At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.
But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.
Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.
I didn’t really like ‘Be with Me’ so I was a bit antsy starting ‘Stay with Me’, but I needn’t have been because I loved it.
I really warmed to both Calla and Jax, and I loved how he was so protective of her and so accepting of all the baggage she came with. Not only that, he helped her deal with her demons and start feeling her worth.
Calla has a ton of insecurity as a result of all the scars she has from a childhood fire. In the main I felt this was really well written, though I felt Calla gave up the DermaBlend too quick. For someone who has been plastering herself in make-up (to hide a prominent facial scar)to give it up after only two weeks of knowing Jax was a bit unreal.He was very accepting of her scars, but didn’t pander to her insecurities and he helped her be brave. I loved him for that.
We get to see a good bit of Tess and Jase, Cam and Avery, which I loved. I’m also intrigued to read Roxy’s story next, as she appears to be a character with many layers.
The only part I was frustrated over was Aimee, with two e’s and one i. I wanted to bitch-slap her so bad, and couldn’t understand why Jax just didn’t tell her he was with Calla and get rid of her. Instead he allows her paw at him, and allows her into his home in the early hours of the morning. I cringed reading the scene where Cam & Avery, and Tess & Jase arrive into the bar to see Aimee all over Jax. I really felt Calla’s embarrassment and I wanted to throttle Jax for letting her down so badly. When Calla rightly got upset, he couldn’t understand it and threw her inexperience back in her face. I didn’t like that aspect to his behavior, and it felt out of character for him. He did that a few times when she got upset, and it was insulting to her intelligence. Just because she’s inexperienced doesn’t mean he has a right to belittle her feelings. I felt he was way out of line.
But he redeemed himself in the last few scenes, where he told her how he felt in front of her friends. Epic. “I fell for you before you even knew my name” he says at one point and I almost cried.
The story is evenly paced, and another classic JLA page-turner. Tons of swoon-worthy romance, witty dialogue and there’s plenty of the hot’n’heavy stuff too. Superbly written as usual. Highly Recommended.