Desert Isle Keeper
She’s Got It Bad
We’ve all read the story of the tortured bad boy hero who uses sex and alcohol to escape the pain, and the heroine who breaches his walls of defenses to find the man underneath and heal his soul. Reverse the roles of the hero and heroine, and you’ve got She’s Got It Bad, a compelling story of the healing power of love.
Liam Masters was a troubled boy taken in by the Ford family at age 17, after his mother died of cancer. His abusive father hadn’t been in the picture for years. The Fords had two children of their own: Tom, Liam’s best friend, and Zoe, two years younger. Liam and Zoe fell in love, but while Zoe made her feelings clear and pursued Liam, he wouldn’t allow the relationship or return her feelings — believing it to be a betrayal to both Tom and the Fords, and bad for pure, good-hearted Zoe. But late one night Zoe breaches his defenses, and the two nearly make love before Liam stops and tells Zoe to get out. He decides it’s too much of a risk to stay with the Fords, and that he’ll only bring trouble for Zoe. Liam disappears in the middle of the night, saying goodbye only to Tom.
Fast-forward 12 years. Liam owns a very successful custom motorcycle shop, and has straightened out his bad boy ways. While he still has a few demons that prevent him from committing to a relationship, overall he’s fairly settled and happy. He’s looking for art for his new house when he comes across a nude portrait of a woman whose face is all too familiar: Zoe, all grown up. Appalled at the thought of Zoe posing for a nude painting, he tracks her down to a tattoo parlor. It seems once-sweet Zoe is now a bad girl in her own right: by day she works as a tattoo artist, and by night she’s the lead singer of a down and dirty thrash band. She’s unapologetically sexual, a heavy drinker, and has a tattoo that starts on her belly and winds it’s way around her body to her neck. Shocked, Liam is determined to “save” Zoe from herself—only Zoe has no interest in being saved, especially not by Liam.
Sparks fly as Liam fights their overwhelming attraction, and tries to understand the woman Zoe’s become. He struggles to reconcile the sweet, innocent girl he once knew with the sexy, angry loner before him. For Zoe, Liam’s sudden reappearance brings up a whole host of bad memories that she thought she’d learned to live with. It seems Liam’s leaving dramatically affected the whole Ford family, and Zoe in particular; igniting a chain of events that culminated in the reason she is so tortured and angry.
Once I started this book I didn’t want to stop. The other Mayberry books I’ve read were all fairly light reads, but She’s Got It Bad has a darker feel to it. Liam and Zoe are both troubled and engaging characters, and their story absorbing. Zoe is not an easy woman to untangle — her pain cuts too close to the bone — and Liam has his work cut out for him. But at the same time, Liam himself has wounds that need a healing touch, and Zoe must work to break down his barriers as well.
I half-expected this to be another story where the reader is promised a “bad girl” only to discover the heroine isn’t really “bad” at all. So it was a delightful surprise to find a story with an authentic bad girl, and watch as she’s tamed by a not-so-good boy. While Liam’s demons may be a bit clichéd in the Land of Romance, it didn’t detract from the story or make his pain feel any less real.
I think part of what made this story so engrossing for me is that the author focuses solely on Liam and Zoe’s story. There’s no suspense, or secondary romance, or any other plotline to distract you from their romance. While I don’t mind those subplots at all, it’s especially nice in the shortened series format to find a book totally devoted to the main characters’ love story, which, for me at least, usually makes the tale that much more meaningful.
She’s Got It Bad is at turns funny, sexy, sweet, and heartbreaking. It’s a captivating story of two people who are sure that love just isn’t in the cards for them, only to discover in each other the love and acceptance needed to mend their wounds and find happiness.