Review: The Hookup - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips though his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.


Moonlight & Motor Oil

Book 1

Can be read as a standalone

Book Type:

Contemporary Romance

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The Hookup
By Kristen Ashley

Review: The Hookup

My love for Kristen Ashley novel deepens unfathomably with every love story she shares with us. And THE HOOKUP—well, it was a special one, an instant favorite. The story encapsulated the very essence of what I love about KA novels: I feel as if I’m a part of the story.

Ashley’s storytelling is immersive, relatable. It’s as if I’m at my girlfriend’s house, having a glass of wine, talking about what’s going on in our lives. The details she weaves throughout the narrative make it easy to visualize every character, the dialogue draws me in and the love story makes me swoon and sigh in utter contentment.

THE HOOKUP is a story about second chances, about picking yourself up after you’ve been broken to pieces, about finding the happy and holding on to it tight. And because it’s Kristen Ashley, it’s also about friendship and family, and the beauty and chaos that comes with it.

We meet Izzy (Eliza) on the heels of her very first casual hookup. While this isn’t Izzy’s style, she is quite taken with Johnny Gamble, and he with her. While it seems their night has the potential for something more, Izzy soon learns Johnny’s heart has been taken for quite some time, albeit in pieces.

Soon enough, what started beautifully gets cut short, when his lost love reappears, and Johnny realizes he can’t give good girl Izzy everything she deserves.

But when fate steps in and their paths cross once more, it also becomes clear there’s no walking away from this thing they have.

Both Johnny and Izzy have felt the sting and disappointment of betrayal, but with each other, they begin to heal, falling fast and deep. But again, the past barrels back, ushering in the kind of trouble that puts everything into perspective.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Cherish every moment because it will be over too soon. I know I’m already counting down for the next KA novel, but in the meanwhile, I’ll be all too happy to re-read Izzy and Johnny’s story.


He turned the bacon. Got out another skillet. Put it on a burner. Walked to the double door pantry at the edge of the kitchen and got out a loaf of bread.

He brought that to me and set it by my thigh on the opposite side of the counter from his mug. He pulled a toaster from the wall.

“You wanna be in charge of toast?” he asked, his gaze finally coming back to me.

I nodded. “I think I can manage that.”

His head tilted to the side. “You know how to cook?”

“I was a latchkey kid. My mom worked and I was the oldest. So yeah, I know how to cook.” I smiled at him. “And I definitely can make toast.”

His impassive face softened before he reached up beside me and pulled down a plate.

He gave me a knife and the butter.

I grabbed the bread.

“How many pieces do you want?” I asked.

“Two,” he answered.

He reached across me to grab the butter, shoved a huge pat of it in the empty skillet, then reached back across me to replace the butter.

I slid the lever down on the first two slices of toast just as a cell phone rang from somewhere in the vicinity of his bed.

“That’s my tone,” I said.

“Mine too.”

Another sliver of information about Johnny, he had an iPhone.

He moved into the room and I watched him toss his jeans aside and come back with my purse, which was ringing.

He handed it to me.

I dug out my phone.

He took the purse from me and set it on the island as I took the call and he went back to the stove.

The call was from Deanna.

“Hey there,” I answered.

“Where are you?” she replied.

“I’m, well…still with, uh…Johnny,” I stammered.

“Okay, then, just so you know, went by your place and took care of your menagerie. All fed and watered, including Serengeti and Amaretto.”

Serengeti and Amaretto, my palomino and bay horses, respectively.

“I’m still here,” she went on. “Letting the dogs have a good roam. I’ll bring them back in before I go, but could you call me when you get home?”

I suspected, since this was not my done thing, and she’d lived through my last nightmare with me (and others besides), she just wanted to make sure I was not only okay right then, but that I got home okay.

“Sure,” I replied. “And thanks.”

“Not a problem, babe. Later,” she said then rung off, which I found a little odd.

I mean, she knew I was there with Johnny so she couldn’t have a girlie gab at that particular moment about my hookup, but she seemed matter of fact to the point of being blunt.

Maybe it was a problem I asked her on a Sunday morning to go look after my babies.

I made a mental note to bring over some treats as a show of gratitude some time that week and definitely call her when I got home as I brought the phone down and saw the notifications had come up after the call.

Three texts from Deanna that came in unnoticed sometime during the activities last night (or this morning).

Call me.

Babe, call me.

As soon as you can, call me.

Oh God, maybe she really couldn’t look after my babies but had to because she hadn’t heard from me.

I engaged my texts, typed in, I’m so sorry. I didn’t get your texts. If it was an inconvenience to look after my zoo, I apologize. I got caught up in things. It means the world you took care of them anyway, I can’t thank you enough and I’ll totally make it up to you.

I sent the text with a whoosh and Johnny asked, “All cool?”

“I think so,” I answered uncertainly.

“What’s the thinking part of that?” he queried.

“I don’t know, but it might be that Deanna had something on and I didn’t get her texts after I’d texted last night so she went over, but still, it seems like something’s up.”

My phone binged and I immediately looked down to see Deanna’s response of, No, no, it’s cool. Totes cool. All good. No worries. Just call me when you get home. No biggie. Just want to chat.

I relaxed.

“Okay?” Johnny asked.

I looked at him and nodded. “Read it wrong. She’s cool.”

“Good,” he muttered, turning his attention to pouring the eggs in the skillet.

The toast popped up.

Johnny finished up the eggs and bacon and I finished up the toast. He served up and I hopped off the counter to toss my phone in my bag and warm up our coffee. He took the plates to a small, round dining room table with highly polished wood that radiated out beautifully from a center circle and space-age angled legs that had four scoop-backed chairs around it.

My mind screamed when he didn’t get a placemat before he put the plates down on that wood but I kept my mouth shut. I brought the mugs over. He returned to the kitchen and came back with the toast, a bottle of ketchup and a jar of grape jelly.

“Sit,” he ordered, putting all that on the table and going back to the kitchen.

He’d set the plates on the curve next to each other and he’d dished up equally, so I just picked a seat and sat.

“No, Iz, other plate,” he said, coming back with cutlery.

“Sorry,” I muttered self-consciously, shifting to the other chair.

“Better view, baby,” Johnny murmured close to my ear as he set a fork and knife next to my white plate.

I looked from the flatware to the room to see I was positioned facing it, and the windows, so he was right.

It was a better view.

I felt my chest warm as he took his seat.

Johnny grabbed the ketchup and squirted it all over his eggs.

I picked up my fork and stuck in.

I ate, alternately looking to my plate to get food and chewing it while staring out at the lush leaves dappled in sunlight beyond his wall of windows.

“Quiet,” he remarked suddenly and softly.

I looked to Johnny.


“You’re being quiet,” he noted.

“These are good eggs,” I told him.

His lips hitched. “Eggs are eggs, babe.”

I nodded, though they were actually good. Fluffy and light and well-seasoned.

Then I said, “Thanks for letting me have the chair with the view.”

“I got a chair with a view too,” he replied, his eyes on me telling me what his view was. “And mine’s better.”

I felt warmth in my cheeks and looked to my plate.

“Watched you walk into Home last night, no…giving you the honesty, watched your ass walk into Home last night, my plans of havin’ a few and relaxing after the week went up in smoke. Got up next to you, you looked at me, thought you were gonna bolt. Shocked the shit outta me you told me your name when I asked it,” he declared while I turned my attention back to him. “Maybe margarita courage that kept you where you were, just you in the beginning though. Now you’re here, you keep putting on your panties when you know I’m just gonna take ’em off, which means you gotta know I’m into you but you still can’t take a compliment for shit.”

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

He shook his head slowly, not taking his eyes off me.

“It’s your thing and you got no clue, and I seriously don’t know if I should give you one but I’m gonna. You work it, Izzy, so don’t apologize for it.”

I ducked my head and grabbed a slice of toast.

Johnny chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s your thing,” he muttered.

I tore a bite of toast off, eyes to the table, chewed it, swallowed and announced, “I used your toothpaste.”

“Seeing as I kissed you after you did it, that kinda wasn’t lost on me.”

My gaze flitted to his to see him taking a bite of his bacon. “I didn’t use your toothbrush, though.”

He swallowed before he stated, “Iz, you’ve spent time sitting on my face. Do you think I give a shit you use my toothbrush?”

I was somewhat appalled. “That’s kind of gross.”

“Sitting on my face?” he asked, though I could tell by the sparkle in his eyes he was teasing.

“No,” I said swiftly.

“Since you didn’t use it, I don’t have to be grossed out by it.”

“True,” I mumbled, putting my toast on my plate and picking up some bacon.

“I understand,” he said quietly and I looked again to him while I chewed bacon. “You had to go through my stuff to find toothpaste. You don’t want me to think you got nosy. But I got nothing to hide, Izzy.”

I nodded.

This all seemed very weird, complicated with a good deal of it contradictory, but at least that was good to know.

“Your bathroom is really nice,” I observed and it came again.

He turned off, looked at his plate.

Shut me out.

The Izzy I was normally would ignore it, find some way to move around it, but something made me ask, “Sorry, I…you…am I stepping where I shouldn’t?”

His black eyes came direct to me and they weren’t entirely impassive. There was something in their depths. I just couldn’t read it.

But surprisingly, he gave it to me.

“Left my old place, sold the place I grew up, fixed up this place and moved in after my dad died.”

“Oh God, Johnny, I’m so sorry.”

“There’s shit in my life I’m not big on talking about. Was tight with my dad. So that’s some of it.”

I nodded. “Of course, sorry. So sorry.”

He nabbed another slice of bacon. “You didn’t know so no need to apologize.”

“Right. Okay,” I replied quickly.

But even though this was an explanation, something niggled at me because I found it odd if he was still so deeply affected by his father’s passing, why he’d chosen to be in a place that daily, hourly, each second he was in it, reminded him of that in such a way it clearly bothered him.

I knew what it was like to lose a parent because I’d lost both. How that came about, I’d had no choice but to let them go and I’d lost each in entirely different, but not equally agonizing, ways.

I knew how hard it was. I knew how painful. No matter what way you lost them.

I also knew escaping anything that brought additional pain was a good coping mechanism.

So I wondered, no matter how fabulous this space was, why he didn’t find his way to that.

I did not ask this as it became clear even if I’d asked, he more than likely would not tell me.

This made something else clear.

This was not a getting-to-know-you date.

This wasn’t a date at all.

This was a hookup.

This was not something beginning.

This was something else.

Not just sex, as such.

But something I’d never encountered.

And as handsome as he was, as nice as it was that he gave me the best seat (and all the rest), even if I wanted that to be the type of girl I was (and I actually did), that wasn’t the type of girl I was.

I always wanted more.

Sitting there I realized with more pain than it should cause, I wanted this maybe especially from Johnny.


That came gently and I turned my attention to him.

“Not sure I like the look on your face. It seems a lifetime ago but also like yesterday. Most the time, I just live with it. But sometimes I have bad days. This is one of those days.”

This was one of those days.

A sunny early summer morning in his house…with me.

“My mom died of cancer, Johnny, so I get that.”

He stared at me.

“Ate her up. She was dead in six months,” I shared.

He blinked.

“I miss her every day, and if I let it in, I miss her every second.”

“Iz,” he whispered, a wealth of meaning and understanding and a lot more in his saying my name, all of it, for his sake on a bad day where I was sharing that day with him thus him having that understanding didn’t make me feel real great.

I didn’t focus on that.

“But that wasn’t the meaning behind the look on my face,” I told him, surprising myself at my candor.

“What was the meaning?” he asked.

I didn’t know what was happening. What this was. Where it led.

I just knew I liked him a whole lot for a whole lot of reasons, the most recent him being thoughtful enough to give me the seat at the dining room table in his own home that had the best view.

But it seemed he liked me mostly because he could have sex with me and I amused him with my shy ways in the midst of me having lots of sex with him.

He let me talk about myself, and he listened, because that was easier than sharing about himself, something it had become clear he didn’t intend to do. Or at least not without a goodly amount of effort on my part and with little elaboration when he gave me something.

He shared his body and his talents in bed without a problem though.

So I might not have a lot of experience with a hookup, but one and one were equaling one in this equation, not the path to there maybe being a two.

“I need to go home. Deanna took care of my animals but I have things to do today,” I declared.

This was somewhat a lie. I had one thing to do, which would take me ten minutes.

He put his fork to his plate and sat back in his seat, eyes on me.

“So do you mind, after I help you clean up, taking me back to my car?” I asked.

He studied me pensively as he answered, “You don’t have to help me clean up.”

“I don’t want to be rude.”

He didn’t respond to that.

He tipped his chin down to my plate and asked, “You get enough to eat?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“You ready to go now?” he queried, even though neither of us had cleaned our plates and that so went against the grain for me, it was difficult to give him my answer.

But I did.

“Yes, that probably would be best.”

“Right, Eliza,” he said on a curt nod. “I’ll get this soaking. You get dressed.”

“I can help,” I offered.

His eyes came to me. “Get dressed.”

That hurt. It shouldn’t. It was me putting an end to this.

But it did.

I got up and went to gather my clothes. I took them to the bathroom and got dressed.

By the time I came out, the dishes were cleared, soaking in the sink, jelly and ketchup still on the table.

“Be out in a second,” Johnny muttered, moving by me to go down the hall.

He disappeared in the bathroom.

I felt the sudden need to cry.

Instead, I went to his wall of windows, leaned a shoulder against one and looked out.

It was then I knew why he didn’t give up this place that reminded him of his dad.

The creek was wide and meandered slowly. Some of the trees grew straight out of it, their wide trunks serving as banks. Even that early in the summer, there was so much foliage, the sun struggled to get through but the power of it was such it cast streaks of bright against leaves and trunks and glimmered in the clear water and stone creek bed, making it appear magical.

I could stand out there with coffee every morning for fifteen minutes, half an hour, ages, just letting the peace of it and the gently turning water wheel calm me.

I wouldn’t have that opportunity, then or ever.

Johnny called from behind me, “Ready?”

I pushed away and looked to him to see him in another T-shirt and a different pair of jeans, wondering inanely (knowledge I’d never get either), where he got his clothes from, and I nodded.

I went to the island to get my purse, made sure my phone was in it, then followed him out the door.

He didn’t lock it behind him.

I moved at his back toward the truck, feeling a melancholy steal over me when he walked right to the passenger side door.

He opened it.

I started to shift around him to get in position to climb in but stopped when he slammed the door and turned to me. Hooking an arm around my waist, he pulled me around, put his hand to my stomach and pushed me against the truck.

My heart started beating hard as I tipped my head back to look up at him.

“You just got your fill or what?” he asked coldly.

“Sorry?” I whispered anxiously.

“Is that your play?” he demanded to know, the ice still in his tone.


“Cut the crap, Eliza. What the fuck?”

I stared up at him.

“I don’t know. I’m not a woman,” he went on. “Only know the different reasons a man goes alone to a bar. The reason I hit Home last night was not the way it turned out to be. But I figure, one of the reasons men go alone is one of the reasons women go alone. So is that it? You went to find yourself some cock. Found it, got your fill, now you’re done?”

I felt my eyes get wide.

“You don’t owe me dick,” he continued. “I got it good so I’m not complaining. But assuage my curiosity. What the fuck?”

“I’ve never…not ever…” I trailed off, not knowing if I was offended, hurt, angry or all three.

“You’ve never what?” he pushed tersely.

“This,” I said, throwing out an arm to my side.

His heavy brows shot together. “You tryin’ to tell me you were a virgin?”

“Of course not,” I answered fast.

“Then what?” he pressed.

“Hooked up,” I told him.

“You’ve never hooked up,” he stated, making it clear he didn’t believe me.

“Well, I’ve hooked up but not hooked up hooked up. Like, you know, what we did. Meet a guy, and then, you know, leave with him and then, well…what came next.”

He glowered down at me.

“I don’t know the protocol,” I blurted.

The glower wavered as he asked, “The protocol?”

“I don’t know how to act. What to do. I mean, what do you do when a hookup is obviously coming to an end?”

“Jesus,” he whispered, now staring at me like he’d never seen a woman in his life.

“I…in there…you were…you’ve been…” I stuttered then changed courses, “This isn’t like a get-to-know-you date. I know how to do those. This, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“You want some insight?” he inquired.

By the look on his face, what I knew was I did not.

Even though I didn’t, I tentatively nodded, such was the only response I could give due to that look on his face.

I was wrong, that hooded brow with those thick eyebrows could be ominous.

“When the man you’ve outstandingly fucked four times opens up enough to tell you he’s havin’ a rough time because his dad died three years earlier, on this day, this being the reason he went out to get a few drinks the night before, you don’t immediately set about scraping him off so you can get on with your day.”

“Oh my God,” I whispered.

“Yeah,” he shot back.

“I didn’t know,” I pointed out gently (and it must be said, since that look was still on his face, carefully).

“And that makes it okay?” he asked.

“Well, um…no. But, in my defense—”

“You’ve never hooked up and don’t know the protocol,” he finished for me.

Right then, that totally sounded weak.

I pressed my lips together.

He studied me a few seconds before he asked, “Honest to Christ, you’ve never picked a guy up and fucked him before?”

I shook my head slowly.

“You’re a prude,” he stated.

“Well, not recently, but, um…yes,” I confirmed. “My mom wasn’t and my sister really wasn’t, so someone had to be around, you know, to feed the dogs and get in the car and pick them up when they got in situations and, uh…other stuff. Though, that said, it really just comes naturally, until, like I said but you already know since you were there, recently.”

“Why am I pissed at you and still wanna laugh my ass off?” he asked curiously.

“Because I’m being an idiot?” I asked back in answer.

“Yeah, that’s why,” he agreed.

I fell silent.

Johnny didn’t break the silence.

I couldn’t take the silence so I surged ahead.

“I can cook, like I told you, but, I don’t want to brag, I’m actually really good at it. So, to make up for being an idiot, if you want, you can take me to my car and I’ll get stuff sorted to make you dinner and you can come over later. Meet the babies. I’ll feed you and then maybe do some other, you know, stuff, to um…make up for being an idiot when you’re having a rough day.”

“So what you’re saying is you’ll feed me, introduce me to your pets and then fuck my brains out.”

I got a becoming-familiar trill down my spine, looked to his throat and muttered, “Something like that.”


I looked into his eyes.

“I got a tradition for tonight that I do by myself. But tomorrow, I’ll be over.”

My heart skipped a beat and my lips formed the word, “Really?”

He hooked me at the waist again, pulled me from his truck, opened the door, and after I climbed inside, he tossed his phone at me.

I bobbled it but caught hold of it while he said, “Code, eight, nine, one, two. Program you in. Call yourself. Program me in. I’ll call you later.”

Then he slammed the door and started around the hood.

I didn’t know what he did for a living.

But I did know the code to his phone.

I bent my head to it making the herculean effort not to do it smiling so big, I broke my own face.

He climbed in beside me, roared the truck to life and I looked up from programming myself in his phone in order to catch him put an arm around my seat so he could twist to see where we were going as he reversed in a big arc in the huge space beside his house.

Johnny Gamble then set us on our way to my car.

We were well down the dirt road, I was done with all my programming, when I said softly into the cab, “I’m sorry I messed up so big over eggs.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied.

“I lost my mom so I know—”

His fingers curled tight around my knee and he cut me off. “Put it out of your head. Only things I want in your head are you getting inspired about what you’re gonna feed me tomorrow night and what you’re gonna give me after.”

“Do you like chicken enchiladas?”


“Do you like olives?”


“Do you like sour cream?”


“On a scale of a little bit of cheese goes a long way to cheese fanatic, where do you sit?”


We had something in common.

“Do you want beer or wine or something else?”


“Well, that’s dinner sorted,” I muttered.

He burst out laughing, slid his hand up my thigh and kept it resting there.

I let out a relieved breath.

Johnny stopped, checked, then pulled out of the dirt road onto the paved road.

And he took me to my car.

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One Comment:

  1. Viviana Varona said:

    This was great and thank you for sharing!


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