Aug 24 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Rachel Gibson’s What I Love About You (August 26, 2014)

What I Love About You by Rachel GibsonRachel Gibson
What I Love About You (Truly, Idaho)
Avon / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print / $6.99 digital


Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she's paid for all that popularity—her husband's run off with what's left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn't.


Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he's determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.


I fell in love with Rachel Gibson’s storytelling with her very first book, Simply Irresistible. Gibson has a talent for creating hardheaded men who think they know everything about life and living—until they meet the women who show them what is truly important in life. This job is not for the weak, and really smart women should know to stay far, far away. Because men like Blake Junger are not civilized, polite, kind-to-children type men. In fact, they sometimes are the exact opposite:

He’d lived in dirt hole and crawled through swamps. He’d eaten bugs and pissed in Gatorade bottles. For twenty years, his life had consisted of hard, rough edges. When he’d retired from the teams, he’d had to make a deliberate effort to keep the F-word out of every sentence and his hand off his nuts. He’d had to remember that in civilian life, creative swearing wasn’t a competitive sport and that ball scratching wasn’t a public event. He had to remember the manners his mother had pounded into his and Beau’s head. Nice, polite behavior toward everyone from little kids to little old ladies. Today he wanted this kid gone before he ripped his skin off, and he chose not to remember those nice manners.

“Get your ass in your own yard.”

She gasped. “You said a bad word.”

Go home, little girl.”

She pointed at the cat on the front of her T-shirt. “I’m a big girl!”

Another day, another time, he might have admired the kid’s guts. He leaned forward and towered over her like his father used to do to him and Beau. “I shit bigger than you,” he said, just like his old man.

Of course, any mother who hears a man talking like that to her child is going to think that said man is an asshole. But men who look like Blake are difficult to ignore, even when intellectually we know that they are trouble with a capital T. It’s all the fault of our DNA and a part of our evolutionary sexual selection process to be attracted to dominance, resources, and protection. Something that Natalie Cooper discovers Blake has in spades:

With his short blond hair and strong chin and jaw, he could pass for an action hero in a Hollywood blockbuster. Thor. G.I Joe, Captain America. Magic Mike and yes she knew that Magic Mike wasn’t an action hero movie, but it had the kind of action that reminded her of this man. The hot and sweaty, bump and grinding kind of action that turned a sensible woman senseless.

Natalie's not going to fall easily, though. She comes from a long line of women who have had bad luck with men, plus she has had her own bad luck. Her ex-husband cheated on her, embezzled from his company, and is now serving time in prison. She briefly stuck her toe back into the dating pool, only to discover that she'd found another cheater. Plus, even if she was so inclined to get down and dirty with someone, it sure wouldn’t be her new neighbor. Even if he does have sex appeal just teeming out his pores, charming he is not!

Blake was always known as the charming one. As a twin, it is not uncommon for people to want to label you, especially when they can’t tell you apart. Blake and his twin Beau, were into extreme competitive. One year, Blake might be the smart one, but then the next year, Beau would win the label. One thing that never changed though – Blake had the charm.

That’s sure not the case now. Twenty years spent in the military, most of it in war zones, will change a man. But it is more than that. Blake was finally brought to his knees by a former best friend. A friend who was always there for him—through good times and bad. A friend called Johnnie Walker. Johnnie turned on him, causing his life to spiral out of control.

Blake is now sixty two days into his sobriety, but he still can’t admit that he needs anyone. As a sniper, he never needed anyone else to get the job done, and he can handle his fight with “the demon rum” on his own too—even if he is about to crawl out of his skin.

He looked at the bottle of Johnnie. At the blue and gold label and sun filtering through the rare scotch whisky. He’d paid three hundred dollars for the bottle of booze, and he craved it in the pit of his stomach. It tugged and pulled at his insides, and the sharp edge of need cut across his skin.

One drink. Calm the craving. Dull the sharp edges.

Blake’s knuckle popped as he tightened his grasp on the chair.

Just one more. You can stop tomorrow.

Sounds like heartache waiting to happen. Luckily, both Natalie and Blake are determined to stay clear of each other. But not only does Gibson set up amazing characters and conflict, she always has some unique twist that bring the couple together:

He slung the groceries in the back of his pickup and something let out a yelp. He looked into the bed and into the black eyes of a puppy. A small black puppy with white paws sat on a bag of Purina Puppy Chow.

“What the fuck?”

He reached into the truck and lifted the dog… Blake walked across the parking lot and into the store.

“Someone lost their puppy.”

Jan looked up. “Poor little guy. Was he just wondering around out there?”

“Somehow he ended up in the back of my truck.”

The male clerk in the next register laughed. “You got puppy bombed.”

“What’s that?” he asked, though he had a bad feeling he knew.

“Folks who don’t want to take their animals to the pound dump them on people’s doorsteps or in unlocked cars,” answered the male clerk.

A girl putting groceries on Jan’s conveyer belt asked, “What are you going to call it?”

“It’s not mine.”… “I’m not naming it.” They just looked at him and he added, “I don’t want a dog.”

“Take him to the pound, I guess. . . Of course, pound closes at three due to budget cuts.… It’s closed on Sunday, too.”

“You can always puppy bomb someone else.”

If you are looking for a smart, funny, sexy contemporary, then you don’t want to miss What I Love about You.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson, available August 26, 2014:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at Indiebound

Buy at iTunes



Leigh Davis, blogger

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
I'm definitely eager to read this. Thanks for the review.
2. Scarlettleigh
@Kareni -- not sure why my reply didn't post. Probably didn't read the ReCaptcha letters right --those things are crazy some times.

I liked it and hope you do too. I like how Rachel Gibson does children. I liked how she handled the plot with the ex-husband, and I liked the romance. It is cute.
3. Kareni
I finished the book today, and yes, it was a fun read
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