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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

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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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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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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

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

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beautiful!!

I love this series and was so pleased it's continuing. The the storyline is absolutely beautiful and so real.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent as always

Enjoyed the visit to New Zealand and always look forward to hearing the journey of friendship to life partner. I really enjoy the narrator, she has a great voice and she never sounds like she's reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Another Hit by Rosalind James

Loved this one! I really enjoy the Escape to New Zealand series and this one is no exception. The characters were very likable and well written. The story moved along and I had trouble stopping...I'd say i had trouble putting the book down, but it was audio. Take a large, fit, ultra masculine rugby player, a needy kitten, a pregnant teenage cousin, and a not quite starving artist and put them all under one roof. It makes a great combination. Loved Emma Wilder's narration as well. Highly recommend.

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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Hunky Rugby Player and a Burmese Cat? Hell Yes!

Take one stern hunky Basque En Zed raised rugby player and add in one unimpressed Maori barista/artist, a younger cousin who happens to be pregnant and preparing for World Cup and stir it all together and you get the latest can’t stop reading novel by Rosalind James.

I had the opportunity to read this novel first then was given the opportunity to listen to read by the talented Emma Wilder. Reading a book engages your mind one way. But getting the chance to listen to it means that you can pick up on things you may have missed the first time when you read it.

Marko Sendoa is not your typical rugby player meaning he grew up in the mountains on a sheep farm run by his Basque father. He learned early on that hard determination will get you ahead and meet your goals. But family always comes first with the Basque families and Marko’s family is no different.

Nyree comes across initially as flighty and someone who is not happy painting portraits of dogs. But she is really just as determined as Marko with reaching her goals. She refuses to bow to her mother’s wishes to take a traditional job so she does what she must to make ends meet, even if it means painting dog portraits, while she tries to break into the art scene as a serious artist.

Marko discovers that he needs help when his 16 year old cousin shows up on his door step having run away from home. And he decides to give his cousin a safe place to stay while she decides what to do but he also realizes that he will need help.

Marko reaches out to Nyree who he met while doing some time doing some time doing community relations for the All Blacks. One thing about being an All Black is that you are expected to make good choices at all times and avoid being seen in the media in a negative light. And Marko managed to be a naughty boy and was caught flinging a knitting bag at a mate and someone caught it on their phone. But his “punishment” was helping with a photo campaign at a local shelter. And that lead to him meeting someone who turns out to be the love of his life.

The relationship between Marko and Nyree isn’t smooth sailing and there are issues and secrets between them that need to be worked out. But that is always the fun part of Ms. James’ well written stories.

But I have saved the best character for last - Cat. Yes, Cat. Cat is the Burmese kitten who adopts Marko and for me, steals the entire story.

I did receive a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. Not that she needed to do so since I enjoy her novels too much to not buy them when they are announced.

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Just Say (Hell) YES & Listen to this Book!

Any additional comments?

This is the eleventh book in the Escape to New Zealand series and I think it is one of the strongest, most character-rich stories in the series. To say I loved it is an understatement! (I read the Kindle version of the book first and wrote a review on it, which you can find in the Kindle reviews section).

Other reviewers here give you a good idea of the story, so I'm going to skip that and focus on the narrator, Emma Wilder, who has narrated the last few books in the series.

Her narration is, in a word, awesome! She tells the story in a manner that takes the listener inside the story- as if we are there watching it unfold. Even though I know what is going to happen, her storytelling is so in-the-moment that I want to find out how she will make the characters act and react to each scene.

Ms. Wilder's accents and different voices for each of the characters allows me to know who is speaking without needing her to identify them. That, to me, is one of the great joys of listening to a master storyteller.

Please don't hesitate to add this to your collection of the Escape to New Zealand series. Even though you can listen to this as a stand-alone, please don't. You will enjoy it so much more if you listen to the previous books.

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 words and opinions expressed here are my own.


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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.