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Potential not realised
Hmm. “Used to it regular”. This was how the H described a lunch time “booty call” to an ex, after he had been close friends to the h for months, and we had been led to believe that they both were developing strong feelings for each other. Only few days after this “booty call” he has unprotected sex with the h, but was insulted when she followed this with a sexual health checkup! Up until this stage I had been really enjoying this “neighbours to friends to lovers” romance. But after super hot sex in her kitchen, he says he knows she has feelings for him but it was all a mistake, cannot happen again, and he is not “in the right place” for a relationship. I guess I just did not feel the love between these two, and as he was “used to it regular” could not help musing that this reluctance for a relationship meant he would now have to go back to the ex for his “regular”! The book was told entirely from the perspective of the h and it was really difficult to get a clear picture of the H, or what he was feeling. Sometimes it felt that the H was in this relationship just because it was convenient to his new living situation, and the frequent graphic and very vocal sex felt forced and over-the-top, particularly when an apparently mature group of adults seemed so openly aware of the sex lives of the others in their friendship group.
The ending of this book was disappointing. The h, and her seriously twisted family issues, were mixed up with a plotline carried over from the previous book so neither problem was given proper attention. The h had multiple issues because of her family but it felt like they were thrown in at odd places to create conflict and never given proper focus. Instead the end of the book jumped all over the place with POVs from characters from past books which was just weird and ensured that anyone who had not read the previous books would have been completely confused.
Some reviews commented on how unlikable the teenager in this book was, but I though she was a perfect depiction of a teenage girl – moody, unpredictable, lovable, self-absorbed, affectionate, needy, secretive – all tied up in a girl/woman package guaranteed to drive any adult crazy.
I do think this book could be really good if given some serious editing to the plot direction and a lot of the side issues were cut out to allow the reader to focus on the H and his daughter, and the h and her family issues, because these alone created a really absorbing plotline, which only ended up being diluted among so many other plot strings.
Short but sweet
This is a short book and I had already read this on kindle so I knew it would be good. This is the story of Marcus, who operates his business on the “wrong side of the law”, and his Dolly Parton lookalike ex-stripper wife. These two glorious stereotypes have appeared often in past Kristen Ashley books and like many readers I was fascinated by them both and how their relationship formed. It is typical of Ashley’s superb skill as a writer that two side characters can grow and develop to such an extent that the readers need to know more.
This is a love story about the meeting of two “soul mates”. Both are products of tragic childhoods and both fought hard to get away from poverty, using unconventional means that were the only avenues available to them. Their meeting and subsequent relationship starts with tragedy, but their path to happiness is fabulous to read and makes the reader really fall in love with both these characters. The epilogue and ending is Kristen Ashley at her best, but I do wish she had skipped the part where she roll-called every past couple from every previous book in the series. It was unnecessary and just drew the reader away from the magic bubble that we were enjoying with this very unique couple, because all I could think from this scene was where on earth did they manage to get last minute baby sitters for 17 kids???
Disappointing addition to this series
The h in this book had “issues” with trust due to her previous boyfriends being unfaithful/a thief/a drug dealer/violent, which she failed to notice even though her family frequently tried to warn her. Her bad judgment continues when she assumes the H cannot be trusted simply because he is good looking and tattooed (huh?).
The H comes on really strong as soon as they meet which, as her boss, really borders on harassment rather than romance. He was, we are told, a super nice guy who was “only interested in serious relationships” and “didn’t do casual”, but he then casually dates a girl and then dumps the poor woman as soon as she gets serious, seemingly just to make the h jealous. The H and h were in a relationship pretty quickly after this, even though she says she would never trust him, but was happy to have lots of very graphic sex, with lots of sex talk (“come for me”), and grunts and groans that made me cringe.
The “super nice guy” H pushes for unprotected sex twice in their first days together - soooo not cool. He made no effort to be pleasant to the h’s family, even though he knows they have had problems with all her past boyfriends. He expects the h to choose him, over her family, while all his friends make it quite clear that their friendship and her job is conditional upon her staying with the H. When she tries to plan a reconciliation with her family, the H cuts her out of his life, refuses to talk and turns all his friends against her. The fact that she then made it quite clear that she would willingly reject her family to stay with the h, only displayed her continued failure to grow a backbone with men, because is this not how an abusive relationship starts?
The h’s family were depicted badly, but I actually felt sorry for them having to live with the consequences of the h’s poor judgment in men. I fully understood why they were upset when she disappears for months (shortly after her last boyfriend left her in hospital and her brother in jail), then turns up, yet again, in a relationship. I agreed with her father who suggested that maybe she should try being single for a while, and I also understand why her sister makes a negative judgement of the H, who was unfriendly and antagonistic the first time they met. When her family tell her they love her, and are worried about her, she resents that they don’t trust her judgment – which has been consistently bad!
The ending of the book was awful. It was super cheesy and seemed to be aimed at an audience of teenage romantics. I enjoyed the first half of this book but the h never grew or developed in any way and is still letting the man in her life control her, even if this time she was lucky enough to find a nice guy.
Bit of a mess
Too many issues with this book: A town of only 2000 residents contains a police force which includes four detectives, as well a funeral director, a bank, a garage, a local GP, a hotel and numerous other businesses. The town sheriff ignores his team of detectives and instead carries out a murder investigation accompanied by his (female) best friend, who is the local mortician and part-time coroner. This mortician jumps into bed with a visiting celebrity author who is inexplicitly attracted to her, even though we get zero chemistry between them and we are constantly reminded of how badly she dresses. Furthermore, within minutes of meeting him she shows him the naked dead body of a murder victim, the next day she brings him to a fresh murder scene and a day later has him helping her dress the body of another murder victim. She was completely unprofessional and even admits buying drug supplies from an illegal vendor, as though this was nothing serious (Hello? people have been killed from taking illegally sourced medications!) She is upset when her lover refuses to make a long term commitment only four days after they first met and accuses him of using her. What? The story then introduces masses of unsolved murders from all over the country (which were never explained) and the mortician, with no evidence whatsoever, suddenly suspects her best friend (the Sheriff), and then jumps to suspecting her lover. The real murderer has to give a looooong speech to explain how he did everything and why he did it, because absolutely no evidence pointed to him and I could not even remember who he was from a brief appearance earlier in the story. This book was all over the place and I actually found the h unappealing, the romance unconvincing and the story a mess.
Not the best in the series, but better than most!
I avidly listen to all Penny Reid’s book and this one is not a disappointment. I have to admit it’s not her best in the series, and for me it did lag a bit in the middle. I think this is probably because this book is all about the relationship and the actual plot line was bit weaker than normal so there was not the added interest of that to keep the book flowing. However as this writer on a bad day is still outstanding, and way superior to so many others in this field, I am not about to deduct stars for being slightly less than perfect.
Second in the series and just as good as the first. Could easily be read as a standalone but reading the series in order will add a deeper dimension to the plot. Soooooo good to read about a strong independent h who thinks rationally and calmly in a crisis and can fight her corner (sometimes literally) especially as this book illustrates how a woman can defend herself if she fights using her head as much as her hands. Special mention has to go to one of the side character – a functioning alcoholic. Rather than depicting this character as an unpleasant drunken idiot, as so many writers do, we were shown the causes and reasons behind his constant struggles with alcohol, and how, when sober, he could be a likeable and productive person. Great book, realistic romance, I am looking forward to next in series.
A little dated, but a good read
I read this on kindle several years ago and I enjoyed the audio book just as much. The murder of a “bridezilla” is complicated by the fact that the wedding planner and the cop investigating the murder had a one night stand the night before the murder. The side characters all had distinct personalities which adds to the interest and although the murder was not too tough to solve, the developing push/pull relationship between the H and h was absorbing
Decent romantic suspense
I have read a lot of Katie Reus books, and on audio they are just as good. That said, the plot line was a little on the weak side and the reason for the h faking her death seemed a little pointless when the H and his friends fairly easily found a way to solve her problems. The romance was strong but unusually the couple concerned were both pretty upfront about their feelings and the book was more about them figuring out a safe way for them both to be together, so there was none of the usual tension to be found in a romance and I have to admit I did miss this a bit. The ending was strong and the way the H and his friends operated in a legal “grey” area was realistically dealt with, and the consequences (H required to quit his CIA position) conveniently set up the forthcoming books. I was disappointed, however, that Katie Reus used the final chapter to set up the next book. I have said before in my reviews: If we, as readers, like a book, we will seek out the next one without these sort of “teasers” necessary. If we didn’t like they book, they are just really irritating.
Special mention has to go to the character of the h and H here. They were both strong agents and it was good to see the H acknowledging this and not feeling the need to step in and rescue the h at every opportunity - not that she needed it!
Good continuation of series
This is a continuation of the first book – 12 years on – and to appreciate it you really do need to read the first book. The h and H have separated due mainly to the struggles of coping and understanding the “gifts” that their child has inherited from his mother. The h reconnects with her teenage romance while at the same time using her gift to help trace missing children. To add to her worries, her gift is developing into the same one as her father, who apparently killed himself, unable to cope with the implications. Meanwhile the H is drawn into the mystery of an unidentified body and it’s possible connection to a prominent crime family who the h’s ex has been working for. Confused? There were lots of different stands to this story that gradually entwine together into one plot. Beautifully written and although I guessed the plot “twist” early on, its impact on the story was not lessened. The romance is fairly muted in this book as the H and h struggle to reconnect, with the presence of h’s ex boyfriend causing problems. Most of the storyline was tied up at the end except the issue with the son’s gift which is the subject of the next book. I normally get annoyed with writers who end their books with what is essentially a prologue for the next book. However as I have every intention of reading the third book as soon as I can, I was more intrigued than annoyed
This author has done better elsewhere
This is the second book I have purchased on Audible by this author – I have read many of her books on kindle. Unfortunately this is only slightly better than the last one (which I did not finish). The quality of writing was, as usual, excellent, but I had issues with the plot line.
The h was a product of an abusive father and ineffectual mother. Her father cruelly and brutally ensured her separation from the teenage H as he was “from the wrong side of town”. 15 years later, her father’s will stipulates that the h moves back to her home town, near the H, but she cannot have “sexual relations” with the H for six months, or she forfeits her inheritance. This did not make any sense: The h and H had not had any contact with each other for 15 years, during which time the H was happily married (now a widower) so what made the father decide that six months abstinence would be a problem? Furthermore, it would have been almost impossible to legally prove that a sexual encounter had taken place unless illegal means were used, and revealing details which would mean the perpetrator would have to come forward, which would also expose his motives.
Naturally, the H and h were unable to control themselves and behaved like two horny teenagers sneaking around to meet for sex, with one particularly unappealing encounter being in the girls’ changing rooms at the school where the h is a teacher and the H’s daughter is a pupil. Not exactly the behaviour of mature and responsible adults, and not at all erotic, just a bit sleazy, more so when you remember the H is the town’s Deputy Sheriff!
A lot of people will love this book and I can recommend the author, but I think in future I will stick to the kindle versions of her books rather than audio versions.