I received this book for free from Entangled Publishing, Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Say You're Mine by Diane Alberts
Series: Shillings Agency #5
Published by Entangled: Brazen on December 7th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Entangled Publishing, Netgalley
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
She’s a challenge he can’t afford to lose…
Navy SEAL Steven Thomas has only ever been able to count on three things: waking up in the morning, going to sleep sometime during the night, and Lauren Brixton. She’s been his best friend since grade school, and what they have is the only relationship he’s managed not to ruin.
Until one drunken night puts that all in jeopardy.
Lauren’s watched Steven flit from one-night stand to one-night stand, seemingly not interested in something more. So when the long-ignored attraction between the two of them blows up in their faces, she does the only thing she can—she pretends she doesn’t want him. But all’s fair in love and war, and Steven’s not about to lose the only person in his life who matters…
I love a good friends-to-lovers story. And this was a really good friends-to-lovers story. Steven and Lauren are my favorite kind of couple. They had a really strong basis for a relationship, and though they were worried about ruining that, still wanted to try and take it to a new place. Both of them thought they were alone in feeling this, so it it wasn’t until they were both a little tipsy one night that either of them decided to act on it.
This was a very character-driven story; there wasn’t a lot of action or external drama. There was nothing keeping Steven and Lauren from being together other than their own hang-ups. Steven blames himself for the deaths of his entire Navy SEALS team, and as a result, he feels that he’s not good enough for anyone, most specifically Lauren. He was injured in the skirmish when they were all killed, and was sent home. He can’t be in the military anymore, and he feels lost. He spends his time drinking too much and having a lot of nearly anonymous sex with women he picks up in bars.
Lauren hates watching him do this, both because she hates seeing him destroy himself, and because she’s wanted him for a long time. Steven has noticed his feelings for Lauren changing recently, but I definitely got the sense she’s been alone in her feelings for a while. So she’s understandably reluctant to take a chance. She also has some abandonment issues from her own past, and watching Steven go through women like tissues doesn’t give her any reason to think he’ll be different with her. But two and a half shots of rum into the evening, and throws caution to the wind and takes that chance.
What I liked about this was that even though Steven didn’t feel like he was good enough for Lauren, rather than use that as an excuse to push her away, he decided to make himself worthy of her.
I might not have a clue what the hell I’m doing, or how this ends, but I’m gonna fight for this-whatever the hell it is, or whatever it could be-because with you, I’m me. The real me. But first, I’m going to become a man who is worthy of you, and then I’m never gonna let you go.
I didn’t really like their breakup; the reasons behind it, anyway. Steven’s SEAL team died in large part because their CO lied about something, and as a result, Steven cannot abide lies of any time. He finds out Lauren lied about something, and leaves her. I didn’t love this, because I didn’t really consider what Lauren told him to be a lie. More of an exaggeration. And that might sound like I’m splitting hairs, but I really don’t think so. Without giving too much away, I thought it was sort of the equivalent of ending a friendship because your friend told you something looked good on you when she didn’t really like the color. She didn’t send you out on a date looking like a clown, but your date was knocking on the door, so she told you she loved it so you’d have a confidence boost before you went out. Lauren’s lie was kind of like that. She didn’t really lie, she just exaggerated something and took advantage of a situation to try and help Steven out. Steven, because of his zero-tolerance policy on lying, refused to listen to anything she had to say. I did like that when it became clear Steven was going walk away from her, Lauren stood up for herself, and didn’t let him walk all over her.
If you leave now, if you walk away from me, I won’t let you back in. I won’t forgive you. This was the one thing I was scared of, and you promised me you wouldn’t let it happen. I trusted you. So if you do this… I’ll never forgive you. Only walk away if you’re ready to accept that.
This was a really unexpected read. I would have like a little more to actually happen; it was mostly Lauren and Steven sitting around talking or having really good sex. They never even got to go out on an actual date. A little less introspection and little more doing would have been nice, but that’s really the only thing I can say about this book. I really liked it a lot. It’s book 5 in the Shillings Agency series, but I haven’t read any of the others and I had no trouble following it. I’m probably going to pick up the first four, though. If they’re as good as this one, I’m really looking forward to it. And I can’t wait to see what’s next. There’s a chance Diane Alberts set up the next couple in this book, and if that’s the case, I’ll preorder it as soon as it’s available, because that would be a great pairing.