I discovered the treasure trove known as the Walsh series by Kate Canterbary this past winter, and every book of hers I’ve picked up since has been better than the last, especially her latest, Hard Pressed.

First of all, if you’ve never read Kate Canterbary before, I’m both excited and a little sad for you. Excited because you have a lot of great reading ahead of you, and sad because you’ve gone so long without the wonders of her characters in your life.

Hard Pressed is the second book set in the town of Talbot’s Cove, so if you haven’t read the first, Fresh Catch, yet, you’ll definitely want to backtrack and pick that one up. You get a little more than a casual glimpse at Owen and Cole’s bond in Hard Pressed and there is so much great romance between them in their story.

Now, Hard Pressed tells the story of how Sheriff Jackson Lau and bookstore-owner Annette Cortassi use the catalyst of one very awkward evening to break the ice. They’ve both seen each other around town, but thanks to some unfortunate circumstances (and a downright rude family member or three) they’ve never really taken a chance on each other. Oh, how wonderful it is when fate, in the form of bartender J.J. Harniczek, steps in.

June was a fabulous month for romance, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way for it to end than with this witty, infectious story from Kate Canterbary. We first met Annette thanks to her unrequited crush on Owen Bartlett in Fresh Catch, and it seemed such a shame that she spent all her time focused on a man that was never going to be able to reciprocate her feelings. Then Owen met Cole and we knew that Annette was going to have a hard time coming to terms watching their relationship blossom.

Enter Sheriff Lau. *wiggles eyebrows*

I love that while Annette is busy crushing on emotionally unavailable men, Jackson has found her utterly irresistible. He is crushing on the woman’s ankles for crying out loud! We learn later in Hard Pressed that there is a reason for Annette’s blindness toward Jackson’s infatuation, and it has nothing to do with her not being interested.

I think one of my favorite things about Hard Pressed is that Annette is still trying. Despite having grown up with sisters that act like absolute cows toward her, she never gives up hope that someday she might have a chance at finding what she truly wants out of life. She might have to take babysteps to convince herself she’s worthy, but she never quits. She doesn’t completely recoil from everything. She allows Jackson Lau to woo her enough to get under her defenses and smash all those ugly, conditioned responses brought on by decades of belitting comments from her sisters.

And smash them he does. Jackson Lau may be in the dark for most of Hard Pressed about what is causing Annette to push him away when both of their instincts are screaming, “HOLD ON TO THIS ONE!” at the top of their lungs, but once he is clued into the picture (thank you Brooke Markham!) Jackson knows exactly how to handle the problem.

Jackson is one hell of a hero. He doesn’t manipulate Annette to get what he wants or push her to give in to feelings she’s not quite ready to to set free. He is patient and understanding through a large portion of their courtship and it makes me love him all the more. He’s not perfect, and he may have an insecurity or two of his own, but he is one of the most patient men I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

I sincerely hope that there are novellas or special scenes with more from these two in our future, because I still can’t wait to see Annette and Jackson’s mother in the same room. I want to read about the first time that Annette and Owen Bartlett come face to face with their brilliant, attractive men by their sides. I want to see Jackson holding Annette as the Cortassi family opens presents around a Christmas tree while her sisters see the love shining out of his eyes.

I can see that Annette and Jackson are the backbone of the Talbot’s Cove community, and I can’t wait to see if/when they make appearances in the future. There are so many stories that can be told here and I am game for each and every one that Kate Canterbary wants to give us. I’ll basically be the lady in the back of the town council meeting taking copious notes about every person in the room, not paying any actual attention to the actual meeting.

Hard Pressed is available now! Make sure to get your copy today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or find an indie bookstore near you. Oh, and don’t forget to add it on Goodreads!

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