In Jessica Clare’s Dirty Bastard, Knox Price has met his match. Used to being fawned over for his money, Knox is used to lying about his identity as one of the famed Price brothers. So, when he meets Lexi Brandon who gives zero craps about the size of his bank account but a lot of craps about the size of other things, he’s hooked. Problem, though, is that she makes herself scarce after their first encounter. Not to fear, though, because he’s persistent.
Lexi Brandon is used to doing life entirely on her own and has limited time for this Knox fellow who demands on saving the day. Eventually, however, he breaks down her emotional walls and they find their way into a content happily ever after. Throw in an abusive/stalkery ex (warning to those who are averse to such stories), and a gaggle of alphabro brothers, and this story is a lot of things, but cohesive isn’t one of them.
As a reviewer, one of my biggest challenges is parsing words behind feelings. Sometimes they’re clear – like naming the warm feeling of glee I get upon discovering a hard won happily ever after – but more often they’re murky. I email my editor and say “it’s fine?”, with the question mark intentionally there because it’s in my voice. I prevaricate on grades for the books that raise this query in me – what do you do for a book that you liked some of, was confused by a bunch of, and then can’t quite sort what you think of the rest?
That’s this book for me. From the jump, I could not understand their chemistry. It appears the whole thing is built on Knox’s fascination with a girl who doesn’t want him, but then nothing further happens to convince me they’d work together or that his obsession is justified. He’s clearly in love with her but, reader, I cannot tell you why.
As for Lexi, her life decisions may be completely justified and there is a version of this story that takes the time to unpack her motivations and fears, but even with the dramatic explanations offered, Lexi falls flat. Instead of reading as strong and fearless, she reads as selfish and immature, making stubborn decisions that only seem to serve as plot points.
I’m not the world’s biggest instalove trope fan, but I can respect when it’s done well and the relationship makes sense at the end of the book. This one, I am sorry to report, just doesn’t to me. However, I can see where fans of instalove, alphas-claiming-their-women, and stubborn heroines could find enjoyment here. As I am a fan of none of the above listed tropes, this one wasn’t for me.
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