A Mess Of A Man
By A. M. Hargrove & Terri E. Laine
Release Date: March 21, 2016
Womanizer, Man Whore, Player, Heartbreaker are all familiar names to Ben Rhoades. He prefers Money Man or Sex God, but he doesn’t let other people’s opinions rule him. And he’s only gotten worse without his compass, his best friend, whose devastating death at a young age has taught him a valuable lesson about not getting too close to anyone … ever. Until one smart and stubborn woman with eye-catching curves throws him for a loop and refuses to be tamed.
Samantha Calhoun has her life on track even after the shattering break-up with the guy she’d thought she’d wanted to marry. With her chin held high, she focuses on her career, building her business and making a success of it all. Only a chance meeting has her lost in a set of alluring steel gray eyes that have her steps faltering and her heart leaping out of her chest. Forewarned by not-so-flattering rumors plus his no-holds-bar rules, she tries desperately to play his game while guarding her heart.
Only they have no idea of the journey they’re about to undertake when their lives collide. Ultimately they’ll tackle the biggest test of their lives because she is his game changer. The one, who through the ensuing wreckage, can domesticate the mess of a man that he is.
There is finality to the sound of the door closing behind her. A sort of tormenting peace knowing the end has come. It’s not like I should have expected things to go on this way for long. How could they?
I stare holes in the walls as if I can still see her, the one woman I let in.
Sweeter than peach cobbler, she hardly has a bad thing to say about anybody—until now. Her parting description of me, beginning with ass and ending with hole, reverberates through my hollow heart, as I stand here rooted to my spot. I’m not even shocked, as this isn’t the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of that sentiment. I’m only surprised because I don’t think I’ve ever heard her so much as mutter a single curse word before. And the first time I do, it’s aimed squarely at me.
My hands tighten around a tumbler filled with amber liquid before I toss back its contents hoping for oblivion or something close to it. This road is so familiar. Only this time is different. I never cared like I do now. She means more to me than a quick fuck. Hadn’t I been about to tell her just that? How could things have gone wrong so fast?
Don’t be a dumbass. You can still fix this.
Instead, I stubbornly stay embedded to my spot because nothing can change the outcome. It’s a truth she and I know will haunt me until my last breath. And it’s created a wall between us I’m unable to climb … even if you gave me a damn ladder.
I’ve never been much of a risk-taker when it comes to matters of the heart. I can fill a bank account with a number having many zeros behind it from my astute choices in the market. But I can’t be a man a woman stays with. Hadn’t I warned her about that too?
Unable to see past my own shitty existence, I long for her to come back. I want to believe it’s all been some kind of mistake and I can forget what I know to be true. As the seconds continue to tick by, the inevitability that things are really over sinks in. My window of opportunity quickly closes as fast as her car door slams and the engine fires to life.
She’s so close, yet miles away. The longer I let the minutes expand between us I know distance won’t make the heart grow fonder. But maybe it’s for the best. Love, or whatever masquerades as it, just isn’t enough for the dirty, fucked up truth. Right when things were better than I ever expected, facts messed it up.
Groaning, I launch the crystal glass worth a small fortune at the door I can’t seem to force myself towards. A beautiful show of light plays off the shards as they cascade down in an explosion of fireworks. Visually, it’s what I feel inside as desolation constricts and then obliterates my chest because the best thing I ever had is gone … leaving me with only the certainty I’m meant to be with her.
I love you, I whisper for the first time and in place of goodbye. She left me and will never hear it. I can only pray we both survive what’s to come.
Ben Rhoades seems to have it all. Sexy, smart, and successful, he’s well-known around Charleston for his reputation as a womanizing manwhore. When a chance encounter brings event planner Samantha Calhoun into his orbit, Ben is immediately smitten, and will stop at nothing to get to know her. Samantha has been burned by love before. She’s intrigued by Ben, but is more a forever than for the moment kind of woman. Will her love be enough to show this mess of a man what is most important in this life?
Authors A.M. Hargrove and Terri E. Laine first introduced readers to Ben Rhoades in CRUEL AND BEAUTIFUL, as the best friend to tragic hero Drew McKnight. In A MESS OF A MAN, we see a different Ben, one that has suffered great loss, and is living something of a half-life as a result. Still dealing with the grief of losing his best friend, Ben is determined that he will never open himself up to any kind of deeper emotion, opting instead for shallow encounters and avoiding commitment.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the authors’ writing style in their first book, I was really looking forward to reading Ben’s story. Although very different from CRUEL AND BEAUTIFUL, this book is no less engaging. A.M. and Terri have crafted a story of redemption, of self-discovery, and of the opportunity to choose love, even when love has caused much pain in the past. I really like that the emotion that has shaped Ben’s character in this book is not necessarily a romantic love, but is extremely powerful nonetheless. Seeing him overcome his demons and go past his comfort zone makes for a very emotional and uplifting read. All of the characters here, from Ben and Sam, to Sam’s family and girl posse, as well as Ben’s family, are interesting, and really help make the story what it is. Once I began reading, it was difficult to put this book aside, because I was invested in seeing whether Ben would rise to his potential or remain stuck in the life that he had created. I also really appreciated Sam’s storyline, as it is very timely, and really is a catalyst for the way that things finally play out between her and Ben.
I highly recommend A MESS OF A MAN. It’s a solid 4.5-star read, and another success for the authors. I look forward to reading more from them in the future.
***ARC generously provided for an honest review.***
One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M.
Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn’t do something
soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been
dreaming of her whole life. So, she rolled down the passenger window of her
fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase. Luckily, the
pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodge ball pro and had über quick
reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head. Feeling a tad guilty
about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street
before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what laptop out the
window. She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone, called
her boss, and quit her job. Grinning, she made another call to her hubs and
told him of her new adventure (after making sure his heart was beating properly
So began A. M. Hargrove’s career as a Naughty and Nice Romance Author.
Her books include the following: Edge of Disaster, Shattered Edge and Kissing
Fire (The Edge Series); The Guardians of Vesturon Series (Survival,
Resurrection, Determinant, reEmergent, and Beginnings); Dark Waltz, Death
Waltz, Tragically Flawed (Tragic 1), Tragic Desires (Tragic 2), Exquisite
Betrayal, Dirty Nights; and lastly Freeing Her, Freeing Him, and Kestrel—all
part of the Hart Brothers Series.
Other than being in love with writing about love,
she loves chocolate, ice cream, and coffee and is positive they should be added
as part of the USDA food groups.
TERRI E. LAINE
Terri E. Laine is an avid reader and the co-author
of Cruel & Beautiful. When she isn’t writing romance with heart and heat,
she is crazily managing a household with her husband and three kids.