When He Was Bad
Psychologist Sara Davenport is the author of Chasing the Bad Boy, a book that examines why women go after men who are all wrong for them. When her publicist books her on Nick Chandler’s radio show to discuss her theories, Sara is reluctant. Nick’s show is one of those like Howard Stern’s that seems to revel in objectifying women and glorifying boorishness. But when she learns how many women listen to him – women who must need the kind of advice her book offers if they enjoy his show – she decides to go through with the interview.
Sara expected Nick to be suggestive and inappropriate, but he also turns out to be incredibly good-looking. The interview delivers the expected fireworks. When he baits her with innuendo and comments about her body, she has no trouble dishing it right back to him. The encounter gives Sara an idea for her next book, covering the bad boy phenomenon from the male perspective. She approaches Nick to see if he’ll cooperate with her. He’s willing, but he has some conditions of his own.
Nick isn’t the sleaze his show might have led Sara to expect. He doesn’t take his show seriously, figuring it’s supposed to be entertaining, just good for some laughs. It’s been a successful approach for him, and he’s on the verge of signing a lucrative syndication deal that will take his show nationwide. He can’t help but be intrigued by the uptight psychologist from the moment they meet. When she asks him to help her with her next project, he agrees, but only if she’ll go on a date with him. She might think she’s too smart to go for the bad boy, but Nick plans on being a temptation she can’t resist.
When He Was Bad is a smartly written, dialogue-driven tale that makes for an enjoyable read even if the story is fairly predictable. As soon as the author introduced the character of the nosy reporter, I basically filled in the blanks about how the story was going to proceed from there and it never varied from that obvious path. The story still works in spite of the predictability, mostly on the strength of the author’s writing and her well-developed characters. Sullivan’s writing is very engaging, and she ably tells a convincing, albeit fast, love story in a brisk 217 pages. The blend of good banter, sweet moments, and emotional scenes is just right to create an effective romance. I saw the ending coming a mile away, but the author made it so that I didn’t really care. I was charmed just the same.
My biggest disappointment was that, despite the book’s premise, Nick really isn’t all that bad, especially for a so-called bad boy. I’d say he’s mildly naughty at best. In fact, he seems to be all talk. He talks a good game and lays on the innuendo, but the author spends most of the book showing how he’s very much a good guy. He never does anything all that bad, and as their relationship evolves, he’s supportive and downright decent in his dealings with Sara. This likely helps make the romance more convincing in such a short series book, but I couldn’t help wishing for a little more badness from him. Still, he’s a strong, likable hero, even if he’s not exactly the contemporary “fake rake” as advertised. Sara is somewhat bland, but still a sympathetic heroine.
It’s interesting: I think this book has fewer flaws than Sullivan’s other Harlequin Temptation from earlier this year, Tall, Dark and Texan, yet I didn’t enjoy it as much as that one. Go figure. It’s still a solid little read that makes the most of the short series format to tell an enjoyable story.