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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Take Me Harder by Jackie Ashenden

This book had a lot of promise but it didn't quite deliver on that promise.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: February 7, 2017

An ex-con with a bad-boy reputation falls for his childhood sweetheart—a good-girl cop chasing a ruthless killer—as the Texas Bounty series gets steamier than the Lone Star State.

Rush Redmond never expected freedom to taste so bittersweet. He spent eight years in jail doing someone else’s time, and for what? As an ex-con, Rush can’t work as a bounty hunter like his brothers—not in Texas. Better to drown his sorrows with a stiff drink and soft curves. Too bad the temptation he craves is a redhead with a badge: Ava St. George. Once upon a time, Rush would’ve done anything for the sheriff’s innocent daughter. Now he’s fighting the urge to let her sweet-talk him into some trouble he can’t afford.

Even though she’s a cop, Ava knows that sometimes justice means pushing the boundaries of the law. To track down her mother’s killer, she turns to the man with the county’s criminal underworld in his little black book. The boy she knew is still drop-dead gorgeous, with panty-dropping charm as smooth as his smile. But his sculpted arms and the menacing gleam in his eyes scream “Don’t mess with me.” Yet Ava needs Rush more than ever—in more ways than one.

What’s it About? Basically Rush Redmond spent eight years in jail for a murder he didn't commit and now that he's finally free he is at a loss for what to do with his life. As an ex-con he can't work with his brothers as a bounty hunter and then the sheriff's daughter and Rush's childhood crush Ava St. George offers him a job, sort of. She needs help catching her mother's killer and for that she needs Rush's connections to the criminal underworld. Rush is completely different from the boy Ava knew years ago but even with his rough edges, the attraction between them is undeniable.

Overall reaction to the story? Take Me Harder had a lot of potential to be a nitty gritty, hot and heavy romance but it fell flat for me. I felt like Rush and Ava didn't quite live up the the buildup the author gave them. The story itself was interesting but needed a bit more fleshing out and a lot less rushing to get everything wrapped up at the last minute. Overall with Rush's backstory and Ava's mission, there was a lot of material that wasn't explored or developed. Had that happened, the entire book would have flowed better and had a better response from me.

Describe the hero in five words: Stubborn. Bitter. Grumpy. Intelligent. Brave.
Did you like him? He was alright.
Why? Rush had a prime background to make him into a complex, sexy, irresistible character but all that was ignored in favor of making him into a toned down version of what he could be. He didn't do much growing either. I mean, he was a jerk when Ava first approached him and I could understand that because come on, he just did time in jail for someone else's crime and that someone didn't even appreciate that so yeah Rush had a reason to not want to help anyone at the point. However, I never really felt that he changed from beginning to end. He never really rediscovered his humanity or found that softer side of himself with Ava.

Describe the heroine in five words: Innocent. Stubborn. Incompetent. Weak. Kind.
Did you like her? Not really.
Why? Ava was too innocent for my tastes and for a cop she wasn't very tough or capable which irritated me to no end. It was like all her capabilities went flying out the window once she started working with Rush because he was a big, strong, hunky guy and she was just a little ole female. There were times Rush was a jerk to her and instead of standing up to him she just took it! She kept going on and on with her mental dialogue about how in love she was with the boy he used to be instead of reconciling that memory with the reality of who he was at present. I found her to be too bland, and at times useless as anything other than a tool to make Rush look good.

Let’s talk about the romance: What romance? To me there were only hints of an emotional attachment but no real development on that front. There was a lot of lust between them but a decided lack of a genuine connection between Rush and Ava and the romance suffered for it.

How about that supporting cast? I felt that Rush's brothers and father were crucial to Rush's growth yet the author didn't take that opportunity to expand on this family's dynamics which borders on the Effed Up side. I didn't really connect to them and maybe that's because the lot of them are emotionally constipated. And I'm not joking.

Click It or Skip It? Skip It. There are too many holes in the characters' development not to mention the rushed ending to make Take Me Harder the story that it could have been. However, since Ashenden seems to enjoy giving her characters' a rough background, I would be interested in seeing if her later books have more development.

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