Once and Again: Return to Briarwood #1 by Elisabeth Barrett with Excerpt

Once and Again: Return to Briarwood #1 by Elisabeth Barrett with Excerpt

Welcome to my review of  the first of a new series, Return to Briarwood by Elisabeth Barrett.  Please read on for my review and excerpt. be sure to check out the tour stops to see what other readers thought of the title and be sure to enter the tour wide giveaway where you can win  a Loveswept Prize pack that includes One Loveswept Mug / One Flirt Mug / Ebook copies of: CLAIMED by Stacey Kennedy; MY OBSESSION by Cassie Ryan; DEEP AUTUMN HEAT by Elisabeth Barrett; TAKE THE FALL by Marquita Valentine; YOURS TO KEEP by Serena Bell and SWEET THE SIN by Claire Kent

Once and Again

Combining a reunited couple with a reversal in circumstance is the set up for this story. In high school Carolyn was the rich ‘good’ girl with Jake the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Family interference is excessive: Jake is arrested after being caught with Carolyn, and this sets up the story as we enter it now.

Carolyn’s father made some bad choices, and the family is destitute. Unused to living without the finer things, Carolyn has a job at the Briarwood country club, she is struggling with the changes in circumstance and another twist is ready to drop. Jake is now successful, and is the owner of the club.  He’s still justifiably angry with Carolyn for family’s actions, but she’s still intrigued.

I was missing some integral elements in this story: firstly the secondary characters are all too prominent, without real purpose beyond further installments.  Carolyn was an “all tell no show’ character, with little emotional depth.  Jake’s lack of depth was all too prevalent until about midway through the story, but his growth and depth was all present in his interactions with his partners, and none with Carolyn.  We are told, repeatedly, about their connection in high school, but the lack of flashbacks or real emotional draw TO those times leave the story rather bland and the connection questionable.

In short, far too much tell, focused on characters and relationships NOT relevant to the couple left me unsatisfied and uninspired. I’d hoped for fun and light, I got light and unfocused, leaning to boredom without a plausible connection to the characters, or them to one another.

Once and Again: Return to Briarwood #1 by Elisabeth Barrett with Excerpt

Title: Once and Again
Author: Elisabeth Barrett
Series: Return to Briarwood #1
Also in this series: Anywhere You Are
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: Loveswept
ISBN: 1101883235
Published on: 14 July, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 302
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour
See this Title on Goodreads

For readers of Shannon Stacey and Susan Mallery, the heartfelt new Briarwood series begins with a tale of forbidden love, broken promises, and second chances.

Growing up in Eastbridge, Connecticut, Carolyn Rivington was a young debutante who did whatever her parents asked. So when her father demanded that she break things off with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks or else, she did. Now Carolyn’s family is deep in debt. She’s no longer a member of the Briarwood Golf and Yacht Club, she’s an employee. And the tanned, tattooed, dangerously handsome stranger who saunters into her lobby isn’t just her new boss . . . he’s also her first love.

The last time he saw Carolyn, Jake Gaffney was in the back of a police cruiser, handcuffed and humiliated. But seeing her again stirs other memories: a blanket on the beach, the moon above their heads, and the most expensive bottle of wine he could afford. Now the tables have turned. As a real-estate magnate and Briarwood’s new owner, Jake doesn’t have to answer to anyone. But now that he’s back home, he’s finding it hard to live down his old reputation.

Before they can move forward, Jake and Carolyn must face their pasts. But it’ll take more than sizzling chemistry for them to heal old wounds and return to the love they once shared.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.



Tasty Excerpt


The conference room was bustling when she arrived. After grabbing a cup of coffee from the sideboard, she took a seat at the enormous table in the center of the room, next to Eric Lefoute, the head chef of Waves, the club’s restaurant. Unsurprisingly, the handsome Frenchman was scowling. Eric hated answering to authority and made no bones about the fact that attending such a meeting was going to take away from the prep time he needed for this afternoon’s luncheon.

Sinking back into one of the slightly worn but still functional chairs, she glanced around and took a bracing sip of black coffee. Everyone was seated now, impatiently waiting for the new owner to appear. Orwell Tippett, the athletics director, tapped a pen over and over again on his notepad. Even Summer Lawrence, the spa manager who’d found a seat on Carolyn’s other side, looked less-than-Zen as she twisted her straight, light brown ponytail into a tight corkscrew.

Summer leaned over to whisper in her ear. “What kind of changes do you think the new owner will make?”

Carolyn shrugged. “I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.”

“Do you think everyone will get fired?”

“God, I hope not.”

Getting canned was her biggest worry right now. Despite the fact that members and staff seemed to like her—both personally and professionally—her family’s reputation and the fact that she was the new kid on the block both weighed against her. Now that the family fortune was decimated and the Rivington name was mud, it didn’t matter a whit that her maternal great-grandfather had been one of the club’s original investors.

Just as everyone’s anxiety was reaching a fever pitch, the door to the conference room opened. Her heart skipped a beat just before Richard stepped inside. Beside her, Eric emitted a sharp breath. He was just as worried as anyone else about the changes that might come.

She’d almost collected herself before he stepped in.


Tattoo Guy.

Everything kind of slipped sideways for a minute while she sat there, barely breathing. He belonged here, didn’t he? And she’d tried to kick him out! It was impossible for this day to get worse.

And then it did.

He removed his sunglasses, and familiar deep-blue eyes swept the room, sizing up everything and everyone. When his gaze finally met hers, his lips curled into the merest hint of a smile and his eyes narrowed.

“Hello, everyone,” he said in a deep voice. “I’m Jacob Gaffney, Briarwood’s new owner.”

At that moment, her heart stopped. Actually stopped, just like her dad’s had last week when he’d suffered a massive heart attack brought on by the huge amount of stress he was under. But Carolyn wasn’t having a heart attack, because her organ kick-started up almost immediately.


It had been the best summer of her life—until everything had come crashing down. As she stared at him, trying to morph these new, hard, masculine features onto the boy she knew, Jake stared back. A complicated mix of emotion passed over his face—awareness, desire.


Sure that her cheeks were turning a furious crimson, she looked down at her fingers, now twisting in her lap. For a long time, she’d put up a wall to stop the ache, telling herself it was for the best. That she had been too young. Too inexperienced. But she was just fooling herself. Regret, sadness, and not for the first time, the intense desire for a do-over coursed through her in a wave of emotion. But in life, there were no do-overs, were there?

This hardened, transformed-to-the-point-of-unrecognizability Jake wasn’t going to give her one. Why would he, considering what she and her family had done?

Jake was now introducing himself and laying out the game plan for the staff for the next couple of weeks. The words, the room, even the walls were a blur. She was screwed, utterly and completely.

Because as soon as Jake got her alone, he was going to fire her ass, and then she’d be back where she started: a former socialite with crippling debt and a family on the brink of collapse.

Not that Jake would care, given that the last time she’d seen him, he’d been handcuffed in the back of a police car.

And her father was the one who’d put him there.






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About Elisabeth Barrett

Elisabeth Barrett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends her days teaching, editing, writing sexy contemporary romance, and enjoying time with her sometimes-bearded husband and three spirited children. She is constantly perfecting her home-work-writing juggling act, but in her free time she loves to hike open-space preserves, grow orchids, bake sweet things her husband won’t eat, and sing in grand choruses. For more about Elisabeth, please visit her website.

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