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Wrong to Need You (2017)

by Alisha Rai

Series: Forbidden Hearts (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1218179,270 (3.9)2
A Cosmopolitan Best Book of 2017! Alisha Rai returns with the second novel in her sizzling Forbidden Hearts series! He wasn't supposed to fall in love with his brother's widow... Accused of a crime he didn't commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he's come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher--and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother. Sadia Ahmed can't deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can't turn down his offer of help with the cafe she's inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she's simply unable to resist.  An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they're strong enough to face the past...and step into a future together.… (more)
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book deals with modern love and family dynamics in a thoughtful fashion. Sadia's family has to grapple with some issues I've seen in my own- what happens when you can't do what your parents want you to do with your life? Her relationship with her dead husband is also complicated in a way I have seen in several couples. Jackson is a lovely hero with his selflessness and shyness. It doesn't stop him from taking action in his life, and it makes his feelings seem more real, because they are so risky. I think the most interesting character, though, may be Jackson's mother, Tani. She has a lot of trouble expressing herself, even if she means well and values her children highly.
I guess I also can't resist the trope old friends falling in love. ( )
  psychotropek | Sep 8, 2021 |
Sadie and Jackson.
I would advise reading the first book before starting this one as some topics are explained from book 1.
A good story. ( )
  izzied | Oct 29, 2020 |
Reread w/ Gaufre 12/18. Still a 4. I find this a more enjoyable offering than book 1.

Original Review

I’m dealing with a pretty solid book hangover. Both from staying up later than I normally do (why oh why do hours matter so much in your late 30s, ouch), and from this book.

I promised myself I wouldn’t compare. I love both books. They are just different flavors. Though this was still rife with tension, I would say the level of angst wasn’t quite the same. The feel was similar, but not as intensely…painful? This book had a couple weaknesses, although it’s wasn’t enough to steer into 3 star territory or anything…

By now, most of us know this book is of Sadia and Jackson, and how the heck are they going to get together. Jackson’s been MIA and silent for years despite his best friend Sadia and sister needing him. He finally arrives for his sister. We find out a bit later why he couldn’t come to his brother’s funeral. Because if we are led to believe that Jackson is a consistent character (we are), we quickly realize he’s a rock. We just don’t know the motivations that led to his prolonged absence and ultimately abandonment of his family and the people who loved him. Jackson’s closed himself off, made his world black and white, shut himself down.

That’s what he was, what he’d aspired to be. Alive, but unfeeling. His heart beat, his blood pounded, his organs functioned.
That was it. That was enough.
Or he’d thought it was enough.


It doesn’t take long to realize this is because Jackson doesn’t make connections easily, and when he does, they run deep.

And don’t worry, his motivations were brilliant. How could this brother, who we know held Livvy through her darkest days, disappoint? He didn’t. That he hated being the center of attention and that it was his worst nightmare post accusation, that he had to leave for his own sanity? So brilliantly done. That he is so shy in the extreme, he never wanted to make a thing about him. Loved it.
It had been quiet whispers, not screams, no demands he leave, that had driven him from this place.
The baggage he carries…ugh. I love a hero who shows love through his actions. I love a hero who carries a torch. And when it makes sense, like it does with a shy, hurt hero, it’s so much better.

….but that was a lie. Because a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, he’d loved Sadia with all his soul.


The lack of smooth talk in Jackson really allows for his actions to shine through to the other characters. It’s also why they all must have felt so incredibly hurt when he left. And though he fumbled through saying the wrong things (like he did with Livvy) like “perfect,” he at one point, prior to a very uniquely hot scene…says exactly the right thing. I swear I flushed at it.

Sadia was an equally deep character. Though she and Paul had a difficult last couple of years, her love and respect for him is evident. What grabbed me about Sadia? This idea she wanted to be seen as a woman, not a mother or widow. So relatable. What else? I am with Sadia on men’s hands. Like 1,000% with her.

some women were seduced by a voice or a touch or a look. For Sadia Ahmed, it was hands.

Sadia is a planner. An over-planner: down to the minute, to keep control over her life, where she’s incredibly thinly stretched. Her fear of failure is understandable, as the seeming under-achiever in a family of MDs. Her devotion to family is what can only be described as mama-bearish. Sadia, too, is incredibly easy to understand. She has fear, but it’s not debilitating. She’s classy as hell and doesn’t gossip. Her family was also brilliantly drawn. And Rai once again does some sneaky “just is” diverse characters, in a solid and meaningful way rather than shallow and stereotypical. *Salutes Alisha Rai for giving us what we need and want.*

Oh, but watching this relationship develop. Their internal monologues both so relatable and understandable. I think Jackson, in particular, is the one who had me biting my nails. I could just feel his discomfort, understand him in social situations, yes, but also in those little vulnerabilities.


Oh god no, he couldn’t use her kitchen. If touching her waist and staying above her garage felt intimate, cooking at the stove in her house, for him, would be the equivalent of seeing him naked.

He felt like a kid jumping from couch cushion to couch cushion, unable to touch the floor. If he touched the floor, lava would get him. If he stopped kissing her, he’d start thinking…He knew what was coming. The lava.

There are other subtle and not subtle references, really well done, to mental health, to “accomplishments” to the struggle and joys of the grind.
I got through another day.
I showered.
I got out of bed.
I combed my hair.

This was from Sadia’s point of view. Sadia’s panic and anxiety didn’t strike me as dominant parts of her character, as in Livvy’s story, but the idea that this list is made of accomplishments makes many of us with mental health issues say “yep, been there.”

So, if this slow growing, friends-to-lovers, torch-carrying hero, second-chancey romance isn’t perfect, why not? Because, frankly, it is fucking close. The self-possessed widowed mother, or the action-oriented chef and it adds up to a really really wonderful book. And it is a wonderful book, but some things irritated me.

The side characters came off as too perfect. I said I wouldn’t compare, but bear with me. Anyone who faced redemption in the first book now became some kind of relationship expert, with platitudes and wisdom that far exceeded their grasp or pride before Livvy and Nicholas got together. In addition, the author clearly can not let the romance of the first couple go and I fear how often things would center around the non-central characters. As more characters in this complex family romance are redeemed, I fear more will become one-dimensional and the strength of these novels has been in how multi-dimensional the family and their issues are.

I keep these quotes here for me, but I would recommend skipping them if you haven’t read the book:

He wanted to give her everything and anything.
Because you love her.
The realization didn’t come on him like a thunder clap, but a gentle whisper, because of the love had always been there, lurking under the surface, even if he’d been terrified of verbalizing it.



My dream for you is to let me love you.
( )
  samnreader | Jun 27, 2020 |
Man, there were some stupid hot scenes in here. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
3.5 stars

She was a mother, a widow. To a lot of people, she’d discovered, those two titles took precedence over being a woman.

It is no secret I loved the heck out of the first in this series and with a pairing I was worried/not feeling (sister-in-law/brother-in-law), this was always going to have a hard time measuring up.
The writing is superb, no problems there, but the components just weren't to my personal liking.
This is, by my guess, 30-40ish% our main couple Jackson and Sadia and 70-60ish% family issues/drama; for a very long time it feels way more contemporary fiction romance instead of what I was anticipating for romance contemporary fiction.

The lusting from Sadia starts right away and the comments she makes in the first 20% felt almost immature (when she realizes the mystery man is Jackson) because of the issues/relationship between them. It was hard for me to move from the emotional pain and relationship complexities to Sadia saying hot Jackson's butt was. After the 20% those kind of comments and tone kind of fade off, to the betterment, I think.

As with Livvy (we get snippets of her and Nicholas here!), I thought Sadia was a great complex, multi-faceted heroine. Her inner family stresses along with grief, motherhood, money, and sexual desires are laid out so bare and real. It feels weird to wax poetic about a "normal" woman character as if other heroines aren't "normal", because what is normal and all that but dang it, I feel like I don't read a lot of normal heroines. Sadia is all of it, a mother, stressed, a daughter, horny, a sister, a list maker, bisexual, a widower, hurt, and etc. Loved her character.

I love me some broody, quiet, and strong types and while Jackson was all of that and a muscle tattooed bag of chips, he felt too closed off to me as the reader; I selfishly like to be let in, as the reader, before or more than the other book characters. His shyness for being such a big dude was refreshing and endearing but I never reached a solid place of "knowing" his character.

This line had me primal screaming/giddy/high:
There was a reason he’d never gotten along with many men—these absurd power plays were too foolish.
How bleeping amazing to have men relationships/dynamics called into the spotlight instead of the tired "women can't be friends because of jealously and/or competitiveness". I don't know, some justice was served for me with this line, lol.

It was a little tough to wade through the family drama and dynamics that steal the time and show from Sadia and Jackson. Tough because I wanted more romance/relationship from them but if I had gone in with the expectation of more contemp fiction, the writing and characterization is amazing. At around the 55% mark Sadia and Jackson's relationship heats up with some voyeurism and it is sexually on from there. It felt a little packed in (get your mind out of the gutter) with the sex scenes so grouped together but the emotional baggage of the sis/bro-in-law probably required the wait, I just would have liked them to have more talking/together scenes before.

Anyway, if looking for a fantastically written family drama with some explicit sex scenes this should be your next purchase. There were some Gabe and Eve appearances in this and I'm dying to see them together in the next book.

“It’s hard to make your peace with someone who isn’t around anymore. Or more accurately, to make your peace with never making your peace.” She smiled sadly. “But sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.” ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Feb 14, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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A Cosmopolitan Best Book of 2017! Alisha Rai returns with the second novel in her sizzling Forbidden Hearts series! He wasn't supposed to fall in love with his brother's widow... Accused of a crime he didn't commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he's come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher--and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother. Sadia Ahmed can't deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can't turn down his offer of help with the cafe she's inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she's simply unable to resist.  An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they're strong enough to face the past...and step into a future together.

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