FALLING HARD                                            TINA WAINSCOTT

Falling Hard by Tina WainscottThere’s no one Pax Sullivan wants to run into less than Gemma Thornton. Back in high school, she revved his heart more than street racing. But she picked his clean-cut brother over him—only to accuse Blake of an unforgivable crime. Eventually the charges were dropped and Gemma left town, but the hard feelings lingered . . . along with Pax’s gnawing “what-ifs.” Seven years later, just as he quits the police force to open a racetrack, Gemma’s back—and their chemistry is more combustible than ever.

If it were up to her, Gemma would never lay eyes on another Sullivan. She hates them, and they hate her—even Pax, who just so happens to be fixing up her father’s B&B. But the more time she spends with the lean, hard-bodied ex-cop at the inn and on the track, the more Gemma sees that Pax is nothing like his brother. Despite their anguished history, she’s tempted to take their relationship into high gear . . . if she can face the past and risk her heart.

     At the age of 17 Gemma Thornton was sent to live with her dad who owned a B & B in Chambliss, Florida.  Her mom had sent her from their home in New York where she was a part of the Misfit Posse.  She used to sneak into nightclubs, get into cars with men she didn’t know and with smoking pot and drinking.  This was her second chance to make good or her parents were shipping her off to boarding school.
     Like her dad she liked to watch racing but drag racing on public streets in Chambliss and I am pretty sure in any town is illegal. So he wouldn’t approve of her going with her new bestie to go watch.  It didn’t even scare her off that she could get in trouble with the law not just her dad.  That night she saw this guy leaning over the hood of the car checking the engine.  He wasn’t wearing a shirt and boy did he catch her attention.  She walked over to admire his car when he turns and notices her coming his way and gives her this jaw dropping smile that heated all of her girlie parts.  When she gets to the car she finds out his name is Paxton (Pax) Sullivan 16, and he is one of the drivers for the night.  He lets her sit in his car and just when it looks like they might kiss he gets called to race his car.
     When Gemma returns to her friend Emily she warns her of all the reasons to stay away from Pax.  One, she’s a senior and he’s only a junior.  Two, he’s a born troublemaker.  Three, he stole his father’s cop car.  Later Emily introduces her to Blake and the rest of the cool kids in the crowd. Soon after Blake just claimed her as his girlfriend without asking her.  Since she was so wanting to be part of the in crowd she didn’t fight it.  Her second chance was working for her.  It wasn’t until the first day at school that she found out Blake was Pax’s older brother.  She knew at that moment she made the wrong choice.  One she couldn’t take back due to thoughts when she would steal looks turned her crimson. 
     All that would change one night when she snuck to be with Blake and friends at a beach party.  He plied her with alcohol when she wanted to stop after two he started taunting her.  He slowly got her away from the crowd where they had seen her acting silly sitting on his lap, flirting, and kissing him.  Once he got her far enough away he forced himself on her.  When she said no and pushed him away and wouldn’t stop she couldn’t fight him she was too drunk to protect herself and they were too far away to get help.  He raped her making her believed she had a part in it.  When she reports him to the police namely his Pax and Blake’s father.  All his friends backed him.  They said she was asking for it, she was jealous because he was breaking up with her, they called her a whore and a slut, and he told everyone she had fake breast.
     After almost a year they declared in court not enough evidence so the case was dropped.  She couldn’t take it anymore and went back to New York to live with her mother.  Now seven years later she’s back.  Her father was injured when a car runs into his B & B.  So, she rents a car and drives five plus hours to be by his side and take care of what she can at the
B & B.  By the time she arrives it’s dark and when she’s almost there she gets a flat tire.  She’s in the middle of following the manual when who drives up? Pax.  Not just because he used to be a cop and it was drummed into him but because he is just a nice guy.  He stops to help.
     When they both get a look at each other they freeze at first she tells him finally he doesn’t have to he starts to leave but he can’t.  He justifies staying saying he’s doing it for her dad his friend and business partner.  As they talk there’s the conflict over the rape but then there is the neutral discussion how he and her dad are reopening the old raceway.  A surprise to her.  He warns her about her dad’s condition which surprises her.  They both have unresolved romantic feelings along with anger over the rape allegations/truth.
       This was an amazingly sensitive subject but Tina, the author, gave it a voice.  She took these women with a little nudge from a great supportive man to use their voices as a united front to confront their abuser.  Date rape as well as any rape is horrendous but talking about it is how to regain your power.  The men that do this are weak not the women who suffer at their hands.  Tina brought humor and love back to Gemma’s life.  I give this 5 stars.  Provided by netgalley.com.
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