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Chaser by Kylie Scott
The Dive Bar, book 3
Love isn’t always NEAT…
Bartender and all round bad boy, Eric Collins, has come to a crossroads. It’s time to take life seriously and maybe even attempt to settle down. If only the person he was hoping to settle down with didn’t turn out to be pregnant.
Starting over in a small town, Jean is determined to turn her wild lifestyle around and be the kind of mother she always wished she’d had. Since local bar owner and all round hottie, Eric, is now determined to steer clear of her pregnant self, it should be easy. When she goes into labor during a snowstorm and her car slides on some ice, however, it’s Eric who comes to the rescue.
There seems to be a bond between them now, but is it enough? And can Eric give up his manwhore ways to be the man Jean needs?
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In the previous books, there seemed to be only three things Eric excelled at:
2) Being irresponsible
3) Making a killer cocktail
And as part owner and bartender of The Dive Bar, that last one is the only thing useful.
After the tumultuous events of the last year and a half, he’s tried to clean up his act a little. But, he’s saddened and exhausted by the disappointed looks and low expectations he still gets from family and friends. Feed up with the flack they constantly give him; he decides to do something. Celibacy.
Then he lays eyes on Jean. His perfect woman.
Seven months pregnant, starting over and moving on from disapproving family, Jean moves above the bar to be close to Nell. Spying her at a table on her first visit to The Dive Bar where Nell works as a chef, Eric uses all of his charm and skill trying to pick her up. He thinks he’s losing his touch until she stands up and he gets an eye-full of a very pregnant Jean.
Told in the first person, single POV of Eric, what follows is his evolution from immature f*ckboy to responsible, naively romantic adult. Then friendship and love. I didn’t think it was possible given his behavior in the previous books, but this author had me wrapped around Eric’s finger. He was endearing.
Using pitch-perfect dialog between the characters and immersive world building, I had a hard time thinking of this place and these people as fictional. The Dive Bar feels like you could go there right now and pull up a chair with Eric, Nell or Joe.
Chaser is an adorable, charming romance! I loved every second. Eric tries his hand at love (and adulting), and I was rooting for him the whole way. I’ve enjoyed every book in this series; I’m sad to see it end.
I’d been tricked. Betrayed.
After Andre and Jean ate their lunch, we headed outside to deal with her stuff. The cold wind suited my mood to perfection.
Talk about disappointed.
“Don’t lift that, it looks heavy,” I snapped.
Jean blinked. “It’s a pillow.”
“The world’s largest pillow ever. You can’t be too careful.” My gaze roamed over her swollen middle. “You’re . . .”
“Pregnant?” she asked with a voice dripping poison and sugar.
“Are you having trouble with the concept?”
“Absolutely not. I was just going to say huge, that’s all.”
She blew out an exasperated breath. “Thanks, Eric. That makes me feel so much better.”
“I just . . .”
“Don’t bother.” The woman turned back to her sensible, medium-sized SUV and got busy riffling through the contents. I was surprised she’d been able to squeeze into the driver’s seat.
Boxes and stuff took up almost every inch inside the vehicle. Each and every box seemed to have been neatly labeled with the contents.
The woman took her organization seriously. She looked over her shoulder. “You know, I can’t help noticing that Eric-the-smooth-moving-flirt has been suddenly replaced by Eric-the-awkward-jerk.”
“Well, you said you were single.” I folded my arms defensively across my chest.
And then there was an awkward silence.
“Yeah, but . . . I mean, in your condition . . .” I fumbled to a halt.
She turned, face all scrunched up. Like I was the one with the problem.
“Just hop out of the way so I can grab some boxes,” I said, voice gruff.
Still nothing from her. “It’s a second-story walk-up and you have a lot of stuff to get up there. You should be taking it easy.” Hands on hips, I tapped my black leather boot against the sidewalk, waiting her out. “Jean, I’m not trying to insult you. It’s the truth.”
She swore quietly, going back to fussing with the contents in the vehicle. I don’t think any woman has ever given me the silent treatment quite this quickly. Usually I’m good for at least a couple of hours after seeing them naked.
Man, I still couldn’t believe this was happening. God hated me or something. Pregnant women and me were enema. Anathema. Whatever. Now that I’d seen her out in the autumn light, however, she looked younger than I’d first guessed. Despite her tired eyes, her skin was smooth, soft looking. She was likely closer to her early twenties than mid.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Why do you care?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “Just curious.”
“How old are you?”
She sniffed. “I’m twenty-two.”
Young, like I’d thought. She was probably too immature for me, anyway.
“Come on, Jean. Let me get some of the boxes.”
Boyd ambled out of the Dive Bar, turning his head this way and that, looking up and down the street. I raised my hand and he started over in our direction. The big cook would make short work out of moving all this stuff. Behind us, Andre and Nell came out of the tenants’ entrance to the Bird Building. The place was a big brick building about a hundred years old. Just past the door was an entryway with stairs leading up to the second floor, followed by two empty shops, their windows covered in flyers about local events. Concerts and parades and shit. They’d been vacant for a while, unfortunately. Andre’s Guitar Den came next, then Pat’s tattoo parlor Inkaho, and the Dive Bar on the corner.
“Everything’s good to go. Alex and I gave it a cleaning last week just to be sure,” said Nell, smacking a kiss on Jean’s cheek.
“You’ll meet Alex later. She’s probably busy working or something now. She’s sort of a shut-in.”
“You two didn’t have to do that,” said Jean. “Thank you.”
Andre leaned against the SUV. “Your furniture got delivered yesterday too, so it’s all good to go.”
“Excellent,” said Jean. “I can’t wait to sleep in a decent bed again. Road trips when you’re seven months’ pregnant kind of suck.”
“Who’s minding the kitchen?” I asked.
“Lydia will text Boyd if they need something,” said Nell.
“We’re only going to be a few feet away from the place.”
“I own the kitchen, Eric. Not you,” she said. “You’re in charge of the bar, that’s all.”
One of Jean’s eyebrows inched up slightly. So I might have implied that I was the sole owner. Shit happened.
I crossed my arms. “Fine. No need to bite my head off.”
“My best online friend just moved to town. We’ve been texting and skyping for months. She’s been an absolute rock for me through all the nerves of being pregnant again,” said Nell. “Stop messing with my happy.”
And then there was an awkward silence. Great. If only there was some way to get out of helping without looking like a raging asshole. The possibility of anything happening between me and Jean had been buried six feet deep, never to be spoken of again.
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/