Blog Tour: Been There Done That by Hope Ellis

April 17, 2020 Book Reviews, Book Tour, Excerpt 0

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ZORA LEFFERSBEE’S once perfect life is no longer perfect. Her tenure at the University is in question, funding for her employees uncertain, and her faux-fiancé, Jackson James’s unpredictability is wearing on her last nerve. Just when Zora is convinced things can’t get more complicated, life proves her wrong.

What the heck is he doing here?

NICK ROSSI’s complicated life is still extremely complicated. He’s used to fighting for everything he has, but he’s also used to winning. Now a man of power and influence, his return to Green Valley after so many years hasn’t gone according to plan, especially with the woman he’s always wanted.

She can’t know why I left, or why I’m back.

A powerful woman intent on righting the wrongs of the world, Zora doesn’t have time or energy to deal with the man who broke her young heart.

A powerful man intent on righting the wrongs of the past, Nick can’t help wanting to protect Zora, even if his devotion is unrequited.

‘Been There Done That’ is a full-length contemporary romance.

This is book #1 in the Leffersbee series which is set in the Green Valley World

of the Penny Reid Book Universe.

 

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MY REVIEW

 

Finding the love of a lifetime in your youth seems like an impossibility in this ever-changing world. Zora’s life was intertwined with Nick’s in so many ways. From their family to their education, this duo was ready to take on the world. Then the unexpected happened. Nick walked away from all those hopes and dreams without an explanation. This soul crushing blow left Zora with unexpected roadblocks to navigate as life carried on.

Years have passed and the future that Zora wished for is nowhere in sight. Zora is hoping to receive tenure from her University, but funding for research projects that would help her achieve her goal are waning by the day. With a fake fiancée upending life with his constant womanizing, Jackson James is proving to be more of a pain that Zora could have predicted. Chaos is running rampant in Zora’s life.

Imagine feeling like everything is turning upside down and then your past comes walking through the door. Zora can’t explain the turmoil she feels when Nick walks through the doors of the hospital. Years have gone by but the remnants of a broken heart resurface when Zora lays eyes on the boy who broke her heard without an explanation. Why has Nick returned? What are the odds that Nick’s return revolves around Zora’s research? Sometimes life throws you for a loop, but you have to try to make the most of the situation. Zora hopes that Nick’s return doesn’t leave her heart shattered in the wake.

Been There Done That is the first book in the Leffersbee series in the Smartypants Romance umbrella. Nick and Zora’s story started off with the feelings of anticipation of what was to come. Somewhere in the middle the story lost the pacing. There was a lot of world building mixed with a lot of fluff. The pace of the plot seemed to head on a trajectory that wasn’t really pulling my attention. The lack of connection was to the point I would leave the story and come back to it later. I took way too much time to finish a story that didn’t keep pace with the spectacular start of the book. Due to that fact – I am rating the book in a ‘middle of the road’ type of rating.

 

 

 

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EXCERPT

My Grandmother Leffersbee used to say, “Life isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes it so interesting.” Then she’d wink before adding, “Do you want interesting? Or do you want boring?”

Right now? I could use some boring perfection. Just a little. Just a smidge. Please.

“Zora.” A vaguely familiar-sounding voice said my name from someplace in the vicinity of my office doorway. I ignored it, hoping they’d take my silence as an invitation to go away.

You’re almost out of time.

My eyes stung, but I wasn’t going to cry. There is no crying in clinic communication research; there is only more research, more grant applications, more trying, more doing. But, damn, I really thought we had this one in the bag. Folks’ livelihoods depended on it. My tenure, my job, depended on it. Not to mention the research itself was important—so incredibly important.

“Zora,” that voice said again, firmer this time. Closer.

Given my present state of mind and eau de sweat fantastique, I can’t help barking out, “Now isn’t a good time.”

The man didn’t respond for a beat, but then once more said, “Zora,” this time with a hint of grit and impatience.

My glare cut away from the offending rejection email and I opened my mouth to volley something scathingly polite and dismissive, but then every nerve and muscle in my body seized. The clouds outside my office window parted at that very moment, emitting a biblical shaft of light that illuminated my overstuffed bookcases—and the breathtaking specimen of man standing in my office doorway on the fifth floor of the medical research building.

What the . . .?

Shock choked me. I couldn’t breathe. The cracked vinyl of the office chair’s armrests bit into the tender flesh of my palms.

I recognized him immediately even though he looked very, very different. All the awkward lankiness and unformed promise of his youth had been ruthlessly fulfilled in the intervening years. But after twelve years of empty, aching absence, of wondering and worrying, of resignation and sadness . . . he was here.

Was he real?

“I thought . . . I thought you were dead.” The whispered words left my mouth at the same time they formed in my brain.

Nick Armstrong stood silent and unmoving, a stolid sentry, looking at me. Just . . . looking.

The width of his shoulders filled the doorway, leaving scant space between his head and the door frame. I couldn’t help devouring the sight of him, half-wondering if he were a mirage. Despite being as fashion challenged as I was, I easily identified the perfect fit of a bespoke suit, noting how the high-quality fabric closely followed the muscled bulk of his shoulders and arms. The unassuming dark jacket, white dress shirt, and trousers did little to hide his tapered waist and well-developed thighs.

His hulking presence alone ensnared my attention, but his face arrested it. He was striking. Thick, ink-black hair just starting to curl over his collar matched the dark stubble shadowing his square jaw. His slightly off-center nose, likely the result of a break, ruined the pure symmetry of his features. But his eyes were a startling shade of green, the same showy, verdant hue of summer leaves under an ominously gunmetal sky.

So unsettlingly familiar. And yet . . . No, it couldn’t be him. There was no way it was Nick. Not after all these years.

This isn’t possible.

I lurched up and made a spectacle of myself as I struggled to stand. Panic weighted my feet. Disbelief severed any connection with my brain’s higher processing, leaving me stuck to my chair with my mouth hanging ajar. “Letting in flies,” as my Grandma Leffersbee would have said.

I blinked back confusion as I stared at him, captured by a whisper, an echo of a memory. “Who . . . ?”

His mouth moved, like maybe he was going to introduce himself. But instead, he repeated my name for a fourth time, “Zora . . .”

This voice was different from the Nick I had loved. Deeper. But the way he said my name, slowly, as if savoring the taste of something rich? I could never forget that.

It is him.

JH

Hope Ellis is a health outcomes researcher by day and writes romances featuring sexy nerds by night. She hopes to one day conquer her habit of compulsively binge-watching The Office.

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