Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…
Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.
Once wasn’t going to be enough. He realized that now. He wanted her countless times in countless ways. Underneath him. On top of him. Beside him…
Unfortunately the book managed to start off on the wrong foot with me. See I’m one of those ridiculously picky readers that when something bothers me enough in the very beginning, it will set the tone for the entire book. It’s terrible really, but something I can’t change. And the fact that when Brook Lynn first meets Jase is when she walks in on him as he’s getting dressed after sleeping with her sister?
I’m a big fan of the small town settings in books, and this was definitely no exception. Strawberry Valley had this really endearing quality to it that I really loved. Brook Lynn was also a fantastic heroine. She grew up in the small souther town, and it’s all she’s ever known. Having lost her parents at a young age and then a conman uncle leaving them broke and alone, she’s come to rely on herself. With a dream of one day owning the town’s small jewelry store, Brook Lynn works her butt off on two jobs, trying to support herself and her party loving sister. This brings me to another thing that didn’t quire work for me; Jessie Kay. I’m pretty sure I spent the majority of the book wanting to hit her in both ovaries. Her constant irresponsible behavior constantly leaves Brook Lynn paying the price, while she’s off either partying or sleeping with another man. It does give the reader a little insight later on about the why’s of her behavior, but it just wasn’t enough for me. That, along with her penchant for the word “dude” pretty much made me want to throttle her. The girl straight up drove me batty.
Now Jase was a character I was equal intrigued with and slightly put off (see my sleeping with the sister comment above). Intrigued, because this is clearly a tortured man. Having spent the last 9 years in prison because he also covered for his 2 best friends has left him with plenty of scars; externally and even more internal. He’s no longer the young boy that he went to prison as. He’s harder, more jaded, but he’s trying to move on. A gorgeous and bubbly blonde that tempts him beyond reason is the very last thing he needs.
Feel nothing. Want nothing. Need nothing.
But there’s just something about Brook Lynn that draws him in, and the chemistry between them soon proves too strong to resist.
As much as I loved Jase and Brook Lynn together, there was always something that nagged me about them too. There was the ghost of sister’s past. Then there was the annoying overuse of the “angel” endearment. But that aside I was really enjoying this book still. It had a little of Gena’s signature snark and humor, or what I’ve come to refer to as Gena-isms. Though at times you can definitely see a little of a mix between her contemporary and PNR voice. I doubt this is something most would spot unless you’ve read her other work. Or maybe I was just nitpicking since I was already starting on the wrong foot? I’m not sure. But I can’t say that it still wasn’t good.
What ultimately ruined it for me was the last 30%. Until then, I found the book to be moving at a fairly slow pace. It wasn’t boring by any means, but just slow. Then the last 30% you get one drama after another. First withSay what? Maybe it was just me, but I really felt the book could have done without that. It added nothing to the story for me. Then there was a whole different drama that actually fit the story. But the combination of the two in the last 30%? Meh. It just felt too much.
I thought Strawberry Valley had become my home,” he said. “But it’s you, You are my home, angel. You’re where I’ve put down roots.
I really wanted to love this book, but sadly it was just OK.
On a positive note, I absolutely loved Jase’s two best friends; West and Beck. Beck with his manwhorish ways and hilarious come-ons completely sucked me in. I can’t wait for his book, especially after getting that small peak into the heroine that will be bringing him to his knees. The polar opposites definitely have all the ingredients for an amazing read. I also really loved the broken and tortured West. As much as I want to read his book, I am a little afraid since it looks like he’s going to be with Jessie Kay. Hopefully the girl will do a 180 in the next book and manage to endear me to her, because that certainly didn’t happen in this book.
This was a light contemporary romance with quite a bit of steam, and quite a bit of cheese. While I could have done with less cheese and the last 30%, I’m definitely hooked on the series and can’t wait to see what the next book brings.