I am a lover of books. I enjoy losing myself in a fabulous romance and great story plot.
I'm convinced that Jay Crownover can write a compelling story about anything, or anyone, but most of all about bad boys!! As the first book in a new series, Crownover creates a world of contrasts between right & wrong, and the good & the bad when it ones to people, and the life choices they make. But, what I really love about Crownover's writing is her ability to write about incredible relationships between very real, flawed people, and she has more than delivered in this book! I was touched not only by the beautiful & gritty relationship between the leads, Bax and Dovie, but also the theme of family and relationships between brothers that included Titus (Bax's brother), and Race (Dovie's brother and Bax's BFF). "Better When He's Bad" is not only about the choices one makes with limited options and the trajectories those choices bring, but it's also about who brings you freedom. Most of all, I think this is what Dovie did for Bax; she brought him freedom and allowed him to unlock himself from a self-destructive pathway that would have lead him to the grave, or a life-time, in and out of prison.
The balance between the action, plot developments, revelations, and the hot romance is superb. Dovie is an admirable heroine and the way she and Bax connect with one another is passionate, intense, and always feels like there's an expiration date (until the HEA, that is). The need to resolve conflicts driven by the pressure and violence of evil villains equals one very riveting read/listen. I can't wait for Race's story, and even though Bax and Dovie found a beautiful HEA, I'm sure we will continue to hear about Bax and Dovie's love story in the books that follow.
Narrators: Mia Barron and Leland King were excellent. They performed very well. This is a great audiobook. I loved the sentimental intro. music at the beginning and the end of the book….nice touch!
I felt a whole gamut of emotions with this wonderful book and world that Kristen Ashley has created. I love that in this Colorado Mountain series, K.A. has lingered in the town of Carnal. In the previous book, "Sweet Dreams" with Lauren and Tate's story, we see that Carnal was establishing the beginnings of community and belonging among the people who were slightly oppressed by the corrupt police department. But, no one had experienced that suppression more than Ty Walker, a half Black man who was targeted and set up for a crime he didn't commit all due to his skin color & a hidden, malicious agenda. Lexie Berry enters his life unexpectedly and ends up being his greatest tonic for dealing with the loss of freedom, power and his blood thirst for vengeance.
Now, with any of K.A. books, this one provides fantastic hero/heroine chemistry with a sexy, badass Alpha-male and a fun, beautiful, classy, and just a little goofy heroine. After reading one of K.A.'s books, I always come away feeling like she has solved the gender war, as she celebrates complete masculinity in the male leads, and a lovely, strong femininity in the heroine. And, in that respect, I loved both Ty and Lexie...I mean the pair smoldered together! Their sex appeal and connection was powerful and simply perfect.
This book also made me feel completely sad with a awful sinking feeling in my stomach, at times, because of the theme of prejudice in relation to people of color. There are also some very rocky parts of the H/h relationship that seriously conjured up my tears. Yet, the moments of elation and triumph for Ty and his beautiful sunshine, Lexie, were amazing!
This book progressed and built itself up in stages both in their relationship with one another and their involvement with their friends from town. OMG, there are so many powerful moments in this book. I will always remember Ella's (Lexie's mother figure) talk with Ty about coping with generational racism and how to deal.....OMG...POWERFUL!!!!
The villains are pure evil and they get their just reward in the end. But, a murder is left unsolved and that pushes readers forward into the next book WHICH I'M DYING FOR THE AUDIOBOOK TO BE RELEASED!!! Lastly, the epilogue was emotional, and superb. Not everyone gets their HEA, but those who really work hard at it definitely reach their HEA, including Ty and Lexie.
Narrator: Emma Taylor is a gifted and talented narrator. SHe was excellent in every accent and male/female role she took on. The only small complaint I have is about Officer Pena...I thought she laid on the Mexican accent way too thick. Otherwise, Emma T. is pretty close to perfect, as a narrator, in my book.
OK, the only negative and this is a big one for me is that I HATE it when the F-word is inserted in the middle of Jesus Christ. I think it's awful, disrespectful and unnecessary. I've never heard anyone talk this way in real life and I wish K.A. could use another string of curse words for her male leads to use that is not so offensive to a wide part of the population. I know it's completely jarring and offensive to me.
But on a positive note.....CAN'T WAIT FOR CHACE AND FAYE'S STORY IN BREATHE!!!!
I was one of the fans who bought the 2nd book immediately when it was released. I didn't think I would get the audiobook, but I'm sure glad I did. It was like the difference of watching a film in black & white with no sound, to watching a vivid blue ray on an HD television. Seriously!!! Roberto Scarlato was freaken amazing! He brought warmth and a soft side to Julian, plus add the sexy. OMG, his voice is gorgeous & he did a wonderful job. Now, Shirl Rae, I can't say enough about her narration. She is amazing! She is one of my favorite narrators. These narrators brought this gripping, visceral, dark story to life.
Julian and Nora's story has fully captivated me. Friends have described this book as "moderately dark" and I think that is why I was taken aback by this story, because when the horror of how Julian had ensnared Nora is pulled away, well, at the heart of it, they both want each other. This love story is pretty intense, and I think, "moderately dark" is just about all I can handle (I'm a light weight when it comes to dark romances, I suppose).
This book takes place where "Twist Me" has left off. It has wonderful twists and turns, and very shocking situations that I was NOT expecting…..CRAZY SHOCKING, but the best part of this book was all of the "Julian and Nora" time. Their relationship is still visceral, fire-invoking, and far from traditional. Julian continues with his pain/pleasure sex with Nora. And, there were times I just wanted Nora to give him a smack down for being a psycho with her. (Yet, that is all a part of this story and Julian's progressive development as a character.) In terms of loving-making, he is an outrageously unpredictable lover in the bedroom. At times, he's sadistic and too much, other times he's a sweet, sensual lover. The bottom line is that Nora is lost to him, and Julian can't get enough of her.
They have some issues to resolve with the inequality of their relationship, and I like how Nora did develop more strength in dealing with Julian. I loved how Nora became stronger, as a person, and her level of bravery astounded me toward the end. OMG, she was fierce & badass!!! That fierceness that resided within Nora is what made her a fit partner for Julian-- like a missing puzzle piece. Of course, she still deals with inner conflict about loving a man like Julian, but it's evident, especially at the end of this book, that she adores that man.
On that note, in terms of Julian's feelings for Nora, you can see that his need and obsession for Nora is something that he is processing continually, and trying to improve. I love that Julian is faithful to Nora and his need/love for her is singular. He still struggles to categorize his feelings as "love" since he is not a good man. In fact, Julian can be a monster. So, getting into that......How to describe what kind of man Julian is--Well, what is the level that comes above an "alpha male?"--Because Julian is in a total different pond when it comes to alpha males. In fact, he's a friggen shark in the ocean when it comes to defining his power, strength and dominance. Julian is an independent arms dealer, creator and manufacturer who has both good and bad relationships with nations in the world, and an enemy in Al-quadar (a terrorist network) that proves to be his only challenge, but a close to deadly one. In that respect, if you have hated Julian along the way, well you might feel his outcome was a just consequence for the type of life he lives, but let me say that I was shocked!! I won't say more because that would give a bit away!!!
I will be waiting very impatiently for the release of the final installment. I did love the alternating POV's of both Nora and Julian and I hope the next book is the same.
Anna Zaires did an incredible job with this installment, and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for Julian and Nora.