I’m pretty familiar with Gena Showalter, as in, I’ve read 6 of the 14 books in her Lords of the Underworld series. Some I liked a lot, some not so much. But I thought FOR SURE she was strictly a paranormal romance author. I’ve since learned this isn’t the case, and when I saw that she had a contemporary romance series starting, I really wanted to try it. Read on to see how The Closer You Come, Book 1 in her new Original Heartbreakers series, panned out…Original Heartbreakers, Book 1 Publisher: HQN Books (Harlequin) Source & Format: Review copy courtesy of the publisher; paperback Official Summary New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter introduces the Original Heartbreakers, where three not-quite-reformed bad boys are about to meet the women who will bring them to their knees. Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty… Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.
My feelings about Brook Lynn, the heroine, are a little all over the place. For most of the book, I liked her. The author gave Brook Lynn a hearing problem with a twist – instead of being unable to hear things, her ears are extremely sensitive to all sounds so she wears these implants that can reduce the noise level for her. I thought that made her so unique and interesting, and she felt very real to me because her hearing problem affected her self-image, as it would anyone. Brook Lynn was also really freaking funny in a lot of ways. She has a “fun list” – things she’s never done but wants to do. It was funny because the things on her fun list are pretty tame and not that big of a deal, like drinking liquor straight from the bottle. But it’s cute because she treats them as if they’re big things. Another thing that hit my funny bone was when she called herself a “mouth-slut” for kissing a man who had previously kissed her sister, and then she referred to kissing as “mouth-banging.” LOL! But later, I found myself really disappointed in Brook Lynn because she expected the hero to chase her. She says it over and over and over, like fighting for her or for her love is her touchstone. But it didn’t feel like she wanted him to fight for her; it felt like she wanted him to chase her…and chase her and chase her, like some game. Except, she runs away whenever they hit a bump in the road. Huh? This drove me nuts and caused me to like Brook Lynn a lot less because it made her look annoying and immature.
Jase was a pretty great guy, but Brook Lynn nailed it when she said he was hard to read. Jase hides his feelings and his emotions, always. In fact, he tried to not have any feelings or emotions. As maddening as this was, I couldn’t fault him for it. I mean, he spent almost 10 years in prison and he had a difficult childhood. So even though it was frustrating, I understood why he seemed so unaffected by everything. Still, I found it a bit tedious that Jase constantly pushed Brook Lynn away and denied he had any feelings or interest in her. Of course, eventually, Brook Lynn works through some of his defenses, and as his true feelings became more obvious, it made him more and more likable as the book progressed. I also liked how protective Jase was of his friends and people he considered his family. He would do anything for them to make them happy, which I thought made him more relatable and was important since he could be a bit taciturn. I especially loved how he started helping Brook Lynn with her fun list.
Brook Lynn and Jase had lots of chemistry, but their relationship was a super slow burn. With Jase denying any feelings for Brook Lynn, there were times it was tough to maintain my interest in the story. But once he started acknowledging that something was happening between them, the story got a lot better and the Sexy Time really amped up in the amount and in the heat level! Wow!
I was a little wishy-washy on how I felt about the characters at different times throughout the story, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The characters changed and evolved as relationship drama and general life drama entered and exited their lives. I would almost classify this as a dark romance due to Jase’s past, his general broodiness, and the scarcity of laughter from him, but there was enough humor in other areas that only some parts of this book felt that way. Even though I was disappointed in the heroine at certain points, I enjoyed this book and I’ll probably continue on with the series.Bottom Line
I think fans of contemporary romance who want a grittier hero might like The Closer You Come. Plenty of drama and lots of humor smoothed over any issues I had with the characters, especially the heroine, and I ended up enjoying this book the further I got through it.
Rating: B- (3½ stars)
Wine/Beverage Pairing: A glass of Thomas H. Handy Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, neat – one of Brook Lynn’s drinks!Buy Digital: Kindle | Nook Buy Print: Amazon | B&N
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The Closer You Come Giveaway
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- Hit the comments and tell me: If you could have a fun list like Brook Lynn’s, what would be your top #1 thing on your list? It can be racy or tame or anything in between! And if you’re naughty, you can list more than one…
Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the winner will be notified via email on Thursday, April 2.