Kitty’s Review – Can’t Hardly Breathe (The Original Heartbreakers #4) by Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter gave us a stunning story of romance, love, forgiveness and trust. ~ Kitty, Guilty Pleasures

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.

Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.

But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

What a wonderful story! I was totally enthralled with Can’t Hardly Breathe and was amazed that Gena Showalter was able to bring these characters from insecure and afraid to confident and trusting in such and beautiful way. I also loved the way she shined the light on bullying, how much it affects people throughout their lives and how forgiving they can be. Then there was the PTSD storyline and just what it can do to people. But, what really hit me right in the heart was how both Dorothea and Daniel came to rely on each other, how a little dog got Daniel to realize he needed support, how, when you think all is lost, friends pull together to make it right.

Dorothea had me right from the beginning of this story. Even though she was shy and bullied, she held her head up high and went forward. She was dealt a raw deal in life and learned to make the most of it. Watching her turn into the butterfly that she was, was truly remarkable. It was gradual but, when she finally accepted things, there was not stopping her.

Daniel was confident, cocky and knew that he could never fall in love. He would never open himself up to losing someone again. Losing his mother gutted him … watching his friends die in battle ruined him. He would never subject a woman to his nightmares, his jumpiness, especially his Thea. He can’t help himself when it comes to her. He sees her inner beauty. He sees her outer beauty. He sees the woman that she was destined to be but was never given the chance.

With Daniel by her side, Dorothea blooms, starts seeing the future in a different light. She knows that there is an end date but wants to take whatever time he will give her. With Thea by his side, Daniel grows, starts seeing his future in a different light. She calms him, chases his demons away. Then it happens and Daniel can’t handle it. The ultimatum … The choice.

Gena Showalter brought out the best and worst in both characters. She surrounded them with friends that were true and loyal, to the bitter end. She gave us people that we loved to hate but then brought them to the point where we could finally tolerate them. She wrote sensual and tasteful sex scenes that sizzled right off the pages. She dazzled us with her skills of balancing the angst with the humor, the love with the hate, the past with the present. But, most of all, Gena Showalter gave us a stunning story of romance, love, forgiveness and trust.

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.

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