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--# 1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout on I Want it That Way --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
By twenty-one, I'd lost my college scholarship, passed up a great guy and moved back in with my mom. Who was glad to see me, but it wasn't the glorious homecoming I'd dreamed of when I packed my bags three years ago. Still, even flavored with regret, I couldn't deny a certain happiness about being home. Sharon, Nebraska, wasn't much, just a tiny dot on the map. The downtown had all of six stores, and there were no shopping centers at all, at least not without driving forty miles, unless you counted the Walmart. We had McDonald's and Pizza Hut, a roadhouse, two bars and a place called Patty's Pancakes. Not surprisingly, they specialized in pancakes. The Grove was the only fancy place, a restored historic site; none of my dates had ever taken me there. But the smallness of the town meant everybody knew you, and there was some comfort in the familiarity and the gossip.
At the moment, my life was kind of a messbut as I unpacked the last box, I sighed in relief. No more classes, no more faking interest in my alleged future when I talked to my best friend and roommate, Nadia. It used to be hard as hell, pretending everything was okay when my life was imploding. Yet even though I couldn't share what I'd been going through, I'd miss Nadia; she was still in Michigan while I'd returned to Sharon to start over.
My mom tapped on the open door. "I didn't really change anything. We can paint if you want or I could make new curtains."
"That sounds fun." I wasn't being sarcastic. This room hadn't been redecorated since I was thirteen, and the lavender was a little much. Not to mention the full-on princess theme going on here, between the white and gold furniture, the fluffy purple rug, all of my stuffed animals and a bookshelf overflowing with fantasy novels featuring knights and orphaned heiresses. The floral print bedspread and curtains made me want to crawl under the ruffled bed skirt and stay there.
"What did you have in mind?" Mom asked.
She looked great; the transformation I'd noticed when I'd last seen her at Thanksgiving had continued. It was now February and she'd lost that final twenty pounds, so if anything, she was slimmer than me. That should probably agitate me, but it was so good to see her rebounding. After my dad left, I thought she was wrecked permanently.
"White on the walls, red plaid curtains?"
"Could be cute. Bedspread?"
"To match the curtains, if you can make one. Or would that be too much?"
She cocked her head, thinking about it. "Probably not, as long as you don't do patterns on the pillows as well."
"I didn't plan to."
"I'm so happy you're here. Even if it means things didn't work out at Mount Albion." She was careful not to state it aloudthat I flunked out of school, came home in disgrace, or at least, that was the talk around town. The worst of the church ladies whispered that I was pregnant, too.
"Thanks." I gave Mom a quick hug. "Can I borrow the car?" So weird to be asking that. "I need a few things."
"Not a problem. Can you pick up milk and eggs?" Her eyes sparkled as they met mine, conveying her awareness of how many times we'd enacted this same scene when I was in high school.
"It's the least I can do." I paused a beat, as she expected, then added, "Wait, no, that would be nothing. But then I don't get the car keys."
"Right again." She led the way downstairs and dropped them into my open palm. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
I grinned, gesturing at my messy up-do and grungy gray sweats. "It's tough when you look like this, but I'll try not to break any hearts."
Mom smirked. "See you later, Lauren."
It was half past three on Saturday afternoon as I skipped down the front steps. The house, a two-bedroom shotgun style, looked better than it had in years. Though my mom hadn't admitted it yet, I suspected she had a guy coming around for upkeep and repairs, maybe more. She might think it would be awkward to tell me she was dating again, but in my view, it was past time. My dad had been gone for ten years, and the divorce had been final for eight. By no means could this be considered a sudden development.
I got into the old Plymouth and started it up. It made sense for me to buy my own car, but I couldn't afford it at the moment. Ten minutes later, I pulled into the Safeway parking lot. Since I needed lotion and deodorant, I'd get milk and eggs at the same time. No reason to drive farther for more choices. As kids, we used to do crazy shit in the parking lot, mostly because there was nothing else to do. I remembered drinking behind the store and Nadia pushing me around in a shopping cart until management came out to yell at us.
The nostalgia that swept over me was deep and rich; no matter where I went, this would always be home. To a lot of people, Sharon seemed stifling, I guessed, a complete dearth of opportunities, but I hoped to get into computer science and land a job where I could telecommute. I'd always been more into fiddling with programs and apps than anyone else I knew, but I also had causes. So I tried the latter first and discovered I hated it enough to start over, even if it meant losing momentum on the academic track. Nobody knew thisand I'd never admit itbut the reason I flunked out was because I stopped trying. People always seemed to think I must be dumb, possibly because I'm blond and curvy. And that pissed me off.
Six cars in the lotI counted them as I went inside. No need for a cart. I picked a wheeled basket instead and got the groceries before heading to the small cosmetics section. There, I found Nadia's brother. As ever, my pulse went into overdrive and my knees went soft. I'd always had this reaction to him; too bad he treated me like an honorary sibling.
Belatedly I noticed he was deliberating the merits of two body sprays. They were both that terrible, smelly stuff that commercials claimed would make guys irresistible to the ladies but really reeked like chemical muskrat death. I mustered some normal and stopped peering around the shelf at him.
"Neither," I said, stepping into sight. "Please? Have mercy, seriously."
Rob glanced up in surprise. "Not good, huh?"
"Your sweat smells better, I promise."
"That's a weird thing to say, Lauren." His expression was unreadable, but that was no surprise. Nadia always compared her brother to a tree stump.
I suspected he was more like one of those giant sequoias. There might be all kinds of things going on, but you'd never climb high enough to see it. The worst thing about Robert Conrad? In eighth grade, I had a killer crush on him. He was a senior in high school at the time, lettered in both football and basketball, while I was a chubby little grease spot with braces and a terminal case of the stutters anytime he spoke to me. We'd both moved on from those awkward days, but any time I ran into him, I felt thirteen again, nerves jangling like a car alarm.
In some cases, time was unkind to high school athletes. They lost their hair and muscle tone. But the opposite was true of Rob. He worked construction alongside his dad, and at twenty-five, his shoulders were so broad that I wanted to climb him. Not with the giggly uncertainty of junior high, either. He was all solid muscle, great guns, ripped abs and incredibly defined deltoids. When you added chiseled features, strong jaw, blue-gray eyes and dark hair, it was hard not to drool. But it was so wrong to think that way about my best friend's brother. I had no idea if he'd noticed my crush back in the day, but if so, he was kind enough to ignore it and not tease me. I'd slept with other guys since then, enjoyed sex just fine, but I still tingled whenever he was nearby.
Yeah, I'm taking that secret to my grave.
Shit. I was.
"Sorry, I was considering some better options for you, cologne-wise, but I don't think you'll find anything here."
He sighed and put the two sprays back. "Avery should buy it then. Because I have no idea what she's talking about."
"What did she say?"
My fist balled up, a knee-jerk reaction to hearing about his girlfriend. They'd started dating back in the fall and were still together, apparently. At Thanksgiving, I'd gone home with Nadia, who'd invited my mom and me over to Casa Conrad to eat. Watching Rob with Avery, it had been all I could do not to yank her hair out. She was so beautifulmodel thin, with natural red hair, green eyes and the sort of face I'd call ethereal; she could dress up as Titania, the fairy queen, and totally pull it off. That day, he'd taken such great care of her, filling her plate, making sure she had a drink and was never just sitting, lonely. Seeing that made me ache.
"She wants me to be more upscale."
"What are you, a trendy eatery?"
In my opinion, Rob didn't need improving. He was rocking those Levi's, along with a blue plaid flannel shirt and navy down vest. No, he wasn't a GQ guy, but why the hell would any woman want that from him? Also, I kind of wanted to hug him, if he thought he could buy "upscale" at Safeway.
He laughed. "Not hardly."
It might not be any of my business, but "Don't change for her, okay? You're great the way you are."
His eyes widened. Not for the first time, I noted that his irises were a swirl of charcoal and mist with specks of blue, fringed by ridiculously thick black lashes. In a face without such a strong nose and firm chin, those eyes would make him too pretty. When I had sleepovers at Nadia's, back in high school, I imagined him cornering me and shoving me against the wall, overcome by his unspoken longings. That was pretty much my favorite fantasy when I was sixteen, but Rob never gave any sign he suffered from ungovernable passion.
"That's not true," he said quietly.
A little flicker in his eyes, a twist of his mouth, and I got the impression that he was incredibly sad. He didn't have an expressive face, and truthfully, his at-rest look suggested he didn't have much going on in his brain box. Behind his back, people had been calling him the quintessential dumb jock for as long as I could remember. The girl he went out with in high school dished about his body, but she never mentioned any other traits. In my rich fantasy life, I'd never wondered about his thoughts or feelings, either, and staring up at him now, a pang of remorse went through me.
"I disagree. But don't take my word for it," I said breezily. "I'm just the idiot who flunked out of Mount Albion."
"Bullshit. You were always on the honor roll along with Nadia. You're only here because you want to be."
I was astonished into silence for a few seconds, then I rallied. "That's a bold statement. What about the love child I'm having?"
His gaze swept down my body, quietly intense. "Nope."
I wished I was wearing anything but sweats and that my hair wasn't a bird's nest. But he'd known me since I was seven, and he'd never seen me as a potential anything, so that was pointless regret. A dress or a hairstyle wouldn't change a lifetime of indifference.
"I should get going," I said. "My mom's waiting for the milk and eggs."
Clearly, I should win a prize for clever comments. But Rob nodded like I didn't sound like a sixteen-year-old dip-shit with a specialization in being weird around boys. Which was so messed up; at school, the one damn thing I excelled at was witty banter, making guys laugh. I was fucking popular at Mount Albion.
"You doing anything tonight?" he asked.
Huh? Somehow I managed not to let my jaw drop open. "Not really. I just got unpacked and most of my friends from high school are gone."
"Avery's visiting her cousin in Omaha this weekend, so I thought maybe you want to split a pizza. I don't feel like cooking."
Wow. This is definitely not a date.
"Sounds good," I said. "What time?"
"Sure. You remember where I live?" He'd driven me home a few times when Nadia called him to rescue us from out-of-control parties, but I didn't imagine those occasions made much impression on him.
To my surprise, he nodded. "Out on Dover Road still, right?"
"Yep, that's the place." With a friendly wave, I pulled my basket past him and went to the checkout lane.
I kept the excitement in check until I got into my car, then I full-out screamed. My favorite high school memory involved Rob pulling up at a farmhouse, drunken teenagers all over the yard. I'd stumbled outside with a guy who was wasted enough that he wouldn't take no for an answer. The dude pushed me against the garage, his mouth loose and wet on my neck, while I shuddered and shoved at him. In the next instant, he wasn't touching me anymore. Rob yanked him off and took him out with one punch. Then he put a gentle hand on my shoulder and helped me to the car. He'd always protected me like a little sister, but I responded to it differently than Nadia. She was impatient over his protective streak, sharp and annoyed, while I wanted to make out with him instead of the high school boys on offer. I'd spied on him kissing his girlfriend, and it fueled my fantasies for, like, two years.
Telling myself not to be stupid, I drove home and put away the groceries. My mom was getting ready for a date, which proved I was right about Mr. Handyman. I propped myself in the doorway to the bathroom and watched her put on lipstick.
"So when do I get to meet him?"
She flushed. "You don't mind?"
"Of course not. It's good to see you happy."
"There's leftovers in the fridge"
"Don't worry about it. Rob's picking me up in an hour."
"Nadia's brother?" Her brows shot up. "Isn't he dating that awful Jacobs girl?"
Sharon didn't have much of an upper class, but Avery Jacobs definitely belonged to it; she wore nothing but name brands and had a driver who made sure she never rode the bus. In school, her nose had been so far in the air, it was a wonder she didn't drown during a rainstorm. Nadia had been friends with her when we were younger, but I never was, and I liked Avery less when she ditched Nadia as soon as the cliques formed in junior high.
"She's out of town, and it's just pizza. He probably feels sorry for me, what with my mom having a better social life and all." I grinned to show I was teasing.
She threw a cotton ball at me. "That's not funny. If you knew how long I waffled over telling you about Stuart "
"So that's his name."
"He sells insurance," Mom said. "You'd think that makes him boring, but he's very sweet."
"No need to convince me. I need a shower, though, if you're almost done in there."
"No problem. I can finish my makeup in the kitchen."
Damn. She's pulling out all the stops.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00KF49TIK
- Publisher : HQN; Original edition (September 30, 2014)
- Publication date : September 30, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 787 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0373779844
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,287 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Nobody’s good all the way to the bone.
Let’s touch on the subject matter at first. This is a small town story, and it’s done exceptionally well. I just loved it – I’m from the capital of a city, so I don’t really know how small towns work, but this reminded me of Gilmore Girls and the setting there. Everyone knows everyone, they gossip, they fight, but in the end, they stand up for each other. I loved the setting so much and the town of Sharon seemed like an interesting community. I enjoyed getting to know all of the side characters, and it was great that everyone got a bit of backstory.
Now for the characters … Rob was awesome.
I really felt him come alive, he was so well-written and his problems seemed genuine. I wish there was a bit more story regarding his family, because I really wanted some redemption and felt like I didn’t get it, unfortunately. Rob himself is just a great guy, and while he isn’t flawless, he was the type of man I just enjoy reading about. Strong, passionate and caring – what more could a girl want?
Lauren, on the other hand, was quite different.
She was a confusing character for me, and I definitely appreciated the attention on her anxiety issues, but felt like they could be dealt with better … I have anxiety myself and I cope in many ways, but I couldn’t imagine putting up an act for years in order to hide my situation. That bothered me a little, otherwise, she was a sweet, brave girl, albeit a little … underdeveloped, I might say?
And finally, all of the side characters. I can’t forget about Avery. She was the standout character for me, and the story wasn’t even about her. She was strong, brave, fearless. I loved her, and I kinda sorta wish the last book in the 2B Trilogy were about her instead of Courtney. Oh well.
He curled a fist and set it against his chest. “To have a knot here constantly. But the more I talk to you, the looser it gets. Until I can’t feel it anymore, and it’s like I’m taking my first deep breath in a long time.”
The writing style worked well for me, it might not have been very poetic or lyrical, but it was to-the-point, at times heartbreaking, at other occasions beautiful. I loved the scenes between Rob and Lauren, they were so perfect together!
I would recommend this read to lovers of small town settings and perfectly flawed love stories. If you like your heroes to be the girl and guy next door, this is the perfect book for you.
I can’t wait to read the final book in this series. I know it doesn’t have the best ratings on Goodreads, but it honestly impressed me and was such a fun read. I loved it, and I would love some recommendations for more reads by Mrs. Aguirre!
I loved the first book in Ann Aguirre's 2B Trilogy, I Want it That Way. I fell in love with Aguirre's characters, not to mention her realistic plots and steamy romances.
I read As Long As You Love Me in one sitting on the day it was released and wouldn't have had it any other way. I thought Lauren was going to be a great main character---she had some mystery to her in book one and I was excited to get to know her better. Little did I know just how much I would end up identifying and liking Lauren. She was much more like me than Nadia (the heroine from book one).
I love so many things about this series. I love that the books are being released close together. And they are stand-alone novels. I love that! No cliffhangers--yay! The characters are so easy to relate to. I always find myself really liking the characters as people, and thinking of them as I would a friend, hoping for their happy endings. The love stories in this series are pretty steamy---definitely new adult. I had no idea Aguirre could write like this...whoa.
If you like contemporary romance, I highly recommend the 2B Trilogy!
In As Long As You Love Me, Lauren has headed home to Nebraska after deciding being away at college just wasn’t the right place for her. Nebraska is home and it’s where she wants to be. She misses her family… and her best friend Nadia’s older brother, Rob. And after getting just a tiny glimpse into the amazingness that was Rob the first time they were face-to-face, I can’t say I blame her. Rob is definitely on my list of favorite book boyfriends of 2014. Rob was hot and sexy – and sick and tired of being treated like that’s ALL he was. He was all man, but vulnerable underneath the tough exterior. He’s always been just a pretty face and a nice body. No one expected him to be anything else – not his family, not his sister, not his friends or girlfriend. Lauren knows there’s more to him than meets the eye and spends time, first as his friend and later as his girlfriend, helping him realize she believes in him.
I could seriously gush endlessly about Rob, but I’ll restrain myself. He was just such a sweet guy and got so little from anyone else in return. I loved the dynamic between him and Lauren. Even when they began hanging out as friends, I knew that wouldn’t be enough for either of them. There was a very clear attraction between them, though Rob did have a girlfriend at the time. And no, this isn’t a cheating story, so don’t fret about that if it’s one of your triggers. Lauren opens Rob’s eyes to a lot of things and is there by his side as he does everything from remodel his home to start a new business building furniture. She was his source of support through rough family times and it made me love them both that much more.
Of course, no romance book would be complete without a little struggle. Rob and Lauren have that. I didn’t love the reason for the strife, but I understood it. I thought perhaps it went on a little too long and took away from [SPOILER ALERT] more time with them together as a couple at the end. Though I watched them grow together through most of the book, I still wanted more time of them post-drama. But, I’m greedy like that. [/SPOILER ALERT]
One of my favorite, non-Rob things about this book was the reappearance of Nadia, Ty and Sam! I was so glad to see them back in the picture and find out that things were going well for them in their new family. They seriously warm my heart. <3
As Long As You Love Me was a great addition to Ann Aguirre’s 2B Trilogy. It was sweet and sexy and made me feel all the feels. I loved the characters and, even with the couple issues I had with the relationship drama and the timing of the ending, it was still a total five-star read for me. I can’t wait to read the third and final book, The Shape of My Heart. It’s Max’s book!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
Ich mochte Laurens Story sehr und ganz oben auf meiner Leseliste liegt „Shape of my heart“. Vielleicht werde ich ja doch noch zum Lovestory Fan. Besonders bei dieser Autorin.
A devastatingly handsome star football player in high school, Rob Conrad now in his twenties floats through life working in construction and tolerating a meaningless relationship with the pretty and ambitious Avery Jacobs. Insecure under the scrutiny of family and friends who think of him as nothing more than a brainless jock, Rob who has always concealed his crush on Lauren falls hard for the young woman who not only thinks he awesome, but encourages him in making his dreams a reality.
In a plot filled with lies and secrets that threaten Lauren and Rob's blossoming love affair the emotional intensity is often diluted by humour, sex and witty banter. Narrated by Lauren the threads of this captivating tale not only follow the growth of love between two damaged souls and family relationships, but also the emergence of an odd friendship. Even the climax of this well-developed plot holds promise as Lauren and Rob lose each other, but struggle to put the pieces back together realizing that their love is meant to be.
Ann Aguirre creates characters that are complex and unforgettable as they confront their problems and hold tight to love and friendship that brings growth and strength, deliverance and healing. Lauren Barrett tormented by the abandonment of her father as a child, and crippled by anxiety attacks masks her pain, insecurity and heartbreak behind drinking, partying and sex. Troubled by her failure at college even though she's a computer whiz, it is her deep love for Rob that gives her the courage and determination to not only seek help for her disability, become more daring in her approach to life, but to fight for the man she adores.
Robert (Rob) Conrad lacks confidence; feels he's nothing more than a "nicely wrapped package". Even his family has undermined his ambition and dreams by exhorting his athletic prowess instead of his intelligence. With Lauren's love, encouragement and praise the guarded, reserved and very private side of Rob begins to crumble allowing his talent, wit and laughter to shine through. Together Lauren and Rob find not only friendship and love in each other's arms, but the security and confidence of being a family.
Like all of Ann Aguirre's romance novels, "As Long As You Love Me" has a captivating plot with memorable characters.