||April 22, 2011
Two extraordinary people struggling to stay in love despite extreme obstacles.
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After years of a playboy lifestyle, movie star Randall Rowe returns to his small hometown to make sense of his life and mend his broken relationship with his family, yet for the first time he’s drawn to Kayla Denton, the runaway he’d once helped. Appalled since he thinks of her as a kid, Randall’s determined to fight against his overwhelming attraction.
Now a schoolteacher, Kayla also wants nothing to do with the handsome charmer who ignored her for eight years despite her schoolgirl crush. She has already been abandoned by one man after a tragic accident, and she refuses to feel so vulnerable again. As she’s forced to get closer to Randall, she starts to realize underneath his devil-may-care persona lies than she had imagined. But can she trust him with her heart?
When Hollywood comes calling and threatens to tear them apart, they’re forced to resolve their painful issues and trust each other, or lose a powerful love that will only come once in a lifetime.
Kayla bit her lip, debating whether to ask her question, then curiosity overtook her. “So what about you and Chandra? You haven’t mentioned her. Are you taking another break?”
Randall tugged on his ear, but kept his eyes on the road. “No, we broke up months ago.”
“Seriously this time?” she said doubtfully.
He shot her an annoyed glare. “Yeah, I’ve realized there’s nothing between us. We had fun, but it wasn’t much more.” He paused. “Anyway, stay away from Remy. He’s more trouble than you can handle.”
She felt socked in the stomach. So Remy wasn’t good enough for her? She needed to move on and was sick of nobody measuring up to her fantasy, namely the ones of Randall, and now even he was saying it.
“Where do you get off telling me that? Remy is better than those,” she screeched and almost said “hookers” but controlled herself, “women I see you with in every gossip mag. I’m not the little girl who had a crush on y-you—” She gasped, alarmed to the core. Did she just say that? How could she be so stupid if things weren’t awkward enough?
His head spun and his eyes stared at her like she was nude.
Her eyes closed. Damn, damn, damn! What could she say to fix that slip-up? Nothing came to mind. Please ground, open and swallow me up.
A car behind them honked, and Randall pressed the gas pedal. They rode in deafening silence as her ears burned. After what seemed like an eternity, Randall pulled in front of her house and parked. He turned, giving her his full attention. “When did you have a crush on me?” he said evenly.
She gave a nervous laugh. “I was young and stupid when I moved here. Don’t worry about it.”
His emerald eyes glittered in the moonlight, and his jaw clenched. “Kayla.”
Clearly, he wasn’t going for that. Should she tell him the truth? She groaned, thinking what did she have to lose at this point. “You helped me and I was grateful for what you did. I didn’t understand your life. I lived in a dream world where you were the sexy, caring guy that would save me,” came out in a whoosh. “I was naïve.” She stole a glance at him.
His eyes bore into her, but she continued, “I followed your every move and thought you would make time for me. When that never happened, I assumed you didn’t care. Even my one trip to Los Angeles, you went out with women—or worked—and left me with your housekeeper when I just wanted to spend time with you. I was devastated, so I stopped expecting anything.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? I didn’t know you were hurt.”
A shadow of pain returned and squeezed her heart. Even now, knowing how he was, she wanted to kiss the knit of his brow, run fingers over his smooth skin, and nibble on his lips until the small creases of seriousness disappeared. Not at all good.
She licked dry lips. “I didn’t trust you not to hurt me again. I tried to tell you how important my graduation was, but you still missed my college one. I can’t fault you for that, but if you paid attention, you would’ve noticed how I acted. Sometimes you were so self-absorbed I don’t know how you saw your nose in front of you, but now I know that there is more to you.”
He sighed. “I shouldn’t have chosen work over you. You have my promise it won’t happen again.” He put a placating hand on her shoulder. “I understand—”
She shrugged him off. “I’m not a kid.”
“I know you’re not.”
“Then stop treating me like one,” she snapped.
“Fine, I will.” Before she knew what happened, he dragged her toward him, her body draping over the armrest. She braced herself for…a kiss?
Instead, he stopped short of capturing her mouth, his lips and breath so close that her mouth gave a betraying tremble. His finger came up and outlined her bottom lip. Fire shot to her stomach and snaked downward until she shivered then melted against him. Her martinis weren’t helping the situation either. She suddenly wasn’t in front of her house, but floating on water. Her senses concentrated on Randall’s mouth, his warm, hard body, and the feel of his arms around her…until he groaned and pulled back.
Her eyes flew open from the loss of his heat and found him gawking. His eyes were intense and filled with a stormy wonder as he stared at her. “What?” she croaked, desire making her squirm. “Why did you stop?”
Her stomach plunged as disappointment ripped through her, killing the desire and fuzziness in her head. “You’re going to apologize, aren’t you?”
He grimaced. “The thought crossed my mind.”
Good Book Alert - 5 stars
A good romance novel makes you believe love is possible despite life’s difficult circumstances. It is built around real people trying to be extraordinary because they want something larger than life – love, and not just any love, but one worth fighting for because it does come only once in a lifetime.
Kayla Denton and Randall Rowe didn’t start out being extraordinary, but through the love they had for each other, and the forgiveness and trust they showed each other and others, they became the stuff of dreams. The characters of Kayla and Randall were fully developed. There was absolutely nothing shallow or incomplete in their development, but what made them so much more complete was the cast around them, and how they all connected to each other. Tiphanie Thomas understood that the love between two people is so often understood through all the people that have touched their worlds, parents, friends, old loves, and finally each other.
It wasn’t just the characters that worked in this book; it was the attention to setting. Set in a small town this story overflowed with small town goodness, a scene that often contrasted the Hollywood life. It made you look past the movie star glitter and into sweetness of that which is a familiar solid unmoving greatness; you can wake up to each and every day. And with unmoving greatness, you often find heart pounding love scenes that can scorch the very hairs off the back of your neck – I know it did mine. So if you read Heart Stealer – be prepared to have your heart stolen, your passion for love ignited, and a tear stained face, yeah, I cried, and I don’t cry easily. Thank you, Tiphanie Thomas for a powerful unforgettable love story. I highly recommend this book.
Coffee Time Romance - 4 cups
Randall Rowe’s life has been anything but stellar lately. He is disillusioned with his lifestyle and the direction his movie career has taken him. So he has moved back to his hometown in hope of re-inventing himself and fixing broken relationships with his family.
Kayla Denton became a teenage runaway after her mother was killed in a car accident and her father found solace in the bottle, not her. She was befriended by Randall and his parents who helped keep her off the streets and work towards a future.
When Randall needs a decorator for his new home, he calls on Kayla. But he soon starts seeing her in a new light and she mistakenly blurts out she once had a crush on him. These revelations send Randall and Kayla into a romance, but will Hollywood and the past end it before they have a chance at happiness?
Very well written with a great storyline and characters that reach out and grab you with their stories! This is a couple that deserves a chance. I love that, in addition to their romance, they each have real issues and need to address them. Heart Stealer is definitely worth your time to grab a copy.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
One Hundred Romances Project - 5 stars
When I was about a fourth of the way into the book, I knew I was going to be pleasantly surprised and I was. I LOVED this book.
The author wrote such great complex and real characters that I felt what they did as I read along. Kayla was a totally normal person, with no severe issues or over-dramatics which you see a lot in books. And Randall was probably kind of mellow for a movie star, but with the way he was raised it was understandable.
I simply adored this book, and the story that unfolded over time. The realization that you love someone, and then the pain of being scared and losing that feeling. What really pulled at me was the grief of being heartbroken. We've all been there and the author again totally captured the feeling to a tee. Even the minor characters were fun, and very vital to the main characters. And the moral of the story is that love can change you, if you want to change.
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