Review: 21 Stolen Kisses

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21 Stolen Kisses
21 Stolen Kisses by Lauren Blakely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet, unhurried and heartbreaking love story about a woman-girl and a man who fell in love out of time. A girl who wasn’t exactly ready but kept trying to figure out her life.

“Everything fits, especially me with him, and him with me. He is the puzzle piece that slides into place in my heart, filling all the sad and empty spots inside me.”

Kennedy has known Noah Hayes for years now, since he’s her mother’s twenty-five year old agent. He’s also the only person she can truly be herself with. She didn’t anticipate she would fall for him, much less believe he would fall for her. But not even their eight year age gap in age could keep them apart. Until the web of secrets surrounding Kennedy’s life are unraveled and leave her unsure of herself and of love.

Noah Hayes has dedicated his adult life to his job and has had Kennedy’s mother as his number one client from the start. But the fact that everyone wants something from him except Kennedy and their shared love for show tunes and Broadway musicals has opened the opportunity to a connection he very much wants but knows he shouldn’t have.

“Can I give you a stolen kiss, K?”
“You don’t have to steal it, because I’ll give it to you freely.”

What happens when two people that belong with each other meet out of time?

Kennedy should be thinking of prom, fun, college and being a carefree seventeen year old. But her mother has saddled her with the burden of her many secrets. Forcing her to grow up and mature too fast.

I felt so much for her in the course of the book. Her struggle to atone for her mother’s sins was touching. I could feel her misplaced guilt and see how her mother’s behavior wreaked havoc in her young life. Until she found solace, comfort, understanding and love in Noah.

“I think I was his lifeline too. We were both adrift in New Your City. We were both surrounded by so many people, but ultimately we were terribly alone. Until we found each other.”

Noah was completely adorable. Of course he’s older and very much aware of their age difference. He wasn’t even looking for love. All he had ever seen in Kennedy before was friendship. They had so many likes in common. But once she took tentative steps towards more he threaded painfully slow and carefully with Kennedy that their relationship never felt weird and I could feel how much he loved her.

“With Kennedy, I was anchored. She filled all the lonely spaces inside of me with her laugher, with her wry and witty humor, with everything we had in common.
“I wish she’s say she’s ready. But I won’t push her. I can’t. She needs what she needs right now, even though she’s the only person who ever truly needed me.”

It was a slow burn throughout their story because there were lines he knew he probably shouldn’t cross but did even if unhurriedly. And then there were others he absolutely didn’t until Kennedy was unquestionably sure and ready.

Lauren Blakely handled the age difference well. She describes their unrushed relationship in a way and detail that had me rooting and hoping they would eventually get to a place where they could both be completely free to love each other.

“She was some kind of magic to me. She was everything I never knew I wanted, and she’d quickly become the one and only person I felt like myself with.”

I really liked how the author builds the longing and attraction between Noah and Kennedy without having to bring sex into the mix. There are a lot of sweet, tender moments between and as well as some very sultry and steamy ones.

There were many other aspects that I loved. Including the character development where we truly get to know Kennedy and Noah. One of Kennedy’s passions was for love letters and we see how that reflects in her life. Including one of the sweetest being the little pieces of Kennedy’s love letter to Noah scattered throughout the book describing their Stolen Kisses.

“Lover of love. I adore love letters, and professions of love, and true, heartfelt moments when two people know they’re meant for each other.”

I very much enjoyed all the places Noah and Kennedy took me to all over NYC. I loved her friends, especially Lane who knew her secrets and supported her unequivocally. I do hope we get to know more of him in subsequent books. And I certainly will look out for more of Lauren Blakely’s work.

Book facts:21 Stolen Kisses is a standalone, new adult contemporary romance. Written from both point of view. With a happy ending.

Amazon US ->

* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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