Just One Reason by Jaime ClevengerJust One Reason by Jaime Clevenger is a great age gap, workplace romance that kept me entertained and invested in a happily ever after for both main characters.

Dr. Terri Anderson is a talented doctor at Sacramento General Hospital. Her reputation in the field of internal medicine-pediatrics is legendary within the hallowed halls of the hospital. She’s also known for being tough on erach group of residents rotating through her department. One of her rules – no dating residents, men or women. She’s been down that road. It didn’t end well, and she doesn’t want to be part of the gossip mill all over again. Besides, she practically lives at the hospital 24/7 so she doesn’t have time for a social life let alone any romantic entanglements.

Elizabeth Samuels is a talented resident who stays cool under pressure and is great with her patients. She’s nervous about starting her rotation in the internal medicine/pediatrics department. She doesn’t doubt her abilities, but she doubts if she’ll be able to keep from being distracted by the gorgeous attending doctor who’ll be overseeing her. Dr. Anderson caught her eye the day Sam started at Sacramento General. How could she not? Beauty, brains, and a frosty demeanor are Sam’s kryptonite.

When mutual friends set Sam and Terri up on a double date, both women immediately feel a physical draw. Terri repeats her “No Residents” rule like a mantra, but there’s no escaping Sam’s charm or jaw-dropping good looks. No woman should look that good in a suit and tie. Sam can’t keep herself from flirting with Terri, but Terri is firm – except for those moments she can’t help flirting back.

A couple of weeks before Sam’s rotation in Terri’s department is over, Sam accidentally prescribes the wrong dosage of a medication to a young patient. Her mistake was caught before it had lasting effects, but it causes Sam to rethink her career path.

Sam’s two real passions are photography and surfing. She’s spent her life trying to live up to her grandfather’s expectations which included becoming a doctor and taking over his family practice. He added an incentive. When Sam completed her medical degree and joined the practice, she would inherit over 40 million dollars. Tempting as the offer is, Sam has to concede that her heart really isn’t in medicine.

When Terri learns of Sam’s withdrawal from the residency program, she’s livid. Sam has the kind of innate talent that isn’t easily found. Terri is determined to change Sam’s mind, but that includes getting close – a little too close.

When it becomes clear that Sam isn’t changing her mind, Terri allows herself one weekend of passion with Sam. It’s a weekend that changes both their lives. Sam sees a future for her and Terri. The three-hour drive between Santa Cruz and Sacramento and Terri’s hectic schedule seem insignificant to Sam. Terri isn’t so easily convinced. With two divorces under her belt, she’s not so sure a happily ever after is in her future.

Will Terri accept Sam’s love, or will she remain a prisoner to her past heartaches?

The Characters

Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry. Terri and Sam have so much heat raging between them, I was afraid my Kindle was going to melt. They are perfectly matched, and I could have watched them dance around their attraction for an extra hundred pages.

Terri Anderson is the picture of control. She runs a tight ship and suffers no fools. She’s also gorgeous and sexy as hell. I wouldn’t go so far as call her an ice queen, but at the hospital her boundaries are clear. There’s a vulnerability to her that’s always present right below the surface. She’s got a sweet sense of humor only her most trusted friends get to see. She loves her career, but she’s tired, so very tired. The long hours and lack of a social life are beginning to take their toll, but she’d never admit it. Having gone through two divorces has left her feeling like she’s obviously not cut out for a romantic relationship. When Sam waltzes (literally, waltzes) into her life, it’s as if she wakes up and realizes what she’s been missing. But past experiences are hard to overcome, and Terri is dead set on not letting Sam get to her. The harder she fights her desire for Sam, the more powerful it becomes. When she finally relents and let’s herself experience real intimacy with Sam, it spooks her. She falls back on old thinking which left me wondering if she was going to be able to allow herself the happiness she deserves.

Elizabeth Samuels, “Sam” is a spectacular butch. Tall and handsome, she’s chivalrous with a cocky swagger, but inside she’s earnest and a sentimental romantic. She has no problem finding women to share her bed, but that’s losing its allure. Perhaps it’s because she’s slightly older than her fellow residents. She’s ready to find a woman who’s interested in more than a “friend’s with benefits” situation. When she starts her rotation in Dr. Anderson’s department, she’s immediately smitten. It’s adorable how she loses all her cool when she’s around Terri. Sam is clear about her feelings for Terri and makes it known that she wants to properly date Terri and pursue a real relationship. She reminded me of a puppy that won’t let go of its bone. Sam is nothing if not persistent. When she realizes that she’s in medicine for the wrong reason, she makes the decision to forego that career and return to her passion for photography – 40 million dollars be damned. She’s learned what type of man her grandfather really was, and she doesn’t want anything to do with his money. Terri is livid with her so Sam thinks she’ll never see her again. When Terri shows up at her beach house, Sam knows this is her last chance to show Terri what they could have together. Terri might think it’s going to be a weekend sex fest, but Sam shows her so much more. It’s Sam’s opportunity to properly woo Terri and that’s exactly what she does. Sam is attentive, sweet, and a rockstar in bed. I had my fingers crossed Terri would take the leap of faith and give Sam a chance.

The Writing Style

The storyline glides along with ease and Clevenger’s great dialogue lets the reader see how Sam and Terri are hardwired. Their verbal sparring is exceptional. The story is told from both Sam and Terri’s points of view so getting to know them happens naturally. This is the third book in the Paradise series, but it works as a stand-alone. Two of the characters from the first book are integral to the plot, but there’s no confusion if you haven’t read it. This is always a bonus for me because I often pick up a book not knowing it’s part of a series. Had I felt disoriented because I didn’t understand how the other characters were impacting the plot, it would have made for a disappointing reading experience.

The Pros

Let’s talk about sex! There are some amazingly steamy love scenes in this book, and I applaud Clevenger for incorporating sex toys, mild power dynamics, and subtle gender play in the story. I love characters who like sex and ask for what they want. Sam and Terri check in with each other during every encounter highlighting the importance of consent. Also, they talk about safe in a way that doesn’t break the mood.

The Cons

Nothing from me.

The Conclusion

I had a lot of fun reading Just One Reason. Terri and Sam are equally tantalizing, and they are perfect examples of the butch/femme dynamic. “Been there, done that,” you say? Sure, we all have, but Clevenger gives each woman enough depth to keep them from feeling like stereotypes. I enjoy diving into a traditional romance where I know exactly what I’m going to get, and then being delighted with a host of clever details that make the story feel fresh and brand new. This book checked all the boxes on my list of what I want in a good book. I got to bond with two intriguing main characters. The plot had enough angst to make me question in there’d be a happily ever after (Hint: it’s a romance.), and the sex was hot. From any way you look at it, this story’s a winner.

Excerpt from Just One Reason by Jaime Clevenger

There was no break for lunch and again Sam had no excuse to catch Terri alone. She thought of sending a text and then changed her mind. By four her stomach rumbled loud enough to get a questioning look from a patient and after she’d finished with him, she went down to the breakroom. The food from the machines was tolerable at best, but she didn’t have time for a run to the cafeteria.

After staring at the row of turkey and cheese sandwiches that she knew would taste stale, she punched in the code for an apple, promising her stomach a real meal in a few hours.

“Branching out from Reese’s?”

Sam spun around at Terri’s voice. “Hey.” She’d waited all day for a chance to talk to her and “hey” was the best she could come up with? Sam glanced down at the apple. “I want pad thai. With a side of spring rolls. Unfortunately I haven’t found that in a vending machine.”

Terri reached for the apple. She took a bite, chewed with a furrowed brow, and then swallowed. “This is terrible.”

“That’s what you get for stealing someone’s lunch.” Sam went over to the next dispensing machine and punched the code for a bag of Reese’s, then went to the next machine and paid for a Coke.

When the Coke dropped, she turned and handed it to Terri. “Want to have dinner with me tonight?”

Terri ignored the question. She popped open the Coke, took a long sip, and then tapped her nails on the can. “How’d you know this is what I came here for?”

“Because you live on caffeine. So you didn’t follow me down here?”

“I did follow you. But I planned on using the Coke for my excuse.”

Terri’s coy smile hit Sam full in the chest. “Can I buy you anything else to keep you here longer?”

“You know I can’t go to dinner with you. And I’m not saying I didn’t like the texts you sent last night but…that can’t happen again. Right now nothing can happen.”

“Next week I won’t be working with you.”

Terri shook her head. “You’ll still be a resident.”

“You want me to wait almost two years to ask you out?”

“I wouldn’t tell you to wait for anyone. But you have to decide if you want to be here at all and I don’t want to complicate that.” Terri eyed the package of Reese’s. “You gonna eat all of those?”

Sam opened the package and handed her one. “So that’s your final decision? You don’t want to complicate my life?”

“Why are these things so damn good?”

“I think they slip crack in the chocolate.”

Terri raised an eyebrow. “Now you tell me.”

“I can do complicated, you know. What if I promise to figure out my shit without factoring you into it?”

“You could do that?”

“Probably better than you can relax around me.”

Terri rolled her eyes. “You’ve seen how much caffeine I drink. I don’t do relaxed.” She paused. “I want you to make your decision first. Then we’ll talk.”

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Series

Paradise Series

Three Reasons to Say Yes

All the Reasons I Need

Bits and Bobs

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About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.