Better When He’s Brave, by Jay Crownover

Better When He's Brave

Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Hot Cop, Cop and Criminal, Hot Cars, Dangerous Criminal Villain, Bathroom Sex, Hate to Love You, Fake it Till You Make It

Shame Scale: No shame, this is a good one, guys.

What Does He Taste Like?: Warm cleanness that was somehow simply Titus, he tasted like he looked, strong, sure, and potent.

Fantasy Cast: Henry Cavill, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover’s third novel in her sexy, thrilling Welcome to the Point series, a woman’s search for repentance leads her to the one man from her past she can’t forget as they join forces to save their city—and the explosive love neither can live without.

Titus King sees the world in black and white. Right and wrong. Which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray. 

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and the difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town, and she might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about how ruthless this new threat to destroy The Point can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. She has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.


Cleone: We have been counting down to HOT COP for months, basically since the second we finished Better When He’s Bold. Mary and I are Crownover fan girls and we are of the opinion that she just gets better every book.

Mary: All of her books are great, but I think we fell hard when we hit Nash and they’ve only gotten better since then.

C: She especially got better on the cover for this one:

better 1

M: The Race cover model. Our favorite 80’s frat boy from Revenge of the Nerds. He was an outlier in an otherwise impeccable series of cover boys.

C: We met the main characters in this one, Reeve and Titus, in previous Point books. Reeve was a villianess in Bax’s story and Titus is Bax’s police officer brother. Titus might be the one genuinely good guy in all of the Point. Which is why Reeve goes to him when she rolls back into town with secrets and scores to settle.

M: Also, maybe because she has a teeny bit of a crush on him. As one would. Tall, dark, rough – I’m imagining a little bit of taco meat peeking out of the one-button-open collar of his shirt because I don’t think it was specified and this is my fantasy you guys – and a stickler for The Law. Did this book give me a temporary fixation on Hot Cops and have I spent an inordinate amount of time looking into the feasibility of getting a Hot Cop stripper for my next favorite ladies party? I’m not not saying that.

hot cop

“Open up. It’s the police.”

Back story: Reeve was the one who ratted out Dovie to the really bad guys (not the bad guy she was hitting the sheets with), leading to her kidnapping and torture. So we really didn’t like Reeve. But Crownover is great for a redemption story, and we got on #TeamReeve pretty quickly.

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Truth or Beard, by Penny Reid

truth or beard

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 76%

Catnip: Southern Boys; Beards; Ginger Men; Hate to Love You; Small Town Romance; Funny Girl; Beta Hero; Hot Cars

Shame Scale: That cover is too cute to feel shame. Plus it’s genuinely funny.

Fantasy Cast: This NSFW guy, Anna Sophia Robb

Book Description:

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


Cleone: Look at the cover, y’all, whoever did that design is a marketing genius. Ginger beards are such catnip for the Shame Girls.

Mary: I expected something that was basically YA from this one based on the cover, but it was amazingly not the case. I didn’t know anything about it, or Penny Reid in general when we picked it up, but I realized a few pages in that this book was going to hit so many catnip triggers for us.

beard 1

beard 3

(We’ve cut out the middle of this pic because it’s definitely NSFW and we should probably draw the line somewhere, but it’s delightful, and we emphatically recommend clicking here to see the original picture of this glorious ginger.

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Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker

burying water

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 38%, but not again till 64%

Catnip: Amnesia; Multiple Timelines; Russian Mobsters; Dangerous Criminal Villain; Hot Cars; Cheating; Dual Narrative; Hot Car

Shame scale: Beige. There’s a plot, decent writing, not much doing it. The cover looks YA, so that’s got to be a tiny bit shame-y

Fantasy casting: Ten years ago Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere

Book description: 

“Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him? Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried. The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.”

Burying Water starts out with Jesse finding a girl beaten almost to death in the snow in the middle of nowhere. The rest of the book is told from Jesse’s perspective in the past and Alex’s in the present. We pick up with Alex in the hospital, where she wakes up with horrible injuries and total amnesia – no idea who she is, no memories of her life at all. She makes friends with her doctor (Jesse’s mom) while she is recuperating, and when it is time for her to leave, her doctor sets her up in an apartment on their next door neighbor’s property. Alex begins building a new life, but struggles to know who she was Before. We know that Jesse clearly has a history with her, (from the past storyline chapters), but we don’t know why he’s keeping her life a secret from her.

Meanwhile, in the past – Jesse meets Alex – a sad, beautiful woman who is married to an awful Russian mobster. Jesse is a mechanic, and Alex’s husband hires him to fix up some kind of impressive classic car (that meant pretty much nothing to me because car speak is gobbledygook). While he works on the car, he gets to know Alex, sees how unhappy she is with her scary husband (who is indiscreetly indiscretion-ing), and the two begin an affair.

Neither of these characters really stood out to me in a big way. Jesse seemed like a nice twenty-something guy who falls for a girl, but he’s almost passive about the whole thing. He sees that Alex’s husband is abusing her, but he does nothing to fix the situation. When she cuts off contact with him, he doesn’t chase her. Jesse in the present was much more appealing to me, but his rationale for keeping Alex in the dark (about her whole identity!) felt shaky to me at best. And Alex…was kind of weak. She felt like a generic nice girl, who married a mobster but honestly didn’t see what an asshole he was until well into the marriage?

This one started out really strong for me. I was texting Cleone that I found a great book she absolutely HAD to read. All the catnip was there: Multiple timelines, Russian mobsters, cute boy with a hot car, danger, freaking AMNESIA… But things started to drag towards the middle of the book. While the plot seemed to have a lot of potential mystery, all of the questions were pretty easy to guess the answers to. I felt like they gave too much away. And when the big reveal happened and Alex found out who she was and that everyone had been lying to her, she accepted it pretty quickly and they wrapped up everything with a big bow. By the end of the book, I started skimming, because everything felt like a recap of the first half of the book. The main conflict towards the end of the book was Jesse recapping the events that led up to Alex’s beating, and that was all information you could pretty much infer from the first half of the book.

It was a good story, interesting format, and overall, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Like I said, the characters felt weak, and things dragged a bit, then wrapped up too neatly. As a shame read, it was pretty beige (like this review, HA!). Nothing made me blush. K.A. Tucker is a great writer, none of the dialog made me eye-roll. Very little sex, and vanilla at that. I’d recommend this one if you could get it out of the library or borrow it from a friend.

Amazon

Better When He’s Bold, by Jay Crownover

Better when he's bold

Grade: Solid B+

Doing it at: 36%

Catnip: He’s basically a criminal; Overprotective men; Mysterious stalker; Strong female lead; Girl with a hard knock life; Hot car; Dual narrative

Shame scale: Medium, because it’s a sex book – but well written!, the title is kind of cringeworthy, and the cover is so goddamn awful

Fantasy casting: Logan Echols and Veronica Mars

Book description: 

There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who is bad. . . . Welcome to the Point.

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them. Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like The Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen the real Race—a guy too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous. Basking in his golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’ll eventually get burned. She has enough problems without the risky danger and mayhem that comes with a guy like Race. Too bad Brysen faces a threat close to home that might be more dangerous than anything The Point has ever produced.. And the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?”


First thing: That cover model. Nope. I put off reading this book for a really long time because the cover model looks like such a douche, and I LOVE Jay Crownover books. Maybe not as much as Cleone does, but still. His awful backlit hair, that Travolta chin, and his ridiculous hotel bartender outfit don’t do anything for me. How about some more Nash please? If there’s an area that Crownover usually exceeds in, it’s cover models – the real reason I started reading her books.  “I came for the cover models, I stayed for the story.”

So after I got past that, I fell into this one pretty easily. It’s a fairly standard “good girl with a  hard knock life” meets “bad guy who’s really just a good guy doing bad things to survive.” But it’s Jay Crownover, so it’s intensely readable and the sex is early and super hot. Brysen (dumb name, #sorrynotsorry) is a college student from the good side of town with secret family troubles, who’s trying to hold it all together for her younger sister. She’s had a thing for Race for a while, but she does her best to outwardly hate him, because he’s BAD. Circumstances arise that allow Race to step in and save her and prove he’s really a GOOD guy, who’s helpful and trust worthy. There was really no manufactured relationship drama or breakup-we-all-know-won’t-last in this one. They acted like emotionally normal adults who want each other and treat each other with respect. All of the conflict was from outside sources – a stalker, criminal danger, bad parents etc. If anything, it almost seemed a touch boring because I’m so accustomed to the standard 85% breakup.

A solid B+. I could put it down, but I enjoyed it. The writing was good, and there were no fewer than nine sex scenes. Points deducted for use of the word weeping to describe the V.

Check it out on Amazon: