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Publisher's Summary

Even a hard man needs a soft side.

Marko Sendoa isn't a beach man. He's not an Auckland man. He's a hard man. Born Basque, raised in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps, and bred on hard work, discipline, and getting the job done. It's not easy for a rugby flanker to make it to age 32 at the top of his game, but he's done it. Next year is the Rugby World Cup, and he'll do whatever it takes to be on the field in the black jersey when the anthems are sung.

He doesn't need a kitten.

He doesn't need a pregnant cousin.

He definitely doesn't need a too-short, distractingly curvy, totally unimpressed Maori barista and part-time pet portraitist who fills his house and his life with too much color, too much chaos, and too many secrets.

He's getting them anyway.

©2018 Rosalind James (P)2018 Rosalind James

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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One of James’ best

While I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series, I think this is one of the best. Great characters, plot, plot twists and sub plots. And the narrator, Emma Wilder, does a terrific jobs with all the different voices. I especially liked the way James handled the dilemma that Ella deals with. Very nuanced. Looking forward to the next book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Just Say YES to "Just Say *Hell No*"

Where does Just Say (Hell) No rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I'd say it's in my top 10 - it is awesome!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Aside from the main characters, my favorite character is Ella, and also maybe Marko's mother, Olivia - who is so wise, and calm, such a contrast from Ella's own mother Jakinda.
I felt like I almost knew them, and could picture myself having conversations with them. I loved Ella and her would-be love interest, Marko's teammate. Ella's maturity amazed me in all the challenges she faced as a pregnant teenager, and then when things got tough(er) she rose to the occasion and really made the story come alive for me.

Have you listened to any of Emma Wilder’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

yes - this one is also very good. Emma is very talented and able to distinguish all of the different characters very well and with all the different accents and ages too! I thought Ms. Wilder did a fantastic job navigating back and forth between different personalities and emotions, verbal pace and quirks, both male and female. I just loved the secondary characters as well. Her portrayals of the various dialects and personalities were just wonderful! She has a great range of emotions and expressions of personality. Ella's voice - being a teenager, along with her occasional snarkiness and eye-rolling come through loud and clear in audio, as much as if she were standing in front of me. Also loved Marko's grandmother. Very different from the other characters. The performance was excellent! Very well done.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Just say YES to HELL no!

Any additional comments?

The rest of my review: ○ The descriptions of the geography and the New Zealand, in general are meticulous and compelling. All the imagery of such a beautiful country, and the mannerisms and local cultural references of the locals were fascinating. The author includes a helpful Kiwi glossary in the paper/ebook version of the book, of New Zealand local lingo and unique cultural references to help the reader connect to the story and the characters more deeply.

○ The characters were absolutely genuinely heartwarming and lovely to read about, very realistically drawn and compelling the reader to cheer them on.
○ The hero, Marko, is: mature and family-minded, he's a focused on his career - a more SERIOUS player but not a serious PLAYER - he coaches the younger ones and keeps them out of trouble. He's a bit jaded -and grouchy (in a lovable, teddy-bear sort of way), sexy without acting like he knows it, tender when it comes to his family, and emotionally developed. He has a very deep connection with his family and supports them in many ways - especially his pregnant 16 year old cousin Ella. He's well-respected by his teammates and family.
○ The heroine, Nyree: Fiercely independent and quirky woman, who has had a crush on Marko since she was an awkward gawky 14 year old girl. She grew up in a rugby family, with a coach dad and protective, older step-brothers and has seen her share of awkward moments with the opposite sex. She's not shy and vulnerable anymore though - and determined not become some rugby star's plaything. She's an artist, making a living doing rich people's pet portraits, and agrees to be a companion for Ella for the duration of her pregnancy. Trying desperately not to fall in love with Marko - her teenage crush.
• What this book meant to me-how I felt about it
This book is funny, very touching and emotional, very sexy, and has quickly overtaken my #1 favorite book of Ms. James. She has really hit this one out of the park! It is special to me also because I was became a mom as a teenager, myself, and could really relate to all the obstacles Ella faced, and the struggle to grow up while still remaining a girl in a lot of ways. It really hit home for me about her making choices for the good of her child-that she would have to live with her whole life.
A special part of the story for me is that I loved when Marko took Nyree home to meet his family - and what his family meant to him. It was very touching when we learned more about the story of Marko's grandmother. That story is a really special part of their Australian/NZ culture and I would love to see this explored further in future books. I think this is where Marko discovers he is truly in love with her. The emotional depth of these characters moved me immensely. They have some special moments under the stars that are *quite* memorable.
• Another great moment was when the team members visited Ella's school and Nate was very protective of Ella. It's a very sweet young romance that is budding.

• Oh, and by the way, this book is VERY steamy and sexy, a little bit of 'fifty-shades' but classier. Not for the faint-of-heart or those embarrassed easily. I felt a little out of my comfort zone with some of the scenes, but I felt that it is written in context of two consensual adults falling madly, deeply in love and it works for them. Their 'tastes' have a bit of an edge, but it is not written in a trashy way either. There is a good balance of buildup and tension -and the more sensual feelings developed - evolving to love. This book really has it all for me.
• Conclusion: The story concludes with some pretty tear-jerking moments and I'm so happy these two come together in this lovely romance. The struggles they (and Ella) dealt with were very realistic and I hope you will discover and love these characters, and the scenery as much as I did. Now go find a new escape - Escape to New Zealand and meet many wonderful characters with fascinating stories.

Though I paid for my own copy of the ebook and had read that earlier, I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • c9pilot
  • Saint Petersburg, FL
  • 04-18-18

Another Great Trip to New Zealand!

Would you listen to Just Say (Hell) No again? Why?

Yes, I would definitely listen again. While the main plotline was a typical Rosalind James romance, it was the secondary characters and sub-plots that really beefed up the story. And what’s “typical” RJ romance? Complicated, flawed characters who have to work hard for the happy ending. Real life happens and they cope.

Which character – as performed by Emma Wilder – was your favorite?

Not a formal “character”, but the backdrop of the country of New Zealand. Its culture and geography and weather. The All Blacks and rugby. I don’t know how anybody could read or listen to one of these books and not want to drop everything and visit En Zed.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Maybe a bit of a spoiler, but of course I was bawling while listening to the Josie sub-plot. Emma Wilder just killed that one scene - could not have been read any better.

Any additional comments?

Although this book is stand-alone, reading the previous books in the “Escape” series does add some depth to the characters. I don’t know what the magic ingredients are, but some of the books I prefer to read and some I prefer to listen. I think this one will go into the “listen” category because the narration is just terrific.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautiufl- grab the tissues!

Another perfect addition to the Escape to New Zealand series. I have fallen in love with each book and Just Say Hell No is no exception.

First, I love that a few characters from previous books made an appearance in this book and it was great to catch up with them. Marko's pregnant teenage cousin falls on his doorstep and he takes her in while she plans for her future. Marko runs into Nyree who he is attracted too and convinces her to move into his house and help care for his cousin Ella since he'll be away with his Rugby commitments, toss in a cute kitten and you have one interesting story.
Just Say Hell No, is full of life, some super sexy scenes, and some really emotional scenes. Make sure you are not driving or around others for the last 40-60 mins of the book and get those tissues ready. I loved Marko and Nyree's story, I loved the supporting characters and especially Ella's strong personality. Emma Wilder does another fantastic job narrating the story and bringing all the characters to life. I love the James/ Wilder combination is works so well!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lolli
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 04-16-18

Mmmmmarko

This was a great book and I think the steamiest scenes in a Rosalind Janes book ever (and I’ve read every one)!

I really enjoyed it. It told a different story than what you would normally see in regular romances novels and you can’t help but get invested in each character. I really liked the ending.


The voice acting performance is fantastic! Emma Wilder is definitely up there with a lot of my other favorite voice actresses.

I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for an honest review. The views stated here are my own. I was not required to give a positive review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Knitting Bag + Rugby Player = A Great Yarn!

What other book might you compare Just Say (Hell) No to and why?

My favorite by Rosalind has been Just Good Friends --- This just found a spot right next to it! Rosalind - without being preachy - touched on multi-racial parentage, teenage pregnancy and adoption situations. It was a beautiful story filled with humor and tender moments.

Which scene was your favorite?

There were several moments that I enjoyed: Marco using a knitting bag along side the head of a snarky young team-member not willing to settle down (who takes their knitting bag into a pub at 2am??); the gray kitten that adopted Marco and would not take no-I-don't-like-animals as an answer; the loving Tarot-card-reading-mother; the same snarky young teammate that falls sweetly for Marco's pregnant teenage cousin; and finally, Nyree's journey from gawky teenager with a crush on Marco to a beautiful spirited woman that finds a rich mature love with the adult Marco. That's only to name a few! You'll have to read it for yourself to find out the rest!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Coming from a mixed heritage - I empathized with Marco's anxiousness regarding how Nyree would react to his mixed heritage when he introduces her to his grandmother. When his young cousin finally finds the right adoptive family for her babies, the scene was so well written and tender that I couldn't help my tears.

Any additional comments?

Rosalind has her own distinct writing style. She mixes fantasy with a good dose of reality backed with research making the story more believable - numerous times I have thought "I've had that happen!" (minus the hunky AB, of course).

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Such a great story!

Off the bat, I need to say that I was given a complimentary audio book to review, but my opinions are my own and no other compensation was offered. That being said, I love this fantastic story & wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it!
Nyree first met Markus when she was an awkward 15 year old, living with her mom and new stepdad in an unfamiliar place and he was a 19 year rookie rugby player on the cusp of a new career. Fast forward many years and Nyree is an under-employed artist who still has a massive (and unwelcome) crush on Markus, still the professional athlete, who doesn’t recognize her when they literally bump into one another while jogging. Other than the regular themes of second chances and other “standard” romantic themes, there are also some pretty serious topics in this book — domestic violence, teen pregnancy, racism, sexism/misogyny, infertility, and adoption. There were a few sex scenes that would make me rate this book for adults only, but it’s not erotica, the scenes are few and definitely part of the book — it would make it an R rating, in my opinion.
This book is part of the Escape to New Zealand series and there are characters that you will recognize from previous books, but it can easily stand alone. All in all, it’s another winner from Rosalind James. Loved it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Oh, yes, this is a good one.

What did you love best about Just Say (Hell) No?

I love how there was a good number of characters, all with distinctive personalities, including the hero and heroine and secondary characters. So many stories seem written in a people-vacuum, but James balances them well.

What did you like best about this story?

It feels like it could be real - accidental kitten adoption, pregnant teen, an artistic woman with an undisclosed personal history, a man with determination and rugby talent - in a way that you could relate to if you only lived on a bit higher plane of talent, good genes, self-disclipine, geographical fortune, luck and so forth. Ella, the pregnant teenage cousin, was really key to making this a very moving story. Nyree, the heroine, really comes into her own after a lifetime of not quite fitting in with her family and her profession. Marko just has to go along with the river of change that has caught him up and he copes and then thrives in it, but he doesn't really change. The inclusion of rugby players from prior books is a great element - you don't have to have read Just Not Mine and a few other of the Escape to NZ books, but this will be better if you have read the others. I really enjoyed the story and was sorry to get to the end!

What does Emma Wilder bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

You can't skim over bits when you're listening, so you hear the whole story! She gives good voices to the characters and keeps the story moving at a nice pace.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Oh, yes, but not telling. You have to read it yourself. You will probably need a tissue.

Any additional comments?

Cat was a very fun kitten!I bought the ebook, but I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here was my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Perfect Loves

This is a story that is one of my favorites. Rosalind forms her characters to match their mates perfectly. The steaminess is enlightening and the settings are fabulous in the minds’ eye.

A rugged rugby basque from the South Island. A beautiful artistic Maori woman from the Northland, fell in love with The rugby player years ago. Ten years later, fate found them both in Auckland, and together, again.
A teenage cousin finds herself pregnant and on the his doorstep
The story twists and turns in to the Perfect love for all.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here was my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved another great New Zealand book

Purchase

I've read all of Rosalind James books that she's written then listened to them as they've become available on audiobooks. To say she's one of my favorite romance writers is a given. She puts so much everyday problems, issues & happiness into her storyline and characters that you can always relate and empathise. This is the 11th book in her Escape to New Zealand series & I loved it as much as the 1st.All of the books are definatley stand alone but it's fun to see the characters from book to book. Just Hell No deals with some sensitive issues and she handled it so well as always. And Emma Wilder did an amazing job with all her character voices. I love listening to her.As ever I wait to see if there will be a next book in the series

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Giggle6666
  • 04-17-18

Bittersweet Romance excellent performance

Emma Wilder really brought the characters in this book to life. This book really was an escape!
The story itself was really engaging I know anyone listening will fall in love with Marko, Nyree and Ella.
A really great story about the bittersweetness of growing up , making life's hard choices and falling in love.
Plenty of family drama with a few rugby players thrown in . Really really engaging book.



I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

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  • KathyW, UK
  • 04-06-18

Brilliant (as usual)!

Absolutely loved this story. I think perhaps it's my favourite of the series. Absolutely hysterical wedding scene, funnier to listen to than read, and the Ella and Josie 'interview' and last chapters had me weeping. Definitely be re-listening to this in due course. I like this narrator very much as well.

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  • Izzy
  • 04-04-18

This series just gets better and better.

Take the impressive story-telling skills of Rosalind James, add the talented Emma Wilder as narrator. An engaging plot bursting with humour, sweetness, passion and much, much more, along with a rich variety of colourful, three-dimensional characters, so real they draw you right in to the story and hang on to you until the end and beyond. What a heady mix indeed. This book is without doubt my favourite read in a long time, and I believe it’s Ms James’ best work so far. The audiobook elevates it to a whole new level of fabulous.