This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance
Released on July 24, 2014
I was seriously not sure what to expect when I picked this one up knowing that playful, happy go lucky womanizer, Ben Morris, the former bouncer for Cain’s strip club, Penny’s, was getting his story. He’s loud, brash, painfully honest, unfiltered and militantly unfettered. Women can’t resist him and he can’t resist them. Who would be the superwoman to tame him, right? Well, answering that question made for a hard, humorous, passionate reading experience that’s for sure. As with this entire series, this book is not an easy read. These characters both have some serious emotional scars and its just amazing to see them grow and grow closer together. I was sorry to see that this is the last book in the series, but it certainly left things on a high note.
Like the others in this series, it can be read out of order. However, a few things do make better sense when read in order. The timeline of this series is unique in that there is overlap in the chronological time line so that several of the stories are happening almost at the same time. Of all of them, this one does tend to have the most distance from the regular characters which surprised me knowing this is the final book.
The story is told alternating first person perspective in alternating chapters with the heroine, Reese MacKay, opening things with her bitter, angry and broken-hearted situation of calling one of her former step-dad’s (Yes, step-dads plural) to get her out of the trouble that has landed her in jail. Calling Jack is the first conscious step she makes on the long road to healing and recovery from many things, but the latest is a cheating husband who she still loves. Jack is glad to have this second chance with Reese because he always felt bad abandoning her when her mother cheated on him and left him for his ex-best friend and law partner. Jack’s deal for helping Reese is that she come live with him and her step-brother, take the classes necessary to become a paralegal in his office and stay out of trouble. Reese is ready to clean up her act and get a fresh start by starting with this job at Jack’s firm, but goes on one last hurrah with her friends down to Cancun and has a memorable experience with a guy that isn’t even her type.
Ben Morris is intrigued from the moment the angry drunk smart-mouthed, sexy even when drunk girl falls off her bar stool and later pukes all over him before disappearing. Is it any wonder that he immediately knows her when he meets her as his co-worker at the new law office where he works? Things get off to a rough start because he can’t keep his mouth shut about Cancun and she’s got a vicious temper that seems exasperated by the appearance of her ex with new wife in tow. Ben finds himself being a fake-boyfriend and partner in crime for Reese to gets some vengeance against her ex even as she’s the buffer for him to get rid of an unwanted attachment that won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. All of this has to happen under the radar of her step-dad who is Ben’s boss and will fire him if he’s caught fraternizing with another employee. Their schemes lead them in a direction that terrifies two commitment-phobes who have to deal with their pasts before they lose the chance for a happy future.
This character-driven plot jumps right in ‘in your face’ and sends a powerful message about the fall-out about what cheating does to a relationship and a family. The book is saturated by cheating though not between the main characters. Nope, they don’t cheat, but are the products of each having a parent or two that cheats as well as Reese’s ex so its a tough one on the emotions from page one.
Reese is so hard-core to start. I was sympathetic, respecting of her pain but didn’t find her likeable at first. She’s obnoxious in her anger and bitterness though fortunately she has some good people in her friends and former step-dad who don’t give up on her and she eventually turns the corner. I was impressed with her as the story continued on her road to healing. Now while she does deal with the gaping wounds to her heart, she is still true to her strongly individual self and finds someone in Ben who can appreciate that. She’s the ultimate bad girl. She’s a pierced, bike-riding, purple-haired, rocking, familiar with back of police cars because of her stunts and not shy to put it out there sort of gal.
Ben was easier to like, but hard to respect in the beginning. Like Reese, he’s got a coping mechanism going on because of his thing with his dad that makes him a promiscuous, unapologetic manwhore. At first, he only wants Reese because of her individuality and the merry chase she leads him on. He’s cute and not calculating. He’s warm and fun so even though I don’t like the shallowness; I still like Ben. He has a soft spot for his mama and Reese’s geeky step-brother along with being there for Reese and letting her be there for him. He grows too and he was terrified to take that last step to put himself out there. I was really cheering for these two.
On the surface, they seem like opposites and almost too broken to heal. The book has some real downer stuff in it and has a strong message about making the choice to heal and grow or go for bitter-driven actions and wither away. These two are on the cusp of tipping either way at the point they are met in the story. Now that being said, there are lighter elements too. Ben and Reese just make a scene shine when they banter or try to get up some sexy time. They are pretty honest about feelings, needs and wants claiming its just friends helping each other and being there for each other. Ben is playful, but Reese can be an evil tease. Ben notes more than once that its not a good idea to get on her bad side. She is total Crazy Ex toward the beginning and that has some amusement even though its bittersweet because her motive is driven by pain. They are such a match and I was eager for them to see it through all the stuff getting in the way.
In the end, I loved this story and was so happy with the journey that Ben and Reese took. I know it’s the last book, but I really wouldn’t be upset if Nate got a story some time in the future- nope I really wouldn’t. It’s hot and sexy and angry and bitter and painful and hilarious. I would recommend this one for lovers of passionate, provoking Contemporary Romance.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.