Book Review – After Hours by Cara McKenna

by Maryse on May 2, 2013 · 12 comments

in My Book Reviews

After Hours
<—- Here is another one off of my latest re-arranged “to-be-read” list that was totally worth moving to the top! Loved it, and it was one of my favorites so far outta the bunch. :) I’ve been doing great with sticking with that list over the last two weeks! Got a bunch of ‘em knocked out and am having a blast sticking to my own reading plan. I’ll admit, it’s not an exact science (and there’s always room for adding more), but I chose a bunch that looked up my alley yet had different themes for my different reading moods and it’s been fun taste-testing them all.

This book was exactly what I needed in my slight “book-funk” that I’d been experiencing. I needed a dose of the perfect, imperfect reality love story. Not “soap-ish”. Oh I’m still loving our extra-angsty books, but have had a bit of trouble connecting to a few of ‘em lately. I love being invested in the characters of a book, and feeling that ecstatic enthusiasm over a great new find, but a few have left me on the outside looking in. Good, but not “OMG everybody has got to read this right now” good, ya know?

But this one is a “gotta read it!!” book. It reminded me of a few of my favorite romance reads from my reading past, that have made my yearly favorites lists.

“Nothing like a change of scenery to hit the restart button.”

So true!

Despite my love of painful angst in my reads, this one was not overly dramatic. Nope. It was more… “even-keeled”… and yet… it had it all. Sure, it didn’t make me overwrought with emotion, or make my head-spin, and maybe I didn’t cry or hyperventilate, but there was just something about this one that was the whole package. The writing was just… perfect for me. There was a great flow to the intro, and into the personal interactions with the side-characters. And best yet, the heroine’s connection to the potential hero was perfectly paced.

Witty. Oh yes it was witty! But not irritating “over-wit”. Just… right. Humor in a book that’s not even close to being a comedy-romance (it’s actually got a touch of a dark-side), yet I found myself chuckling throughout and even once or twice re-read a certain funny part that had me giggling over and over again as I envisioned it in my head.

Great adult characters with great personalities and even greater imperfections. Relatable and leading “normal lives”, normal struggles, normal “damaged” childhoods with normal adult reservations. Yet despite all of that “normal”, my reading experience was so much more than that. It was real. Just enough of the entire “real-life” mix to make me forget I was reading and instead had me living, with them.

“We got a little something between us, don’t we?”

I bought it. I bought the book, but better yet, I bought the characters, I bought their thoughts and interactions. I swear the author put my very own thoughts perfectly into words.

Big men made me feel weak and insecure, and with Kelly the sensation seemed to fluctuate wildly between distress and… well, some kind of perverse attraction.

Things that I always think and feel while I’m reading my “dominant alpha male” books. Things that I try to lay out in my reviews when I wonder where my sanity went. Why I’m crushing on Mr. Bossy, when I should be rebuffing him and channeling my inner feminist, instead.

I didn’t know who the f#@k this woman was, speaking these words. Some me I’d never met. Some me who spoke the truth even as it undermined my self-image.

The author describes my inner-most thoughts perfectly. I couldn’t have ever said it better myself.

Oh and did I mention the super-steam? I mean… WHOA!!

I made a soft noise, the sound of sense being knocked out of my skull, a tiny ooah.

Tee hee!! I think I made that noise, too, while reading this!

I’ve read some pretty graphic stuff that just didn’t quite… capture me, but this one was graphic in a different sense. Graphic, but there was just something about the hotness… (OMG.. Im just gonna say that one part… and that other part…). Whooooooo one of my hottest reads just in regards to how affecting it all was. I wasn’t just reading steamy scenes as much as I was feeling… er… TMI? ;) Yeah. Was it me, or was it hot in here? hehe!

Maryse’s Book Blog: Reading “After Hours” right now (it caught my eye last week) and have been hooked from the start. Excellent writing, personable characters, thoughts that I can wholeheartedly relate to, and at 25% … Woo hoooooo HOT!! I’m loving this one. It was calling me, and I’m so happy I paid attention!

Heather: Loved it!

Yanira: I was just wondering what to read next. I love this author and Curio is one of my faves.

Kristi: I really liked this book. The connection they had seemed so real to me for some reason. Good book indeed!!

Maryse’s Book Blog: Ohhhhh yes! Curio! I loved that one, too. This book, so far… Full-on fantastic for me.

Yanira: Now I’m really excited to get on it!!!

Sharon: I needed a new one — just bought it! Thanks!

Melissa: I read it because I saw it on your blog. It was ok. Some hot sex scenes though. I give it 3.25 stars.

Maryse’s Book Blog: … So far I’m at an easy 4 stars with this one and wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being more. I dunno. This one’s just right up my alley tonight.

Lindsey: I *LOVED* this one. Yay!

Jeanna:  Just purchased, you never let me down . Thankfully most of the books you recommend are inexpensive, but I’m so addicted I may be in the poor house soon, lol.

Joanna: Is this a BDSM book?

Maryse’s Book Blog: Hrmmmmm… At this point I’d say more of a relinquish your control to me type. But not like the billionaire ones we’ve been reading. This one has a much different feel, but not scary or anything. At least not yet… He’s just like…. Super bossy and totally unapologetic about it. But he’s also just a normal guy, too. But you know, sexy, gorgeous and hulking.

Kim: I just finished this one yesterday and am still thinking about it. I loved this book and agree with you that the characters are not the elite but everyday people who find each other. Two thumbs up!!!

Nicole: Maryse, you’re killing me. I keep buying into so many of your recommendations this week, literally, that no one in my family is getting Christmas presents this year. jk.

Jodie: I loved this book it was a great read.

Sabrina: I’m enjoying this– thanks for the recommendation– I really enjoyed all her other books– this has been a pleasant surprise—

This wasn’t so much a dream-man “fantasy” read as it was an exploration of human connections, determining when to hold on to inner and outer strength and when to just… let go, every once in awhile. To take care of… and to be taken care of. And I’m not just talking the heroine, here.

LOVED.

So what’s it about?

Erin is starting a new job as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital. She’s scared, and out of her element but she’s the “tough one” and has to do what she’s gotta do. Tiny and “cute” in appearance, but strong, determined and absolutely no-nonsense in reality. This job wasn’t her first pick, but she’s been taking care of her somewhat irresponsible younger sister since they were children and she needed to find a job nearby to keep an eye on her. Protect her.

But who’s protecting Erin? BAH! Protection, schmertection! Outwardly she fends off any appearance of needing it…

Like I needed rescuing. I didn’t want to be rescued – in my family, I did the rescuing.

If I suddenly needed assistance, who in the hell was I?

… but manages to attract the one kind of guy she swore she’d NEVER get with. The kind of guy her “bad-boy loving” sister is attracted to. He’s HUGE. Hulking, mean-looking, and scarred. Attractive… but mean looking. And scarred. ;)

“Shouldn’t he be supervised?” I murmured to Dennis, staring at the lone resident and trying to guess his diagnosis.

Dennis laughed, freeing a clipboard from a hook on the wall. “That’s not a resident. That’s Kelly.”

A frown tugged at my lips as I processed the nested facts: he wasn’t a patient, and he had a girl’s name.

“Kelly Robak. We call him ‘the Disorderly,’” Dennis went on, gaze skimming his clipboard. “He can wrestle down a psychotic like nobody else.”

But nope. He’s not a possibly dangerous patient. He’s the one who can manhandle them safely. He’s the best orderly they’ve got. He’s good at calm, collected and controlled. And controlling.

“What else do women find so troublesome about you?”

Kelly shrugged. “Just general bossy a$$holery.”

“Ah. Well, nice that you’re self-aware, I suppose.”

“I’m real my-way-or-the-highway. Got no patience when things don’t go how I want them to.”

And let the games begin! But… understandable games, you know? S-T-E-A-M-Y but soooo not just that. You’ll see. He’s persistent. She’s… resistant.

“Just let me be my bossy, demanding self, and I swear you won’t regret a second of it.”

Oh he was sooooooo right. But don’t assume it’s easy or know how it ends. Kelly… has issues. Erin… has issues. ;)

Okay so I’m thinking of giving it 4 stars ’cause I usually reserve my 5 stars for the ones that turn me inside-out. But this one was such a well-rounded read that was just what I needed. I’m struggling at keeping it just at 4 stars. After all, I highlighted the whole freakin’ thing! I just wish I had a bit more… but then again!!! How this one played out… just fit. So maybe less IS more in this case.

Maybe… 4.5 stars? *nods*

P.S. I realized in my chat up there, that I’m already a big fan of this author! A few of her past books have made my favorites lists in the past. My love for her “normal… yet a touch unconventional” romance reads are kind of like… I dunno, my love for Bonnie Dee’s books. I’m craving these a lot more lately.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

pamelia May 2, 2013 at 7:36 PM

I loved this book so much! So refreshing to read about people who aren’t impossibly rich or even upper middle-class. Plus it’s set in Michigan (which is where I live) and she really had that SE Michigan feel going.
I think it had the perfect blend of angst and anxiety and funny and sexy.

Karen May 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

I put it on my next to read list. You always have great book suggestions, thanks!!!!

day May 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

loved this book was surprisingly awesome. strongly recommend.

Minha (BrazilianGirl) May 2, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Maryse, you introduced me to Kara Mckenna and I became a big fan. Getting this one right now!! Thank you again for all your awesome recommendations!

Steph Bosworth May 2, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Sounds like exactly what I need right now. Thank you!! Xxxoo

Lisa May 2, 2013 at 9:59 PM

I’m so with you….I’ve been in a sorta funk lately when it comes to my usual reading. Its like I have reading a.d.d. and nothing is holding my attention. Not fair to me or the writers so I’m gonna shake it up a little and lay off the angst and drama. (Well at least for my next read :) Never though t I’d say that. Lol

LucyLou May 2, 2013 at 10:18 PM

This one looks like a fun, pick-me-up read. Thanks for the recommendation Maryse. Great review.

Camille May 3, 2013 at 6:01 AM

I loved this book, too! Definitely one of my favorites for 2013. McKenna is absolutely one of my favorite authors in this genre. Loved the Curio series, too!

JenM May 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM

This was my first read of hers, and I’m definitely going to be getting her backlist. I loved how real it was – imperfect people just trying to do their best in an imperfect world.

Ida May 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I loved this book. Thanks for the review. This is the first Cara McKenna book I’ve read and I can’t wait to read more.

Teri May 22, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reviewing this book. It is not something that I would normally pick up after reading the synopsis but got it after reading your review. I just finished it and am sitting here on the couch, near tears and in a total state of melancholy. Not because it didn’t end well but because it was so beautifully written and poignant. I really wanted more but it seemed fitting to end at the point that it did. I had to put a review on Amazon because I want to support this amazing author and really look forward to reading more of her work.

wendy October 28, 2015 at 5:54 PM

Thanks for the reccomend ! I loved it!! Needed something after you reccomended Badger .. THAT BOOK left me messed up . This one soothed me…

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