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Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: Can't Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter

Honestly it took me almost a year to finish reading this one. It wasn’t my cup of tea which was surprising given who the author is.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: August 29, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who’s never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake — her longstanding crush on former Army Ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out...but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.

Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves the curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.

But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

What’s it About? Dorothea Mathis’ past is filled with memories of being horribly bullied in high school and she’s trying to move past it but as an adult one thing hasn’t changed, her crush on former Army Ranger Daniel Porter. Who just so happens to use her inn as his go-to place to bring his revolving door of women. She should be disgusted by it but instead she’s intrigued. Meanwhile Daniel is in town to care for his father and why not burn off a little steam while he’s at it? As long as it’s a no-strings-attached thing. As much as he wants Dorothea she has “forever girl” written all over her and he doesn’t want to hurt her by not being able to give her what she deserves. But once Dorothea offers him a no-strings fling, all bets are off and the more time he spends with her, the more he wonders if he can walk away when it’s time.

Overall reaction to the story? Well I’ve enjoyed this author’s paranormal romances for years so I thought a contemporary by Gena Showalter couldn’t be bad right?


Can’t Hardly Breathe didn’t come close to capturing what it is I love about Showalter’s PNRs. In fact it felt like it went careening in the opposite direction like an out of control car. I just couldn’t get into it and I couldn’t bring myself to care about the two main characters. In fact, I wanted to smack the both of them almost every other chapter.

It took me a long time to finish this book because I kept picking it up and then putting it down out of frustration and boredom.

Let me start with the heroine, Dorothea or “Thea” as she’s called. She was bullied when she was younger, I mean it was BAD for this girl and I felt for her younger self. However, instead of growing, maturing, and becoming stronger for her experience as a bullying victim she was the opposite. I get that bullying leaves a lasting effect on people, I am a bullying victim myself but I have NEVER behaved the way Thea does in this book. She stayed stuck in the same place for the majority of the book and didn’t really grow from anything. She came off as whiny, childish, and had a whiff of pathetic that soon turned into a stench. I get what she went through but come on, what is the point of having a character that doesn’t have any heroic traits? Thea could have been one of those heroines that triumphed over her past and she didn’t. She kind of wallowed and threw a pity party all the time. And she was kind of a doormat when it came to said bullies. She forgave WAY too easily for what they put her through.

Then there was Daniel. I don’t mind playboy, brooding heroes but I think Daniel took it too far. He’s attracted to Thea but doesn’t do “real” relationships, fine but I was kind of bothered by him bringing his one nighters to the inn that Thea runs. I mean she’s seeing him with a different woman every night and okay that’s one thing but then she’s cleaning up the room after one of those one nighters? That bugged me for some reason and that feeling didn’t go away at all. One of Daniel’s reasons for not wanting a relationship with Thea was lame too and I had to re-read it to make sure I understood it correctly. He also suffers from PTSD and that was a great opportunity to explore how it affected him in his day to day life and it was a chance for Daniel to grow as a character from beginning to end.

We get nada on this. Zip. Zilch. In fact his PTSD sometimes felt like an afterthought. PTSD is anything but an afterthought.

Finally, as a couple these two were not convincing at all. They were more like friends that occasionally slept together. I felt zero connection between them aside from sex and even that was lackluster. There was so much internal dialogue and most of it had to do with how hot the other was. BORING! The author didn’t spend enough time showing the relationship building between them, instead readers are TOLD that it built between them. Totally unsatisfying if you ask me. There is also the issue of Daniel going from manwhore to totally in love and monogamous with Thea in like a handful of days. What? He has been relationship challenged for a lot longer than he’s been in Thea’s company and it was that easy to change his thoughts, feelings, and behavior? Not buying it. At all.

Click It or Skip It? Skip It. If you really want a measure of this author’s talent, go with her paranormal romances, they are done so much better than this. If I didn’t see her name on the cover of Can’t Hardly Breathe I wouldn’t believe it was a book by her.

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