Doing it at: 29%
Catnip: Reformed Bad Boy; Guilt; Southern Boy; Cop and Criminal; Bar Sex; Handcuffs; Marked Men; Crownover
Shame Scale: I’m not ashamed of this. Are you ashamed of this? (note from Cleone: No Shame)
Fantasy Cast: Joel Kinnaman and Danneel Harris
Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.
Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.
A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.
We’ve got a crush on Jay Crownover. Her books make us stupid, like: googling “clip on cock piercing” (<– NOTE: Does not exist), “excellent male butts,” and youtube videos of “men with hot Southern accents.” This is the last book in her Marked Men series, and to say we were excited for it is an understatement. We stayed up late on release night to download, neglected our children and work, and generally checked out of life and into Fantasy Denver for awhile.
Mary: This is definitely her hottest cover model. I feel like he’s an apology for Better When He’s Bold. If I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series, I still would have bought this one because of that smolder. Congratulations to whoever dug up this guy. And his mother.
Cleone: I kept going back to the home screen to look at the cover model, until M suggested Joel Kinnaman at a *very* opportune book moment- then my brain switched into over drive.
M: Since this book is part of a series, we had been introduced to Asa way back in Jet, and he was pretty despicable. I don’t want to ruin anything because I think everyone who likes trashy books should read these ones, but I pretty much wrote the character off as irredeemable. I was picturing him as an Alex Pettyfer with the personality of Sick Boy from Trainspotting. I definitely needed the three book buffer for my feelings to mellow on him. When this book picks up, he has been on the straight and narrow for a year or so, and it definitely helped for us to actually see him earning that in Rome, Nash, and Rowdy, not just picking up with his story after some truly heinous shit and asking us to trust him straight away.
C: The way they have time pass in this series always pleases me, we get to check in on the characters from the previous books AND the characters personal growth feels a lot more believable when it didn’t just happen over a three-day sex-a-thon.
M: This one starts off with Hot Lady Cop Royal (yes, every single character in this series has a weird name) having an emotional breakdown over her partner being shot off of a building. Like shot with a gun, then he fell. He’ll live though! She’s consumed with irrational guilt and looking to self-medicate with some vitamin D. Specifically Asa’s D. Royal and Asa have been dancing around each other for a while. Asa keeps turning her down because she’s a cop and he’s a newly reformed criminal who’s certain he’ll relapse, and because he’s trying to be a nice guy, and he’s pretty sure she’ll regret him when she’s gotten her head straight.
They push and pull, and when they finally get to the hokey-pokey, its glorious. Jay Crownover writes some hot smut. I bookmark like crazy. Asa’s strategy for brushing off her advances for good is to lure her into the bathroom where she can see that he’s jacking it in a steamy shower instead of taking her up on her many offers. Because that’s obviously a logical plan.
C: I don’t usually think of being stared at while a guy jerks off as being particularly hot, but Crownover proved me wrong. She does know how to write the smut, and I bet she’d be very fun to get drunk with and talk trash.
M: Their relationship is easy-ish, with most of the drama revolving around Asa’s terminal guilt for his past misdeeds, and his absolute conviction that he will fuck up everything nice in his life, including Royal. It’s like he has preemptive guilt. Honestly, it’s a little over the top.
“She lathered up her long hair either unaware of or purposely ignoring the fact that I was a boneless, shaking mess behind her. I had never had anyone offer something up without expecting something, usually more, in return. I couldn’t get my erratic heartbeat under control so I could put all that emotion her selfless actions had awoken in someplace safe.”
Her selfless actions causing this emotional upheaval are of course, a blow job. LOLOLOL
C: The Crownover books don’t usually provoke eye rolling, but that definitely did it, I refuse to believe that a boy who is crazy charming, super pretty, and has been around the block has never before received a blow job without the quid pro quo. Also:
“He was filling me up with his emotion and his impressive erection”
That one made me laugh so suddenly that I bit my tongue a little, and Mary informed me she highlighted the same line, possibly my new favorite romance line ever. It kind of sums up the genre, no?
M: I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by saying that there was a breakup, and it was dumb. I hate to criticize Jay, you know she’s my girl, but I can think of a dozen more interesting/plausible reasons for them to break up.
C: Yes, without being spoilery, or defaming our main writer squeeze, the drama in this one could have been way more interesting or scandalous. We made a list but it is kind of spoilery, so I guess email us if you want further ramblings.
The ending was very sweet, and gave us a nice update on where everyone else in the series is in their life. We’re going to miss the marked men with their tattoos, pierced dicks, and feisty ladies. Luckily Crownover is doing a new series in their expanded universe, and maybe the new gents have cock piercings!
(Note: We’re 80% certain that after reading this series, we can convince the Paperback Purist to convince her husband to get an erotic piercing and report back to us on whether or not these books were being accurate.)
“No one has a headboard made for handcuffs in the real world.”
They don’t, but they should, we are #teamhandcuffs
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