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New Release Review! BAYOU WITH BENEFITS by Erin Nicholas (Badges of the Bayou #2)

Bayou with Benefits, an all-new nanny meets single dad small town romance featuring a hot firefighter from New York Times bestselling author Erin Nicholas is out now!

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They are friends. Without benefits. Unfortunately.

Michael LeClaire is small-town Louisiana. A firefighter. A single dad.

And Amelia Landry is New York City. A social media influencer. A model.

Sure, she’s his son’s favorite person on the planet.

And yeah, their families spend so much time together it’s hard to remember who shares DNA and who just shares secrets, inside jokes, and a sincere lack of boundaries.

And okay, he’s seen her nerdy side. Her sweet side. Her funny, self-deprecating side.

Fine, yes, resisting this woman has taken a saint’s share of willpower.

But he has to. He just cannot do long-distance. And he can’t have a casual fling with someone he’s known–and will know–forever.

Thankfully, he only has to hide his feelings a few times a year when she visits.
And then, he slips. One time. One spontaneous I-knew-it-would-be-everything kiss and he’s a goner.

Now every time they see each other it’s harder and harder to ignore the heat.

And when she shows up on his doorstep after a car accident changes her entire life, there’s no way he can resist the chance to see if this can last…or if they’ll finally flame out. 

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“If you don’t want our sisters to think they’re right about everything, you have to quit looking at me like that.”

Michael LeClaire had three choices here.

He could pretend he had no idea what Amelia Landry was talking about, turn, smile nonchalantly, and try to have a normal, casual conversation with her.

That was going to be nearly impossible, of course. This was Ami. There was no being casual around her. He hadn’t been able to pull nonchalant off since he’d first seen her walk down the dock in a lime green bikini the summer she’d turned twenty. But then, eleven months ago, everything had changed and now…yeah, casual was completely off the table.

He’d known she’d be here. Of course. It was her sister’s wedding. She was a bridesmaid. He’d been preparing to see her. Still, it had been three months and the last time…leaving her at that airport had been so much harder than he’d expected. He didn’t think there’d be anything casual about the things he’d end up saying to her tonight if they talked alone.

His second option was setting something on fire so that he would have to don his fire gear and do something with his evening other than watch Ami in her off-the-shoulder peach-colored bridesmaid dress, laughing and dancing and looking fucking stunning while he struggled to remember why they were only friends. As he did every single time she stood too close to him.

The reasons were good. He knew that. The primary one being that she lived in fucking New York City and he lived in Autre, Louisiana and that would just never work out. He had a kid. He was the fire chief here. His entire family was here. He couldn’t move to New York—nor did he want to—and he couldn’t travel there on a regular basis.

Ami was a model. She’d just landed a huge contract. The contract she’d been hoping and working for. She’d moved from Shreveport to New York only three months ago. She wasn’t coming back to Louisiana and also couldn’t be traveling back here on a regular basis.

Fuck New York City.

Yeah, setting something on fire kind of seemed like a great idea.

And then there was his third option: turning, throwing her over his shoulder, taking her straight back to his house, and not letting her out of his bed for a week, whether they could be together long-term or not.

Which would only make all of this—the wanting her, the thinking about her, the missing her—so much worse.

He wasn’t going to be able to do any of those three things.

He was screwed.

So, he sucked in a deep lungful of oxygen and turned, deciding to go with his fourth option—just praying to not fuck everything up. “Am I that obvious?”

Ami smiled up at him. “I just really think it’s unfair that they’re assuming things that I didn’t actually get to experience.”

He shook his head. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what? Talk about how Charlie and Naomi are assuming their matchmaking worked and we spent the entire weekend you were in New York in bed together?”

“Ami,” he said, his voice low with warning.

“Hey, you’re the one looking at me like you’ve seen me naked and want to again,” she said. “Don’t blame me.”

He tossed back the rest of his drink, wished it was alcohol and not just soda, reminded himself that staying completely sober while Ami was in town for the first time since New York was a really, really good idea, and said, “That’s not how I’m looking at you.”

She put a hand on her hip. “Then how would you describe the way you’ve been watching me from across the room but totally ignoring me whenever we’re close enough to talk?”

“Like I’ve been jerking off practically every night for the past three months because I didn’t get you naked, and like since you got back to town I’ve been constantly about ten seconds away from picking you up, taking you home, and tying you to my bed for the next week or two.”

Okay, so even without alcohol he was going to be dangerously inappropriate. And honest. Just as he’d feared.

Her eyes went wide.

Then she grinned. “Yes. You’re right. That’s a much better, more specific, description.”


Such a cute story!

I have to admit, this one went in a few directions I really wasn’t expecting–it’s definitely not just an opposites attract (firefighter and a model) or single dad/nanny romance–there’s a whole lot more going on here than the lighthearted rom-com-y vibes it gives off might suggest. Part of it is alluded to in the blurb (Amelia’s car accident) but some of the implications of that event–for Ami, Michael, and Andre (his son) were not at all what I thought they’d be. (In a good way!)

If you’re new to Ms Nicholas’s books, this one should work just fine as a standalone–it focuses mainly on the main couple. Past series (and previous series!) couples show up, but you don’t have to have read their stories to appreciate this one. For Erin Nicholas fans, though, you will absolutely love not only reading about Ami and Michael here, but also visiting Autre and its happy couples (and ever-increasing menagerie!) once again.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.

Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).

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