Bad Penny isn’t the type of romance I usually go for because the heroine is much bolder and more uninhibited than those I typically gravitate towards. Perhaps it’s my southern upbringing, but I unconsciously tend to choose heroines that are excessively well-mannered, slightly demure and less overtly sexual. I’ve recently made an effort to read more romances that are outside my comfort zone, and the heroine in Bad Penny is one of my bigger steps outside the box. I’m glad I pushed myself, because I ended up loving the book and admiring the feisty and self-assured Penny, who is beautifully comfortable in her own skin.
Penny isn’t interested in love or even dating; rather she’s unapologetically into no-strings hook-ups and doesn’t hesitate to have sex any time she desires and with anyone she wants. She’s comfortable with her sexuality and forthright about it; she never questions whether her decisions are right or wrong or if she is good or bad. She’s a successful tattoo artist, brazen, and unfiltered, and her physical appearance is dramatic and eye-catching. She’s covered in tattoos, has multiple piercings in multiple places, dyes her hair vibrant colors, and wears eclectic, attention-grabbing clothes. Her charisma and vivacity naturally draw people to her – especially men.
She catches Bodie’s eye from afar and is instantly attracted to him. He seems familiar, but she can’t quite place him. Bodie is just as attracted to her, and they waste zero time – and I mean zero time – before jumping into the sack. Penny realises there’s a reason Bodie feels familiar to her – they’d known each other in high school. Penny couldn’t place him at first because he’s changed a lot in the eight years since they last saw each other. He’s lost weight, buffed up, ditched his glasses, and dropped his nerdy persona for a surfer vibe.
Penny and Bodie have crazy chemistry and hot sex that leaves both of them gobsmacked. She doesn’t think her feelings will last, but she’s not ready to stop seeing him after one night. She straightforwardly tells Bodie that they are fucking and only fucking, but he privately believes they could be more than just sex. He agrees to keep things simple and emotionless, although he hopes he’ll be able to change her mind.
Penny continues to be drawn to Bodie but convinces herself that he’s just ‘dicknotized’ her. She has reasons to avoid committed relationships and falling in love; therefore, her feelings for him make her nervous. She’s confident in almost all aspects of her life, but Bodie brings out an insecurity that she’s avoided confronting, and it’s fascinating to witness her growth as a character.
Bodie is no slouch – he’s sexy, charming, caring, and patient – but it is no surprise that Penny is the star of Bad Penny. You cannot help but admire how she lives her life without reserve or care for what others think. There are a lot of ‘shoulds’ in life, especially for women. We should be polite; we should put others first; we should care how we are perceived; and we should not be promiscuous – as society defines it. It’s refreshing and empowering to find a character that breaks out of the typical mold of expected behavior. My only quibble with the story is that I was impatient for Penny to confront her fear and deal with it. She lollygagged a little.
Bodie and Penny’s romance is captivating as it begins with a bang and then slowly evolves. Staci Hart has created an unforgettable heroine in Penny, whose zest for life and lack of self-consciousness is inspiring. If you find yourself getting a little tired of the same-old, same-old characterizations and want a bit of a change, Bad Penny is delightfully different.
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