[554]: The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

21845099 The Hotter You Burn (The Original Heartbreakers, #2)
HQN | July 28th, 2015
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Beck O’ckley is ruthless in the boardroom…and the bedroom. He’s never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck’s home—her ancestral estate—for food, she’s shocked by his early return…and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck’s life, he can’t get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he’ll have to break her heart…or surrender his own.

As you can tell, I’ve been on a romance kick lately. I tend to read these books quickly, because they’re not really the type of books where you need to pull a muscle so you can enjoy them. And if you’re lucky enough to find the right ones, some books has the uncanny ability to poke you right in the sternum. Suffice it to say, this book really got to me.

This is the story of Beck, the unapologetic playa of the Original Heartbreakers. His mantra has always been give them what they want, but be honest about what you can give. Commitment is the one thing he’s unable to give. But if there’s anything he’s committed to, is solving the puzzle that is,  Harlow Glass. She doesn’t know this though. They  haven’t even met. Beck found a box of pictures belonging to the former owner of the Glass House. As soon as he saw the echoing longing, pain and loneliness in her eyes, he couldn’t stop obsessing about her.

Harlow Glass is as poor as a mouse. The fall from grace was not well, graceful.  She’s homeless, jobless and the town of Strawberry Valley would rather see her die than help her –  or employ her, even.  The once owner of the Glass mansion is as destitute as they come. She lives in a tent in the woods living off the land, as it were. When she breaks into her former house to steal food, Beck caught her and decided that it was his chance to keep an eye on her. So he employed her to do the artistic work for the gaming company he’s a partner of.  Their interaction is hilarious; complete with sassy banters and awkward one-sided flirtation (Beck).

I think the toughest thing to read about this book was Harlow’s abject poverty. The townspeople laughed and ridicule her with every misfortunes that befall her. She was a former bully who has had a rough life, and while she’s learned from her mistakes, the people of SV weren’t so quick to forgive her. It hit me time and again how she was so willing to accept her ‘punishments’, and that she’s quick to tell herself that she deserves every bit of bad luck that comes her way. As much as I dislike books that feature damsels being saved by knights, I was glad when Beck stepped into the picture to give her a job, a home and some semblance of stability. I mean, Harlow was a pretty strong woman determined to live her life according to her rules, but it’s pretty tough when the girl can’t catch a break.

Beck is far from the white knight hero, though. Events from his past made him wary of love, feelings and commitments. He fears taking a chance at being happy with another person and considers love a crutch he’d rather not depend on. I still like him as a hero, though. He’s a loyal friend, he’s kind to all his ‘lady loves’, and generous at that.

These books offer more than your typical romance novels. I like that Gena is able to dig deeper and give us a bit more than the usual fares. This is a fantastic series if you’re looking for a mental break.


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[551]: The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

21844938 The Closer You Come [The Original Heartbreakers, #1]
HQN Books | January 1st, 2015
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

From Goodreads:

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.

My first foray into Showalter’s writing was fun. I’ve always wanted to read her supe series, but I don’t have the time to invest in them nowadays. I saw these books in my recent blog hopping and decided to check them out. Thankfully, they’re easy and fast reads, so I’m  caught up to the series.

So this story was surprisingly not all fun and games. Jase is an ex-con looking to spend the rest of his life in peaceful existence. It’s how he convinced his best friends to move to Strawberry Valley. There, he meets Brook Lynn (hate this name, by the way); the girl he threw in the pool on the night she barged in his bedroom. Oh and this, while he was having a carnal meet and greet with BL’s older sister. Needless to say, their meeting didn’t get off to a good start.

BL and her sister were orphans at a young age. Since then, they look out for each other. BL more than Jessie, because between the two sisters, she’s the responsible one. BL is an admirable character; there’s not one evil bone in her body. She gives everybody the benefit of the doubt, even their uncle who taught them how to hustle and who only stuck around to take advantage of them. Which is why I was surprised when she couldn’t give the same to Jase when he finally told her about his past.

I have always been a fan of stories that feature a character with some sort of physical disability. BL wears a hearing aid because of a disorder she was born with. Growing up, she’s taken a whole slew of insults from kids their age due to the wirings visible on her ears. Because of that, she’d learn to hide them with her hair. She’s worked hard to keep her sister out of trouble, but Jessie courts trouble any chance she gets.

This novel had a bit more depth than your run of the mill Harlequin romance. I supposed it follows the same formula as most New Adult romances out there: girl and boy overcoming their own difficult pasts to find happiness and love. But in this case, replace girl and boy with woman and man. The most important component in a romance novel is the chemistry between characters. Showalter knows how to make them believable and convincing without breaking a sweat. Overall, I’m off to a great start with these books, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.



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