By now you know that I'm totally in love with Codi Gary's Rock Canyon series. I mean, these books are all kinds of sexy goodness but more than that, they have complex characters with very real backgrounds and problems in them. Yet, I never feel overwhelmed by those problems because there's plenty of humor and of course, sexy times to balance it out.
Format: .mobi (Purchased)
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Bad girls don't forgive.
Bad girls don't forget.
Bad girls don't fall in love.
Caroline Willis may be known for causing trouble, but she is NOT about to become homeless. So when she learns that her perfect apartment has been double-booked—to a dangerously hot bad boy—Caroline's bad-girl reputation comes out in full force. He may be sexy as sin, but she's not afraid of him … or his panty-melting smile.
Rock Canyon's got room for only one bad attitude—and Gabe Moriarty was here first. Still, starting over means playing it smart, so while sharing his new apartment is less than ideal, it's worth getting his dream business off the ground. Not to mention that it means shacking up with a sexy wild child. Caroline may be giving him the cold shoulder, but Gabe always was good at starting fires …
Caroline vows to keep things professional with Gabe, but as close quarters begin to ignite the sizzling chemistry between them, she's left wondering: Bad boy plus bad girl equals nothing but trouble … right?
So, bad girl Caroline has returned home in hopes of putting her past to rest and finally being able to be happy. Unfortunately, the residents of her small home town of Rock Canyon haven’t forgotten the havoc and destruction she wrecked in her youth, and most of them aren’t willing to forgive her for it. Determined to turn over a new leaf, Caroline rents an apartment from one of the few people in town who will speak to her. But when an oversight leads to the apartment being double booked, Caroline is furious. Hell bent on removing the competition, she brings out her old persona and is ready to do battle, until she meets him.
Gabe Moriarty comes with his own baggage and bad boy attitude, making him the male equivalent of Caroline as far as any of the locals are concerned. All Gabe wants to do is start over by starting a business in the small town and that means staying out of trouble and definitely staying away from Caroline Willis. Trying to intimidate her into backing away from renting the apartment won’t work since Caroline comes complete with teeth, claws and a bad attitude of her own. So he suggests they share it. Animosity soon turns to curiosity which then leads to some major explosions that all but turn the town upside down.
The Willis sisters aren’t for every reader. They’re complicated, irritable, stubborn women with bad attitudes, but once you get to know them, you understand them more. They’re not bitches just because they can be; they’re bitches because they were forced to be. Their less than ideal childhoods warped and shaped their minds and their behaviors. Return of the Bad Girl is the oldest Willis sister, Caroline’s story. Caroline in particular had more of a difficult life than her younger sisters and while she was a grown woman, she had the fears of a child and lashed out in order to protect herself before anyone hurt her. She is the type of character who will inspire one of two reactions in readers by the end of the book: You’ll either hate her passionately or you’ll love her to death. She’s beyond ornery, she can be mean as hell and her past all but ensures that no one will be able to get her to let her walls down long enough to show her something other than cruelty.
I loved Gabe’s back story, the raw, dark pain in his past that also warped him as an adult should have made him the last person someone like Caroline should be with but author Codi Gary made them work. Their similarities helped them move past the “I hate you but I’ll tolerate you for now” stage onto the “You’re not so bad, I want to know more about you” stage. They should have been toxic to each other, instead they were therapeutic. I don’t think anyone else would have given Caroline so many chances, especially after one of her shouting moods but Gabe understood where she was coming from. He knew when to just let her have it out and when to fight back by simply showing her that she wasn’t going to scare him off easily. Gabe had a surprisingly tender side to him that I think he only showed like three people. He was impressive and he had a surprising connection to one of the residents in Rock Canyon.
It’s not official until the series actually ends but I think Caroline and Gabe might be my favorites. They’re such complicated messes and so similar that I wasn’t sure they would make a good, balanced couple. I mean, they have such quick tempers and jump to so many wrong conclusions that I’m surprised their heads didn’t start to spin. There was such an intense sexual attraction between them from the start but what made Return of the Bad Girl so much fun was that while it was a case of instant lust, Gabe and Caroline didn’t give in right away, they couldn’t stand each other for the longest time. I loved the buildup and the bantering between the two that slowly escalated to the point where it was obvious even to them where they would end up.
As much as I love the Rock Canyon series, I don’t think I’d survive living in a town like that. Those people can be vicious gossips! I felt bad for Caroline and for Gabe. They made some major mistakes in their lives that laid out the foundation for some very unhealthy behaviors and that became the enemy they had to face. But they had to do it with a whole town judging, watching and talking about them. Still, the trauma and drama that followed Gabe and Caroline never annoyed me, probably because they were so real and something that I understood. Their pasts’ made them stronger characters in my eyes. And okay I enjoyed their bickering and insults too. They got pretty heated and creative.
Yes, Return of the Bad Girl was a hot, sexy romance but what I really love not only about this book but this series it the characters. Codi Gary’s characters are gritty and rough around the edges without being irredeemable. You can start hating on a character like Caroline Willis but by the half way book you find that you’ve changed your mind and you want her to overcome her demons AND you want her to find love. You can look at someone like Gabe who was branded as a trouble making loser and see just how he got that label but also how unfair it was to hold it against him. I wanted these characters to win against all the prejudice and judgments, I wanted them to fall madly, deeply in love and I wanted them to be happy. That to me says that an author did their job and then some.
Final Verdict: Flawed characters, sky high sexual tension, dark secrets and redemption all wrapped up in a tiny town romance made Return of the Bad Girl so damn addictive that I couldn’t put it down.
* There is a flashback to a rape scene that might be considered a trigger for some readers so discretion is advised.