Author: Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #6
Genre: NA Romance / Erotica
Received for review from the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
Before I can continue sensibly with this review, I have to get something off my chest. What the hell is up with the names???? Seriously. I spent more than half my time reading this book wishing for a directory of the characters, because almost every single one had a name beginning with S or R, and I kept forgetting who everyone was. Rome, Rule, Remy, Reyer, Royal, Rosalyn, Rowdy, RJ, Shaw, Salem, Sayer, Saint. And most of those are weird names. I don’t mind weird names when they are used infrequently – they can add colour, show character and generally make things more interesting. I could even go for a family set with same initial and unusualness. But ALL the characters in this book have weird names. To go with those already listed there’s Asa, Ayden, Avett, Brite, Jet, Church, Nash, and I forget the rest. It’s like all these people don’t know a single Lucy or Dave. I guess Daves aren’t sexy? I just got lost in all the people, and because they were all unusual and mostly alliterative, I just couldn’t keep track of who was who. And I’ve read half of the books in this series.
That said, let’s get on to content…
Asa continues in much the same vein as its predecessors, so if you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably got a good idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. I do think Jay Crownover’s writing has improved some since the first book of this series that I read. The narrative is much tighter, with less crossover and more forward motion. I do think she still dwells on certain points far too long – judicious use of a red pen could have cut the page count of this by at least 50 – and rehashes emotional issues, but this was definitely a step in the right direction. There’s also a lot of indulgent love of the characters, taking time in the narrative to remind the reader how fantastic all the previous heroes are, and how they’ve enriched the lives of their heroines. I doubt this will be much of a problem for readers, though, as they’ve lived with these characters a long time too, and probably appreciate the call backs.
The central premise of the cop and the convict is a fairly cliche, but entertaining set up. Both characters spent a LOT of time beating themselves up, and their journey towards redemption in each other was quite a sweet one. The inevitable ‘break-up before the happily ever after’ felt a bit weak, though. I just didn’t buy why Asa couldn’t have told a little white lie and everything have been fine. I get why he didn’t want to tell the truth, but there were plenty of options for things he could have said that would have made the situation go away without revealing too much about what actually happened. The words ‘She was drunk once and tried to give me her phone number, this is a bit awkward’ would have solved a lot of unnecessary heartache.
So, thin on the ground story-wise, but with interesting chemistry between the central characters and plenty of sexy scenes, there’s enough to keep the pages turning. Now if only Jay Crownover would pepper her casts with a few Jacks and Emmas…