Title: Almost Innocent
Author: Carina Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 9, 2016
Cover Design: Perfect Pear Creative
Callaghan. A name synonymous with power and fear. A family of untouchable criminals.
As a teenager, Gabriella Forte had no intention of getting to know the town's most dangerous brothers. Once Dustin set his sights on her, she was trapped. There was only one way out of her personal hell.
Declan was determined to break away from his family's shadow. Until he fell in love with the one woman he couldn't have. She changed everything.
Life isn't always kind. Love can hurt. Sometimes you need to sacrifice yourself to protect the people you care about.
It's been twelve years since Declan did the unthinkable and went to prison. He promised to stay away from Gabby and his nephew. That's one vow he can't keep.
Things aren't always what they seem. Facts are only as credible as the person stating them. The truth doesn't always set you free.
I yelped in surprise as Dec swooped me into his arms. He strode through the house and up the stairs then kicked my bedroom door closed behind us. He carried me to the bed and laid me down with a gentleness that should have been surprising, before he stood and peeled his shirt over his head.
Good God. If he just stood there and let me look at him for the next thirty years, I’d be content. My mouth watered, my fingers aching with the need to run my fingers every peak and valley, tracing the muscles that went on for miles.
I’d always thought Declan was the most handsome boy I’d ever seen. Now, the man in front of me took my breath away. Wide shoulders, toned arms and pecs, and washboard abs that drew my eyes downward, leading them to a deep V that I’d only ever read about. Holy shit! It looked good on him.
His pants hung low on his waist, just low enough to tease me but not quite low enough for me to see my prize. I bit my lip, the idea of seeing Dec—my Dec—completely naked making me nervous. Instead of focusing on it, I slid my eyes back up his body, taking in each piece of art that decorated him.
His arms were covered with ink. The right forearm held the most unique tribal design I’d ever seen. Above it, a burning ace of spades had half disappeared into a cloud of smoke. The left was covered with a sleeve—made almost completely of skulls. It started at the wrist, where the angel of death perched, and ended on top of his shoulder, where the words, “That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger,” were woven in and around a skull with a sinister smile.
With the exception of two Chinese symbols above his left pubic bone, and another three in a vertical line down his right side, the rest of his skin was surprisingly empty. I’d seen his arms and assumed his body would be completely covered. The practically blank canvas suited him.
He stood, incredibly calm and still, letting me get my fill. When I finally tore my eyes away from perfection in the flesh, I caught him smirking at me.
He lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “I showed you mine…” His giant grin and wink made me squeeze my thighs together. A move that he didn’t miss. “Your turn.”
I pushed myself up, slid off the bed—ignoring the nerves that almost made my legs not hold me—and stood up straight. Reaching down, I fingered the hem of my oversized ratty old shirt and hesitated.
I had a lot of scars—more than I could count. Some of them I was ashamed of, some I was proud of. I hadn’t been naked in front of a man in twelve years, not since before Grady, and I took a second to let self-doubt mess with my mind.
Then I lifted the shirt, yanked it off, and dropped it onto the floor before I could talk myself out of it. I reached behind my back and quickly unsnapped my bra before I could lose my nerve.
When I reached for my pants, Declan stepped forward, reaching out. “No!”
He startled me, making me drop my hands and jerk my head up to look at him. He was breathing fast, chest rising and falling as if he’d just gone for a run, and I could see his heart racing. My hands fell, and I wiped sweaty palms on my thighs.
“Those I take off. Jesus…” He moved slowly, taking another step toward me. “I’ve thought about this moment a million times.” Another step brought him closer, but not near enough to touch me. “I’d lie in bed, picturing you.” He bit his lip as he let his eyes wash over me. “I’ve always known you were the most beautiful being to ever exist.” Blue eyes pierced mine. “I never imagined you’d be this fucking sexy.”
He took one more step, putting him within reach. “I’d touch myself, imagining what it would be like to touch you.” He ran an index finger down the center of my chest before he stepped even closer and cupped my breast, lifting it. Leaning down, his mouth next to my ear, he let out a low moan. “It was never this good in my dreams.”
He dropped to his knees, letting his hand skim over my skin, creating a line of goose bumps as he went. Fingers closed over the top of both my leggings and panties, and slowly, so damn slowly, he peeled them down my legs. When they pooled at my feet, both hands traced back up the outside of my body, closing on either side of my waist.
He kissed my stomach quickly then stood and stepped backward. If he had been anyone other than Declan, I would have felt the need to shy away, to cover up or turn out the light. But I didn’t need to hide from this man.
His eyes surveyed me, not missing a thing. From the stretch marks to the cellulite to the scars, he saw every imperfection. He didn’t seem to notice them. Instead, he focused on the nipples that had hardened under his gaze and the neatly trimmed area between my thighs. “I want to touch you.”
I tipped my head, watching him struggle with himself. “Then touch me.”
He met my eyes. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t.” There was nothing I was more certain about.
About The Author
Carina Adams has been writing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, allowing her to fall in love with the next man of her dreams with every new story.
Thankfully, fate stepped in and granted her the ultimate wish - a life full of men. Carina lives in a picturesque New England town with her husband, the man who ruined the thought of all others, and two amazing sons who always keep her on her toes.
Carina received her MBA in May, but would much rather play with her imaginary friends (the voices in her head) than work her 8 to 5. When she isn’t trying to juggle being a working mom with karate and drama practices, surprising her children with her sci-fi movie knowledge, or writing, you can find her with her nose pressed against her kindle, on the back of her husband’s motorcycle, or living life vicariously as her Derby Girl persona, Writers Block.
Carina is currently writing Unfinished Business, the next installment of the Bastards MC novels.
Carina loves to hear feedback from her readers. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carina Adams' Almost Innocent was a whirlwind and I still feel like I'm reeling a little bit. It was just - wow - you know? It made me feel so many emotions from the difficult ones to the easy ones. Almost Innocent was a tough journey and I feel kind of tired now that I've finished and like I need to go and read a nice, funny, light book after I'm done writing this, but I'm also really glad that I read this book because it is amazing and it does end the way it should and because it made me FEEL something - a lot of somethings.
There were times when I was frustrated with Gabby and I wished she would have done things differently, but at the same time I could understand she was just doing the best she could in those situations and I didn't let that color the way I felt about her or how I saw her. Despite the way it might look sometimes, I do think Gabby is a strong heroine. She's been through hell and back and she managed to come out on the other side, stronger, tougher, and better for it. Gabby is a fricking amazing woman and I love, admire, and respect the hell out of her.
And Declan, my sweet, protective, loyal Declan, he just stole my heart. With such an incredible heroine, we needed an incredible hero and we got that with Declan Callaghan. He is everything you would want in a man: loyal, kind, compassionate, protective, and fierce. Declan might have darkness in him, but he is a good man and I know you won't be able to resist him. He'll break your heart, melt it, and put it back together again.
Almost Innocent sucked me in so deep I never wanted to stop reading and even then, there were times when I couldn't pull myself away. It punched me in the heart, socked me in the gut, and just made my heart ache and ache and ache. It made me yell and made me so furious sometimes that I wished I could reach through my kindle and commit violence against some of the characters. Almost Innocent is not a book where you can get away with not feeling - it will make you feel everything from anger and frustration to heartbreak and helplessness to hope and happiness and love. It's going to hurt, but it's so beautiful and moving and real that it will touch your heart. It touched mine and I know it will be one read I never forget.
Almost Innocent is told from Gabby and Declan's POV and they do get their much needed, well-deserved happily-ever-after.
~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars