When Good Things Happen to Bad Boys
I should get this out of the way and say I like the title When Good Things Happen to Bad Boys. It amuses me, so take the rest of the review with that as the salt around the margarita. This is one of my favorite multi-author anthologies to date. I say to date because the long running Brava series has quite a few interesting sounding novels to offer this year.
Hardhats and Silk Stocking by HelenKay Dimon
HelenKay Dimon’s Hardhats and Silk Stocking was much better than I expected from a first time author. It probably helps that it is my favorite type of story, all about the characters. There isn’t an outside motivator, menace, or complicated plot. And the lack of bells and whistles lets the story concentrate on developing the characters and their interaction with each other. It is heavy on hero/heroine dialogue and done well. Give me good conversation and I am in heaven. Add in some steam and you have a great Bad Boy story. The heart of the matter is simple and all about Whit wanting to get into Hannah’s flannel. Some role reversal adds to the story – the heroine wears a hardhat and work boots – and it’s refreshing to see a woman being hunted, sexually confident, and standing up for herself quite ably. At the same time you can tell this is HelenKay’s first novella. The beginning is rather choppy and a little slow; in a short story the author needs to grab the reader from the start. The set up is a little out there and Whit’s plot somewhat dastardly (he locks Hannah up in a “secret” sex room in his basement to get her attention). But Whit is a man and Hannah is a great character who can hold her own. And that is awesome to see. When later she overhears what has really been going on and how she has been manipulated, Hannah doesn’t take the shy romance heroine exit, she kicks some ass and takes some names. Or maybe I was just amused by the sex room.
Grade: B Sensuality: Hot
Playing Doctor by Lori Foster
Playing Doctor by Lori Foster features a virgin heroine, something that can be a hard sell in a contemporary romance. The hymen works in this story because of the way Libby’s life is set up. It’s easy to see how romance would have fallen to the wayside for her. The novella takes place at a point in her life wherein it’s believable that Libby would jump after the chance to cut loose and play. Nursing student Libby meets Axel, a doctor, when she’s working as a caterer at a hospital function. The sexy doc wants badly to play with Libby, but when he discovers her innocence, he pulls back – she will not be deterred. This couple is great together and apart, but Libby’s mean, evil, no good, very bad uncle, as well as the family confrontation at the end, were drawbacks. It might have played out better had the story been longer, but as it is a novella, short is what we get. Since the story spends most of its focus on Libby and Axel, I didn’t let the uncle bother me too much. But I really would have liked to have seen Libby at least slap him, once, hard.
Grade: B- Sensuality: Hot
The Lady of the Lake by Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy ponies up with The Lady of the Lake, my favorite story of the bunch. To be fair, her story is also the longest. This is Violet’s story, who we have met in past Erin McCarthy Bad Boy novellas. She is the quiet one, the shy one, the “I am never going to meet Mr. Right” one, and the really-wants-to-have-a-baby-now one. It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it? Violet and Dylan are the harder novella couple to sell, the “just met” type vs the “have a background to build on” couple. Combine that with Dylan’s asking Violet to sleep with him within a few hours of pulling her out of the lake, and it’s easy to expect this pair to not work. But if you factor in how they meet and the lack of clear judgment that comes into play during an adrenaline rush, it can work. And if not, throw in a man agreeable to many things after too much blood has rushed to the wrong head. The biggest issues I had were Violet’s reaction to her boyfriend in the beginning of the story. I understand desperation, but leaving you for dead seems to be a good reason to dump a man. And her agreeing to Dylan’s offer without more thought about safety seems a little on the stupid side. Pro baseball player, regardless of what he says about his sex life, just doesn’t scream “let’s have sex without a condom.” But Erin McCarthy’s great skill with humor and her writing style makes you want to let go and just read.
Grade: B+ Sensuality: Hot