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Can a secret crush . . .

Jo Walsh has loved Cameron Mitchell for as long as she can remember. Whether front and center in her life or on the periphery, the tall, brooding artist has made his presence seductively and irresistibly known. But whenever they start to get close, Cam pulls away. Jo’s tired of keeping her feelings in a box Cam is afraid to open. If he wants her, he’ll have to prove it. And if he doesn’t, Jo will need to know the real reason why . . .

. . . become the love of a lifetime?

How do you walk away from your soul mate? Cam wishes he knew. No matter how far he runs from Jo, he can’t resist looking back at the silver eyes that seem to see right through him. But as well as Jo thinks she understands Cam, the dark truth about his past is something she shouldn’t have to handle. Cam’s sure that setting Jo free is the right thing to do. Too bad his heart has other ideas . .

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Excerpt

Cam massaged his temples, seated on the floor with his back to the love seat in Jo’s suite, elbows to knees and head in his still-trembling hands. It had been so real. Like it was happening all over again. The cheap, pungent cologne trapped in his nostrils. The big, calloused hand pressing his neck into the weathered wood of the table beneath his cheek. The steady scratch of the table legs scraping across the linoleum floor with each violent movement, all the more vile because of the sun shining through the kitchen window. In broad daylight.

And the pain.

God, the pain, splintering up his back and puncturing him from behind.

Cam curled his bare toes into the plush area rug. He knotted his fists at the base of his neck, rubbing the tight muscles there, and brushed the sweat from his face.

He had to pull it together before Jo got back from her run with Meredith. If he was going to be with Jo, he had to fix this. Figure out how to get rid of these damn dreams. He sniffed at his T-shirt. Did he smell like him? Was it his imagination that the nasty, cloying scent had somehow crossed space and time and infected the fibers of his clothing again? Cam ripped the shirt over his head and tossed it across the room. He strode to the bathroom, shedding his jeans and stepping into Jo’s gargantuan shower.

The water wasn’t hot enough. Nothing could wash away the filth. Those hands on his shoulders. Sweat dripping from above into his hair. Spittle on his face. God, he couldn’t get clean. He barely noticed his chest and arms reddening under the scalding water and the vigorous scraping of his nails. He sank to the shower’s stone bench, pulling one knee up and enfolding it with his arm. The hot water wasn’t nearly as scorching as the shame these memories burned into him every time they paid him a nocturnal visit.

“Cam!” Jo’s voice, bordering on urgent, already concerned. “Are you here?”

Cam swallowed over his aching vocal cords. He’d awakened with screams running up his throat and fleeing his mouth. He turned off the shower, stepped out, and grabbed a towel from the hook by the door, knotting it around his hips.

“I’m in here. In the bathroom.” He prayed he sounded normal, even though he didn’t feel it yet. Couldn’t reach it yet.

Jo waved at the thick-as-soup steam filling the room.

“Good grief. Was the water set on hot as hell?” She stopped in her tracks, her eyes resting on his bare torso. “What happened to you?”

“Huh?” He looked down at himself. His arms and chest glowed red, angry lines striping him where his nails had dug in. “Oh, I guess I was…the water must have been too hot.”

“I have some ointment we can—”

“It’s fine, Jo. Leave it.”

“No, really.” Jo walked over to open the medicine cabinet. “I know I have some.”

“I said drop it.” Cam’s sharp voice sliced through the steam.

Jo looked over her shoulder, still facing the medicine cabinet.

“Jo, I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s just…Leave it, okay?”

Jo faced him, leaning against the bathroom counter. She pulled her headband off and the elastic holding her hair hostage. She fiddled with them both before wrapping them around her wrists and looking him in the eye.

“Did you…did you scratch yourself like that, Cam?”

Jo would never understand not feeling clean. Like in-your-bones, under-your-skin dirty. Beyond-scalding-water dirty. One day in and he was already giving her reason to regret taking a chance on him. She’d think he was crazy if he told her he smelled that monster’s cologne on his shirt, on his skin, in his hair. The man was dead.

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Tarah's Review

Kennedy wrote a stellar ending to The Bennett Series. I was very excited to get Jo and Cam’s story. Delving deeper into Cam’s history was very poignant to read. The build up from the first two books has been amazing. I was so looking forward to see how Kennedy was going to end things with Cam. I wasn’t disappointed. Oh, Cam and Jo…

Be Mine Forever is my favorite of the series. It’s hard to write this review because not only do I not want to give any spoilers from this book, but I want to refrain from spoiling the first two as well. As much as I can. This book is about the fight. Fighting to let go when you must, fighting to take what you need. Fighting your own demons. Fighting for love, trust, acceptance. It’s an impeccable story about what it takes for each of us to fight through it all. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking. Kennedy’s writing has always been something I adored, but it’s improved in this third book. The passion of the characters will hold you captive. I think Jo is a new favorite of mine. She is a force to be reckoned with. You will feel this book as you read it. I very much recommend this series.

4.5

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About the Author

kennedy ryan

Kennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride. In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in Modern Mom.

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