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ARC Review of The Hardest Love (A Long Road to Love #5) by Liza O’Connor

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A bit from Sam’s perspective:

Sam has a new theory why his relationship with women never work. The problem is he’s constantly falling in love with women that he rescues from serious situations. He reasonably believes saving one from great harm should result not only in good sex afterwards, but never ending gratitude.


But it hasn’t been working out that way.


He saved Dawn from a serial rapist, and while she was grateful for a bit, his constant running off to rescue of Carrie destroyed all Dawn’s adoration.

He saved Carrie so many times he lost count. But did he ever get anything in return. No! She chose to adore his annoying half-brother instead. And even when Trent blew up the relationship, did she come running to him? NO! She ran straight into the arms of a guy who had never saved her once. Pissed as hell, he left NYC and landed in Denton, Iowa.

Within seconds of arriving in Denton, he saved Dani from being forced to become the town thug’s girl. And for a while she was grateful, but then he went to the town pro for certain pleasures a bit too dirty to ask a nice girl to do. Turns out Dani and the pro were high school enemies, so his attempt not to ask for things that would make her uncomfortable got him dumped him for his only friend in town.

Sam’s conclusion: damsels in distress are incredibly ungrateful. So he decides the next woman he gets involved with will NOT require rescue. She will be strong and self-reliant. Only problem: he’s never met a woman like that.


They do exist Sam. Truly they do! And just maybe, she will rescue you instead.

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The Hardest Love

A Long Road to Love Series

By Liza O’Connor




Sam Lancaster is a lost man. Since returning from the war in Iraq, his life has been spiraling out of control. Attempting to escape his troubles, first he moves to a small town of Denton, Iowa, where he becomes the sheriff and beats up the local trouble. When that ceases to work, he seeks peace at a Vermont hunting lodge, where he gets arrested for shooting fish rather than throwing them a line. After spending five months in a work camp to pay for his many crimes, he gets out only to discover Carrie is in danger—again. Convinced he’s the only one who can keep the little Pint Size safe, he rushes back to NYC.

During his absence, Mars has turned the Lancaster estate into a sanctuary for injured vets. Sam agrees to take a test that proves he has Swiss cheese memories that are inaccurate and dangerous. Even knowing this, his PTSD continues to worsen. While he’s deemed to be a poor candidate for a new method of self-correction, his many friends will try anything to save him.

When danger shows up at the Sanctuary, Mars gives him a mission to evaluate the potential threat from certain staff members. On top of his list is Sam’s new girlfriend. Figures!


“Well, if you want cheered up on my days off, I’d be glad to kick the hell out of your demons.”

Aggie’s comment brought Sam to a halt. No way would Mars share his history with his new staff. So who did? Carlos?

A second later, Aggie pulled up and returned to him. After an intense stare down, as if she were reading his mind, she ruffed up his hair, which had probably been pre-ruffled since he forgot to brush it before leaving. “I was offering to spar with you.”

That wasn’t happening. “Sorry, there are only a few people I can safely spar with. I would never risk hurting someone already debilitated with the name of Agnes.”

He couldn’t wait to see how she took his refusal. Inexplicably, he hit the floor a second later and her foot pressed on his neck.

“Easy!” he yelled. She gleamed with pride at her achievement, which had been nothing more than a lucky, underhanded blow.

When she removed her foot and reached down to help him up, he grabbed her hand, intending to flip her onto her back so she could appreciate how hard the floor was. Incredibly she managed to deflect his every time. Finally, by feigning a move that required her to respond by shifting her balance, he yanked her down onto his chest.

She laughed. “You are too good not to realize that was a bonehead move if I wanted to kill you. So, I’m thinking you’re tired of sparring and wish to try something else.”

Her gorgeous smile hovered inches above him. Her strong body pressed against his. Feeling a need to possess her, he gripped the back of her head and brought her lips to his as he rolled her over, so he was on top.

Just as his brain was about to overheat from one of the finest kisses he could recall, a familiar throat clearing doused his fire. He broke away and helped her up before facing Mars. “This was totally my doing. I knocked her off her feet and kissed her.”

After a stern glare at Sam, Mars turned to Aggie. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she said, all the while smiling.

“Do you want to press charges?”

She stared up at the ceiling, considering the matter. “I’m off duty today and tomorrow. Can we have Sam confined to my quarters?”


I’m deeply saddened by this book.  Not by the story, characters or even the subject matter.   I’m sad because it’s over.  Sad because these characters in the series I’ve come to love, cherish, cry for, cheer for and yes, get mad at are done.  Plus, I had to wait for Sam’s story and in some fashion Mars’ story, too.

Let me explain…Carrie is a disaster magnet.  No really and truly she is.  She falls in love with Trent, a douche, that really doesn’t love her in the beginning.  Sam is Trent’s driver and is soon Carrie’s driver and rescuer.  Mars is Trent’s butler and Sam’s ex-commanding officer.  I have followed these people throughout their long road to love and I’m not ready for it.  This book gutted me in the sense that I have to let go.  Just like these 4 main characters had to finally let go, I need to follow their advice and do the same.  Trouble is, I can’t right now.

Sam is one of those characters that starts off as a secondary character but you sense that he needs his story told, too.  Waiting impatiently for his book and basically his and Mars’ back story and friendship was definitely worth the wait.  I could go on about their love interests and all but I won’t.  Why?  This is book isn’t about their romances, per se, it’s about finally figuring out what makes you happy, love what you do and finding that right person to share it with.  I will say this, Mars and Lenora will CRACK.YOU.UP!!!

Plus, Ms. O’Connor does a brilliant job of explaining PSTD, its effects and treatments.  Sam’s reaction to it all is perfect, right down to his buddy’s love life.  She took the time to explain Sam’s PSTD from the war and the effect that it had on his relationships with everyone around him.  His parents, his step brother, Carrie, Dani, Aggie, Carlos and even Mars.  What was interesting is how he was able to overcome it through some unconventional but completely logical methods.

Sam’s scenes with his parents are poignant and real.  Especially with his dad.  I teared up when his dad finally explained everything to him and Sam realized how big of an influence his dad really was to him.  Aggie’s parentage was a trip but I will not go into right now.  You have to read the book to find out.  🙂

Overall, the book and series are brilliant.  Ms. O’Connor wraps The Long Road to Love series with poignancy, friendship, love, humor and above all learning to love yourself before you can love someone else.  Sounds easy, right?  Nope, I can attest to that.  If you are looking for a book and/or series that will have you chuckling, sighing, scenes that will leave your mouth wide open in shock (in a good way), this is for you.  Ms. O’Connor delivers in the final book and I’m still not over it.


recommend-harlies- new


Releases May 5, 2015

A Long Road to Love

The Hardest Love


Book Five



Other books in the A Long Road to Love series

Book One

Worst Week Ever


“Love this book and couldn’t stop laughing from beginning to end.” 5 stars – Alves – Amazon


Book Two

Oh Stupid Heart


“Be warned though, this book is completely different from The Worst Week Ever. Yes, there is still humor, dry wit, situations that you would think…NOT AGAIN but this one humanizes Trent more.” 5 stars – Brian’s Mom – Amazon


Book Three

Coming to Reason


Once again, Ms. O’Connor has written a brilliant book about the complexities of relationships, good and bad. Again, to me, the book is the best break up book EVER and it left my heart singing in the end. Best.Book.Ever…


Book Four

Climbing out of Hell


 “In typical @Liza0Connor fashion, crazy things happen which make you laugh outloud.”




Liza O’Connor

Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.





Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter


6 thoughts on “ARC Review of The Hardest Love (A Long Road to Love #5) by Liza O’Connor

  1. Fabulous review. I loved the book too! Of course Liza had me laughing along with the tears.

    1. You know I love you and these characters. 🙂 I’m glad that you liked the review.

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