ON BROKEN WINGS
by Chanel Cleeton
January 3, 2017
Wild Aces #3
Adult Contemporary Romance
The author of Into the Blue and Fly with Me returns with the newest, hot and high-flying Wild Aces romance...
A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.
Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.
But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…
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I received an advanced copy of this book with the promise of an honest review.
As soon as I met Easy and read that he was pining for another man's wife, I was chomping at the bit to get the full story. Easy was such an interesting character. Definitely one of those "can't judge a book by it's cover" characters. He has a reputation as a player, but is actually one of the most sweetest, kindest and loyal people Dani has in her life.
It's a year after Joker's death and Dani is about to have a meltdown in a hardware store. Easy shows up and saves the day and also offers to lend Dani a hand in fixing up her house. She accepts and the two find themselves spending lots of time together. She sees him as one of her best friends and he is still pining for her, but they are about as close as two people can be without actually getting physical. Easy has been there for her over the years in ways that As Easy gets ready to deploy again Dani starts to freak out a bit and she makes sure to see him before he goes.
A tear trickled down my cheek, then another. It was crazy—I’d been through so many deployments over the years, but this one was terrifying. I’d peered under the bed, and saw the monster, and now my worst fears weren’t some abstract possibility that made me sick with worry. They were real, and they’d happened, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing Easy, too.
My body shook as I cried in his arms, as I inhaled the scent of his cologne, as I pressed myself against him, trying to memorize the shape and weight of him, trying to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that I’d never see him again.
He likely thought I was insane, was probably now wondering how the hell to handle the crazy, crying woman in his arms. He didn’t hug me back, had gone still as a statute, his arms fallen down to his sides. His heart pounded against my chest, the ragged sound of his breathing filling the room.
I dropped my hands from his neck, wiping at my face, trying to calm the emotions pushing their way to the surface. I took a step back, but before my heel hit the floor, his hands rested on my waist, the small of my back, catching me, anchoring me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cry all . . .” My voice trailed off as our gazes locked.
He staggered me.
There was no wall now. Only emotion. So much emotion—raw and naked, staring back at me—more than I knew what to do with. I wanted to touch him, to calm the storm in his gaze.
I swallowed, my heart tattooing a wild beat in my chest, my fingers drifting to his face as if of their own volition, until I held him in my hands, my fingertips skimming his cheekbones, his eyes fluttering closed.
It was more plea than anything else, a search for understanding, an attempt to figure out what I wanted, to master the emotions churning inside me. I moved closer to him, wanting the steady presence of him to surround me, needing comfort and to comfort, and knowing I’d find both in his arms. I rested my forehead against him, the height difference between us enough that I nearly fit under his chin.
“Will you keep in touch while you’re gone?”
He nodded against my forehead. “Yeah.”
His voice had gone husky and hoarse, and I couldn’t help but think whatever I was experiencing, he felt a bit of it, too. Good-byes became a hell of a lot harder when you feared they’d be final.
“I’m going to miss you,” I whispered, tears clogging my throat.
For a moment he didn’t answer me, and then he did, his words muffled by his lips brushing against my hair as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “I’m going to miss you, too.”
I wrapped my arms more tightly around him, silence descending around us as we held each other. His mouth grazed my forehead, pressing softly there, soothing.
Except it didn’t soothe.
Instead, the strangest thing happened. It started in my stomach—a twitch, a flutter, so light I initially dismissed it. But there it was again—a whisper, so gossamer thin I almost ignored it a second time. Until it spread.
Slowly, the flutter grew, a butterfly using its wings for the first time, hesitant at first, and then stronger, surer, taking flight in my body, moving through my limbs until suddenly I was crackling with it, and I didn’t even know what it was. It was the beginning of what I’d felt last night, and yet it wasn’t. It was more. So much more.
It was resurrection.Cue all the tears.
I'm gonna be honest. I cried A LOT while reading this book. I cried for Dani and the loss she suffered. The guilt Easy carried around with him. Dani trying to overcome her grief and move on with her life. Dani & Easy's friendship. Easy trying to come to terms with his feelings and actions. And most of all, the love that existed between the Dani and Easy, even before the romantic aspect of it came into the picture. And most of all because this book is just so damn beautiful. All of it made me cry. Like full on ugly crying. There are these wonderful moments between them that both broke my heart and filled it with hope that these two would be able to make it work.
Every once in a while I read a book and as soon as I am done, I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. This is one of those books. I had been waiting for this book since Fly With Me and it was everything I hoped it would be. And it is the first book to go on my best of 2017 list.
Check out Book 1 in the Wild Aces series, Fly with Me:
Read the first chapter here!
Check out Book 2 in the Wild Aces series, Into the Blue:
After years spent studying international politics in London and a stint in law school, Chanel Cleeton found her passion crafting smart and sexy contemporary romances and thrillers. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she's happiest curled up with a book, her three dogs lounging beside her. Chanel is a lover of big sunglasses, irresistible handbags, food covered in sprinkles, and pint-sized pups with larger-than-life personalities.
She is published by Harlequin and Penguin and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, Assassins, and Wild Aces series.