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The Donnigans #2

Just the Thing

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Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn't prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life―along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won't give him the time of day.

Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She's been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn't until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.

Soon they're sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.

349 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 4, 2017

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About the author

Marie Harte

192 books2,237 followers
Important:: Marie Harte is NOT active on GoodReads, so to contact her, please use her website at marieharte.com.

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews
July 6, 2017
4.5 Sexy Charming Gavin Stars

Let me start this review by saying that cover is so much yummy eye candy! Thumbs up to whoever picked this cover it's the best lol! Just sayin'! I loved Gavin back when I read his big brother, Landon's book, A Sure Thing. Gavin was just so goofy and playful that I was drawn to him. So when I seen his book on Netgalley I was so excited for him to get his HEA. Gavin was everything I had hoped for. I smiled a lot while reading this book. Gavin was so funny, charming, and omg sexy. I just loved him to pieces. The things that would come out of Gavin's mouth lol he was just so goofy! Zoe was sassy, bossy, and so serious. It was fun watching her loosen up with Gavin and get playful. I loved that Zoe was so open and outspoken. I thought Zoe and Gavin made a cute couple. They had such great chemistry together in and out of the bedroom. This book touches on some serious issues like loss, PTSD, and survivor guilt. Reading about the pain Gavin, and at times Zoe, was dealing with really pulled on my heartstrings but, for the most part this book just really made me smile and laugh. I enjoyed getting to see the whole Donnigan family again. They are just so loving, supportive, and fun. Ava and Landon are still happy and cute and I loved getting to check in on them. I can't wait for Gavin's sister Hope to get a book! I am seeing a tattooed yummy in her future!

Profile Image for Annie .
2,442 reviews814 followers
July 4, 2017

As soon as JUST THE THING hit my Kindle, I was all over this baby. This second book in the Donnigans series is one of my highly anticipated reads of this year and it didn’t let me down one bit. In fact, I was even more impressed by Marie Harte and her writing in this one.

You can definitely read this book as a standalone, but just as a warning, I have a feeling that you’re going to want to check out the other books in the series after because this book is just so good.

This book is Gavin’s book and he’s the fun-loving brother in the Donnigans family. I was so excited to get his story because I definitely think he has the best personality. Harte stays true to his character and delivers a laugh-out-loud storyline that will no doubt sweep you off your feet. This series has quickly become my favorite family-oriented series beating some popular and longer series out there. There’s just something so funny about reading the guys riled each other up. Even just 2% in this book and I found myself laughing my head off. It really is just a grand old time.

As if that’s not enough to persuade you, there’s also a fabulous romance between the hero and heroine. I worried about who Gavin was going to be paired up with and how she was going to measure up to his awesomeness but Zoe is seriously just as spectacular. I have a major girl crush on her as well. Needless to say, Harte has really come up with some amazing characters. JUST THE THING is hands down my favorite book of 2017 so far.
Profile Image for Cherbourg.
5 reviews1 follower
April 3, 2017
I just can’t finish this one.
Between the not so witty dialogue and the wrong kind of sex scene, Just the Thing can be pretty annoying. First of all, the relationship between the main characters, Zoe and Gavin, is not believable. Yes, Gavin is extraordinarily muscled and good looking, “hung like a moose”, but he’s thirty two and acts like he’s ten years younger. I think his one-liners are supposed to be goofy and endearing, but they just remind me of juvenile guys I dated in my twenties. They meet in a gym class that Gavin is teaching, and during one of their first moments together he talks about his biceps as Guns of Steel, and names them Sexy and As hell. Yuck. Zoe is a gardener, so Gavin gives her a gardening date in an attempt to be more serious with her, which is great. Not so great? When she gives him a plant he names it Leon because “My plant might smell girlie, and he’s a little purple, but he’s a very masculine flower. You know. ‘Cause he’s mine, and I’m very manly.” Oops, now he sounds ten instead of twenty. Gavin isn’t any more mature in dealing with emotional issues: when he figures out that her twin has died, he thinks to himself “That seriously sucked.” Forgive me if I’m having a difficult time believing that a professional woman in her thirties would be interested any longer than a month in a dude like Gavin.

Gavin’s whole frat boy vibe is enhanced by a waaaay too long scene in which his underage brother shows up drunk and puking in the middle of the night.

We are told that Gavin and Zoe are both depressed and grieving, but I don’t see much evidence of it beyond a token mention here and there. Gavin, just out of the military, is struggling with PTSD and guilt over surviving when others in his unit did not. Zoe is supposedly heartbroken by the death of her twin sister a mere 2 months ago. Pain and emotional back and forth has kept many romance plots moving along but not this one. Just the Thing goes like this: I’m tormented, you? Yes, me too, now let’s have sex. You still grieving? Yep still grieving, let’s go have sex. I’m still struggling over here, how about you? I’m a mess too, let’s have more sex. At 2/3 of the book, I’m waiting to get any actual angst out of Gavin and Zoe.

So the book was just dull, but then there was a sex scene that was so irritating that I gave up completely. Really, we can all admit that this book is written primarily for a female audience. So why in the hell am I treated to such a porn cliché of what men think is sexy? The whole description is generic Porn Scene Number One, and I can see it like a bad video from the disembodied penis point of view. First, Zoe ties up Gavin and seduces him with (no!) a red silk bustier with black garters. After some teasing and oral for her, he comes instantly while she says, “Oh, baby. You’re so big inside me.” Then, after a few reenergizing minutes, she gives him head while staring into his eyes and wearing bright red lipstick. Somewhere in there he mentions her “breasts pleading with me to suck some plump nipplage.” Shudder and recycle.
Profile Image for Cheri.
507 reviews73 followers
May 9, 2018
My 1st book by this author. I finished it just because I don't like to give up. The story just had no plot or point to it....my opinion. I was in a crappy mood so mindless fluff with lots of steamy sex took my mind off of things. Not trying to be cruel. I would have rather it had some decent storyline to it.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,952 reviews827 followers
July 3, 2017

Here’s the deal, I’ve been reading author Marie Harte a very long time. The first book I read by her, Enjoying the Show, I’ve probably read fifteen times that’s how much I love it and that series along with her other contemporary series are all favorites of mine. There is something so real about the characters she writes that I want to climb inside her series and have them as my friends. I appreciate that a lot of her characters are blue collar workers (not all, but many), but most of all I love the friendships and the family relationships contained within her book’s pages. She makes it so easy to read and in her latest release, Just The Thing, she gave us a romance between two characters grieving for different reasons but in each other found a reason to smile and more.

After being shot and several of his friends killed, Gavin Donnigan was medically discharged from the Marine Corp and sent home. Gavin’s transition to civilian life hasn’t been easy and for awhile he lost himself in booze and easy women, but his family, therapy, and his job at Jameson’s Gym has gotten him back on track. He loves personal training and doing self defense classes with his brother and if he could only get “Pink Yoga Pants” girl to give him the time of day his day would be made despite the fact that he knows he’s not good enough for her.

After losing her twin sister in a car accident, Zoe York is just trying to get past the grief and live her life. She loves her career, and working out relives her stress and as much as she’d love to admit that the gym’s trainer, Gavin, coming on to her and asking her out bugs her, he also makes her feel alive and vibrant. Taking a page out of her late sister’s book, Zoe decides to give Gavin a date; she just never expects to enjoy his company as much as she does.

I love both of these characters so much, while they both had some issues and they dealt with them in different ways it was obvious that just having someone to spend time with and someone who could understand their grief made life better. There was no doubt Gavin had worse problems and while he was seeking help, it was going to take time for him to deal with everything going on inside his brain. Gavin is one of those people who is great at putting on a happy face, enjoying life, and making those who don’t really know him think he’s just a charming, fun loving guy, but there is so much more to him. Zoe was a spitfire and despite her moments of grief which she was so entitled to, I admired her strength and her dedication to her job. I also loved that she didn’t let Gavin get away with his “normal routine” when it came to women and that Gavin realized he wanted to make the time he spent with Zoe special. I liked that despite these two were really in different places in their lives regarding their careers, it was never an issue between them. Gavin was proud of Zoe’s success and the way those who worked with her spoke so highly of her. Zoe seemed to understand that working at the gym was important to Gavin, kept him busy and made him feel useful and happy. I appreciated that she understood Gavin was at somewhat of a crossroads and she never made him feel “less than” because he hadn’t yet figured out the next step in his life plan.

While this book dealt with some serious issues such as PTSD and losing loved ones, it was tempered with some truly hilarious moments as well. The Donnigans love their pranks and pulling them off on one another gives them great pleasure. Cameo appearances by the McCauley cousins and the men from the body shop made this book just that much more special. And, I haven even mentioned the smokin’ hot sexy times mainly because I’m still trying to cool off from reading them.

If it sounds like I’m gushing about this book and author Marie Harte it’s because I am, Just The Thing was another fantastic book in her body of work and if you aren’t reading this author you are seriously missing out!

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,669 reviews629 followers
June 29, 2017
This was a very fun read. Great banter not only between the MC's, but the side characters as well. Gavin came off as an arrogant hottie, but I don't think he truly was arrogant. He had such a great sense of humor and played to that.

His 2 brothers, sister and even his parents made appearances throughout the book and added to the overall enjoyment of this story. They are a close-knit family that played pranks on each other. Immature? Maybe. Funny? Yes. If you have read the McCauley series, we get appearances from them as well.

There are some serious sides to this story, as well. Both Gavin and Zoe have suffered personal loss in their lives and we get to see them balance a new love while dealing with their grief. An opposites attraction that complimented each other very well. I am very interested in reading more into this series. The characters were very easy to fall in love with. ARC provided by NetGalley.
Profile Image for Under the Covers Book Blog.
2,818 reviews1,359 followers
July 3, 2017
As soon as JUST THE THING hit my Kindle, I was all over this baby. This second book in the Donnigans series is one of my highly anticipated reads of this year and it didn’t let me down one bit. In fact, I was even more impressed by Marie Harte and her writing in this one.

You can definitely read this book as a standalone, but just as a warning, I have a feeling that you’re going to want to check out the other books in the series after because this book is just so good.

This book is Gavin’s book and he’s the fun-loving brother in the Donnigans family. I was so excited to get his story because I definitely think he has the best personality. Harte stays true to his character and delivers a laugh-out-loud storyline that will no doubt sweep you off your feet. This series has quickly become my favorite family-oriented series beating some popular and longer series out there. There’s just something so funny about reading the guys riled each other up. Even just 2% in this book and I found myself laughing my head off. It really is just a grand old time.

As if that’s not enough to persuade you, there’s also a fabulous romance between the hero and heroine. I worried about who Gavin was going to be paired up with and how she was going to measure up to his awesomeness but Zoe is seriously just as spectacular. I have a major girl crush on her as well. Needless to say, Harte has really come up with some amazing characters. JUST THE THING is hands down my favorite book of 2017 so far.

*ARC provided by publisher
Reviewed by Annie❤ ♡ Don't want to miss any of our posts? Subscribe to our blog by email! ♡ ❤
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,405 reviews292 followers
July 11, 2017
I have read about heroes with issues but Gavin sure suffered. He had PTSD and he cried. He cried! Those issues guys have a chip on their shoulders but they never cry. This felt real. He felt broken. He had spent 14 years in the marines and now he worked as a trainer. He tried to keep a smile on his face, but the guy was yes, broken.

Zoe is broken too. But not near as much. She is dealing with the loss of her sister. And this thing does bring them together. They both lost loved ones. They both grieve.

And there was a lot of smexy times. Like a lot. Like a bit too many for my taste as you know I skim things. But hey that does not bother me, I just go past it and get to the grieving, issues and romance stuff. But for those of you who like it, well there is plenty to go around.

I liked Gavin because he was so vulnerable. Zoe was the stronger one here and I liked to see them get closer and really have to work for it.

A good book

Narrator: CJ Bloom
She did a good job, but her men sure sounds macho. But then they are macho so that makes sense.
All in all a good narration.
Profile Image for Jackie Lane.
1,107 reviews575 followers
August 15, 2017
The second book in The Donnigan series what definitely a treat.

This was Gavin and Zoe's book.

After having been medically discharged Gavin is still "gun shy". He is dealing with his PTSD and after returning home, he takes the easy way out and turns to books and women. He works at Jameson's Gym and teaches a self-defense class. All the woman want his muscled physique. Zoe is the woman he notices and he continues to ask her out. She has no intention of dating and continues to turn him down. She is dealing with the loss of her twin sister and is not in a state of mind to deal with a relationship.

I loved the story and found myself drawn in by his crazy family and loved be brought back to the "Prank Wars". Sometimes it goes a little to far, but they are fun and zany.

What I also enjoyed with that some bits and pieces of her other series, The McCauley brothers were interspersed in this book.

This book set us up for Hope's story and I'm looking forward to reading it.

4.5 stars
2,335 reviews12 followers
July 12, 2017
Received an advanced copy for my fair review from author... Oh Gavin he broke my heart... This book had it all. We were happy to be reunited again with the Donnigan's, they were at it again with the Prank Wars, it was good to read about Ava and Landon and that they were still in love and going strong. But this was about Gavin, we knew that he was suffering from PTSD, and man to read everything he went thru, and how he tried to tough it out, it puts you to think about our military, and knowing others are suffering. I was happy he found a love interest in Zoe, another smart beautiful woman, instead of the "barbie dolls" that so call work out at the gym. She ended fitting in right in with the family, and since she also went thru hardship, she could understand what he was feeling. It was an emotional book.. Can't wait for the next one....
Profile Image for patrick Lorelli.
3,080 reviews26 followers
July 15, 2017
Zoe York lost her twin sister to a car accident and she decides to work out and also take a self-defense class at her gym that is being offered. One of the instructors is Gavin Donnigan who has been trying for weeks to get a date with her and she has been turning him down. Gavin suffers from PTSD and is going to therapy but still struggles at times with it. After a visit from her Aunt Zoe decides to go out on a date with Gavin and it puts him in shock, it also makes him have to step up his game and find something that she really enjoys. He does that and by doing so they have a good night. Both of them are happy with the way things are going both story drags at times. Gavin’s character seems to be okay when he does not need to be serious but when does need to be he can’t or won’t don’t know. The character is always bouncing back and forth from joking to wanting to be taken serious but is not because he is always joking. As the two of them work through their trauma, pain, grief, and loneness you are starting to feel good when he ups and disappears again. When you finally get to the end I was hoping for more of an ending but I felt like it left some things open. This could be me but that was how I felt. I was hoping for a much better book but felt off. Give it a read and see for yourself. I got this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 3 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com
Profile Image for Timitra.
1,281 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2017
Rated 3.5 Stars

Just The Thing was funny, sexy and enjoyable. However I felt it wasn't evenly paced, there were parts of the story that were really slow and it ended quite abruptly which left me a bit confused. That said I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

ARC provided by author in exchange for a honest review
Profile Image for Christina T.
300 reviews53 followers
July 16, 2017
So, I have a confession to make. I requested this book from the publisher based purely on the cover. I'm happy to say that it totally worked out for me because I've now found a new to me author I can happily binge read.

The Good: Both the main characters in this book are broken. Gavin, by his PTSD and survivor's guilt after 3 of his good friends are killed in action over seas while he was in the medical unit healing from a previous mission. Zoe is also suffering a tragedy and dealing with her own demons. Despite them being broken I loved that this book really looked at their healing process. It was portrayed in such a healthy way. We've all experienced loss, I liked that this book didn't gloss over the grieving process and portray the new relationship between Gavin and Zoe as a "cure" for their grief. Their relationship was not a case of instalove but rather a build up over time. We were never blindsided by the I love yous because we saw them grow together as a couple. I really loved this.
The Donnigans are quite the family. Their prank wars were epic and I loved every minute of their interactions. The extended family (Harte wrote about in her McCauley Brothers series) was intriguing as was the tattooed woman, Del, who married into the family during the course of this book. Lets not even start on her family, who appears to be in her Body Shop Bad Boys series. I really love when series books connect like this.
I also would like to mention that during the course of the book I might have teared up a couple of times. Or it was allergies. But seriously, Gavin just broke my heart watching him go through his healing process.

The Bad: I really had a hard time with Gavin's "I'm a Studly Man" mentality. Overall I think he was portrayed this way to contrast between the public Gavin and the mentally anguished Gavin, but for me, he came across a bit too egocentric at times. In addition there were a couple instances where I had to pause and remind myself this man was supposed to be in his early 30's. Some of the things he said came across as a frat boy, barely adult male.
Last thing, at times the book felt a bit too long. I'm wondering if some additional editing could have happened to reduce the page numbers. This might have worked but it could have also happened at the expense of the carefully woven romance. Oh and if you are not someone who appreciates super steamy sex-capades you might want to stay away from these books. The sex is scorching and plentiful. I totally didn't mind this but put it in the "bad" just because I know this is something someone else will be wary of.

In a Nutshell: Despite my issues with Gavin and his Ego I loved this book. I'm looking forward to Hope Donnigan's story and in the future Theo's as well. I'm going to read the McCauley series as well as the Body Shop Bad Boy series. I'm really excited to read more of Marie Harte's contemporary romances.
Profile Image for ⚜️XAR the Bookwyrm.
2,315 reviews17 followers
July 4, 2017

I went into this book with a good bit of trepidation, as I didn't really care for the previous book in the series. Thankfully, this book was a bit better than that first one!

Gavin and Zoe are both tortured by deaths that they couldn't control, but Zoe is coping with it a bit better than Gavin is. Their grief journey made it logical for them to hook up into a relationship, but I was glad that it didn't dominate their relationship either. I especially liked that they were taking their time and getting to know one another instead of just falling into bed and basing their relationship on sex. I liked seeing the relationship grow over time, as well as seeing Gavin take steps toward moving on from his losses as well.

The cast of secondary characters was good. I did like getting to know Theo and Hope a bit better in this story. We also get more of a blending of the author's three major contemporary series (The McCauley Brothers, Body Shop Bad Boys, and this one), and this installment reminded me quite a bit of the author's Body Works series as well. Unfortunately, there was something about the book that didn't hold my interest, but I can't really identify what it was. I found it really dragging in spots and had to force myself to keep reading it. I'd hesitate to purchase this for myself, unless it went on sale, and I'd have to think about reading the rest of the series unless I could borrow them from the library.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.4k reviews425 followers
June 12, 2018
Gavin was a bit of a dark horse in the last book, there but not really. I really liked how he pursued Zoe and how she shot him down for a good portion at the start. But with that being said, when Zoe did finally say yes to Gavin they were cute together. The unconventional dates Gavin planned were perfect, they allowed them to get to know each other. I really liked how honest both were about their past, Zoe with her sister and Gavin with the women he'd been with after coming home. Sure he was hiding more about why he came home, but that needed to be worked out in his own time. It broke my heart how Gavin was rushed into things, how that seemed to make him crack apart. It was a good thing in the end as it allowed Gavin to really see things both in the past and the present. It allowed for a great ending for Gavin and Zoe.

On a side note, Gavin and Zoe really upped the game in the prank wars, so good!
Profile Image for ~Mandi~.
281 reviews28 followers
July 2, 2017
Just the Thing
The Donnigans #2
Marie Harte
4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Such an emotional read. Make sure you grab some tissues for this one. It has such a great storyline.
Ex-marine with PTSD meets girl at his gym. After hitting on her for months she finally gives in and goes on a safe with him.
Their relationship evolves from there and Zoe has to figure out if Gavin is worth the trouble.
I really enjoyed this one. It took me a bit to finish just because work and life kept getting in the way. But I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read it. And the author ended it with a teaser about the next book and I can't wait for that one to come out.
Thanks NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the arc in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Giulia China.
196 reviews64 followers
September 10, 2017
After the first 100 pages, I lost all my interest in finishing the book. 1.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Sandy S.
6,460 reviews163 followers
July 1, 2017
3.75 stars--

About the book: Release Date July 4, 2017

Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn't prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life--along with a gorgeous leggy, black haired woman who won't give him the time of day.

Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She's been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn't until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.

Soon they're sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.


REVIEW: 3.75 stars-- JUST THE THING is the second installment in Marie Harte’s contemporary, adult THE DONNIGANS erotic, romance series focusing on the Donnigan family. This is Marine Gavin Donnigan, and medical IT programmer Zoe York’s story line. JUST THE THING can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary. THE DONNIGANS is a spin off from Marie Harte’s THE MCCAULEY BROTHERS and BODY SHOP BAD BOYS series. You do not have to have read the previous series to follow the spin off. The Donnigan and The McCauley siblings are cousins.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Gavin and Zoe) JUST THE THING follows the building romance between Marine Gavin Donnigan, and medical IT programmer Zoe York. Working as a trainer at the local gym since returning stateside and medically discharged from active duty Gavin has had his eye on Zoe York for several months. But all attempts at flirtation and fun have been pushed aside by the black-haired beauty and no matter what he does, Zoe continues to play hard to get until one day Gavin is surprised that Zoe is willing to give him a chance. What ensues is the building relationship between Zoe and Gavin, and the fall out when Gavin’s past continues to destroy his peace of mind.

Gavin Donnigan was released from active duty following a mission that went horribly wrong. Not only did Gavin survive a gunshot wound weeks before, but several of his fellow Marines didn’t make it home alive, and our hero now has issues with survivors guilt and PTSD. Throughout the story line we are up close and personal with Gavin’s struggle to move on with his life including the ability to fall in love with the woman that calls to his heart. Zoe York lost her twin sister to a car accident months before and she battles the what-ifs and whys at different times during the day. Moving forward has been a struggle, but each day makes it easier to remember the good time with the sister that she lost. Falling in love with Gavin Donnigan found our heroine looking forward to the future, a future that is in jeopardy with Gavin’s inability to accept the loss of his fellow Marines.

The relationship between Gavin and Zoe is one of immediate attraction but both agree that a permanent relationship at this time in their lives may not be forthcoming. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic, and intense. Gavin is willing to submit to the woman he jokingly calls his Mistress.

We are reintroduced to Gavin’s brother Landon and his fiancé Ava Rosenthal, youngest brother Theo and sister Hope, as well as their parents Linda and Van. The Donnigan siblings, as well as newcomers Ava and Zoe, and the Donnigan parental units, continue to play pranks on one another that can get carried away rather quickly. Gavin’s counselor /therapist Lee must remained focused on the man who is slowly succumbing to guilt and remorse; Mac Jameson-the owner of Jameson’s Gym who keeps a steady work environment for our leading hero, and several family members of the men Gavin lost to the war who are desperate to learn anything they can about what happened to the men that they lost. Zoe’s aunt Piper is a firecracker and says it like it is; and Zoe’s co-workers at the SMP Medical Group Mark Swanson and Cleo Brewer butt heads at every turn. There are also several characters who cross over from the author’s Body Shop Bad Boys and The McCauley Brothers series for familiarity and cohesion.

JUST THE THING is a story with moments of laughter and fun; heartbreak and sorrow; emotional breakdowns and too many tears. The premise is engaging, entertaining, dramatic and sorrowful; the characters are colorful, dynamic and real; the romance is spicy, seductive and passionate. JUST THE THING is the story of one man’s struggle to move forward with his life, and the woman who accepts the man that he has become.

Copy supplied for review

Profile Image for Vfc.
1,445 reviews
April 15, 2022
Gavin Donnigan joined the Marine Corps at eighteen, he and a group of his friends joined together. Whilst injured and recuperating, the guys went out on a routine patrol and died in an explosion. He lost a lot of friends.

Gavin, is a skilled sniper of fourteen years. Medically retired, a shell of his former self, haunted by memories and the loss of his friends. Medically discharged, but mentally fragile, his transition into civilian life is impaired by alcohol and easy conquests. Working at the gym, it offers him a physical release for his stress.

Upon his return, he began drinking and had copious amounts of indiscriminate sex. His family staged an intervention, recognising his self-destructive actions as him spiralling out of control.

Teaching a self-defense class, he meets Zoe York. Zoe’s parents live in Portland. Her mother and aunt are twins, and she and Aubrey were twins. Aubrey was in a fatal car accident four months before and Zoe’s been struggling to bury her grief and move forward.

Zoe, decides a tryst with buns-of-steel might be in order. He wishes he hadn’t slept with some of the women at the gym, but at the time, he needed what they were freely offering.

[Zoe to her aunt Piper]
“She’s on me big time lately. With Aubrey…gone…Mom is desperate to have me settled and partnered up. Man or woman doesn’t matter so long as I’m thinking about getting married and having a family.”
“That’s my sister. Open to any sexuality, race, or religion…as long as you say ‘I do’ at the end.” Piper chuckled.
“I feel for you, sweetie. Nola always has been more of a maternal figure. She would have had a whole brood of kids if she hadn’t suffered complications after you two fought to come out.”
“I keep telling her she should thank me,” Zoe teased, “kids are expensive.”
“Exactly. Why do you think I choose to remain single and rich?”
“Because you’re a woman of loose morals who’d rather bang her way through Seattle than commit to a loving man or woman?”
“That’s verbatim what your mother said to me last month. Good recall, Zoe. You even got her inflections down pat.”

[Avery to Gavin]
“When you asked me for some advice about Zoe, I thought we’d talk. Sitting up. Like normal friends.”
“Friends? You’re going to be my sister-in-law someday, if Landon doesn’t screw up your relationship. You’re a future sister. That means I can hang all out with you. Pick my nose, walk around in my boxers, include you in the prank wars…” He peeked from under his forearm and saw her grimace. “Too immature for you?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact.”
“Yeah, right. I know you encouraged my brother yesterday to switch out Mom’s toothpaste for that numbing agent you got from your dentist.

He dashed to the fridge, took the flowers he’d stored, seeing Ava’s startled gaze. “I’m not totally lame when it comes to wining and dining women, Ava. Geez. Hurt my feelings, why don’t you?”
“But I—”
He passed Landon. “Ava’s making me feel bad about myself, Bro. Give her a talking-to, would you?” he asked loudly enough for Ava to hear.
“Gavin, that’s not true.” She tried to exit the kitchen, but Landon’s wide shoulders blocked her.
“Doc, that’s just not right. You know Gavin’s got self-esteem issues.”
“But I wasn’t…”
Gavin laughed to himself as he raced to Landon’s room to borrow his blue sweater, then left. Yep. Landon owed him one. Now Ava and Landon could do their version of verbal foreplay. And he, bless him, would be far away while they got their shrink on.

Like Zoe, Gavin tried to control his grief. She felt like they shared grief in common—a bond of sorrow. Survivor’s remorse consumes them each, she’d made contingency plans to cover her eventual death. A family plan, invested in a plot where the family could lie in rest together.

[Gavin with Lee, his therapist]
“I have a plant. His name is Leon. He’s a lavender cutting Zoe gave me. I hooked him up with a bunch of lady flowers, and they look pretty damn good outside my front door.”
“Lady flowers? So your plant has a harem, eh?”
“Well, yeah. Though there might be a guy flower in there too. I’m game for my boy being an equal opportunity lover. Everybody wants Leon.”

Not certain of the morning-after protocol—should she pretend not to know him? Should she high-five Megan, Michelle, and the others because she’d joined their not-so-elite club?
“Gavin’s casual one-night stands on the left and two-nighters on the right.”

The Donnigan family dynamics include a loving family, staging epic prank wars especially the brothers, taking extreme pride in outdoing the other, pulling pranks on each other. At their last family dinner, their mum, Linda lulled them by insinuating that she and Van were having marital problems.
This began when Ava was dating Landon. One of them, put a blow-up sex doll in his bed. She looked like Ava.
Zoe grinned. “Wish I could have seen that.”
Ava snickered. “He was so embarrassed. And not much gets to him.”
“Don’t tell,” Theo said. “But I did it.”
The brothers were responsible for Theo’s mohawk and for dying his hair orange.
He got revenge by ambushing Gavin with babysitting their cousin Mike’s son, Colin, apparently the seven-year old, is not good with sugary cereals.
Theo’s evil laugh stirred hers again, Ava’s too. “Yeah. It was classic. Anyway, I think Landon messed with Gavin and the toilet—don’t ask—and for a while Hope had pink hair. Oh, and I think someone messed with Mom’s toothpaste, but she won’t confirm that.”

Gavin persuades Zoe to wear a pregnancy tummy to ‘meet the parents’ - mass theatrics ensues as Zoe got immersed in the pranking.

“It’s okay, Gavin, we should tell them.”
“Right. What we talked about.”
“You see, my brother is our family’s black sheep. We don’t talk about him much. He’s in jail right now. Not his first time,” she said sadly.
“Oh, well. Every family has a black sheep, Zoe. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“It’s me.” Theo sounded bummed. “Because I can’t hold down a job.”
“No, it’s me,” Hope argued. “Because I keep dating losers, and my mother thinks I’m an idiot.”

“That is a baby bump I felt earlier,” Linda exclaimed.”

Van looked baffled. “What is everyone talking about?”
Theo gaped. “You’re kidding. So there really is a baby? I overheard the truth a few nights ago, when you were talking to her on the phone.” Another skilled liar.
Hope sighed. “Well, at least now I’m not the biggest moron in the family.”
Zoe wanted in on the game. “No, I think I am. Because, well, Gavin…its not yours. It’s Mark’s.”
He froze. She knew mention of Mark—who he saw as a potential rival—would startle him. She’d made his reaction more authentic. Nice.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Casting her eyes down, she said softly, “A man I shouldn’t have anything to do with.”
“Are you f-g with me? ’Cause that sh*t isn’t funny.”
“Oh, Gavin. It’s not my fault. I didn’t want to tell you this. And not here. But…I tried not to, but I-I love him.”
“Mark Swanson?” he asked in a voice a pitch higher than normal.
Hope and Theo resembled onlookers at a Ping-Pong match.
“No, you idiot,” Zoe shouted, totally in tune with Gavin’s shenanigans. “My brother, Mark!”
Everyone sat in stupefied silence before Gavin put his head on the table. Theo burst into hysterical laughter. Hope didn’t seem to know what to think and stared at them.
Van and Linda didn’t know where to look or how to act.
“Did you know about this?” Linda sounded half strangled.
“Hell no,” Van said, absurdly calm. “Let’s all take a minute and just—”
“I’m not keeping it. My brother’s baby? I can’t!” Zoe yelled and raced off into the bathroom, slamming the door in her wake. Holy sh*t, I channeled Aubrey.
Zoe lost the belly shirt, now dressed once again in the shirt over her flat tummy.

Gavin slowly raised his head, admiring the chaos Zoe had left in her wake. Out-f-g-standing. His parents were talking over each other in their haste to understand. Theo wouldn’t stop laughing, and Hope seemed dazed. The golden moment had been Zoe’s incestuous, jail-ridden brother, of course.

Gavin stood to go get her when she entered the room. He could tell right off she’d removed the fake belly.
“I’m sorry, Gavin. But I can’t keep my brother’s baby and raise it as our own. Not even for you, the man I love.”
“Classic! Oh man, Mom. If you could see your face!”
Van sighed. “I thought so.”
“Oh, you did not,” Linda snapped. “You bought into this stupidity like I did.” She turned to point a finger at Zoe. “And you…you lied to us. With him.”
Van guffawed. “Jesus, that was good. You totally had us going. Not exactly the incestuous part, but the pregnancy.”
“Oh, I know what this is. You now have to acknowledge I’m the new master. Say it, Mom. Come on. I, Linda Donnigan, do announce a new winner…”
“Yeah, Mom,” Hope said.
Theo added, “Say it.”
“Gavin Donnigan, I hand over my crown. I now proclaim you king and Zoe queen of this year’s prank wars. Now that’s it, you three…four.” She included Zoe. “No more screwing with each other. And Zoe, come here. I won’t bite.”
Gavin gave his lying, two-timing, brother-sexing girl a full-on mouth kiss, one with a little heat, before letting her go.
“Flushed, she glared at him before joining Linda. “I—”
His mother had the nerve to pat Zoe’s stomach. “Sorry. Had to make sure.”
At which point everyone burst into laughter once more, Zoe too. Once they calmed down, Zoe introduced herself properly and answered his mother’s hundred-and-one questions about her life—how they’d met, her hobbies, and maybe even her shoe size. Gavin wasn’t sure; he’d zoned out by then.
The night had been a huge success.

There are minor hurdles along the way for Gavin which is resolved satisfactorily.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Monique.
925 reviews62 followers
June 23, 2017
Review written: June 23, 2017
Star Rating: ★★★½☆
Heat Rating: ☀☀☀☀☀

An Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book was received free via Netgalley for an honest review.

After struggling through older brother Landon's book, I was nervous about starting Just the Thing. It didn't help that I got some spoilers from a related series that I had not yet finished. And while Gavin's book started out rough, by the end I really liked it.

Gavin (and the rest of the Donnigans) are youthful. The prank wars, the oneupmanship, the bickering both hide and demonstrate a closeness that is heartwarming and endearing. Like the previous book, there is a lot of the Donnigan family in Just the Thing, which turns out to be very good and very important.

Because the fun atmosphere of the Donnigans is tempered by Gavin's PTSD and survivor's guilt from his time as a Marine. He's good as a "good time" guy hiding his pain and inside he is slowly and almost completely falling apart. The intervention that gets him help is in A Sure Thing, Landon's book, so it's not a spoiler. This dual nature of both Gavin and the book literally had me in tears. It's laugh out loud funny one moment and then a few pages later the waterworks start, especially toward the end.

Gavin's desire and need for Zoe mirrors a little too closely older brother Landon's need and love for Ava. Though it becomes clear very quickly that to some degree his feelings for Zoe are masking his pain as well. As expected, events eventually do come to a head, and when they do, it was a flood.

Since Gavin's emotional state is so integral to the plot there are a few points I feel I need to touch on. First, there is very little sugarcoating of Gavin's state. Landon openly has warned family not to touch Gavin if he is upset in his sleep, a clear indicator that there is concern about Gavin's potential to harm someone by accident. Gavin himself warns Zoe that he is unstable. He has several flashbacks during the day, including one at a wedding. Second, Gavin gets help. Yes, it's Ava who convinces him to get that help but he does ask so he is clearly indicating that he understands he needs help and that counseling is something he wants. Some of those sessions are depicted in Just the Thing. Third, his survivor's guilt and his guilt over his role in the Marines (but especially his guilt over his role) are intense and enhanced by some of the events in the book.

I was impressed with the extent to which Gavin's issues are depicted in Just the Thing. I'm not a huge fan of trigger warnings, but I definitely think that if someone is suffering from PTSD or survivor's guilt, there is enough in this book that it could make it worse for a reader. It's not overly graphic but my imagination is more than a little capable of filling in the few blanks and it's not pretty. Also, as a call for getting help, Just the Thing works that way too.

I liked the set up for Hope and struggled with how three series of Harte's are now completely intertwined so it's clear that the books need to be read together.

This review is ©June 2017 by Monique N. and has been posted to Netgalley.
Profile Image for April Symes.
4,999 reviews405 followers
July 4, 2017
Just The Thing by Marie Harte was just what I needed. This book had it all. Ex-marine with PTSD meets girl at his gym. After trying everything he knew to get a date she finally gives in and goes on a date with him. Gavin himself warns Zoe that he is unstable. He has several flashbacks which occur during the day, including one that happens at a wedding. Gavin knows he has some issues but he does seek help, which Ava really pushes for him to do. Some of those sessions were shown in this book. I will say Ms Harte really showed his survivor's guilt and his guilt over his role in the Marines and the intensity is shown. I felt for him and my heart hurt for him. Tissues were used during those scenes.
I want to say Zoe is seriously phenomenal, well she has to be because Gavin needs someone who is willing to walk that extra mile with him. Now Zoe has some things in her past that is painful and Gavin is there for her but she is seriously like rockstar awesome. I don’t want to give too much away into their courtship, for it is something that must be read but their love story is one that is beautiful. Out of pain comes joy. Their relationship is one of immediate attraction yet they fought it and tried to stay just friends but they kept coming back around to each other and that permanent relationship that they were fighting ended up being one at first they fought against became one they fought to keep. Their sex was so hot –Think steamy, spicy, erotic , passionate and oh so intimate.
You also get to see previous characters from book 1 make an appearance like Ava and Landon and the rest of the Donnigan family. I really loved this book and cannot wait for book 3.

My Rating: 4.8 stars *****
"I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for LeeAnne.
492 reviews8 followers
July 9, 2017
It didn’t take very many pages in to this book for me to become completely obsessed, I read the entire book in one sitting, it’s fantastic! It’s also the first book in the series that I’ve read and fine to be read as a stand-alone.

Gavin Donnigan was discharged from the Marine Corps after his team was involved in an explosion in which he was the only survivor. It’s made adjusting to life as a civilian very difficult and though he’s trying to get help the nightmares and panic attacks are still hindering his life. Then you have Zoe York who is dealing with a loss of her own, her twin sister was killed in a car accident and coping with the loss has been nearly impossible for her. Though it takes a while for Zoe to realize that Gavin in serious in his pursuit of her once they get together things progress quickly and the two become inseparable.

I love how Zoe and Gavin heal one another from the pain of their losses, it makes for a great page turner! I also absolutely love the Donnigan prank wars that go down – they’re laugh-out-loud funny and I hope they continue throughout the series.

I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.
Profile Image for Crazy for Books (Stephanie).
1,603 reviews221 followers
February 8, 2018
Gavin Donnigan has struggled since being back from his time in the Marines. Once his family had an intervention, he's been more on the straight and narrow. Being clear headed he's noticed Zoe York. The pink-yoga-pant wearing treadmill stealer, who seems to be the only woman at the gym who doesn't fall at his feet.

Zoe York has been struggling since she lost her sister. Going to the gym is one of the few things she does that keeps her settled. So when Gavin asks her out again, she decides to do something her sister would have encouraged her to do. But once they go out on their first date, they are soon inseparable.

Both dealing with the guilt of loss, they understand some of what the other is going through. But Gavin still doesn't believe he deserves happiness, no matter what his family or therapist tell him. When Zoe tells him she loves him, that guilt grows.

I really loved this book. I had been curious about Gavin and how he was going to grow and get through is PTSD. I laughed and teared up a bit when Gavin and Zoe talked about their losses.

I am so looking forward to the next book. I've been dying for J.T.'s story. I'm in heaven knowing it will be with Hope.

Profile Image for Jessi.
4,946 reviews18 followers
January 4, 2018
Zoe York knows loss. Her twin died and left her feeling like half a person. Now she focuses her life on her work as a software trainer for medical types and on staying sane through regular workouts. She's also been going to the Donnigan's self-defense classes at the gym. Yes, part of it is for the handsome trainer, Gavin. But he's slept with, like, half the women in that class so Zoe's not very impressed when he asks her out.
Gavin's had a rough go of it since he got out of the Marines. First he got shot and then all of his friends were killed in an ambush while he was in the hospital. He's still dealing with the emotional repercussions (at least he's not drinking/whoring anymore) and he knows that there's something about Zoe that's calming to him. So when she finally agrees to go out with him, he's ecstatic and anxious not to mess it up.
There is a LOT about Gavin's mental health in this book that I think was handled rather well. It does take away from Zoe's healing as well as some from their romance but it was overall a very good book.
Profile Image for Julie.
2,005 reviews27 followers
June 28, 2017

Gavin has just got out of the Marine Corps and he's not the same man he was before joined, his experiences and loss of friends in the corps have left him a troubled man.
Teaching self-defence at the local gym has given him a cause he enjoys and its put him into contact with a feisty beauty called Zoe. She also, like Gaven, is struggling to come to terms with a loss....the loss of her twin sister.
And it seems the distraction of self-defence, and a smoking hot teacher is a great tonic and for Gavin, he's hot for her pink yoga pants...and other things.
As what starts as just some fun and a release from their hurt souls, soon becomes something much more which surprise them both.
This was a good book. It was great see how the characters grew and changed as the story progressed. I highly recommend it!

Profile Image for Avid Reader.
1,711 reviews
July 4, 2017
Just the Thing (The Donnigans #2) by Marie Harte
3 stars
M/F Romance
Triggers: Death
I was given this book for an honest review by Wicked Reads.

This is the first book in this series that I've read. Zoe is struggling in life. She has an aunt who adores her and she adores, but all in all, Zoe is on her own. With the sudden death of her twin, Zoe finds herself floundering. She was always the twin that followed the rules, stayed the course. Her twin was the wild child and flowed with the wind. Zoe signs up for a self defense class and takes a leap with the instructor, Gavin.

Gavin is intrigued by the woman who keeps turning him down. He is a good looking man who normally doesn't need to work so hard for a date. However, he sees a kindred spirit in Zoe - someone who also knows loss. He simply wants to make her smile.

When Zoe finally agrees to go on a date with Gavin, he's kind of at a loss. What follows is a very sweet date, some rumbling on the mat at the gym and a relationship blooms. While I enjoyed the story enough, it seemed that there was a lot of slow times too and I think that this story would have been just as compelling without some if the filler.

I do really hope that I get to see what happens in book 3, as Hope is very intriguing.
Profile Image for Carvanz.
2,060 reviews709 followers
July 4, 2017
3.5 Stars

This is a very nice, fast paced romantic comedy that actually deals with the side effects of grief as well as PTSD and survivor’s guilt. I enjoyed both Gavin and Zoe although Gavin’s behavior was a little juvenile at times for a thirty-two year old man. His family’s prank war was hilarious and entertaining but I felt like there were moments that it overtook the story. However, my heart hurt for Gavin when he had to face his past and make a decision on how to deal with it. Zoe’s character remained strong and dedicated. She was willing to do whatever Gavin needed to find healing.

This was a fun read with some serious moments, plenty of humor, and some extra spicy bedroom play. No real epilogue and the ending sets us up for Gavin’s sister Hope.

ARC provided by Netgalley

Dual POV
No apparent triggers
Profile Image for Kari.
3,620 reviews86 followers
July 5, 2017
I enjoyed this one a bit more than the first one. Gavin and Zoe both had a lot of stuff to work through, but they were good for each other. I loved their banter and watching them fall for each other was a treat. The thing that I loved the most about this story was the realistic way Gavin's PTSD was portrayed. Even at the end, he wasn't "cured" and still had a long way to go.

As in the previous book, the prank wars are still going on. That is always good for a laugh or two. The one that Gavin and Zoe pulled was hilarious. This book sets up for Hope's story. I really look forward to reading that one and hope that Cleo gets her own story!
Profile Image for Paige Turner.
1,552 reviews17 followers
July 6, 2017
like the author and thought the story line was interesting but this book didn't work for me at all. I had a hard time getting into the story. I found that I had to re-read several chapters to understand where the author was going. I also thought it had a sadness that surrounded both characters. I'm not opposed to sad stories but this left me feeling a bit depressed at times.

I received an ARC for an honest review.
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