by Lauren Layne
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Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.
Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.
Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.
*ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
“A little more time, Vaughn,” I say quietly. “I hate having to say this out loud, but I’m…I’m reeling, man. I feel like I’ve been in an aimless free-fall for years, and this place…it’s helping. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but it’s helping.”
He searches my face carefully. “You sure it’s the place?” he asks slowly. “Or is it the girl?”
Romance is an escape. It’s a good break from the hardcore fantasy and soul-crushing dystopian. And, most importantly, if it’s a romance novel by an author I like, then it makes all the bad things go away, turns my frown upside down, and gives me the laughs I need to make it through the day. And as it turns out?? This is an author I really enjoy and this was a week where I needed a little bit of happiness.
I look from her to the dog, who I belatedly realize is now wearing a pink bow.
No. Just hell no.
What have I gotten myself into?
More important, how do I get myself out?
It’s no secret that I’ve never really rated an LL below a four-I always feel like that day is coming, yet it hasn’t. And it may not be the author so much as me-Do you ever feel like an author just…gets you?? Like, if you were to write a book in this genre, or write a book at all, that author takes almost all the words out of your mouth and handles things just as you would? Almost as if he/she is you in author form. Well…I think LL is that person. She never fails to make me smile and I’ve yet to be near the end of one of her books and wishing it would ‘just be over already’. LL is my author soul mate and I’m not afraid to admit it. If ever I need a smile…I know just where to go. But, as it turns out, I’m always out of her books lol.
I hurriedly grab my stuff, making sure there’s no sign of my presence before I can dash into Noah’s tiny closet, leaving it open just a crack so I can breathe and see what I’m doing.
Oh, what’s that? I didn’t mention that my revenge plan is totally creepy and a lot immature? It is.
This book has been getting a really bad rap. I mean yeah, there are lots of four star reviews in the community section, sure. But, more often than not, my feed has made me cringe with the status updates and reviews. And, ya know, I get it. I went into this expecting to hate it (even though I am almost always on my own in the ‘LL is the best’ fan club) because a lot of my close friends did. And I’m not going to name any names, that would be ridiculously rude, but even someone who I think is my equal in LL love gave this a three. Why, you ask?? Well…let me list the ways.
I stand still, my body humming in anticipation, as Noah comes in the door.
“Hey, boy,” I hear him say quietly to Ranger. “Where’d you get that bone, huh? You steal it from the stupid cotton ball?”
I roll my eyes. Sure, my dog’s the stupid one. I saw Ranger barking at his own shadow the other day.
Noah is an asshole. Noah is an asshole who continually hurts Jenny. Noah is an asshole who says things that are basically unforgivable….yet he is always forgiven. Jenny is the girl who wants to see the good in everybody (much like me-something that didn’t escape my attention as I was reading-EEPS) and wants to believe Noah isn’t a total jackass. Now, some people believe she was a doormat….but I disagree (See reason above…why would I diss on myself, flawed or not?).
But anyway, back to Jenny.
Am I avoiding her? Yes.
Out of embarrassment? No.
I’m avoiding her because I can’t even think her name without remembering what it felt like to have her hands and mouth all over me. I can’t blink and not see her in that sexy black bra. I can’t breathe and not smell her scent, all sweet and innocent.
Just because you repeatedly forgive someone doesn’t make you a doormat…it makes you someone who just wants, I don’t know, the happiest life with the person you have feelings for. And hey, let me just say, I don’t like doormats for main characters, and I know a damn doormat girl when I see one, and Jenny was distinctively different based on her actions. Or, at least, I’ve seen much worse. Namely…myself.
I dump a handful of chocolate chips into the blender. Chocolate fixes everything.
Tucking the phone between my ear and shoulder, I put the lid on and flick the blender back on, sort of relishing the hacking noise the chocolate chips make as they whir.
“What the heck is that noise?” Amber asks.
“Just throwing some carrots into the blender,” I lie.
“Oh, good call! I love how carrots add that delicious bit of sweetness,” she says.
I roll my eyes. Sweetness my ass. They’re carrots.
Just wanted to put here that I deleted three paragraphs of a personal story because I don’t want friends and family here at home to get the wrong idea-It was relevant to why I loved this story so much, but this is what’s best for me. Back to the review! 😛
So here is my disclaimer, and it is different from the one that I put in my pre-review: This is unlike any LL book I’ve ever read….and I’ve read them all. If you don’t want change or something different than you’re used to with LL, then don’t read this one. That can be the only warning I give you. I may have loved the different style of this story, but ratings have proven that others don’t. It is what it is-just use your gut and go from there. I can’t make that decision for you.
I exit out the front door just in time to see my big brown Lab leap forward, his clumsy paws finding the shoulders of a blond girl who lets out a shriek, holding a cat above her head like that scene from The Lion King.
“Ranger, no! Down!”
I run forward, my hand finding the collar of my dog and yanking him backward as I search the ground to find the source of the small-dog barks still piercing the air.
Then I register that the sound is coming from above, and I realize…
The cotton ball isn’t a cat.
That orange peace of fluff is a dog, and Ranger is apparently in love.
So, the good stuff! This is my favorite atmosphere yet by this author-
I both loved and hated this book in equal measure, making this a completely foreign feeling, which I’m totally unaccustomed to. I went into this not expecting to like it, yet came out with the goofiest smile on my face, scolding myself all the while because it felt wrong to love something that, at times, was vile. But it made me feel strongly, and that’s all I ever really want when I read-To feel strong emotion for a story, both good and bad, instead of the typical, ’Okay, onto the next!’ This was a situation of ‘like-love-hate’, but love-more-than-dislike and happy-more-than-not that it was a 5 star love/hate relationship rather than a 3 star love/hate. Does that make sense? No?? Oops.
I climb into the truck, moving the seat slightly, since Finn’s a couple inches shorter than me. I glance over at Jenny, hoping she doesn’t ask why I’m adjusting the seat in what she thinks is my truck, but she’s too busy fiddling with something orange and hideous on her head.
I pause in the process of jamming the key into the ignition, staring at her in horror. “What the hell is that?”
“A wig,” she says, pulling down the visor to look in the mirror. Only there isn’t one, it having broken long ago, so she turns to me. “So how does it look?”
The writing, the banter, the conversations, her eye-rolls, Noah’s looks of horror when Jenny did something moronic. The humming her songs in secret and then humming them to taunt her. The way he always walked her back to her house no matter what so she’d be safe. Jenny reminded me of myself, wanting to hold her resolve but unable to when Noah looked hurt or hopeful. And hey! He teared up..I can’t even.
You know how I said Jenny’s voice sounded like her heart?
Her voice sounds like my heart.
And I want it back. I want her back.
I do have to say this: this book set a record of firsts for me: One being her Pomeranian, Dolly!!!! LL has a pom, and I have a pom, so naturally we know the breeds mannerisms and what makes them so fucking perfect…and it all translated perfectly onto the page. I just….it was so sweet to feel like I was reading about my baby every time I read. It was just awesome. And then, oh yeah, Noah was so cruel one time that I actually found myself tearing up for Jenny. Like…wow. That has NEVER happened before. Bravo…or…ouch, I dunno.
“What the heck is wrong with your dog?” the girl says as she slowly lowers the puffball from over her head, cradling the hideous little monster against her chest as it continues its high-pitched bloody-murder yips.
“At least my dog is actually a dog,” I say, staring in horror at the pointy face of a canine that could fit in one of my hands. “I’ve seen dust bunnies bigger than that thing.”
“Dolly’s a Pomeranian,” she says, setting a hand on top of the monster’s head. “She’s supposed to be this tiny.”
Yet I liked him, loved him, swooned over him (at times) –especially at the end. It definitely makes me want to re-evaluate what types of dudes I like (book wise). I get what she was trying to create-A different guy, a different atmosphere….and she succeeded-He was so mean, almost unforgivably so, and I’m always on the guy’s side.
His eyes rake over me. “Playing dumb won’t change the fact that you’ll be thinking about me all night, princess. Your fingers will be a poor stand-in for my tongue, I can promise you that.”
“I’m trying to figure out which word better applies here, delusional or disgusting. I’m thinking it’s a tie.”
Noah bends down slightly, enough so that I can feel his warm breath on my mouth. “Enjoy your night, princess.”
Soooo yeah. Feeling super vulnerable after this one, but the review took me there, and I respected it’s wishes. I don’t think this one is for everyone, but I think a lot of people will still love it-If you like the type of book that makes you smile so big your face is bursting or you like laugh out loud banter and conversations or inner monologues, LL is the author for you, and this book is most likely something you’ll enjoy….just know that this one has a crueler guy and he’s unlike any of her other heroes-Even Paul was kinder (I ADORE PAUL I LOVE YOU PAULLLLL). I giggle snorted (hey, a new first) and covered my mouth to stifle my smiles and giggles and, frankly, LL won again. But is this a shock to anyone?? Hmmm…no. Even when I try not to like it…I like it harder. Whatevs. I lose…like usual.
Soooo yikes. Black sheep much??? Okay, so, here is the most honest thing you will ever hear me say, so listen closely: I legitimately feel guilty for loving this book. There-I said it. The way Noah treats Jenny is deplorable, disgusting. And yet….I just couldn’t help smiling and, ultimately, falling in love with this story. And the sickest part: I DID NOT WANT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS STORY BECAUSE IT FELT SHAMEFUL TO DISAGREE WITH THE VALID POINTS MY FRIENDS HAVE SO ASTUTELY POINTED OUT.
And the bottom line? I loved this fucking book, even though I tried to not like it, just so I would feel like everyone else. And it makes me extremely mad at myself. Shame on me. I can like whatever the fuck I want and I shouldn’t feel like I first did when I got on GR. So. There it is. I don’t give a fuck if I have five starred fifty books this month- I like what I like and I refuse to feel ashamed about it.
I loved the Louisiana setting. I loved Dolly. I loved Ranger. I loved Jenny and Noah and Finn and Vaughn. They are flawed and they are wrong and they make lots of mistakes…but my heart wants what it wants.
I didn’t like this because it was an LL-I liked this because I was having a shitty week and this cheered me up immensely. *shrugs* whatever.
Review to come-a less crazy sounding one, for sure