Better When He's Bad (Welcome to the Point #1), by Jay Crownover
To Be Published June 17, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: e-ARC, provided by Edelweiss and the publisher
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4.5 STARS
(From Goodreads) Welcome to the Point
There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad . . . meet Shane Baxter.
Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he’s the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there’s a new player in the game, and she’s much too innocent, much too soft…and standing directly in his way.
Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She’s always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con The Point has ever produced.
Bax terrifies her, but it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize that some boys are just better when they’re bad.
Jay Crownover has a new series!
I love Jay's exploration into what kind of hero a boy who is bad would make. Note that I didn't say "bad boy." Bad boys have a certain connotation in the new adult genre. They're good guys with either a tough exterior or profession. Perhaps they came from a tragic background. Perhaps they have baggage. But, they are inherently good, law-abiding citizens that just need the love of a good woman to give them meaning. The true anti-hero - the boy who is bad - may have some good stuff deep down inside, but he's bad and he's okay with that. He embraces it, even. Is the boy who is bad loveable? Redeemable?
Bax is not the guy you bring home to meet the 'rents. He is a hardened criminal from the bad part of town. He's a thief and a thug, and when he gets out of prison after doing five years, he goes right back to what he knows, all while searching for his best friend Race who seems to have disappeared. Bax finds Race's sister, however, and together they begin to uncover the secrets behind what got Bax sent to prison in the first place. And, before it's all over, guns will be fired, fists will be flying, and someone may have to go down in a blaze of glory to protect the people they care about.
Bax is the epitome of the anti-hero. He makes no bones about the fact that he was born to crap parents, he turned to a life of crime early in order to survive, and now he just lives that way because it's all he knows. He even enjoys parts of it. He didn't graduate from high school. He has no higher calling. He loves fast cars, skanky women and earning money the easy way. He doesn't sound like the kind of guy a reader could endear themselves to. And, to be honest, it took me awhile to warm up to him.
Bax is really abrasive, and he's really not very nice. I'm so used to a measure of insta-love in my new adult books. Or, at the very least insta-lust. Yeah - there was none of that here. Bax is not impressed by Dovie the first time he sees her. He doesn't find her attractive. He thinks she's a pain in his ass. He would be happy to never see her again. The only thing she has going for her is the fact that she's Race's sister.
Dovie has s similar reaction to Bax. She doesn't have much time to decide if he's attractive, because she's too busy being terrified by his size and his aura of mean. He has a tattoo on his face, for crying out loud. This guy is not the type you swoon over. And. he's certainly not the kind of guy who works well with others.
Yet, Bax somehow, albeit reluctantly, forges a partnership with Dovie in order to find her brother and get some answers. This requires them to spend some time together. Which means, they have to talk. And, that's when Bax and Dovie really start to connect. Their commonalities lie in their horrid childhoods, but where they differ is that Dovie became determined to do better, and Bax decided to embrace the Point and make the best of the hand that was dealt him.
As they start to rub off on each other, Dovie starts to recognize shades of Shane peeking through the darkness of Bax. "Shane" is thoughtful, sweet, tender and a super hot, sexy, attentive lover. "Bax" is scary, protective and angry. As Dovie gets to know him, she realizes that there are reasons to love both sides of this complicated guy. Bax doesn't feel worthy of Dovie's goodness and doesn't see the good things in him that she sees. That was kinda heartbreaking, because as I read, I really did see the good stuff that Dovie saw.
He never really said too much, but when he did, I was learning it was important to listen. There was no missing the fact that he was a man of action, but when he decided to say something, it was like the two halves of him merged into a whole.
There was a good mystery woven through the fabric of this unique love story. Through most of the book, we're wondering where Race really has run off to, what his motivations were for basically sending his best friend to jail for five years, and what role the big crime boss for The Point, Novak, plays in the whole thing. There are some twists and turns and big surprises in store for the reader, and each is unfolded at key points in the book - not all are revealed at the very end, like you usually see.
In typical Jay Crownover fashion, Better When He's Bad was told in dual POV. The writing was fantastic; the love scenes are some of the best ever. This woman knows how to write sexy times, without a doubt.
I'm thoroughly caught in The Point's allure. I can't wait for the next book, Better When He's Bold, which is Race's story. This seedy, scary world is the perfectly imperfect backdrop for an amazing love story to take place. Bravo, Ms. Crownover.