Review: Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter (plus other books in the series)

Posted August 31, 2017 in Review / 11 Comments

Review: Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter (plus other books in the series)

Can't Hardly Breathe

Series: The Original Heartbreakers #4
by Gena Showalter
Published by HarperCollins, Harlequin on August 29th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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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.

Addictive Swoon

Gena Showalter is an author I have been reading for a very long time.  I started with her Lords of the Underworld, fell in love with her extremely underrated Tales of Extraordinary Girl series, and I’ve even dabbled a bit in her Alien Huntress series.  But I was never really into her contemporary romance.  Yep, you guessed it…. until now!!

On a whim, I purchased the first book in her brand new The Original Heartbreakers series.  And then I totally forgot about reading it.  Oops…

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I saw book number four available for review and me in need of a good romance to soothe my soul.  Desperate times call for your favorite authors, right?

And boy did I get a fantastic story that took me on the ride of my life.  I wasn’t quite prepared for all the goodness this book had for me:

  • A heroine like Dorothea, who was been bullied back in high school and has gone through tragedy later in life but manages to get back on her feet and face the day with a smile and a positive attitude.  I immediately wanted her for my BFF.  I know a lot of reviewers say that about characters but hand to God, I really felt connected to Dorothea.  That’s how well Ms. Showalter wrote the character.
  • Daniel is war veteran recovering from PTSD back in his hometown because he wants to keep an eye on his dad and his dad’s failing health ∗swoon∗.  His method of dealing with PTSD when we first meet him might be a little “hinky” but he soon becomes a man worthy of Dorothea.  If only he’d get it through his thick skull…
  • I LOVE a heroine who is NOT skin and bones, who has curves, and who is appreciated above all others for those curves.  ‘Nuff said.
  • WEATHER!!!  Ever see the movie “Twister”?  Best movie ever!  Flying cows, Bill Paxton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cary Elwes!  What more could you want??  Oh, right… book review…  Dorothea is just as enamored with weather as I am.  Weather and storms play a pretty big part in the story 😉
  • Wall-to-wall story!  There is a lot of “meat” to this story.  This isn’t the typical romance and I really wasn’t sure how some of the typical tropes/romantic clues were going to play out.  Ex-husband cheats on Dorothea but I didn’t see how that story line was going to play out.  So fun…  in a twisted sort of way if you like torture (insert evil cackle here).


And despite the fact that I read this book, number four, BEFORE going back and reading books number one and two, I didn’t mind getting information on the previous couples.  If anything, it made me want to go back and immediately start reading the first book, The Closer You Come, that I had already purchased…  AND immediately purchase after that book two, The Hotter You Burn.  But it’s interesting to note that this book, book four, seems to start on another group of three best guy friends who get together with three best girl friends.  It’s almost like another story arc has begun.  So, IMHO, you CAN start here and be perfectly fine.

This story really was pure happiness for me and reminded me how much I adore Ms. Showalter’s romances!


Now, to those other books in the series…



Review: Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter (plus other books in the series)

The Closer You Come

Series: The Original Heartbreakers #1
by Gena Showalter
Published by HarperCollins, Harlequin on March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 434
Format: eBook
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New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter introduces the Original Heartbreakers, where three not-quite-reformed bad boys are about to meet the women who will bring them to their knees.

Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…

Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.

Addictive Swoon


The Closer You Come introduces readers to Jase Hollister and his two best friends, West and Beck.  These three “brothers from different mothers… and dads” move from the city to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma where they’ve come to escape the city and the dark past they shared there.  Jase, recently released from prison, has been on auto pilot since getting out, doing what a typical young guy denied women for a long period of time will do. 😉

And then he runs into the girl who counts to three and townsfolk scatter before she gets to three.  Brook Lynn Dillon shows up at one of the “boy’s” house parties hunting her big sister down to bring her home.  After Jase sets his eyes on Brook Lynn, no one else will do.  Buuuuut…  Jase isn’t a relationship type of guy.  He’s a “right now” kind of guy who knows that as soon as Brook Lynn finds out the truth about Jase’s past, she’ll run fast in the opposite direction.  But he can’t help himself when it comes to helping out this down on her luck girl.

One of the best things about Ms. Showalter’s stories is the witty banter, both between the characters and all the inner dialog going on in a character’s head.  I absolutely adore the words that come out of her character’s mouths.  Yes, I’m a sap for a guy who can say how he feels.  Duh… that’s why I read.

I wouldn’t say this book was a favorite of mine by Ms. Showalter.  Something about it felt off.  I think it had to do with how the story started.  There’s a plot point (shhhh… I can’t discuss) that left a sour note in my mind through out the book.  There’s another “issue” later in the story.  It’s a romance plot device Ms. Showalter uses that I cringe every time I read it.

It comes down to this: the book is well written, well paced, but I just have some personal “hangups” about the story.

It happens….




Review: Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter (plus other books in the series)

The Hotter You Burn

Series: The Original Heartbreakers #2
by Gena Showalter
Published by HarperCollins, Harlequin on July 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
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New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers story featuring a troubled playboy and the woman he can’t resist…

Beck O'ckley is ruthless in the boardroom...and the bedroom. He's never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck's home—her ancestral estate—for food, she's shocked by his early return...and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck's life, he can't get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he'll have to break her heart...or surrender his own

Addictive Swoon


As soon as I finished The Closer You Come, I could not click the “Buy Now with ‘1’ Click” button on The Hotter You Burn in Amazon fast enough!!  Harlow Glass has been “haunting” the series (and me) ever since I started with book four.  Harlow actually makes a couple of surprise cameos in book one that had me wondering what in the world is going on with her!

Harlow Glass was the worst person you ever met in high school.  She ruined lives in her wake.  But would you believe there’s a story behind the bullying?  That there’s actually more to her story that will have you cheering for her?  I never saw it coming but I absolutely LOVED this story!  Ms. Showalter comes up with the best twists on stories that are actually not too far-fetched or unrealistic.  I’m coming to appreciate that Ms. Showalter is very good at adding just the right amount of drama to her stories.

Speaking of drama…  oh my Beck.  This man-whore made it his mission in book one to get as many phone numbers as he could in the bars he, Jase and West visited with Brook Lynn while they were hunting down Brook Lynn’s sister one night.  The man has no shame.  But when he catches Harlow sneaking through his house (her old house as it was) during one of his booty calls, Beck can’t help but make it his life mission to figure out the mystery of Harlow Glass and find out where she goes when she’s not breaking into his house.

This story of redemption, rebirth, re-WHATEVER, really resonated with me; I eat up these stories!!!  And with Jase, Brook Lynn, her sister Jessie Kay, and West all in the story, this was just such a nice, romantic, fun, no-brainer romance.  A solid second book and a great lead in to book three…  which I still need to read.

Yes, I will get to it.  It’s West and Jessie Kay… duh!



About Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the spellbinding Lords of the Underworld, Otherworld Assassins, and Angels of the Dark series, as well as two young adult series--Everlife and the White Rabbit Chronicles--and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series. In addition to being a National Reader's Choice and two time RITA nominee, her romance novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan (Red Hot Read) and Seventeen magazine. She was interviewed on Nightline and has been mentioned in Orange is the New Black. Her books have been translated in multiple languages.

She’s hard at work on her next novel, a tale featuring an alpha male with a dark side and the strong woman who brings him to his knees. You can learn more about Gena, her menagerie of rescue dogs, and all her upcoming books at or





About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of “happily ever after” books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It’s for her family’s sake. When not reading, she’s homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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11 responses to “Review: Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter (plus other books in the series)

  1. Pam

    I love Gena Showalter’s books, so of course this is something that I definitely want to read. But even so, the story sounds awesome. And FYI, I LOVE the movie Twister as well. 😀 And now you have me wondering exactly how weather plays a part in the story.

    • Dorothea went to school for meteorology but gave it up… for a guy!!!! Grrrrrr…. You will love this one if you love weather like I do. Apparently the town is in tornado alley AND has small earthquakes. Go figure!

  2. Can’t hardly Breathe looks really promising for me. I read the first novella in this series, but I didn’t care it much. I should look into the series more clearly. Great reviews!

    • This book four might be one to try. I didn’t read the novella and honestly, book one was not up to Gena’s highest standards. This one, because of the bullying and heartbreak, really “got” me. Maybe a library read??? 🙂

  3. I had such a fun time with all of these books. This series has really surprised me. I started with her Underworld series too. Love her books though. But these contemporaries have been so good to read and way better than I thought they would be. Glad you enjoyed them hun.

    • Awww… thanks for saying you loved these, too!!! I was hoping you’d see this review b/c YES, these were FUN books and they totally made me happy!!! I shouldn’t have put off reading this series…