Title: After You
Author: Stephanie Rose
Release Date: Feb 21, 2017
After You is the final STANDALONE novel in the Second Chances series.
I had the happily ever after . . . until it was gone.
Three became two. And I was alone.
Our time—my time—was over. Alone was the right way to be. The only way. Life was me, my son, and my memories. Until the day I met someone who turned my lonely existence upside down.
This man made me smile, made me laugh, made me ache for his touch.
But I couldn’t.
He shouldn’t awaken feelings I resolved to bury with my husband. But he did.
I couldn’t let his presence make my heart race. I couldn’t let him into our little world, where he fit so perfectly. I couldn’t want Nick.
But I did.
I rescued people. My family relied on me to lend a hand. Everyone thought of me as the fixer, but no one had the first clue how to fix me. Until Ellie.
The freckled beauty’s sorrow was like a well-worn shirt—easy and familiar, difficult to part with—and she wore it comfortably. And though I was hers from the moment our eyes first met, she’d never be mine. I loved her in the here and now, but how did I compete with a ghost?
How can there ever be anyone After You?
“Perfectly good seat right here.” Nick patted the chair next to him. All the theaters had been renovated with leather recliners. Usually, since my son dragged me to the latest kid movie, it was a real fight to keep my eyes open and not drift off mid-movie. I was sure sitting next to Nick for the next couple of hours would keep me wide awake.
“I can’t wait to see Optimus Prime!” Jack exclaimed through a mouth full of popcorn.
“Me, too! He was my favorite when I was your age.” Nick took a handful from the bucket resting on Jack’s lap.
“And I used to drive a car like Bumble Bee.”
“You did?” I squinted at Nick as I took a slurp of diet soda.
“A yellow Camaro.” Nick’s mouth tipped in a sexy smirk as he pushed his seat back.
I bit my lip to hold in a laugh as the lights dimmed.
“You can wipe that smug look off your face. Chicks loved that car.” Nick whispered in my ear. The hot tickle of his breath against my cheek made goose bumps spread down my neck to my shoulder.
“Did you drive around blasting Metallica in your banana-colored Camaro?” I giggled back. “At least they saw you coming.”
He laughed as the opening credits started to roll. “Women loved my banana.”
I sputtered a cough as I choked on a piece of popcorn. Nick shrugged with a sly grin as he settled into the seat.
I leaned my elbow on the armrest between us, and it grazed Nick’s forearm. I jumped at the contact and jerked my hand into my lap, where it was safe. I was catapulted back to my teenage years when the slightest contact with a boy I liked sent shivers up my spine.
Nick wasn't a boy, though. He was a man—a gorgeous man with unforgettable lips that knew how to kiss a woman stupid. I wanted to touch more than just his elbow. Keeping a level head around him was damn near impossible with adolescent hormones ravaging through my thirty-something body.
Nick laughed at my hands, now frozen on my thigh.
I focused on the screen until Nick pulled my hand back on the armrest.
“We can share, Ella-Jane.” He smirked as he slid his hand against mine and laced our fingers together.
My palms were damp as he brought our joined hands to his lips. He pressed a long, wet kiss to the inside of my wrist.
The bristles of his beard scratched against my skin as goose bumps drifted down my arm. I felt the warmth of his mouth all the way to my toes. My body was enjoying the simple but intimate attention too much at that moment to move my hand.
Something felt wrong holding Nick’s hand around Jack. When I glanced at my son, he was munching on popcorn and oblivious to anything but the robots on the screen. I smiled at Nick, but he didn’t smile back. Illuminated by the soft flicker from the movie, the heat and yearning in his eyes burned brightly. My breathing quickened as his finger blazed a light caress back and forth over the top of my hand.
For five years, I never so much as glanced in another man’s direction. Now, Nick simply holding my hand melted me into a puddle. It was pathetic but spoke the volumes I couldn’t admit out loud.
New Favorite Alert!!!!
Some books make you wanna shout them from the rooftops. After You is that book. I cried sad tears, happy tears, and just huge emotional tears. I also laughed out loud and sighed in sweetness overload. Nick was perfection. And that epilogue. Omg! I'm emotional just thinking about it. Mark your calendars for Feb. 21. This is gonna be one of my favorites all year. I just know it.
After You is a standalone in the Second Chances series and if you've read Only You, you'll recognize some of the characters, though this story can be read and loved completely on it's own. Ellie had her chance at happily ever after but it was ripped from her far too early. Now she's focused on raising her young son and trying to bury the loss that surrounds her. That is until she meets Nick. Nick makes her think and feel things she doesn't feel like she should feel.
Nick is a fixer but no one has ever figured out that maybe he needs rescued too. That is until he meets Ellie. From the first moment he saw her, he was drawn to her. But it was obvious that she wasn't ready yet. So five years later when they meet again, it seems like serendipity. Nick knows he needs to take it slow, but while he was hers for the taking, it seemed impossible to live in the shadow cast by the death of her husband. Yet as Nick and Ellie get closer, the pull becomes stronger and more undeniable everyday until eventually neither Nick nor Ellie can deny it. But they have to let themselves fall or the best thing that could happen to either of them will slip through their fingers.
Second chance romances are my kryptonite. I just love the push and pull and the range of feelings these kinds of stories evoke. This is a second chance romance done perfectly. Just enough angst, humor, and sexiness to make me fall head over heals in love with both Ellie and Nick. I love them both separately. And I adored them together. Plus watching Nick fall in love with Ellie's son was the sweetest thing ever. Ms. Rose also did a wonderful job of making both Nick and Ellie relatable. They weren't prefect but their struggles were real. I could sympathize and understand all of their hesitations and worries. And by the end all the pain and heartache were truly worth it because this story embedded itself in my soul and will be one I won't ever forget.
Reviewed by Paige
★★☆ 5 "Full Circle" Stars ☆★★
Stephanie Rose was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and still lives there with her superhero-obsessed husband and son.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a day job in marketing, but she always has a story in her head. Her books are full of swoon-worthy men and feisty heroines.
This lifelong New Yorker lives for Starbucks, book boyfriends, and 80s rock. Her voice is often mistaken for a Mob Wives trailer.
Books by Stephanie Rose: