Book Review: Welcoming the Bad Boy by Annie Rains

A little bit of housekeeping first. I’m going to start publishing these reviews twice a week instead of the current frequency. Life has started to get a bit busier, and though I considered giving the blog up altogether, I thought it would be better if I just pulled back and gave myself some breathing room instead. So I’m going to publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which seems reasonable enough and gives me time to get and stay caught up. In theory.

Now, on to the review…


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One Sentence Synopsis
A preacher’s daughter with a hidden wild side and a military dog trainer find a strong mutual attraction despite their differences. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Secrets of a Good Girl
Valerie’s father, the local preacher, expects her to be a good girl, to serve the members of the church, and to find an upstanding, if not boring, man to be with. But while Valerie does her best to please her father, she has a secret: she expresses her wild side through the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym. Unfortunately, she’s currently dealing with a case of writer’s block and could use some inspiration.


And Your Little Dog Too…
Inspiration shows up in the form of Griffin, a military K-9 trainer who decides to help train the little dog that Valerie is caring for while her owner is in a nursing home following hip surgery. Griffin is edgy and hot and someone she knows her father wouldn’t approve of. Which makes the fact that she wants him even more exciting. Also, he doesn’t just set her loins on fire…he also sparks her writing mojo.

Seeking Affection
Not only was this book romantic, but there are so many other emotions as well. Valerie is extremely sweet and spends her free time volunteering at the local nursing home, reading books to the elderly (she gets roped into reading her own book which was kind of funny and a bit awkward). Her relationship with her father is a bit heartbreaking. She wants him to show her warmth, but since her mother died when she was young, he’s been aloof, treating the members of his church more kindly than he does his daughter.

Griffin has his own issues. His mother has early onset Alzheimers, and he’s trying to come to terms with the fact that she never recognizes him when he visits her. It doesn’t help that their last interaction when she was cognizant involved them fighting and him running away. Now Griffin doesn’t know how to make her understand that he’s sorry for what happened and ask for her forgiveness when she doesn’t see him as her son in her declined mental state.

Summer Fling
During the dog training, Valerie also helps take care of Griffin’s mother, showing him ways to connect with her. The two form a relationship and end up letting their mutual attraction take over. Valerie embraces the fact that an affair is just what she needs to finish her book, even if she “knows” that it’s just a summer fling and that Griffin has no intentions of sticking around in the fall.


The Romance Factor
Griffin and Valerie as characters were amazing, and together they formed this cute, slightly angsty couple who didn’t think the other would want anything long term. Their relationship wasn’t without its issues, though, and the conflict just made it that more emotional and worth the journey. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Though the sexy times were super sweet, they were also pretty tame. 3/5

Final Thoughts
There were many tears in this one. The topic of Alzheimer’s disease is one that makes me sad anyway, so the theme broke my heart. But there are also family relationships and friendships and other tragedies that are explored throughout the book. I loved the story as a whole, though, and loved that it took me through a whole range of emotions.

Fighting for Devlin by Jessica Lemmon

I have a weird thing about Jessica Lemmon books. I own quite a few of them and I follow her on Twitter and I consider her to be in that group of authors who write the things I really enjoy. But before this, I’d only read one of her books. Maybe I’m just waiting to binge read? Either way, I requested this one, figuring maybe this would be the boost I needed to dive into her other novels.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A bad boy who works for a bookie gets a good girl involved when he asks her to help him with an errand, not realizing how strongly he would start to feel about her. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Bad boy/good girl tropes can be a lot of fun as long as they’re written well. Devlin doesn’t feel like standard bad boy. He works for a bookie for reasons involving his past, and even though what he does isn’t technically on the right side of the law, he doesn’t seem to have much guilt over it. The thing about Devlin is yeah, he has that rough feel to him, but he’s fairly smooth and beneath everything, he’s a good guy, putting himself in the line of harm to help a friend of his late father.

Still, he’s kind of a douche to Rena at the beginning, and in a lot of cases, this would be a literary turn off for me. But it worked so well for this story. The fact that Devlin is so cold at first makes for a better build up and a stronger development for his character as the novel progressed.


As for Rena, she definitely felt girl-next-door, but she wasn’t annoying. Even though she acknowledged and was still haunted by her past mistakes, she was also very aware of her attraction to Devlin and to the fact that he was bringing out the wild girl tendencies she’d buried several years before.

One of the side characters I really enjoyed was Sonny, the bookie Devlin works for. I know he’s supposed to sort of be the bad guy, but he felt like this teddy bear of a guy who wasn’t really the villain, and heck, even if he was, you still wanted to visit his pizza place and give him a big hug.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I realize addiction is a thing people deal with, but the character in this book who kept getting Devlin involved in his shenanigans annoyed me. I was also annoyed that Devlin continued to help him, which I saw as enabling. I realize there was a friend/family dynamic there, but it still bugged me.


The Romance Factor
Even though it wasn’t blatant, there seemed to be hero-in-distress vibe to this story. From the beginning, Rena is there for Devlin, first to nurse him after he’s been beat up, and later as the catalyst to Devlin finding a better path with his life. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and so even though most of the book wasn’t romantic because of the way Devlin acted, it ended up feeling like they had a very sweet chemistry. 3/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times are intense and often happen in places that are not a bed. They were also a good blend of hot and sensual, and I thought alot of the romance came from Devlin and Rena’s more intimate moments. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I liked this book and thought it ended really well, though it definitely left it open for future conflict. The characters for the second book were introduced, and I already can’t wait to read their story. Now I really do need to read more of this author’s work. Seems like a good reason to take a day off, right?

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Though I love this series, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about diving into this one, mostly because I hadn’t been sold on the hero when he appeared in the previous books. The guy was kind of a douche, and though I had faith that Hoyt would work her magic, it was still a little bit daunting at first.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A pirate has to protect his daughter and the woman he ruined, not expecting his attraction to her to turn into anything more than lust. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
No more will I lose faith in this author. By the time I got to the middle of the book, I loved Mickey. Like all romance heroes, he had a sympathetic backstory that made me do a 180 on my previous opinion. However, he really kind of maintains his bad boy persona through the whole book.


I kind of loved that Silence was willing to go to extremes to care for a child she’d only taken in and that other characters seemed to like her right away. It definitely helped emphasize the bad boy/good girl thing she and Mickey had going on.

The Romance Factor
Silence is kind of a sad character who’s had a lot of bad things happen to her in her recent adult years. Mickey had a lot of bad things happen in his childhood. The way these two interact is still fun, with a lot of foreplay, a good girl turning to the bad boy trope, and some sweet angst. 5/5


The Steam Factor
Besides the normal frequency of the sexy times on Maiden Lane, I thought these felt a little more scandalous, mostly because Silence had been fairly innocent. Even having been married, her husband definitely hadn’t been as adventurous as Mickey. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Considering how much I ended up liking the pirate, I’m now more hopeful that the Duke of Wakefield will be bearable in his story.