Sunday, April 14, 2024

To Have and To Hold (Brantley Walker: Off the Books #11) by Nicole Edwards ~ Book Review with Excerpt


From New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Nicole Edwards comes the eleventh installment in her Brantley Walker: Off the Books series.

The moment everyone’s been waiting for!

Brantley Walker and Reese Tavoularis are counting down until their wedding day. Only seven more days to go, with plenty to do, they are enjoying some downtime with friends and family while checking off the remaining boxes on JJ’s checklist.

While everyone is preparing for the big day, Atticus James returns to Coyote Ridge to find he has options. Not only does he get to choose which address he wants to call home, but there are two men looking to make him more than merely a roommate. The hardest part is figuring out which one to choose. Or whether he has to choose at all.

Provided everyone survives the bachelor party, makes it through the rehearsal dinner unscathed, and works through their wedding day jitters, they’re home-free.

Excerpt from TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (unedited excerpt)
©Nicole Edwards 2024

“Hey! They made it!” Meghan, Brantley’s niece, shouted when he and Reese walked into his parents’ house shortly after six on Thursday evening.

Brantley smirked at the girl. “You didn’t think we would?”

Meghan hopped off the couch and hurried over to give Tesha love. The dog cherished every second of attention she got from the kids.

“I didn’t,” Ashley muttered from her spot at the other end of the couch, her cell phone in front of her.

Ashley and Meghan were like night and day in every way. While Ashley was the spitting image of their mother, Sadie, Meghan looked nothing like Brantley’s oldest sister and everything like her father, Devon. Ashley had thick dark hair and dark blue eyes, while Meghan’s hair was golden, and her eyes were the color of coffee. Their looks weren’t the only thing that was different. Now, anyway. At twelve, Ashley was quickly morphing into a surly teenager, and Meghan—only ten—still held the innocence and exuberance of a child.

“Well, you’re twelve,” Brantley told her. “Your opinion’s often wrong.”

She flashed those ocean-blue eyes up at him, and a smile slowly formed. “Whatever.”

Ignoring her pre-teen, the-world-irritates-me attitude, Brantley asked, “Anything new on that phone screen?”


“Ah,” he said, like he had any idea what she was talking about. “Where’s your mom?”


“Where’s your dad?”


“Where’s Nana?”


“Where’s your boyfriend?”

“Kitch—” Her gaze darted to him. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“Yes, she does,” Meghan tattled. “His name’s Jake. He’s a teenager.”

“Is that right?”

“He’s thirteen,” Ashley snapped at her sister. “And he’s not my boyfriend.”


Brantley couldn’t help it. He laughed. Having grown up with six siblings, he remembered these snap-fest conversations fondly.

“Uncle Reese’s Pieces is here!” Eric shouted from the kitchen. “Hey, Uncle Reese’s Pieces! Can I get some candy?”

“He realizes that’s not funny anymore, right?” Reese muttered to Brantley as they made their way through the formal living room to join everyone else in the kitchen.

Brantley reached into his pocket and pulled out an orange package, then tossed it to Eric. The eight-year-old caught it, dangled the package of Reese’s Pieces for his dad to see, then tossed his head back and let out a booming laugh.

“That’s not helpin’,” Reese told him.

“No, but it’s funny as shit.” Brantley walked over to his mother. “Hey, Ma. How’re you?”

He planted a kiss on her temple when she leaned in and gave him a one-arm hug. “Can’t complain.”

“I can,” he said, looking at his sisters, who were currently sitting around the table in the breakfast nook. “Who invited y’all?”

Sadie flashed a smile, Tori rolled her eyes, and Bryn flipped him off, careful to keep her hand carefully hidden from their father, who was getting up from his spot in front of the television just a few feet away in the den.

“You,” Brantley said, pointing at April, his brother Cal’s fiancĂ©e. “You were invited.”

She flashed an amused smile. “Thanks.”

“Who’s playin’?” Brantley asked the group holding down the furniture in the den.

“Bills and the Rams,” Killian answered without looking away from the television. “First game of the season.”

“Who’re we rootin’ for?” he asked, though he honestly didn’t care.

“Never the Bills,” Devon shouted back.

That was why he’d asked. He loved getting his brother-in-law riled. The guy was a die-hard Cowboys fan, like most of the family.

“Reese,” Frank said, patting Reese on the shoulder. “You hangin’ in there?”

“I am.”

“Glad to hear it.” Frank’s gaze shifted to Brantley. “And you, boy? You keepin’ on the straight and narrow?”

“Always,” he lied.

“He doesn’t do straight, Pop. Remember?” Bryn teased, causing some chuckles from the peanut gallery.

“Have you heard from Trey?” Tori asked.

Brantley looked at his sister. “No. Should I have?”

She shrugged.

“He said he’s bringin’ some people,” Bryn supplied. “Do you know who?”

Brantley glanced at Reese and lifted his eyebrows. He didn’t miss the way Reese looked away as though he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.

He should’ve expected it, considering they were at his parents’ house to have dinner on a Thursday night. That never happened. On the off-chance they could all get together, it was always on the weekend.

“Uncle Trey’s here!” Meghan hollered. “He brought people! Pretty people!”

Brantley looked at Sadie and raised his eyebrows. “Pretty people?”

Sadie shrugged it off. “She thinks everyone’s pretty these days. Even you.”

“And we don’t know why she’d think that,” Tori chimed in.

Brantley moved over to lean against the wall when he heard the front door open. He waited patiently for his brother to come in and introduce his people.

When Trey stepped into the kitchen, he stopped short, frowning at all the faces staring back at him. “What?”

“Nothin’,” Brantley told him, grinning as Ava March and Magnus Storme followed him into the room.

To Brantley’s surprise, his mother came around the counter and immediately greeted Ava and Magnus with hugs. His father did something similar, shaking Magnus’s hand and hugging Ava.

“So you’ve met?” Brantley mused.

Iris frowned. “Of course, we’ve met. Haven’t you?”

“Oh, we’ve met, Brantley noted, staring at Trey. “We just haven’t been introduced since”—he waved his hand in Trey’s direction—“the change in his Facebook relationship status occurred.”

Trey ignored him, then took Ava’s hand and led her toward the table. “Ava, I’d like you to meet my sisters, Tori, Sadie, and Bryn. And this is April, my soon-to-be sister-in-law.”

Brantley glanced at Magnus, whose attention was now on Tesha. The dog trainer had never met a dog he didn’t like, and because he’d taught Tesha everything she knew, she happened to be his biggest fan.

Brantley elbowed Reese, urging him to say something.

Reese glared back at him.

Brantley rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’ll ask.”

“No, you won’t.”

Brantley flashed a watch me grin and waited until Magnus looked up. “So, this is a thing, huh? The three of you? If you don’t mind me askin’, what exactly is your intention with my brother?”

“Shut it, Walker,” Magnus muttered, laughing as the color in his cheeks rose.

Brantley dropped all pretense of teasing and walked over to shake Magnus’s hand. As soon as Magnus’s palm touched him, Brantley jerked him in for a hug. “Seriously, man,” he said softly, “I’m very happy for all three of you.”


When he released Magnus, he turned to find Trey and Ava standing there.

“You remember my pain in the ass brother, Brantley,” Trey introduced.

Without preamble, Ava hugged him. Remembering how fragile she’d been the last time he’d seen her, instinct kicked in, and he was careful as he hugged her back.

“Good to see you,” Reese told her when she went to hug him too.

“So it’s really a thing?” Brantley asked Trey.

“It’s really a thing,” Trey said with a grin.

A knock sounded from the front of the house, and Meghan raced to get it, shouting, “Aunt JJ’s here! Oh, wow! She’s big!”

“Hey, now. I’m not big. The babies are big.”

Baz’s laughter echoed from the front room.

A moment later, JJ and Baz joined them in the kitchen. The moment she saw Ava, she gave the woman a hug, clearly not surprised to find her and Magnus there with Trey.

Not that Brantley was either. He knew something was going on with his brother, but Trey hadn’t bothered to clue him in on the details. Then again, he knew exactly what it felt like to have that new love and to want to keep it to yourself for a little while. But it was the first time in a long time he’d seen his brother truly happy, and it looked damn good on the man.

“Who’s ready to eat?” Iris asked.

“That means set the table,” Frank said, barking the command the same as he had back when they’d all been growing up in this very house.

The sound of chairs scooting and butts lifting echoed in the space as everyone moved to do their chore of getting the dining room table prepared for the feast.

The Big Day is FINALLY Here!

It's time for the wedding of Brantley Walker and Reese Tavoularis and I am sure I wasn't the only one holding my breath and hoping that nothing would happen to throw a wrench on their big day.

We start with nine days to go until the big day and during that time, Brantley and Reese decided to not take on any new cases so it would give the team some downtime and no one would be stressed for the wedding. What ensued over the next nine days was nothing but pure hysterics. J.J. as the Best Person for Brantley is running everything for the wedding, which includes setting up the bachelor party(s). Oh My Gosh, she did an amazing job, I haven't laughed that much while reading in a long time...especially with this series which is usually filled with nail-biting moments, not laughter. 

I don't think I stress how great this book was, if you have been reading the series you're going to want to read this one ASAP. If you haven't started the series I highly recommend you do. This series follows the Off The Books Task Force, they solve missing people cases as well as cold cases, and we get to follow along on all of their cases while watching how things evolve in their personal lives which is why I was so excited for this book. 

Nicole Edwards not only gifted us with the wedding we have been waiting for but she has set up the next several books very nicely. I am ecstatic that the task force men and women are far from the end of sight they are continually growing which means even more books to come.

I highly recommend this SERIES (this book is NOT a standalone) to readers who enjoy STEAMY Romantic Suspense Reads, Workplace Romances, MM Romances, Menage Romances, or Small Town Romances.

Happy Reading!!!  

About the Author:

Nicole lives in Texas with her husband and their youngest of 3 children. The two older ones have ventured out in the world on their own. She has a beautiful granddaugther and a rather spoiled grand-puppy.. Oh, she and Colt  also have four dogs. Most of the time, you can find her hiding in my writing cave. If she's not there, she's probably hanging out with the family, reading, or watching hockey and football. One thing for sure... Nicole is always trying to have fun. 

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*Book Teasers and Excerpt are property of Nicole Edwards

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