Can’t Hardly Breathe – Gena Showalter


New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who’s never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.

Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.

But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.


I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

I…really don’t want to write this review. I’ve been a Gena Showalter fan for years – The Lords of the Underworld series has been and always will be a personal favorite of mine. Having never read one of Showalter’s contemporary romance novels, I was excited for the chance to review an ARC of Can’t Hardly Wait. Followers of my blog know that I don’t relish posting negative reviews, but I also pride myself on being an honest reviewer, so here goes.

The first chapter of this novel really reeled me in. I loved the glimpse of the character’s past, and as a girl who was a little chunky in high school, and not the most loved geek, I adore an outcast story. Unfortunately, the disjointed narration and forced dialogue had me cringing about three chapters in. Now, before fellow Showalter fans grab their pitchforks and attack me, remember: I am one of you! Let me explain my frustration.

The book is narrated by both Daniel and Dorthea. When Dorthea narrates, she is constantly in her own head, and the pages are filled with her inner musings. This is something I generally like in a book, and I think I would’ve liked it in this one, if there hadn’t been exclamation points in every other thought. Additionally, Dorthea’s thoughts were extremely repetitive. Throughout the book, she just thinks the same thoughts over and over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like her and love that she grew into a stronger, more independent woman over the course of the book, but her narration bothered me at times.

The dialogue gave me mixed emotions. Daniel really said the right things 95% of the time, and about half of the witty banter worked. The other half just felt really forced. For example, there is a scene towards the end of the book, where three of the female characters are arguing with one of the males. They say things like:

“I’m your worst nightmare, boy-o. I cut first and ask questions never.”

I enjoyed the sentiment, and liked that Dorthea was getting supported in a trying time, but were those exact words really necessary? I literally cringed when I read them.

At times, characters who usually spoke perfectly grammatically correct English, would develop an odd accent and would start saying things like “ain’t” or “fixing to”. It was just unexpected and didn’t fit.

All of the above being said, the sex scenes were certainly Gena Showalter hot, and the plot was pretty cute and enjoyable. I did crack a smile or two along the way, and will of course continue to read Showalter’s LOTU series. I’m just not sure her contemporaries are for me.

My Takeaway: As a Gena Showalter fan, it pains me to write this review. I’ve concluded that her contemporary romance just may not be for me. I encourage you to try for yourself – at the very least, pick up her Lords of the Underworld series. Immortal hotties will never disappoint. 

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