My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shannyn Schroeder is a new to me author and I’m happy that I picked this book up! Although this is book three in the For Your Love series and has recurring characters from the first two books, it’s really easy to became engrossed in the rambunctious (and sometimes NOSEY!!) O’Malley and O’Leary families. Deidre is feisty, sassy and confused about what she wants in life. Tommy is her aunt’s neighbor and he may look like a tattooed bad boy but he’s actually endearing and charming. There’s not a lot of angst or drama in the story just a small surprise or two but overall, this is a sweet, savory, light hearted read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Schroeder! Told from dual POVs with a happy ending. I received, read and voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
ONE LAST CHANCE
Deirdre Murphy has had her life planned for her since she was born: Work in her parents’ noisy pub in rural Ireland. Live with her family until she marries. Marry her childhood sweetheart ASAP, since he’s decided sexy fun time should wait for marriage. None of it excites her. But before her fate closes in, Deirdre’s got one last visit to her Chicago cousins—where she can spend her mornings in a peaceful bakery, keep to herself, and savor the space she needs…. Until she meets Tommy O’Malley.
Tommy is as tough as his city and twice as ready to welcome her in. He’s covered in tattoos, stays up half the night inking them on other people, and has a reputation for being good with his hands. And he’s heart-pounding, forgot-her-words, can’t-stop-staring exciting.
Tommy knows he’s the opposite of everything Deirdre has prepared for. But to watch her set herself free, he’s willing to risk almost anything…
He drove to the bakery and found a parking spot in front. It was near closing and the business was empty.
He walked through the door and a sweet scent filled the air. The place hadn’t changed much over the years. The fake cakes they had on display were different, changing with the times, showing popular themes, but the classics remained on a high shelf near the ceiling.
One of his earliest memories was coming here with his dad and Jimmy to pick out his birthday cake. His dad had hoisted him up on his shoulders and told him to pick any cake design he wanted. He couldn’t have been more than four or five. It wasn’t long after his mom had been killed, but the memory was such a happy one. He didn’t remember feeling sad.
That realization made him feel crappy.
No one came from the back, so he called out, “Hello? I’m here to pick up a cake.”
From the back room, with her head down, she came toward him.
“Cupcake,” he whispered.
She moved to the counter opposite him and turned her back to dig through a stack of order slips. Her reddish-brown hair trailed down her back in a ponytail. Without any greeting, she asked, “Name?”
She spun with the pink slips in her hand. Her light blue eyes were wide, and the sprinkling of freckles across her nose reminded him how cute she was.
“You’re back,” he said.
“Another cake for O’Malley?”
He lifted a shoulder. “There are five of us.”
“It’s good to know you’re not eating all this cake. I was beginning to think you had a wicked sweet tooth.”
“Uh, your cousin Moira told me you went back to Ireland.”
The papers in her hands crinkled, and a blush swept across her cheeks. “I did.”
“Are you staying long?”
“I’m not sure.” She focused on the slips, flipping through them, looking for his order.
When she found it, she pulled it from the stack and looked up. She waved it at him with a smile. “I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared to the back room, and Tommy sucked in a deep breath. This was it. He had another chance. All he had to do was open his mouth.
Why hadn’t Moira said anything? She knew he had a thing for her cousin. Maybe she was the one who’d put Jimmy up to making him get the cake. That definitely sounded like a Moira move. But to get Jimmy involved, that took skill. Moira was obviously better than he’d given her credit for.
Deirdre returned carrying a box. She slid it on the counter between them and lifted the lid. “Here you go.”
He barely glanced at it. No one would care if something was misspelled. His gaze locked on hers as she lowered the lid.
“Would you like to go out sometime?”
She stared for him so long, he began to wonder if he’d really spoken aloud.
“Uh . . . I have a boyfriend.”
“Oh.” The disappointment hit him hard. Again, he had to question why Moira wouldn’t tell him. This was the kind of pertinent information you gave a guy before he made a fool of himself.
“Your order is all paid for.” She nudged the box forward so he’d take the hint.
He scrambled for what to say to ease the tension. “Maybe you’d like to go out and do some sightseeing. As friends. You’re new to Chicago, and I could show you around.”
“Maybe.” Her eyes shifted away. It seemed no matter what he said, he made her nervous.
“Are staying with the O’Learys again?”
“I’m right across the street. Stop by any time.”
She nodded and he took the cake from the counter. Not quite the answer he was looking for, but at least she hadn’t totally shot him down. She didn’t seem completely uninterested.
Excerpt #2 (746 words)
“Is your aunt home?”
“Not sure.” She peered over his shoulder to look for Aunt Eileen’s car. “Why?”
“She scares me a little.”
Deirdre laughed. “My mother has the same effect on boys. It’s like they attended a mothering school that required a course in instilling fear in young men.”
“How did your boyfriend move past it?”
Deirdre unlocked the door and pushed it open. As she took off her jacket, she said, “He didn’t have to. His parents and mine are close friends. He grew up at the pub same as me.”
“Damn. That doesn’t help me at all.”
With her jacket on the hook near the closet, she locked the door behind them. “What do you need help with?”
“Making your aunt like me. Don’t get me wrong, I can charm some parents, but Mrs. O’Leary seems to be able to withstand the O’Malley charm.”
Deirdre crossed her arms. “And when exactly did you try to charm Aunt Eileen?”
“Not me. Jimmy. He says that until he proposed, Mrs. O’Leary gave him the cold shoulder. And, according to Moira, she liked Jimmy more than the rest of us.”
Deirdre laughed. “She did warn me to stay away from the O’Malley boys, no matter how charming they are.”
“Looks like I have my work cut out for me.”
“Thank you for lunch. I had a lovely time.”
“What about the cupcakes?”
“What about them?”
“You’re supposed to teach me to decorate.”
She rolled her eyes. “You don’t want to decorate.”
“You’re persistent, I’ll give you that.” She turned toward the kitchen, not a bit sad to spend more time with him. “Let’s get started then.”
Once more, Deirdre went through the kitchen and gathered ingredients, this time setting them by the stand mixer that she doubted Aunt Eileen ever used. Tommy said nothing, just continued to watch her intently. She tried to ignore the staring and the niggling worry about whether he’d ask her out again.
She didn’t know how to tell him that, over the course of the afternoon, she’d changed her mind about a date. It made her seem quite fickle, which went against how she saw herself.
With the butter and shortening in the mixer, she flipped the switch to blend them as she grabbed a couple of lemons out of the fridge.
Tommy pointed to the bowl. “What is that?”
“That will be the buttercream frosting.”
“But it’ll taste delicious.”
“I thought buttercream was all butter.”
“I use the shortening to make crusting buttercream. It’s a firmer frosting for decorating.”
“In our house, unless it’s from the bakery, frosting comes from a can and half gets eaten by spoon before making it onto a cake and the other half gets slapped on. There’s no real decorating to it.”
“That’s the way of most people. Making it from scratch isn’t difficult, but if you have no desire to decorate, there’s no point.” She stopped the mixer and added some sugar and lemon juice. While that mixed, she readied a piping bag. “I only have one bag, so you’ll have to watch.”
He gave her that wicked smile again. “I like to watch.”
She didn’t even know what he meant by that, but the way he spoke caused a warm rush through her body.
“Is there something specific you’d like to learn about decorating?”
“What’s your favorite thing to do?”
She didn’t even have to think. “Roses.”
“They’re the first thing I learned to do well. Probably because my middle name is Rose, so I wanted to learn it as kind of a signature thing. In addition, creating the roses is soothing. My mind can go to its own place while my hands work.”
“What are you on about?”
“When you talk like that. About something that’s important to you, Deirdre Rose. It’s not the matter-of-fact way you usually talk. You change.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had a drink at lunch.”
“Fine. Don’t believe me. Let’s get to the lesson.”
“Oh, I believe Aunt Eileen was right after all. You O’Malley boys are quite the charmers.”
“If you’re good, you’re good.”
She filled the pastry bag and grabbed a cupcake. Then she started to pipe the rose. When it was done, she handed it to Tommy.
“It’s almost too pretty to eat.”
“Nonsense. It’s meant to be enjoyed, not looked at.” She leaned forward and licked the top of the frosting off.
Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary
romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot
& Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your
Love) will release this summer with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s
not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to