreck of a man.
…Or something like that. Peggy’s plan, as it unfolds, is not all that well thought out.
To his own disgust, Elliott still can’t keep his hands off Peggy. To her own disgust, Peggy finds that her feelings for the man behind the mask are still very much there. But just when you’re howling at the sky “These people don’t need more sex on a park bench or standing against the side of a church or in a locker room. They need therapy< and plenty of it,” something curious happens. Elliott buys a clue.
He pressed their foreheads together, steadying her, despite how hard she wished for the opposite. “I’m the whore, Peggy.” When she jerked with a gasp, he caged her in, keeping their gazes locked. “I’m the one that gave my body and nothing else. You gave everything and I wasn’t wise enough to accept the best part. Your heart.” His voice shook with emotion. “So when you look at me and hear that filthy word, remember who owns the title.”
Alas for Elliott, his awakening occurs just as Peggy also buys a clue—i.e., being someone’s Dirrrrrty Little Secret isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, and just maybe she deserves better. Can Elliott convince Peggy that he’s a changed man? Can Peggy forget the past, forgive Elliott, and add (relatively) vanilla sex (i.e., minus the spanking) to her sexual repertoire? And will they make up in bed?
(I think we’ve all pretty much figured out the answer to that last question.)
In all seriousness, although the protagonists of this novel can
sometimes frequently behave, as they say, most vexingly—do a shot every time Coach grits his teeth and removes his rosary beads from his pocket and sets them down on the edge of a table or desk prior to deliberately not enjoying the ensuing backdoor action — the sex is cosmic, the denouement is sweet, and I was left curious about the other books in the series. Like Elliott, the book gets the job done.
Interestingly, Too Hard to Forget is the third installment in Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons series, which features four semi-estranged siblings on a cross-country pilgrimage to fulfill their late mother’s dying wish (she wanted her children to drive across the country together to New York and do the Polar Plunge together on New Year’s Day). By this point in the series, two of the siblings, Aaron and Rita, have peeled off from the group and stayed with partners they met along the way. The remaining travelers are Peggy, her best friend Sage, who occasionally hints at a mysterious past filled with pain, and her brother (Peggy’s brother, that is) Belmont, who seems kind of…fey. I haven’t quite figured out what Belmont’s deal is, except that he’s clearly in love with Sage.
We’ll have to wait until September to hear more about Sage and Belmont, and you know what? I’m going to put the release date on my calendar. Don’t tell my priest. Let it be our dirrrrty little secret.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey, available April 25, 2017:
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Kate Nagy opines at https://kateholdscourt.wordpress.com/