“Reader be warned: Catherine Cowles will steal your heart with this overflowing-with-feels second chance romance and you won’t ever want it back.”
– Karla Sorensen, author
Reckless Memories, an all-new beautiful and heartwarming not-to-be-missed friends-to-lovers romance from Catherine Cowles is available now!
I loved him before I knew what the word meant.
From skinned knees to first dates and everything in between.
But he was never mine to love.
I settled for friendship, even though I always wanted more.
That was before.
Before he ripped my world apart and didn’t bother sticking around to help me pick up the pieces.
I knit every last shred back together all on my own.
And I’ve all but forgotten his name.
Now, he’s back, and everything is torn apart once more.
But he’s not the only one doing the tearing this time.
And there might be no stopping the person who has it out for us both.
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My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I stood to pull it out. My brother’s name flashed on the screen, and I winced. My finger hovered for a count of three before I hit accept. “Hey, Hunter. What’s up?”
“You need to come home.”
My blood turned to ice. “Dad?” My voice grew hoarse on the single word. Memories of the call I’d gotten from my hysterical mother, telling me that my father had suffered a stroke, flooded me.
“He’s okay. The same. But I need you to help out at the bar.”
I eased back in the chair, my gut souring. “I can float the bar some money to hire more permanent help.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Ford? This is your family’s legacy. The Catch has been run by a Hardy for generations. We don’t need your fancy Hollywood money, we need you. Or are you too good for your family now, too?”
I gripped the arm of my chair, the sleek metal frame biting into my palm. “You know that’s not why I left.”
Hunter blew out a long breath. “You were never going to be able to avoid this place forever. Mom and Dad miss you, and I can’t keep covering for your ass.”
“I see Mom and Dad plenty.” It was true. I regularly flew them out to LA or some other place they’d been dying to visit, but I hadn’t set foot on the island in years. Shit, it had been over a decade now, eleven years. At first, my parents hadn’t minded. They’d understood. And they’d gotten a kick out of seeing new and exciting places. But over the years, I’d seen the sadness, the disappointment.
“They need their sons. Both of us. I’ve been trying to run the bar and my construction business at the same time, and I just can’t do it anymore. They’re both suffering. It’s time for you to step up.”
A vise tightened around my rib cage. “I can’t.”
Hunter was silent for a few moments. “If you don’t come home, we’re going to have to sell.”
His words seemed to slice at my chest. I hadn’t seen the bar in what felt like forever, but somehow, the idea of losing it, letting go of something else that felt like it was a part of me, was more than I could take. “Okay.”
“Okay?” There was shock in my brother’s voice. Maybe he’d expected me to tell them to sell, but I couldn’t. Because he was right. The Catch was our family’s legacy. I wasn’t going to let them down because I couldn’t deal with the ghosts of my past.
“Yeah, okay. I need a couple of days to close up shop here and get a manager in place at my LA bars. But I’ll be there soon.”
Hunter cleared his throat. “Thanks, man.”
The words seemed to be dragged out of him. And didn’t that make me feel like an asshole? When had things gotten so strained with my brother that thanking me was akin to pulling teeth? “Thank you for all you’ve been doing. I’m sorry I haven’t been pulling my weight.”
“You covered all the medical bills, that helped a lot.”
I heard the unspoken words, “but you haven’t been here.” God, I was a selfish prick. Sure, I’d spent a month in Seattle with my parents when my dad was in the hospital and then a rehab clinic, but as soon as they’d returned to the island, I’d run straight back to LA like the coward I was. I couldn’t pull that this time. I’d just have to hope that I could get the bar back on its feet quickly.
“I won’t leave the hands-on stuff to you anymore, Hunt.” I’d get the pieces we needed in place before I came back to LA so there wasn’t such a heavy load on my brother’s shoulders.
“It’d be a nice change,” he grumbled.
Shit. I had a lot to make up for with my brother. “I’ll see you in a few days.”
“In a few days.”
Hunter hung up without a goodbye, and I let my phone clatter to my desk. A few days. Seventy-two hours to wrap up my life in LA. Four thousand, three hundred, and twenty minutes before I had to face a daily reminder of the cruelest truth. I’d killed the one person I should’ve protected above all others.
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 4 Stars
Reckless Memories is a killer start to a new series by Catherine Cowles. It’s full of angst, hurt, insecruity, guilt, and most importantly, healing.
Eleven years ago, Isabell and Ford survived a car accident that killed her sister/his girlfriend, Violet. Not only was Bell left physically scarred, but emotionally scarred as well. And she felt abandoned by Ford, who felt so guilty about driving the car that rainy night that he left town. When Ford’s brother calls him home to help save the family restaurant (which Bell now manages), both of them are forced to face the ghosts of their past while trying to rebuild their friendship with a clean slate.
While Bell has always been in love with Ford, she now feels incredibly guilty for the feelings she has for her dead sister’s boyfriend. And the more time he spends with a grown-up Bell, the more Ford realizes that she knew him even better than Violet did, and he reflects on all of their teenage experiences with a different perspective.
It takes a long time for Bell to get over the hurt she feels by Ford’s disappearance in her life. And when Ford admits that he feels the same way for her, is a romantic relationship worth the scrutiny of the small-town gossip mill? Will she always feel like she’s in her sister’s shadow? Is Ford with Bell because he really wants to be with her, or out of care and concern?
I really liked the way Catherine Cowles wrote the perspective of both characters, and how Bell’s manipulative parents played a huge part in the breakdown of their friendship. There’s also a bit of a mystery involved as Bell keeps receiving “presents” and reminders of her late sister, and the twist of who the attacker actually was blew me away.
In the end, Reckless Memories was a book that broke my heart in so many ways, but it is also so full of hope as Bell and Ford carve out their own path to happiness. I loved getting to know the rest of the gang, and can’t wait to see what comes next for this crew in the rest of the series.
I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.
Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.
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