Life advice I’ve picked up from reading romance: if you think not telling the father of your child that he’s the father of your child is a good idea, you’re probably wrong.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When a fighter comes back to town a few years after his girlfriend broke it off with him, he finds a secret that she’s kept from him for three years. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Cutter is a homeless teen until he’s taken in by a couple who own a gym. He starts as a custodian, then becomes a fighter when he wants to impress a pretty girl who works there. Josette is determined to get through school, get her degree, and make something of herself. Which means no time for a relationship, except that she enjoys hanging out with Cutter and the attraction between them is very real. The obvious solution? A friends with benefits agreement.
There It Is…There It Isn’t
It’s not until Cutter is ready to leave for Vegas to further his fighting career that he and Josette decide to try to be an actual couple, long distance and all. But when Josette finds out she’s pregnant, everything changes. She tells him that she’s going to “take care of it” because with him leaving and her plans for the future, there’s no way she can be a mother. And Cutter, being of the mind that it’s her choice, lets her do what she thinks is best, even though he wants her to have the baby. The whole thing leaves Josette with the feeling that they can’t be together, and so she breaks up with him right before he leaves, refusing to answer his emails and leaving him heartbroken.
Then and Now
Fast forward a couple years later and Cutter is returning home to visit the couple who took him in. He’s had a good career and hasn’t been home since he left, and the last thing he wants to do is run into Josette. But when he sees her at a social gathering, not only do old feelings rear up, but he also finds that she’s not alone. She has a daughter.
I liked Cutter and Josette as characters, and this was one of the stories I’ve read lately where the conflict is completely between the two main characters (no outside danger in this one). Cutter is severely pissed that Josette never told him about having the baby and even more pissed when he finds that she’s seeing an old enemy of his from the gym. Josette thinks she did what was right in not ruining his career by telling him about the baby. However, she’d recently had some conscience issues and had been trying to figure out how to drop the bombshell. Unfortunately, she didn’t do it in time, and Cutter is left angry and hurt but sure he wants to be part of his daughter’s life.
The struggle between these two is so real. There were a lot of emotions and parts of the story that totally broke my heart. I also had a lot of anger at Josette. She was a good character, but she was also flawed in that her way of thinking was so selfish. Good intentions or not, how the heck is not telling the father of your kid what’s up a good thing? I especially liked that Cutter’s friends, who’d always liked Josette, called her out on her BS and told her how dumb she’d been.
The parts with the little girl were well written and I didn’t find them annoying as I sometimes do in novels. I thought that Josette’s single mother journey seemed a little easy. She’d finished school and got a good job all while raising a baby, and though there seemed to be a few people who helped her out, it felt way too easy. I know she was super prepared and organized and had laid a lot of groundwork for her future early, but babies seem way more complicated and difficult than that.
The Romance Factor
The secret child trope is not my standard heartstring stuff, but I enjoyed how much Cutter and Josette really loved each other even when they were fighting. I thought the things they had to work through were genuinely difficult, and I liked that Cutter had to come to terms with his hurt and anger towards her to be able to move on. 3/5
The Steam Factor
There aren’t many sexy times, but there a few that are fairly spicy. 4/5
There’s a lot of the redemption theme in this book, and the story is a classic case of good intentions gone wrong. I enjoyed the emotion and the overall plot and thought the narrative and characters were strong. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but that didn’t matter. I got the jist of things and it’s fine to read this one as a standalone.