Book Review: Last Call by Staci Hart

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Bad Habits, #3
Release Date: February 15, 2016
***ARC provided in exchange for an honest review***
Once Rose Fisher makes a decision, that’s it. End of story.

Like when her ex, Patrick, dumped her out of the blue, then showed up with a super hot, tatted up sex kitten on his arm. Then it was over for good. The end. Poof. Dead to her. Except he was everywhere — down the hall, at the bar with their friends, worming his way into her dreams.

But with their friends paired off, they’re left alone more and more. Rose is determined to keep him friendzoned — doesn’t matter that he stares at her with a smolder that drops all panties in a ten foot radius. She’s over him, and she’ll prove it by getting back into the dating game, Patrick be damned.

Patrick Evans is no stranger to consequences. When your mother walks out, your dad drifts away. When you leave home, you’re on your own. And when you run away from the girl you love, you lose her. He finally has an opportunity to rebuild the bridge he burned, and it’s not one he’ll take for granted. But he’ll have to fight for her, even if it hurts. Even if it means he’ll walk away brokenhearted. Because deep down, he knows that she’s it for him.

The trick will be to get her to admit she feels it too.
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5 STARS

When a reader follows a series from start to finish, the final book is a pretty big deal. It's a bittersweet goodbye, in a way, and needs to leave one last impression. So I'm happy to say, as someone who has been a Bad Habits fan from the very beginning, that I loved Last Call!!! This. Is. Hands down. The most achingly real, raw, and angst-filled journey of the series! Rose Fisher and Patrick Evans go from best friends, to lovers...to estranged exes, to two people fighting for their second chance at happiness. I laughed. I actually CRIED. And holy wow, Rose and Tricky are hottt together. This couple had no trouble whatsoever making me feel right along with them, opening up the floodgates on all kinds of emotions.
Every reason I had for staying away dissipated and disappeared. He was the last person to touch me like this, and he hadn't forgotten a single thing. The way his lips moved, his tongue against mine, his fingers. Maybe it was instinctive, like our bodies were tuned to each other, because I hadn't forgotten either.
First off...If you’re looking for something character-driven and dialogue-heavy, this book (this whole series, really) needs to be at the top of your list. Tight-knit friendships are one of my absolute favorite things to read about--group scenes, girl talks, and bromances--and they've been the solid backbone of the Bad Habits series. The group dynamic has been such a standout, superstar element. There's such an easygoing vibe to connect to, a natural rapport that makes the reader a part of the inner circle. You know the saying “Find your tribe, love them hard”?? I get that deep, this is my tribe feeling, every time I'm back in these characters' universe. And I love them. So. Hard. I love that these characters speak with distinct voices, come alive, and just take the wheel when telling their story. There are lighthearted, laugh-out-loud moments, and there are brutally honest, tough love moments. Whether it’s in a humorous or a more poignant light, the bonds between each of these friends shines so brightly in this novel. It feels unfiltered and real.  
"I'm happy for you, West. For both of you." 

His eyes held a shadow of sadness. "I want this for you. I want for you to feel like this."
Of all the BH heroines, I identified with Rose’s point of view the easiest and fastest. I loved her comically cynical attitude and her spunk. Her love of romance novels and whiskey. She's the kind of girl that will dress up by throwing on a classic leather jacket and some hot heels, but can also grab her longboard and go skating for hours. She gets hungover and has terrible PMS. She's an everyday heroine, and yet there was something so refreshing about her. And through Rose's eyes, we see a very relatable portrayal of playing the dating game. Dating can be a struggle, a bit intimidating, and can take some considerable effort. (OkCupid may be involved here. THAT'S ALL I'M SAYIN'.) Through it all, though, I loved walking in Rose's shoes. 

And Tricky?! His point of view drew me in immediately. I latched onto him and felt compelled to koala-hug him practically from start to finish. The tattoos. His words. His art. *pets Kindle screen* We learn a lot about Patrick Evans, where he came from and what he's been through. There's a well-woven backstory that makes Tricky this series' most developed and intriguing hero. You're going to love him, hurt with him, understand him...all of it.

As for Rose and Tricky together…There’s this slow and steady, but perfectly natural buildup. The pace is just right, especially with the kind of pain and uncertainty that these two have to overcome first. We see their friendship rebuild itself, but we also feel the tension every step of the way. That buildup and turmoil made the pressure points 10x more effective, made the chemistry burn a little bit more. From that first kiss, down to the devastating fall out...
Lying there with him, I realized our situation was about as stable as nitroglycerin, and I knew the explosion would be quiet and destructive, all at once. Because that was how he and I worked. And here we were...pretending it was all just fine when really the gas just kept leaking and leaking into the room. I only wondered who would strike the match.
I felt like I marathoned a whole season of my favorite tv show, enduring the “will they won’t they" teasing!!! I'll admit that I had my moments of frustration along the way and the fits of I'M READY FOR YOU TO BE TOGETHER NOW. I just felt like I was watching two of my best friends go through hell with each other! But, it was incredibly satisfying to see them eventually come out of the battle stronger and better. Rose and Tricky made my heart ache, but ultimately made it swell with hope and love. This book speaks strongly to anyone who has ever had a fear of trusting completely, a fear of getting hurt in a relationship. It speaks to anyone who avoids, avoids, AVOIDS their problems, if only to protect themselves. And it especially speaks to those who've ever wandered through life, wondering if they’ll find a place that truly feels like home, if they'll find something to be passionate about, or someone to just belong to.
"I love you, Rose."
A tear slipped down my cheek. "I love you. Even when it hurts."
I don't want to betray my #1 guy Cooper Moore by saying I liked Rose and Tricky best (LOL!)...but, you guys...these two seriously slayed me the most out of all the couples! Rose and Tricky, quite frankly, embodied the name of the series. Bad. Habits. But by the end, they showed what it means to learn from your mistakes, to fight for what you want, and to never give up. To take the pain along with the happiness, the good and the bad. 

I think this is Staci’s most complex and emotionally heavy-hitting couple yet. She strips these characters down, shows us what makes them flawed and vulnerable, but also that there's light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a really wonderful ending for Rose and Tricky, for this series. It's more about clearing the air for a fresh start, an ending but a new beginning. And even though I'll never really be able to let go of the Bad Habits crew, I am absolutely looking forward to whatever comes next...Trust me, you do not want to miss this finale. ;)


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MORE FROM THE BAD HABITS SERIES

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Bad Habits, #1
Love is somewhere near the bottom of Lily Thomas’ list of life goals, right next to competitive eating and underwater cave diving. She’s spent six years pirouetting and pliéing her way up the ranks of the New York Ballet with her eye on the prize and love in the back seat. But now that Blane Baker -- Lily’s long time crush -- is finally single, she’ll throw her rules out the window without thinking twice.

Reality with Blane isn’t as epic as the fantasy she imagined, and the truth sends her spinning straight into the arms of the man she never knew she’d always wanted.

West Williams has been friends with Lily since the day she moved into their building and he saved her armoire from a swift, sudden death by staircase. Their friendship has always been easy, the boundaries clearly defined. With neither of them willing to risk their relationship, they’ve drifted happily through the years as companions, never considering more.

That is, until they do. And that realization changes everything.
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Bad Habits, #2
Everyone knows you should never say never.

Cooper Moore never saw Maggie Williams coming. She was just his best friend’s little sister, the curly-haired, freckle-faced girl from Mississippi who was absolutely off limits. And he never thought about her any other way — not until he saw her that night, broken and brave. From that moment on, he knew he’d do whatever it took to protect her, even if it meant he had to stay away.

Maggie never expected to find her fiancé banging her maid of honor an hour before she was set to walk down the aisle, but life’s funny that way. The only option to save her sanity is to get the hell out of Jackson and move to New York where her brother lives. The only downside: Cooper is there too. And she just doesn’t know if she can stay away from him — the filthy rich, dead sexy playboy who’s allergic to commitment.

The second Maggie sees him again, she realizes he’ll be impossible to resist. Luckily, commitment is the last thing on her mind, and Cooper is the perfect escape. As long as she can keep her heart in check, everything will be just fine. Because she can never have feelings for him. Or at least that’s what she’ll keep telling herself.

Chaser is a standalone romantic comedy and book 2 of the Bad Habits series.
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, even though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.