“My special brand of hell. But I want you so badly I don’t even mind the flames.”
A False Start, an all-new small-town, brother’s best friend romance from bestselling author Elsie Silver is available now!
I kissed my best friend’s little sister, and the world stood still.
That night we were two perfect strangers, the town’s grumpy recluse and a gorgeous girl in the back of a bar.
Until we weren’t.
Because Nadia Dalca isn’t just some girl. She’s the girl I can’t have. Fourteen years younger than me and completely off-limits.
My plan is to stay away, but the universe keeps pushing us together. It’s like some sort of cosmic joke, to give me a taste of something so electric—so real—something that breathed life back into me.
Because I can look, but I can’t touch.
Her sinful curves, her light-hearted laughter, her wild side . . . I’m addicted to every last bit of her.
And when she turns those sultry eyes on me––the ones so full of longing and so free of judgment? I’ve always considered myself a strong man. But when she looks at me I’m weak.
To give in to our connection would be a betrayal. My life is beyond complicated, and she has the world at her fingertips. Her brother is the only family she has left, and sad as it sounds, he’s also my only friend.
But I kissed her again anyway.
And now I can’t stop.
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Nadia and I walk silently down the hallway toward the elevator.
Coffee with my parents turned out to be nice. Once they both settled down a bit and everyone had their extremely involved cups of coffee in hand, the conversation flowed easily. The dog curled up on my mother’s lap and was snoring happily in no time. And I didn’t even stumble over my words, which was a nice change.
I expected taking Nadia to my parents’ place would give her some perspective. What I didn’t expect was for her to fit in so seamlessly. I didn’t expect it to feel like something else entirely, like she’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
My dad invited her golfing with him for crying out loud. My mom is sending her links for where to purchase a special kettle so she can start making pour-over coffee too. She wasn’t supposed to be funny and charming and make my parents welcome her into the fold of our family unit like she’s some long-standing friend.
But Nadia is funny and charming. Her energy is infectious. It’s like she makes everyone around her happier.
Even the dog is enamored.
Everyone except me is now officially calling him Tripod. And I’m pretty sure my parents are in love with Nadia and think grandbabies are on the way, no matter how many times I assured them we’re just friends.
I tossed the word friend in everywhere I could, as well as emphasizing our age difference a few times. It didn’t stop my dad from whispering in my ear when he gave me a parting hug. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
So, I poked him in the stomach. “Getting soft, old man.”
Then my mom went from whispering something in Nadia’s ear to piping up and saying, “Hardly.”
Gag. That was my cue to leave. I latched Tripod to his leash with one hand and grabbed Nadia’s bicep with the other and dragged us all out of there, tossing a promise to visit again soon over my shoulder.
I always look forward to visiting with my parents, but I have never brought any woman home with me, and I severely underestimated their ability to play it cool.
We stand silently at the bank of elevators, and I watch the floor numbers light up as it speeds toward us. Nadia slants her head toward me, eyeing the place where I’m still holding her bicep.
Truth is, I don’t want to let her go. I’m comforted by how well she rolled with the punches in there. My parents were acting totally insane, and she seemed like she was enjoying the hell out of it.
“That’s a firm grip you’ve got there.” Her eyes flick up to my profile because I’m still trying not to look at her. “Am I in trouble, Mr. Sinclaire?”
“Nadia.” My tone is full of warning. It makes me sound old and creepy when she calls me Mr. Sinclaire.
“What?” She stares openly now and when those elevator doors slide open, I pull her into the blissfully empty elevator with me, eager to put as much space as possible between my parents and what I’m about to do.
She hums in amusement as the doors slide shut, clearly enjoying agitating me.
The minute the doors close, my hand with the leash darts out and slams into the red emergency stop button. And then I turn, drop the leash, and press Nadia up against the mirrored wall of the elevator, one hand still on her upper arm while the other slides across the taper of her waist. Her eyes widen, but she doesn’t cower. In fact, she looks downright pleased.
“What, Griffin?” she taunts as my jaw pops under the pressure of my teeth grinding.
This woman tests every piece of patience I possess. I should step away from her, take my hands off her. I should keep this side of myself under wraps from her.
She’s been roughed up enough in her life. The last thing she needs is me man-handling her. And I would manhandle the hell out of her. She’d love it. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve had no complaints in that department. Quite the opposite, in fact. But gentle I am not. Making love I don’t do.
“Say it.” Her free hand lands on the waistband of my jeans, and my body goes tense. She slides her dainty fingers beneath the front of my shirt, trailing a nail over the ridge of my hip bone, forcing a low ache to take hold at the base of my spine.
If I don’t get control of this and stop it now, I’ll be taking her against the wall of this elevator. Which is not what she needs.
I shoot back like I just touched a hot stove, pressing myself against the opposite wall, trying to put as much space between us as I can while being locked in this box of temptation. My breathing comes in quick frustrated pants. “Call my dad and me Mr. Sinclaire within a few minutes of each other again and—”
“And what, Griffin? You gonna spank me for that, too?” Her top teeth press down into her pillowy bottom lip. “Or are you going to kiss me again and then tell me I’m a mistake?”
A low rumble takes root in my chest. My entire body is rigid, my will to stay away from her melting with every second I spend staring at her. The imprint of her fingers still burns on my abs.
I need to get the hell away from her. The last thing I need to do is torpedo what little semblance of happiness I’ve created in my life by not being able to keep it in my pants around Nadia Dalca.
My hand slams into the red button, and we lurch back into motion.
Sunny Shelly’s Review: 4 Stars
Griffin and Nadia’s story is so much more than just an age gap/grumpy-sunshine/brother’s best friend romance. These two characters are incredibly broken, and this book deals with a lot of sensitive subjects. I found the book to be well-written and the story engaging, and both characters showed a lot of growth over the course of the book.
I will say that I found Griffin’s stuttering due to a traumatic brain injury (stemming from his days as a pro football player) to be a surprise. I found it endearing that being around Nadia made him calmer and less stressed, and she didn’t make a big deal of his stutter at all. The big issue between them is his addiction to alcohol, as well as the ghosts from both of their pasts.
A False Start is book 4 in the Gold Rush Ranch series. The books are all standalones with interconnecting characters. However, I’ve jumped around this series a bit and did not read The Front Runner (her brother/his best friend’s Stefan’s story), and I feel that’s partly why I didn’t connect with Nadia and Griffin as much? I didn’t get to know them there first? While I liked this story, I just didn’t feel the intense connection between Nadia and Griffin that I was hoping for. The last two chapters brought it home, but I still felt that it was lacking something that made the difference between this being 4 stars and not 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy and voluntarily left a review.
Elsie Silver is a Canadian author of sassy, sexy, small town romance who loves a good book boyfriend and the strong heroines who bring them to their knees. She lives just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, son, and three dogs and has been voraciously reading romance books since before she was probably supposed to.
She loves cooking and trying new foods, traveling, and spending time with her boys–especially outdoors. Elsie has also become a big fan of her quiet five am mornings, which is when most of her writing happens. It’s during this time that she can sip a cup of hot coffee and dream up a fictional world full of romantic stories to share with her readers.