THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Expected Release Date: January 27, 2015
Author’s Website: http://www.sarahmccarty.net/
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 7, Hell’s Eight Series
Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone
Steam Level: Hot
Pet Peeves: Magic Peen, (Almost) Infidelity
Favorite Tropes: Enemies To Lovers
When you gamble with desire, be prepared to risk everything……
Unlike the rest of the Hell’s Eight brotherhood, Ace Parker’s home isn’t on the range. This restless cowboy craves the hustle of Simple, Texas, a lawless town where he can sate his darker appetites without guilt. At least he did, until Petunia Wayfield arrived. The prickly new teacher is insisting that Ace help her rid the town of drunkenness and card playing. For that kind of miracle, Ace demands a reward the spinster schoolmarm will surely never give.
But Petunia isn’t backing down. Not when the intense passion Ace offers shatters her to the core. As soon as she can afford a ticket home back east, she’ll leave Simple behind for good. Until then, she’ll match his sensual challenge with her own, daring him to give up his fiercely guarded self-control. And then real danger claims Petunia, forcing Ace to reveal the man he really is—even if it drives her away forever….
What Worked For Me:
- The cover is beautiful.
- The sexual tension between Petunia and Ace is scorching. Even though I wanted to slap both of them for the majority of the novel, there’s no denying the chemistry.
- One thing I did love was Ace’s reaction to what could have potentially happened to Petunia. The fact that his reaction was an immediate and resounding “no matter what, we’ll get through this” made me respect him as a character, despite the fact I wouldn’t have expected anything else.
- Even though this is Book 7 of the series, it was very easy to pick this book up without being familiar with the series. I’ve only read one other book in the series and that was several years ago, and I never felt as though I needed to go back and read the previous books in order to “catch up” on what was going on.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
- Spanking really isn’t my thing, especially when it’s done by a man who’s simply fed up with an outspoken woman and is putting her in her place (no matter how turned on she ends up in the end). This is a somewhat minor point, because I’ve read Sarah McCarty before, and so I knew it would be in there somewhere, but I still prefer that if my romances have spanking, or hitting of any sort, that it be in an already established D/s relationship where that sort of thing is already previously discussed and agreed upon. Otherwise, to me, it puts a few toes past that very fine line between yummy kink (sexy) and domestic violence (decidedly not sexy). Your mileage may vary.
- I also don’t like it when our hero has sex with someone other than the heroine, and we have to witness it. No, it wasn’t technically infidelity because they weren’t actually “together” yet (only because Ace hadn’t yet pulled his head out of his butt yet), but there had already been at least one scorching kiss and the promise of more before he goes and wears out one of his regular ladies at the brothel. This was a tad bit too close to cheating for me, and that’s one of my pet peeves. Yick.
- Do you know where a woman’s hymen is? I do! This author, though, does not (or, at least, chooses to perpetuate the Romance Novel Myth that it’s several inches inside the vagina rather than at the very opening). Which is a bummer. This, too, is a minor point, because annoyingly, many if not most romance novels also fall victim to this. However, add this to the below spoiler points, and I almost threw my Kindle across the room.
- Petunia and Ace were both so damned stubborn that by the time I finished this book, I didn’t feel happiness or satisfaction that they were together and happy, but simply relief that it was over. I think this was largely because it never really regained my interest after the events in the spoiler points above, and instead I found myself just frustrated that these two so obviously wanted to be together but neither would compromise at all in order to make it happen.
I wanted to like this book. The chemistry between Ace and Petunia was delicious, and there isn’t much that I enjoy more in romance than a good enemies-to-lovers story, especially when it’s already made clear in the beginning that both parties are only sniping at each other all of the time because they don’t really know how else to handle their attraction.
The problems started, however, when it became apparent that both of them were so stubborn that neither would move an inch. Ace, especially, drove me insane, and when his stupidity and stubbornness not only ended with some pretty public humiliation for Petunia but also led to a Very Bad Thing happening, I was pretty much done. The book never really recovered its stride from that point, and I had to force myself to finish it just because I was already so far in, I couldn’t stand to DNF it at that point.
That said, I do like Ms. McCarty’s writing style in general, and there’s no denying the woman knows how to write some sexy tension and love scenes. Unfortunately, there’s more to romance than just sex, and for me, it was the “everything else” that was lacking.