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WRAPPED IN YOU
The Monroe's #1
Released March 29th, 2016
Zach Monroe has made mistakes—big ones. The worst left the girl he loved injured, and his own brother barely speaking to him. It was a night Zach won’t let himself forget, even when the girl in question—perfect, polished Sophie Allen—walks back into his life. A realtor, Sophie’s brought an offer for their sister’s dilapidated Civil War era property. But Zach’s determined to renovate the rambling old place himself—though he longs to rebuild Sophie’s trust in him…
A business deal isn’t how Sophie wanted to approach Zach after all this time, but he won’t let anyone get personal. She can’t deny that the accident changed her life in irreparable ways. But watching gruff, quiet Zach beat himself up year after year hurts too. The wounded boy she once adored needed love, and the man is no different. Now Sophie will need every bit of her resolve to convince Zach to let love heal them both…
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While Sophie had been raised to worry what others thought, Zach didn’t give a damn. As a teen, she’d wondered how well that would go over with her proper parents, if she just threw caution to the wind and worried about what made her happy and not the rest of the world. Chelsea had hinted more than once that Zach would be good for Sophie, and vice versa.
Nearly a decade had passed since she and Zach had finally stopped dancing around each other. They were heading toward something that could’ve been remarkable, when all of their lives changed in an instant. Since then, Zach Monroe treated her as if she had the plague, as if he couldn’t stand to be in the same room with her. He’d pushed most people away and nearly worked himself to death . . . and all of that was after he’d gotten out of jail.
Swearing off bad boys, silent seducers, and that pull toward the mysterious, no matter how heavy the temptation, Sophie had opted to move on. For a while she’d been afraid to date, afraid for a man to see the scars she had hidden beneath her clothes. Eventually she realized the scars weren’t going away and she needed a social life. She’d been dating Martin for six months, and they were quite compatible when they could squeeze in dates between their busy schedules. Well, they weren’t so much compatible as they shared similar backgrounds and Sophie’s parents loved him.
But lately she’d been wondering if there should be more to a relationship. Shouldn’t there be sparks or . . . something? Flynn jumped onto the sofa and curled up next to Sophie.
“Great, I’m the cat lady,” she muttered against the next bite of ice cream. “I’ll die old and alone. You’ll probably outlive me.”
She sighed as she dug in for another spoonful. She needed to call Martin and let him know the guys were going to think about the offer. With the way Zach had left abruptly, and Liam still dead set on selling, she truly had no idea which way this decision would go.
Sophie’s cell chimed from her purse she’d left in the kitchen. Normally she’d ignore it, but she had several new listings and she was known for being prompt and professional.
Eyeing the carton of ice cream, she silently promised to return soon. Running as quick as she could allow herself, she pulled the phone from her purse and smiled at the name lighting up her screen.
“Hey, Braxton,” she answered.
“Hey, Sophie. Are you busy?”
His rich tone flooded the line. Of all the Monroe boys, Braxton was the peacemaker, the comforter, the “brainy” one. Braxton and Liam had always been like brothers to Sophie. They’d always treated her as family, and their friendship ran deeper than any bond she’d ever had with her own family.
Then there was Zach. Regardless of the anger she held toward him, there was always some nugget of attraction. After all this time, she figured it was just something she’d have to live with.
And her anger didn’t stem from the accident. Her years of rage stemmed from him blocking out those who cared for him, those who needed to get through the emotional mess with him. Did he even wonder how she was doing, after all that happened? Did he even care that she’d cried and cursed and broken things when he wouldn’t see her?
Gripping the phone, she focused on Braxton and pushed his frustrating brother to the back of her mind.
“Just digging into a dinner of chocolate-chunk ice cream.” She made her way back to the couch.
“I’m good at multitasking, though.”
“I cannot figure out how you live on junk and don’t weigh—”
“I’d watch what I said about a woman’s weight,” she warned with a laugh. “I assume you didn’t call to discuss my pounds or my warped version of dinner.”
“Yeah.” Braxton’s sigh came through loud and clear. “I wanted to apologize for everything earlier. I know you’re just trying to help.”
Propping her feet on the low coffee table, Sophie settled deeper into the corner of her couch. “You may be the most considerate man I know. I put you in an awkward position and you’re calling to apologize to me?”
“You were just giving us all the information so we could do what we wanted,” he told her. “I actually appreciate that you didn’t dance around whatever I would be feeling. It’s Zach and Liam’s behavior that I’m apologizing for, though.”
“I know what I’m getting into with you guys. Liam already texted me and said he was sorry.”
Sophie laughed. “I think you know the answer to that.”
Even though she hadn’t expected anything from Zach, his dismissal of her still stung. Did he honestly think he was the only one grieving? Not just Chelsea but years of emotions he held on to were surely going to break him at some point.
Not her problem. She’d moved on.
“I’ve backed out of playing the middleman with those two,” Braxton went on. “They’ll have to actually discuss this if they want to come to an agreement.”
Sophie cringed. “Without you between them as referee, how will they have a conversation without shouting and one of them storming off ?”
“They’re adults. They’ll figure it out.”
“As long as I can tell Martin something by next week, that’s fine.”
“You’ll have an answer,” he promised. “One way or another. I need to get to class, so I’ll talk to you later. Just wanted to apologize for my asshole brother.”
“Can I ask what you’re leaning toward?” Silence answered her question, followed by a sigh. “It’s okay. Just think about it. I’m not judging you guys either way. I know this is hard for everybody.”
“Yeah, it is. That still doesn’t give my brothers the right to go at it in your office. It also doesn’t give Zach the right to be a jerk just because he can’t get a grip on his emotions.”
Sophie dropped her spoon into the carton and set it on the table. “No worries. The animosity with Zach isn’t new.”
“No.” She came to her feet, sending Flynn to the floor. “It’s fine. I mean, it’s not fine, but it is what it is. Zach has problems he needs to work out on his own. Apparently he’s perfectly content to live inside that shell.”
“I wish someone would knock some sense into him,” Braxton muttered. “I’ll call you in a couple days. Gotta run.”
Placing her cell on the arm of the couch, Sophie couldn’t help but wonder what it would take to get Zach to see that life hadn’t ended that night. Yes, mistakes were made, lives were altered. Why did he feel it was okay to hate the world, to push away those who only wanted to help him?
She had hoped the one silver lining to come from Chelsea’s death would be Zach waking up and seeing that life was fleeting and he still had people here who cared what happened to him.
Chelsea passed away four months ago, and the man was just as introverted and closed up as ever. How long could one person keep so much locked inside? Not to mention his past, before he ever came to live with the Monroes. Zach was a walking bundle of angst when he’d arrived in Haven, Georgia. Then life happened and added even more.
One of these days his emotions were going to explode. Sophie found herself wondering who would be there to catch him when he broke.
"Wrapped in You" by Jules Bennett. This is book one of a new series by Ms. Bennett - The Monroes. It follows the lives of three brothers. In "Wrapped In You", it's the story of Sophia and Zach. Both characters have some really deep scars, both physically and emotionally. Sophia works hard to move on and live with those scars. I liked her. She's stronger than given credit for and, when she realizes what she truly wants in life, will work for it. On top of that, she's a tough cookie and, even though she is super sweet, doesn't take much crap from others. Zach is the ultimate grumpy Hero. I like my heroes grumpy but at times, even he was a bit too thick headed for me. However, despite his being so closed off, he shined when he would show his true self. The story is a good one - friends to lovers with lots of baggage in between. I liked the dynamic between the brothers - true family with all its ups and downs and personality conflicts. The beginning dragged slightly for me - at times a bit repetitive I thought. The author, it seems, works hard to make sure the reader understands the hard feelings between the two main characters - while important, I found it a bit too much. However, I stuck with it and I was happily surprised as the story progressed and the characters and plot grew. The story is filled with warmth, a tough of angst, some pain and heartache and the love only family can provide. Ms. Bennett has grabbed my attention with this one and I look forward to reading Liam and Braxton's story in the future. (received copy from NetGalley for honest review)
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National bestselling author Jules Bennett is a former salon owner turned full time author. Considering she met her husband at the age of fourteen and they’ve been together since, Jules knows a thing or two about romance and happily ever after. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children. When Jules isn’t creating emotional, witty stories, she’s spending time with her family, working out or procrastinating on social media. She loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her through Facebook, Twitter, or her Website.