Review + Excerpt: Better When He’s Bad (#1, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

Gritty and suspenseful, super sexy and addictive.
A heart-pounding page turner which introduces us to the violent and dangerous world of The Point. A place where power rules and evil reigns. You won’t want to miss this thrilling new series by Jay Crownover!

5stars

Synopsis

better when he's badThere’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, awakening feelings she never thought she’d have for a guy like him. But it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize . . . some boys are just better when they’re bad.

My Review

Oh it’s never felt so good to be so bad. Jay Crownover writes the kind of stories that creep under my skin, the kind that continue to play out when my eyes are shut, the kind that scream at me when my Kindle is closed. I couldn’t put this down.  It was addictive, consuming and entirely bad ass. Fans of the Marked Men series will love this story and although it’s different in many ways, it has that same addictive quality with kick ass characters that shine in all their boldness and individuality. This series, however, is grittier. Darker.  Our hero, or rather anti-hero, Shane Baxter (“Bax”) is bad in every sense of the word. He’s a criminal. A force. Danger personified. But as bad as he is, and as broken as his life has been, he can’t simply be defined by those three letters. Because in his case, bad isn’t black and white. In fact, Bax is all shades of gray with a rock-hard, life-toughened exterior almost entirely impenetrable–until–one disarming redhead crashes into his life. And even then, he pushes the limits… raging for vengeance in a town known for taking justice with your own bloodied hands.

“My name is Shane Baxter, Bax to most people, and I’m a thief. Got a girl? I’ll take her from you. Got a sweet ride you dropped a mint on? I’ll take it from you… Taking things that didn’t belong to me was second nature; well, that and finding all the worst kinds of trouble to get into.”

After five long years, Bax is out of jail and with barely a free breath taken, he’s already in the midst of a whole lot of trouble. His best friend, Race, is nowhere to be found, yet everyone is after him. Bax never had it easy. Growing up in the Point meant survival by any means possible. Survival by the force of your punch, taking what you need since no one’s there to give it to you. It’s living each day as if it were your last, meaning fear was nothing but adrenaline to fuel the fury inside. Race had been one of the very few that stood by him,  and that meant he had to find out where he was and what in hell was going on that had everyone running in circles. And in the eye of the storm, there’s a girl. A redhead whose freckled face screams innocence, but whose fiery attitude is willing to take on the world.

“I had been around long enough in the worst parts of town to the difference between a bad boy and a boy who was just bad. Bad was stamped all across Shane Baxter and it had nothing to do with the star tattooed on his face or the ominous and deliberate way he moved, like a coiled snake ready to strike and eager to fill you with poison before you could blink.”

To Dovie, Bax is the man she’s supposed to watch for. Race’s best friend, identified only by the star tattoo emblazoned on the side of his eye. And those eyes… dark and ominous, blank and foreboding, stared at her intensely. Dovie was terrified and unsettled by this man. He was all toughness. Grit. Darkness. Danger. And somehow, he was the key to finding Race. She’d stick to him like glue, despite the crystal-clear declaration that he worked alone.

“If you look close enough, everything is in those eyes. That’s why they’re so dark. They are full. Full of every secret, every promise, and every temptation that can make a good girl to really bad things and enjoy every second of it. Watch yourself Dove. This could get ugly for you really fast.”

Bax is used to surviving on his own. Never attached to anyone, because in the Point attachments were liabilities. Nonetheless Dovie is relentless, forcing herself in on his business. The more they were together in their search for Race, the more she worked at cracking that impenetrable armor. Bax was sure, however, she’d find nothing but badness inside. He’d ever be redeemed. Never hoped for it. Never expected it. Suddenly though, this girl was intent on drawing out a side of him he never knew existed.

“She had no idea the devastation I could bring with very little effort. I was good at it. I reveled in it more often that not.”

Dovie knew she should stay away from Bax, but the more time they spent together, the more she saw there was so much more to him than he let on. There were times where he began to soften and she could see the good inside him too. Not to mention there was a desire that blazed uncontrollably between them, flames she couldn’t help but be engulfed by. But would she get burned in the end? Everyone seemed to think so.

“He just looks at me and everything inside me heats up, and if he touches me, it all boils over. I feel like I’m addicted to him or something. I know he’s bad for me, but I don’t care.”

I loved seeing their relationship grow. The chemistry was sizzling hot and I loved how Dovie didn’t ever give up on him. It’s impossible to categorize Bax as good or bad, but I think his journey is about him seeing himself as worthy of some goodness too. To be more than the sum of all the bad parts. To realize that he is loved and that he can do more with his life than what he’s done in the past. This girl suddenly made everything better for him and it terrified him that he started to need her in a way he hadn’t needed anyone before. With danger lurking around ever corner, and every shadow from his past chasing behind him, he couldn’t fathom a reality that wouldn’t have him six feet under by the end of things and what that meant for Dovie, Bax really didn’t know.

“She was the epitome of everything good that came from bad people and a bad place. She was like a flower that grew out of the impenetrable face of a cliff wall. How she maintained that softness, that care, was a mystery to me and I hoped to God she found someone willing to kill for her in order to protect it after I was long gone.”

This story is filled with so much suspense as Bax and Dovie try to piece together the mystery behind Race’s disappearance. It’s a tumultuous, heart-pounding adventure through the dangerous streets of the Point. I felt constantly on edge, never knowing what would happen next.  I loved both protagonists in all their complexity and hoped they could find happiness. I never expected Bax to change because it wouldn’t be true to his character, but I wanted him to find a reason to balance both sides of himself. To balance the good with the bad. I wanted to him to believe that people like him could find their happy ever after even in a place that personified everything that was bad and bloody. I also loved that Dovie accepted him for who he was, but pushed him to be a better version of himself. Honestly, it was perfectly written and paced, the story gripping me wholly, through every unexpected twist and turn, through the gut-wrenching scenes that were surprisingly emotional to experience. Suspense, sexiness, steam and action are just some of the things you’ll undoubtedly experience in the first book of this exciting new series.  I think Jay Crownover is pioneering what’s next in New Adult and you won’t want to miss a single dangerous second of it!

Better When He’s Bold, Race’s book, is next up!

BWHB BANNER 2

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Excerpt

“It was fend for yourself or starve around my house when I was little. I learned to make do.”

She swiveled around in the chair so we were facing each other. “Is that why you started stealing? That’s how you fended for yourself?”

I put the empty plate on the coffee table and gave her a stony look. She was always trying to make me into something better than I really was.

“No. People had stuff that I wanted, so I took it from them. Cars, TVs, credit cards . . . I wasn’t stealing to make do, I was stealing because I wanted stuff that I was never going to work for.”

She made a face at me and turned back to the computer. “That’s not entirely true.”

I gathered up my plate and her now- empty one. I needed a smoke and to get laid, and not particularly in that order.

“What do you know about it?”

She lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “I know you love that car and you didn’t steal it. I know that you wanted to do something nice for your mom, so you used your talents, as felonious at they might be, to get her this house. It wasn’t all about taking stuff just because you wanted it.”

I wasn’t used to anyone else being able to pick my true motivations out from the smoke screen I usually threw up. I couldn’t say I liked it very much.

“I’m gonna step outside for a minute.” She waved me off and I grumbled at her under my breath. Spending time with this girl was more headache than it was worth, even if I could still taste her all across my tongue and feel her like she was embedded under my admittedly thick skin.

I let the smoke of a cigarette fill and escape out of my lungs and tried to get a handle on my rampant thoughts. There was just too much going on. Everything with Race, Titus popping back up on my radar, this girl twining her way into the very fabric of who I was. I wasn’t sure I could handle any of it with barely a month of freedom under my belt. I wasn’t the kind of man who was big on self- discovery and personal growth, only right now it didn’t seem like fate wanted to give me the option of burying my head in the sand.

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Comments

  1. Awesome giveaway thank you! 🙂

  2. I like how bad boys take charge of the situation.

  3. That they aren’t always bad.. There’s a good side to them too..

  4. Rhonda Nash says:

    I have preordered this book. Cannot wait to read it.

  5. They are bad but in a good way 🙂 Thanks for a great giveaway!

  6. Charlene E says:

    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:

    I like hidden goodness in them that they only let out for people.

  8. I like that bad boys aren’t perfect. It just seems more real to me.

  9. Scarlett Camaj says:

    I love seeing the vulnerable side to them.

  10. Viviana Varona says:

    I love when they redeem themselves. I like them having an edge. 🙂

  11. Jayzel Javier says:

    I love the goodness in them that they only show to those he trust and love.. :>
    And i love that they seem so real to me.. 🙂

  12. I like the alpha attitude! Even better if he has a soft side shown only to a select few.

  13. eleonor says:

    i love that he stuck to his character till the end!!

  14. Thanks !! I love everything about bad boys !!

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