Title – Tessa Ever After
Author – Brighton Walsh
Publication Date – May 5, 2015
Series – Reluctant Hearts, #2
**Can be Read as a Standalone**
In this grippingly emotional New Adult novel from the author of Caged in Winter, what you want isn’t always what you need…
Jason’s been living (and loving) the rich playboy lifestyle for five years, but now his parents are pressuring him to get involved in the family business. The last thing he wants is another obligation, but when his best friend moves out of state and asks Jason to look after his sister, he can’t just say no.
Tessa had to grow up way too soon. After dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ deaths, then becoming a teenage mom, she knows the meaning of responsibility. Which is why, at twenty-two, she’s looking for so much more than a party boy. She’s looking for someone who can stand by her and her daughter…forever.
A relationship between them is doomed from the start, but who says they can’t have a little fun? But as Jason gets closer to Tessa—and her daughter—fun starts to turn into something else… Something Jason’s not sure he’s ready for.
Brighton Walsh has once again melted my heart with her incredible storytelling and expertly crafted characters. Both Tessa and Jason totally intrigued me when we met them in Caged in Winter, but I couldn’t have imagined how much I’d grow to love them after finally hearing their story. Tessa’s undeniable strength and Jason’s surprising depth had me completely hooked. This was a one sitting read for me as I lost myself in the sweet and steamy of Tessa and Jason’s journey. I absolutely adore Haley and the laughter and sense of wonderment she brought to the story had my heart floating. Brighton Walsh has a clear talent for capturing the emotional challenges and abundant self-doubt that comes hand-in-hand with the new adult genre, allowing readers to connect with her characters and invest themselves fully in their journeys.
“Sometimes love isn’t enough.”
She pauses for a minute, then shakes her head. “It’s everything, Tessa. Just give him a chance…”
Tessa was a breath of fresh air. It isn’t often in a new adult novel to find a single mother, not one with a 4 year old anyways. Tessa’s obligation to grow up quickly at such a young age gave her an inherent strength that I couldn’t help but admire. Her fears in regards to failing Haley and warped perspective of the type of mother she is made her feel entirely genuine. Brighton Walsh developed Tessa perfectly, allowing her to grow from both her triumphs and setbacks, while evolving as a mother and as a woman. Jason, on the other hand, just about steamrolled me. I was unprepared for the extent of his kind heart and selfless actions. He was constant and steady, being there for Tessa and Haley without second thought. He’s also ridiculously sweet and romantic underneath all the swagger and I may have let out a few deep sighs when it came to Jason. Brighton Walsh has taken this character that was easy to like and molded him into someone that is even easier to love.
“She’s always been someone more…someone different, even if there wasn’t anything between us. And this conversation just once again proves exactly what I’ve known all along. That she deserves a hell of a lot better than an asshole like me.”
In true Brighton Walsh fashion, Tessa Ever After was hilarious, sexy, and emotionally vulnerable. Brighton Walsh has opened up her world to readers, even providing a little dose of Cade and Winter in this book which was just icing on the cake. The sexual tension between Tessa and Jason is electric as they fight their feelings, refusing to give in. Both are stubborn with very strong personalities and distinctive voices that refuse to be forgotten. Things between them positively sizzled. Those shared moments of intensity and flirtatious banter were just the beginning of the many methods employed by Brighton Walsh to convey the depth and significance of Tessa and Jason’s connection. Tessa Ever After was a fantastic companion to Caged in Winter and if possible, I’m even more addicted to Brighton Walsh’s writing than before.
As soon as I finished Caged in Winter, I knew that I would be devouring whatever else I could get my hands on by Brighton Walsh. Then I found out there would be more books in the series with other characters, and I was ecstatic because Walsh is a writer whose characters just burrow into your heart. I’ve been thrilled about Tessa Ever After since the moment I found out about it, and while it was a completely different feel from Caged in Winter, it was just as fabulous and spellbinding!
“She deserves the happily ever after she’s been dreaming about as long as I’ve known her.”
This second book in the series follows the lives of Tessa and Jason, Cade’s sister and best friend, respectively. Tessa was this strong, level-headed mom who thought logically. She was one of those heroines that could use a dose of using her heart instead of her head, which is so rarely seen these days. To me, Jason was this misunderstood, lost soul. He kept trying to do the right thing only to lose another piece of himself. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ll just say that Walsh sure knows how to deliver the perfect man in her books! The dynamic between these two was something very special. Even though they never truly acknowledged it, they understood each other on a different, deeper level because of the preconceived notions the world had about them. They were judged based on their situations rather than whom they were as people, and it made them the perfect match for each other.
“All of it – the butterflies and the anticipation and the constant, aching need I feel around him…It was something I didn’t expect, something I didn’t count on, but it’s undeniable.”
Walsh has the ability to create real-life scenarios with such an authentic feel to them. The happenings never feel forced or exaggerated for a dramatic effect. Her characters are presented with realistic issues and have to learn to overcome them. As readers, we’re taken on a journey that we can not only relate to, but we can also develop a strong sense of sympathy for the plights that they are put through. Tessa and Jason weren’t just characters in a book for me; they were friends I wanted to hug in times of sorrow, shake in times of distraught, and laugh in the cute, sappy moments.
“Happy doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. It’s a single star as compared to the whole galaxy.”
Tessa Ever After is the perfect blend of New Adult’s searching for a life path, with a more mature Adult romance feel. I was able to get lost in the pages, and I think that other readers will too! I certainly hope there are more stories to tell for this crew because I am definitely not ready to let them go yet. Brighton Walsh has given me a fix and I don’t think I will ever get enough of the drug that is her writing.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Reluctant Hearts series:
Caged in Winter (Reluctant Hearts #1)
Paige in Progress (Caged in Winter #3)
Our Love Unhinged (Reluctant Hearts #3.5)
Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.