July 14, 2014

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Business As Usual (Off the Subject #3)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Business As Usual (Off the Subject #3), by Denise Grover Swank
Published April 10, 2014
Publisher: Createspace
Format: paperback, provided by the publisher
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancĂ©e Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago.

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?

I'm glad Lexi's story was told. I had been curious about her since she was introduced in the second book in Denise Grover Swank's Off the Subject Series, Redesigned. Although I took issue with a few things in Business As Usual, there were other things that were done perfectly, and for that I was very thankful. 

Lexi is trying to move on from a tragedy that befell her a few years ago. Her residual emotional scars coupled with her overbearing brother's constant smothering are making that nearly impossible, though. Then, she meets Ben and for the first time and begins to think that she has a shot at a normal life and a normal relationship. 

What happened to Lexi is awful. It's awesome that her brother Reed has made it his mission to protect her and see that nothing like that ever happens again. But, honestly, his "protectiveness" grew very tiresome after awhile. And, it's part of the story - I get that. Lexi too is fed up with Reed's smothering nature. At least, she says she is. Her lack of action on the matter was as frustrating as Reed's behavior in the first place. Granted, she's dealing with some serious guilt issues. She feels personally responsible for him not doing what he wants to be doing as far as his career goes. But, honestly, enough is enough. Lexi needed to tell Reed to back off and really mean it. 

Reed's secrets and how it affects his relationship with Caroline was almost as much of the story as Lexi's efforts to overcome her trauma and forge a real relationship with Ben. I was intrigued throughout the entire book as to what Reed was up to and how it was worth him treating Caroline as he did. This didn't seem like the same Reed I grew to love in Redesigned. He wasn't sweet and caring and kind. He was... well, Reed was pretty much an ass. And I knew there had to be a reason why, and I couldn't wait to find out what that was. 

Thing is, when Reed's secret was revealed, it was kind of a letdown. So much of the book was spent leading up to this big moment, and in the end, there really was no big moment. It left me scratching my head a bit. 

Lexi's relationship with Ben was the best part of the book, and thankfully, it really was the main focal point. I loved watching Lexi figure out her triggers and what to do about them. It was great seeing her take control of this horrible situation and using it to make her stronger. And I loved the incredible support and love that Ben gave her back. Their chemistry was sizzling hot and totally believable. 

One other anomaly in Business As Usual was Tina. Tina showed up in the previous book as Caroline's roommate after Scarlett moved out. Tina was your typical overbearing, annoying party girl which contrasted with Caroline's softer nature. The Tina that presented in Business As Usual was an absolute NIGHTMARE. She was mean and vindictive and cruel and self-destructive. She treated Lexi, Ben, Reed and Scarlett like garbage. She encouraged and orchestrated the public humiliation of Lexi, and even went so far as to support her being roofied. I'm not sure what happened to Tina between the last book and this one, but this was definitely not the same person we saw before. 

Admittedly, I preferred After Math and Redesigned better than Business As Usual, but the hallmarks I usually go for - good, tight writing, a quick-moving plot, engaging characters and sweet and steamy love - were all there, as I would expect from Denise Grover Swank. I hope she keeps writing books in this series. I will certainly continue reading them.  

1 comment:

Val said...

I love this whole series.