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**Penalty Box is the prequel to the Straight No Chaser series**

I’m the bad boy who will stain his soul to keep her safe.

She’s a runner.
Always has been...at least, she’s always run from me.
Our history repeats relentlessly.
Secret trysts.
Pounding hearts.
Fiery stolen kisses.
Her retreating back.
Now she’s home, hunted by someone sinister.
The lesser of two evils, I’m the unlikely lifeline she reaches for.
Becoming her salvation means plunging my hard-won, respectable life into ruin.
But I’ve never had the strength to turn away from her hold on me.
I’ve always been hers.
She’s always been mine.

Savannah Bryant has run away from me—from us—for the last time.

Kindle Edition

Published May 24, 2022

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About the author

Casey Hagen

69 books2,140 followers
USA Today Bestselling author Casey Hagen pens her stories from the salty air of Kennebunk, Maine. She's the author of over 30 books that would make your mama raise her eyebrows if she caught you reading them!

All things Casey here: geni.us/StalkCasey


Fierce Protectors:

Tallulah Cove:

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 176 reviews
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,534 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2022
This is a Steamy Second Chance Romance Novella, and this is the Novella (.5) in the Straight No Chaser series. I loved getting to know the characters in this book, and there was a little suspense/action mixed into this book. This book gets really steamy at times, and this is a very fast moving story. I really think there was a lot put into this short story, and I really enjoyed it. The only thing I wished this book had was better suspense. The suspense was not built up very well. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Beautiful Misfits Press) or author (Casey Hagen and Echo Grayce) via Booksirens, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.
Profile Image for Brittanica Bold.
253 reviews26 followers
July 4, 2022
This was such a fun little read! Thanks to my friends at SmutHood Tours and Echo Grayce for the opportunity to hop on this ongoing tour. Every month I’ll be reading and reviewing the next books in this series, so stay tuned to see how it holds up!

Read if you enjoy:
• Second chance romance
• Small town romance
• Single-mom romance
• Bad boy / good girl romance
• Mystery
• Novellas
• Series starters

Trigger Warnings:
• Child abuse (talked about in the past and alluded to)

What I liked about the book:
1. This novella was short but done right. The problem with novellas usually is you may know the characters’ favorite sex positions, but you don’t know if they’re vegan or if they’re the kind of people to talk during movies. There usually is not much of a personality or backstory attached to the sex gods and goddesses. That was not the case with Penalty Box!

This book clocked in at just over an hour of read time for me, and yet I felt super knowledgeable and connected to the characters. I felt the love, passion, and missed chances from teenaged years in a short number of pages. Great job, Echo Grayce, for getting us to invest in the characters in such a short amount of time.

2. Spin off potential, duh!

I also loved how the main characters that will feature in the next book were kind of bookends in this book. Maisy helped Jackson get Savannah’s attention in the very beginning and Cain helped Jackson through his tough decision. The only way this could have been more bookended is if it was a Maisy and Kyle book, but I have faith we will get a Doctor Kyle book soon!

3. Holy shit! It was chapter 2 and was already talking about child abuse and murder. There was also a Snapped reference further into the story. This was right up my alley.

4. Yay, roller derby and a bunch of badass females! And they’re called Beautifully Brutal. Fantastic!

5. Single mom, bad-boy-turned-sweet-man romance.

I'm a sucker for a bad boy, ESPECIALLY when he turns into a sweet man!!!! He really takes her daughter's well-being into account from the very beginning and it’s just so perfect!

6. So many great lines and scenes!

“Monsters didn’t hide in closets or under beds with grotesque faces. They walked upright, wore designer clothes, charmed like a prince, and smiled like the Devil.”

- It's the pretty ones you gotta watch out for...


“I can drive,” she bites out with her hands on her hips.

“No doubt, but right now, I need to do something with my hands before I wring your pretty little neck or do something stupid like twisting your fuck me hair into my fist and destroying that rebellious mouth of yours that doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up.”

– Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep, Jackson…

“Nothing on you is just anything, Savannah. It never has been.”

His words sweep away any concerns I had about my mom bod, leaving just the two of us in our very first public display of affection. And suddenly I want more than that. I want to claim.

– Hell yes to the mom bod representation! Rock that shit for the rest of us, little momma!


“You broke me, Savannah. Over and Over, you broke me.” His teeth drag along my earlobe. “You want me to make love to you like this is some fucking fairy tale and I’m Prince Charming? Then you better be ready for my razor-sharp revenge, my jagged edges, and every ounce of hate I’ve harbored for you.”

“You want to hurt me.”

“Every bit as much as you hurt me. Yes, I’m going to squeeze that throat of yours while I fuck you hard and fast, until you’re dazed, barely on the edge of consciousness, and tears stream down your face. I’m going to sprinkle that soft, warm skin with bites that break your skin, tasting every inch of your flesh, marking you, making sure you never forget.”

When I thrust forward against my hand, he grabs my wrist and wrenches it behind my back.

“I don’t fucking think so, Princess. You want to get off? You want that pussy to spasm and drip? Then you wait for me, for when I say. And I say right now it’s time to pay your way to redemption.”

What could have been better:
1. I was looking forward to Savannah going all J. Lo from Enough on her husband’s ass, but unfortunately, we didn’t get that.

2. We also didn’t get a typical HEA. It works, and I’m not that mad about it, but still not a typical pretty little ending.

4 stars!
Profile Image for Tammy Manning.
281 reviews16 followers
May 20, 2022
Oh lord where do I even start with this review? This is a prequel to a series so it’s relatively short compared to other books so we don’t get as in depth with the characters. Despite that, I found myself completely absorbed in the story and invested in Jackson and Savannah. Savannah’s strength and her willingness to do whatever it takes to protect her daughter shows how fierce of a mother she is. And even though she’s scared of her current situation she doesn’t let it get in the way of reconnecting with Jackson and finally admitting that they are just what the other needs. Jackson is just utter perfection. Seriously that man is the perfect combination of sexy, sweet, and dominating in a way that doesn’t seek to control. Not to mention his utter devotion to Savannah and Skye, along with his determination to do what is best for Skye just absolutely melts my heart. Can you please tell me where I can find my own Jackson??? Now there is one part of this book that I have to talk about, without giving spoilers, because I legit have never hated a character as much as I hate Colton. I’m a prolific cusser and can come up with some pretty inventive names for dickless fuck nuggets like Colton but I was so mad reading one part that I was actually speechless. So kudos Echo Grayce for making me so angry I was completely incapable of making any coherent thought, much less yell, cuss, or name call like I normally would. Honestly I can’t wait to read the next book, just please tell me that we get to see more of Jackson and Savannah as well, because I am going to NEED updates on their lives!
Profile Image for Jenifer Briggs.
1,372 reviews155 followers
May 27, 2022
This novella made me so freaking excited for what's to come in this series. Jackson and Savannah have been almost lovers for so long, both of them so in love with the other -- but Savannah would run every time it got too serious. This time however, she's running to Jackson, hoping against everything that he still feels something for her to help her and her daughter escape a monster.

I wasn't excepting this to be so dark or emotional, but from the very first page I was just so invested. Jackson isn't a womanizer nor is he an alpha hole-- he's just someone who's loved the same girl for years while said girl (now woman) keeps destroying his heart. Will he be able to help Savannah and her daughter without it destroying the rest of him? Or will they always be doomed?

I'll say I'm pleasantly surprised by this author. This is the reason why I love taking a chance on newbie writers to uncover a gem such as this, and I can't wait for the rest of the series!!

**I received an ARC of this book and these are my honest opinions **
Profile Image for D. Rivera.
394 reviews
October 28, 2022
My first book from this author. It had it all, romance, messiness and all that matters. I enjoyed this one and will read more of her books and this series. Glad to find a new author.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for BookAddict.
1,618 reviews129 followers
May 22, 2022
You never know what you’re getting into when you try a new author, but this first offering from Grayce was a pleasant surprise. And I applaud her for jumping head first into the deep end with this one, because she tackles some difficult subjects.

It's a bit dark and needs a trigger warning regarding spousal and child abuse as well as murder. And if you’re not a fan of cheating, you'll want to skip it, because the heroine is still someone else's wife when she and the hero get together.

Jackson and Savanah were high school sweethearts, but her family convinced her he was no good for her. In their defense, Jackson had some rough edges as a teen that got him in trouble with the law. After several years with a husband she's tried numerous times to escape, Savanah is back in town with her eight-year-old daughter.

Although not lighthearted or humorous, this is a fast-paced, dramatic, suspenseful romance with a side of both heat and sweet that I read in a couple of hours, so it's perfect for when you have a small window of time. While there are a couple of areas I would have liked a little more from (Savannah's daughter and Jackson's relationship with his father) Grayce definitely shows promise. If you like finding new authors to follow, give this one a try – it might be the perfect romance read for you.
Profile Image for Kristen Lewendon.
7,116 reviews41 followers
February 24, 2022
It seems a little odd to come back to this series and be someplace before the beginning of it. I kind of don't even know how to put my reactions to this book into words. This isn't a long read, but it's also not a light one. The connection between Jackson and Savannah is everything bright and beautiful, and it's what my second chance dreams are made of. However, there’s a lot of pain and hurt that this pair have inflicted on each other That they need to overcome. It also deals with a monster that walks on two legs, so be warned that there are some discussions about the cruelest things one human being can do to another. It's not a complete ‘Happy Ever After’ yet, but it gives them a ‘happy for now’ that I can fully support. And, I can't wait to see this pair supporting future books in the series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Hidden Gems Books.
Profile Image for Kari Hansen.
9,530 reviews64 followers
May 25, 2022
Savannah fell in love with Jackson when they were teenagers, but her parents believed he was a bad influence on her and if you based your opinion of him on his actions rather than the man you might be right as well. She left him and her hometown behind only to make a much more dangerous choice when it came to her husband and her daughter’s father.

Jackson was hurt when Savannah left him with no further contact, but he also understood. Now that she is back there is nothing he won’t do to protect her and her daughter from their pasts but will this be their second chance or are they destined for heartbreak once again?

This is a story about redemption both Jackson’s over his past and Savannah’s as she fights for the future she wants. This is a great start to a new series and leaves us wanting more.
Profile Image for Raecharmed.
8,144 reviews49 followers
June 13, 2022
Jackson and Savannah have a history but never got to be together. Now she is back in town with her daughter, and he knows that something is wrong. When he finally gets her alone, she explains how she should never have listened to the people of town about him. They painted him as a bad boy that would never be good and it was what had her run from him. However, she knows what a monster really looks like and its her estranged husband. Will Jackson be able to protect them from her estranged husband? Will they get their second chance?

This is a great story that will have you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter on. This is a well written and very entertaining story. I would recommend this book to any book lover.

I received a free copy of this book via Cherrylily ARCs and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Jennifer Pierson.
11.4k reviews151 followers
May 25, 2022
Jackson & Savannah were high school sweethearts who never stood a chance because of her family as he was considered a bad boy & did get into trouble. She's a flight risk so she ran while Jackson truly believed he would never be good enough for her. Now she's back in town with her daughter, and while he's still mad at her flight risk tendacies, he is still drawn to her while she's trying to stay away from her horrible husband. Penalty Box was a short(ish) story that packed an exciting suspenseful punch so I didn't want it to end, and it ended too quickly to be honest LOL! I'm super excited to read more by this talented author & HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Profile Image for Raquel Falcone.
321 reviews
May 25, 2022
ARC proporcionada a cambio de una reseña honesta ❤️

Penalty Box es una prequela por lo que fue una historia corta pero déjenme decirles que Jackson y Savannah son unos personajes tan lindos.

Jackson fue el chico malo en su adolescencia pero el paso del tiempo lo han hecho madurar hasta convertirse en alguien protector, independiente y amante de los niños.

Savannah siempre fue la chica buena de una pequeña ciudad, ahora es una madre tratando de proteger a su hija refugiándose en donde siempre se sintio segura.

La relación de ambos personajes en su adolescencia era secreta, cuando Savannah se fue dejo a Jackson destruido por lo que el regreso de ella a la ciudad mueve esos sentimientos que ambos siguen teniendo hacía el otro.

Fue una historia con algunas cosas que te daran impotencia, un amor que jamás se extinguió, y unos personajes que han madurado.

Espero leer más de esta autora 🥺


Penalty Box is a prequel, so is what was a short story but let me tell you that Jackson and Savannah are such cute characters.

Jackson was the bad boy in his adolescence but the passage of time has made him mature into someone who is protective, independent and a lover of children.

Savannah was always the good girl from a small town, now she is a mother trying to protect her daughter by taking refuge where she always felt safe.

The relationship of both characters in their adolescence was secret, when Savannah left, she left Jackson destroyed, so her return to the city moves those feelings that both continue to have towards each other.

It was a story with some things that made you helpless, a love that never died out, and some characters that have matured.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah~ Book Obsession Confessions.
976 reviews65 followers
May 27, 2022
3.75-4 STARS
Savannah was the wealthy, good girl in high school to Jackson’s bad boy who was believed to be destined for trouble.
She broke up with him and left town after school and Jackson has a lot of hurt and resentment.
The story deals with some serious issues, it’s a novella so it all happens fast and I would have loved a bit more background on the characters and their past together.
I understand with a short prequel there’s the length restraint. So, with that in mind I felt the main and secondary characters got a good amount of page time.
The romance happens very fast, again it’s length and the fact that it’s a second chance romance made that not a very big issue for me.
There’s some violence, most off page but, heed the trigger warnings. Domestic violence is involved.
I loved Jackson’s immediate love/care for Savannah’s daughter. It warmed me to him a lot.
Overall I enjoyed the story and characters. I would read this new to me author again.
Profile Image for Nic_key_reads .
381 reviews11 followers
May 23, 2022
Penalty Box is a short prequel to a new series by Echo. It's a short and quick but oh so sweet read. You don't get too much of a back story on these two characters..but you honeslty get just enough to understand their story.

Jackson had me memorized from the beginning. He's the hot ex bad boy who has worked his butt off for what he's got.

Savannah sweet sweet Savannah. She's running from something twisted.

Their pasts are intertwine. They have some sort of history that neither has gotten over.

This one is loaded with just enough steam and drama to keep you turning the page. I immediately loved Jackson and my heart hurt for Savannah. Penalty Box was incredibly written!

This was my first read by Echo. I love finding new authors and figuring out their writing style. She has me hooked!
I can not wait for the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Kristen Lewendon.
7,116 reviews41 followers
May 23, 2022
I kind of don't even know how to put my reactions to this book into words. This isn't a long read, but it's also not a light one. The connection between Jackson and Savannah is everything bright and beautiful, and it's what my second chance dreams are made of. However, there’s a lot of pain and hurt that this pair have inflicted on each other that they need to overcome. It also deals with a monster that walks on two legs, so be warned that there are some discussions about the cruelest things one human being can do to another. It's not a complete ‘Happy Ever After’ yet, but it gives them a ‘happy for now’ that I can fully support. I read the original and I loved it. Now I’ve read the revised version under the author’s new identity, and I love this even more. I can't wait to see this pair supporting future books in the series.
I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book from the author.
Profile Image for Sarah Elyse | Retro Girl Reads.
1,085 reviews54 followers
May 26, 2022
Jackson has been in love with Savannah since they were teenagers, but he knew he was no good for her even then. She’s always run from him, but now, Savannah is on the run from something worse. So instead of running away from Jackson, she runs towards him. And now that he’s had her again, he knows he’ll do anything to keep her safe. And that he’ll never let her go again.

Okay, so this was my first book by this author, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!!! I absolutely adored Jackson and Savannah’s story. Jackson intrigued me from the very beginning; he’s the ex bad boy turned savior, which I loved. And Savannah! Poor girl, I just wanted to give her all the hugs. This story was definitely dark at times, but Jackson and Savannah’s love is oh so sweet, yet at the same time powerful and all consuming. I completely recommend!
Profile Image for Kristen.
203 reviews11 followers
May 24, 2022
* I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Penalty Box is a prequel novella to the Straight No Chaser series. A steamy, second chance romance in a small town setting. This was a super quick, easy read that was well written. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was sucked into the story!

I loved the way we just jump right into the story. There’s such a strong sense of longing and history between Jackson and Savannah. You’ll definitely be rooting for them right away! Jackson is sexy, sweet, and just the right amount of dirty, while Savannah is strong and determined. It was nice seeing them find their way back to each other and get a HEA. It was also very touching the way Jackson cared about Savannah’s daughter.

This was a 4 ⭐️ read for me. Only negative thing I have to say is that it was nowhere near long enough. I know, it’s a novella, but Jackson and Savannah were such great characters, I needed more of their story! I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and hopefully will get to hear more about them!
Profile Image for Anna.
503 reviews399 followers
May 24, 2022
I really enjoyed this opposites-attract, second chance romance, that is the prequel to the next book, False Start. AND ITS OUT NOW!!!! HAPPY PUB DAY!

It was a quick read, that definitely brought some spice, and made me excited to read the rest of the series! I really liked the author's writing style and she definitely wrote some awesome characters!

This one definitely has some TW so read up before diving in.

Second chance romance
small time romance
opposites attract
right person, wrong time
booty play
Profile Image for Sarah Solomons.
251 reviews3 followers
May 25, 2022
I honestly don’t know how she packed so much story in such a short book. It had it all, second chance love, revenge, a twist you don’t see coming and an HEA. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!
Profile Image for AvidRomanceReader.
203 reviews8 followers
May 27, 2022
Echo is a new author to me and when she opens up applications for her ARC team with the description of the book I happily applied.

This is a shorter story following Jackson and Savannah. They were high school sweet hearts that were ripped apart my unapproving family members and are now finding their way back to each other.

This book is on the darker side and I think Echo did an amazing job balancing those aspect with the romance that we wanted for such a short tale.

If you’re looking for a dark, face paced, and dramatic romance this is definitely a good book to pick up.
Profile Image for Smuttybooks_geekystuff.
405 reviews33 followers
July 10, 2022
This is short and spicy prequel to the Straight No Chaser series that left me begging for more!

This is a novella done right.

🔥 bad boy/good girl
🔥 single mum
🔥 small town romance
🔥 suspense

I fell in love with the characters and felt really connected with them.

We get to see their past and the present issues bringing them back together.

Jackson and Savannah are perfect together and his love for Skye is swoon-worthy 🥰

I'm so excited for to get my hands on False Start next for Maisy and Cain's story and to see more of Jackson and Savannah
Profile Image for Katie Magruder.
66 reviews34 followers
July 12, 2022
I really enjoyed this novella! Now I have to finish the series so I can read more of Savannah and Jackson!
68 reviews
May 20, 2022
I received this book through arc program its the first one ive done. The story is well written and the main character have history. However its best to realize that it has triggers such as domestic violence and child abuse. I laughed cried and was dumbfounded. Please read its worth it
Profile Image for Gumiho Reviews.
98 reviews
June 8, 2022
Explicit: language, sex, abuse, violence, drug abuse

You get the chance to be with the one who got away, will you take it no matter the cost?

Penalty Box by Echo Gracey is the prequel novel in the Straight No Chaser Series and it was deep! Jackson and Savannah come from a small town and were high school sweethearts that ran from each other, for the sake of each other. One day, Jackson is working at his skating rink and in walks the one who got away, Savannah. To him, it’s like no time has gone by and all he wants is to grab her and take her into his embrace. Savannah, who is with her daughter, sees him and feels the same way, but has a problem, her husband. She needs to get away from him and protect her daughter. Is it possible for the both of them to get all that they want?

There was so much to digest in this novella and it was amazing! With the combination of a second chance love, small town love, intense steamy session, and suspense in the mix, Penalty Box was a perfect blend that gets your blood pumping. I loved that this story started with Jackson's perspective. Most romances I’ve read have begun with the female lead and it was refreshing to see it from the opposite perspective first.

There were aspects of really deep concepts throughout, such as abuse, drugs, violence, and even worthiness. From the start we see that both felt that they were not good enough for the other, which was why they were not together. Also, the way that the sex was expressed aligned so perfectly to the tone of the overall story. It was so raw and unfiltered, just straight with no chaser! See what I did there.

Overall, this was beautifully executed, I can’t even say the story went too fast, it was well paced and left me wanting more.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes erotic romantic suspenses, this is perfect for you!

Next Book: False Start

*This was an honest review for a complimentary copy of Penalty Box from Echo Grayce via Hidden Gems
May 31, 2022

Penalty box is a short prequel novella to a new series written by Echo Grace . This novella is a quick read and second chance steamy romance. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this book since it’s the first book I’ve ever read by this author but I was surprised at how much I loved the characters, Jackson and Savannah.

Since this book is straight to the point, we learn that Jackson and Savannah have a deep longing after years apart. During this time apart, Savannah married and had a daughter. Jackson is single, owns a skating rink, and wants to prove to himself and others that he is not who he was before. Jackson can be protective but sweet while Savannah is a fierce, determined and caring woman.

Please note that this book does talk about physical abuse so if you are someone who is triggered by this, read at your own risk.

Overall, I loved the dynamic between the two and appreciated that we witnessed Jackson and Savannah receiving a second chance. What I am most interested in is seeing the dynamic between Jackson and Savannah’s daughter. Hoping we can see more in the upcoming series!

If you are someone who doesn’t mind having no backstory on Jackson’s and Savannah’s life and are okay with diving right in, this is the book for you!
Profile Image for Nikki Brooks.
2,924 reviews41 followers
May 22, 2022
Small Town Romance, 2nd chance love, domestic violence - some common tropes but big topics are embraced in this story! There may be TW for Cheating too as the FMC is technically still married but let's face it if we were married to HIM we'd run to our first love too!

Jackson and Savanah are complete opposites and have the complete bad boy/good girl/wrong side of the tracks flair. Savannah left Jackson behind and wanted a fresh start - she only seemed to find a new level of fear. The only bright light she has is her daughter. But when she has a brush with danger, she runs to the only safe place she knows!

Savannah was his everything, even whn he was too young and dumb to know it. Now she's back and danger is following her. There is no way Jackson is letting her so this time. He'll go directly into the line of fire to protect her and her daughter.

A great mix of sweet/smexy, action and emotion. It's great to have a villain that you can just HATE from the get-go!
7,677 reviews100 followers
June 1, 2022
This is the prequel to a new series and the author starts it out with a bang! She brings strong characters in Jackson and Savannah. It's a second chance romance filled with anxiety, fear, determination and a fierce protectiveness for her daughter on Savannah's part. For Jackson it's a love/hate feeling toward her but most of all love and protectiveness toward her and her daughter with the threat of her abusive husband. It's a short, darkish read dealing with abuse and tons of emotions. The scenes are painted perfectly and had me glued to the pages from start to finish. I can't wait to read more to this series.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own and freely given.
641 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2022
3.5*ARC Review – Second Chance with a Twist
Previously I had read and enjoyed the first book in this series by this author and was interested on where she would go with these characters. The ARC for this one was provided by Hidden Gems. Although I enjoyed the story and characters, it was a little short for my taste. This is the story of Jackson and Savannah, who had a passionate relationship in their youth, and she has now returned to town with her young daughter and to get away from her abusive husband. It was a good story and it definitely stuck with me after I finished it, mainly because I am not sure I agree with the choices the author made.
30 reviews2 followers
May 24, 2022

I really enjoyed this book for the most part!

Penalty Box had all the ingredients to be an absolute banger- possessive man, wounded woman, a sweet kid, a small town set up where everyone cares about each other, and a love story that never got its happily ever after. One problem? It was too damn short!

But please bear with my confused emotions while I explain stuff!

Let's talk about the good, because there's a lot of it. Echo Grayce has a way with words, hands down. The writing was absolutely stunning, you could feel the emotions right to your bones. Was it slightly complex at times? Maybe, but it was worth it. The plot was creative, if not new. I was intrigued and invested from the very first page and I couldn't keep the book down! I read it at a lightning pace, anticipating the shoe drop moments! I also ADORED Jackson- his love for the girl who got away, his pining, his devotion. It was beautiful.

Now! Let's talk about the things that I wasn't a fan of- the book's short. Really short. And it's not something that always hinders a story's potential, but in this case- with the kind of plot and angst the author wanted to portray, it maybe did. All my issues stem from this one major factor. Again, I understand that it's a prequel. But a lot was happening and needed more explanation.

The kind of love that was being described DESERVED a tale to ruin all others! But apart from a few mentions, the reader does not know anything about the couple's history and how they actually fell for each other in the first place! Another hangup for me was the time the couple reunited and got intimate. It felt too quick and a little wrong, given the ongoing suffering and unanswered questions. I wasn't big on the ending either, it felt abrupt and wasn't validated enough.

I wanted to know the characters more- both the good and bad ones! I wanted to know the past, because that's what led to the present. Give me a more hopeful future while you're at it too. Because damnit the MCs deserve it!

That said, I still liked this book a lot. Mostly because of the writing. I am truly excited for the future books of this author! Will I recommend it? YES. Because I do believe a lot of people would really like this quick slap of an emotional read. I won't lie, I might have pulled my hair out quite a lot if this book was long. The angst would have killed me.

would have been worth it...

*Potential Spoiler in Triggers*

TRIGGERS: abusive parent/spouse, child abuse, murder (on page), mentions of drug abuse

RATING: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Loveleigh.Reads.
153 reviews10 followers
May 23, 2022
I love a good second chance, small town romance, and Echo Grayce came out swinging with this one! Penalty Box is a prequel to the Straight No Chaser series, and Echo brings us a variety of characters, or misfits as she likes to call them & what a group they are! Penalty Box introduces Savannah & Jackson "Jay" - the good girl and the bad boy! Opposites attract in this one because these two could not be more different. Jackson was the rebellious stoner going nowhere fast from the town's perspective; while Savannah was the all-around naive good girl valedictorian.

They fell hard for each other back in high school although no one ever knew of their forbidden romance. Savannah ended up running from Jay and their small town only to return a decade later with her 8-year old daughter, Skye, now running from something else. She finds protection in Jackson's arms but he fears she is going to run again. This story moves fast since their feelings have always been there so they fall hard for each other all over again!

Jackson's main priority is keeping Savannah and Skye safe, and he won't stop until he knows they are. "Terror because I have so much to lose. Excitement because I have so much to gain." I loved how protective he was of her even though he was terrified she was going to leave again. And I appreciated how vulnerable Savannah was with Jay and & worked to make sure he knew she wasn't going to run, that he was her home.

This is an easy read and has a little suspense. It does not end on a cliffhanger; however, I believe (and hope) there is more to Savannah, Jackson, and Skye's story! I am looking forward to the next one in the series, False start that features Cain and Maisy! These characters are so much fun!
340 reviews
May 24, 2022
Penalty Box is a prequel to Echo Grayce's Straight No Chaser series and is Jackson and Savannah's story.
Penalty Box is a short, steamy, second chance romance with a side of danger that grips you from the very first page.
When Jackson and Savannah were younger they were everything to each other but instead of ignoring other peoples opinions of their relationship and of them, Savannah ran and left Jackson behind broken hearted.
After ten years Savannah is back but she's not alone, she has an adorable little girl and her life away from their small town and Jackson have been darker than anyone could imagine.
Instantly sparks are flying between them and despite the anger Jackson holds for the way Savannah left he can't deny the feelings that are stirring inside him.
"Savannah Bryant, the goddamned other half of my soul.
The girl I let go of over and over because deep in my heart, I know I'm not good enough for her.
The girl who runs because deep down she knows it too."
But things aren't going to be easy for them, Savannah is a Mom, she needs to protect her daughter and keep her safe from her abusive, manipulative ex and Jackson has been holding onto ten years of hurt and anger towards Savannah for leaving him and not looking back.
Can Savannah and Jackson figure a way around all these obstacles standing in their way and finally get their second chance at love and happiness or will their pasts and a despicable ex ruin their chance at forever?
Read Penalty Box to find out!
Penalty Box is my first book by this author and I can say for certain it will definitely not be my last! I cannot wait for what comes next in this series.
I received an arc of Penalty Box and I am voluntarily leaving my review.
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