REVIEW – CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE (The Original Heartbreakers #4) by Gena Showalter

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who’s never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…

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.


*****Patty’s Review*****
*****FOUR STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by Author}

Fierce and gorgeous and battle ready, he jumped to his feet. He was a thousand dreams come true…a million fantasies in the making. An illusion. He was nothing but a heartbreak waiting to happen.



I’ve always wanted to try a Gena Walters book and finally found the opportunity with CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE. This is the fourth installment in the ”Original Heartbreakers” series but can be read as a standalone. Each book focuses on a different Heroine in the small town of Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, and the Alpha Male Hero who changes her life forever. I don’t normally read Harlequin romances because they tend to be a little bit cheesy but every once in a while, I will admit, that I can appreciate them for their entertainment value. While more often than not, I did feel that the Heroine was an oddball and ridiculously corny, it didn’t in any way hinder my enjoyment of this story.

Thea Mathis has lived in Strawberry Valley almost her entire life. She has one of the biggest hearts and is known for her sweet nature. These are admirable traits but she’s also very insecure which stems from her childhood days when her father abandoned her family and also from being bullied over her weight issues and her physical appearance. Thea had dreams of becoming a meteorologist but she soon gave up on her dreams for a man she thought she loved. Thea left Strawberry Valley to attend college and while at school she met her soon to be husband. Since no one had ever shown that they cared for her, she ate up the attention she received from this man but soon enough he would prove to be like all the other people in her life who had disappointed her, and she ends up going back home to Strawberry Valley and taking over the family business, which is the Strawberry Inn. Her mother decides that it’s her time to live her life so she leaves the Inn and Thea’s younger sister, Holly, in her care. Almost everyone in her life either takes advantage of her or makes her doubt her self-worth. Except for her two best friends and the one man who has owned her heart since they met in kindergarten.



Daniel Porter is an ex-army ranger, who served two tours in Afghanistan. He co-owns a security company with two of his friends who were also in his platoon. Daniel has PTSD which stems from his stint as an Army Ranger. He has night terrors that plague him on the regular and he manages to escape the torture for a little while through his many sexual conquests. He’s never been interested in seeking a relationship with any of the women he’s been intimate with and he claims it’s because he doesn’t want to get his father’s hopes up, only to inevitably break his heart when his relationship falls apart. But truthfully, Daniel was deeply affected by his mother’s death. The loss that he and his father went through nearly killed them both and Daniel can’t ever put himself in the position to go through that kind of pain again.

Daniel has been bringing different women to Thea’s Inn at least a couple nights a week, and she decides that she’s gone without sex long enough. Thea somehow manages to get the courage to show up at Daniel’s room and propositions him. Her plan was to seduce him and to have just one incredible night with him, no strings attached, but things didn’t go as she planned and Daniel ends up stopping things before they even get started. Thea takes the entire situation the wrong way and thinks that Daniel is rejecting her because he isn’t attracted to her. She doesn’t know that Daniel has always had a thing for her and that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have such a beautiful woman offering herself to him. The only reason he turned her down was he knew one night would never be enough for either of them and it freaked him out.

Once Daniel realizes the huge mistake he made by turning Thea away, he becomes a man on a mission and he is relentless in his pursuit of Thea. He has quite the uphill battle to face as Thea has had a change of heart. She could never be someone’s one-night stand. Thea wants more. She wants to be in a relationship with a man who is going to sweep her off her feet and who will treat her as his first priority in his life. Thea knows that Daniel is not able to give her those things and when he tries to get her back in his bed but then tells her that they need to keep their relationship a secret from his Dad, her defenses build up. She’s determined to find love with someone other than Daniel…someone who would be proud to show her off as their girlfriend.



No matter how hard she tries there’s no denying the chemistry she has with Daniel, and eventually he is able to prove himself enough that she gives him a chance. Their passion is hotter than anything they’ve ever experienced in their entire lives but is it enough to get them past the many obstacles that lay ahead of them?

CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE is currently available. I found it to be a very entertaining and sexy read. I haven’t read the other books in the series but after having read this one, the other characters intrigued me so much that I hope to get the chance to read them all. If you’re looking for a fun and steamy summer read, make sure you one-click!!

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