Book Review, Coming Soon, Romance Review

ARC Review: Once Forbidden, Twice Shy by Carrie Aarons

Running from your problems only brings you hurtling face first into even worse baggage.

After experiencing a brutal trauma in New York that I’d rather bury than address, escaping to a new job in London seems like the perfect solution. That was before I was introduced to my new boss, who is none other than my brother’s best friend. You know, the one I’ve been head-over-heels in love with forever.

Jack Merrick had been my crush since I knew what one was. For years we fought the feelings; I didn’t want to humiliate myself and his excuse was not betraying my brother or parents, who had accepted him as their own. Then, the night of my college graduation party, he undressed me in my childhood bedroom and confirmed that there was no one else on this earth for him but me.

When I woke the next morning he was gone, off to take a job as a coder halfway around the world. Four years and a mangled heart later, Jack is the last person I expect to see in London, and something close to fate is tricking me into thinking this is more than a coincidence. Our shared love of programming has always connected us, but now it’s the thing we’re weaponizing to get back at each other.

Until one night, when the emotional scars from my attack resurface and he’s the only one to witness a massive breakdown. He coaxes out my secrets and swears to love and protect me like he couldn’t before. But with everything stacked against us, I’m not sure we can ever have what we’ve always dreamed of.

Except just as we’re beginning to tackle those obstacles, I learn the truth of why he left all those years ago. And suddenly there may be no future for us at all.

When a terrifying experience upends Taylor’s life in New York, she needs to get out and start over. She takes a job halfway around the world to get her life back but her new boss is the only man she’s ever loved. The one who broke her heart. She’s understandably angry with Jack, ever since he punched her V card then ghosted her. Jack had his reasons but it was just him reacting badly to news and not a valid reason to ditch Taylor.

She’s not about to give him another chance but when the going gets tough, everyone she loves is half a world away and he’s the only one to lean on in London. Jack is extremely sorry for the pain he caused Taylor, although he doesn’t seem to realize how foolish he acted, at least not at first. As they open up to one another, they begin to see the other’s point of view and start to heal the rift.

This is a lovely story and the characters are very real. Taylor’s trauma is something that could happen to anyone. Jack’s issue is fairly common too, although it’s not one you hear much about. The city of London is a main character in their story. It’s clear from the places and descriptions that the city holds a special place in the author’s heart and she communicated that beautifully. I really enjoyed Taylor and Jack’s story. I received an ARC from Grey’s Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

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