Review + Excerpt: Better When He’s Brave (#3, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

Intense, action-packed, thrilling and sexy as hell.
I love this series, and each book gets more exciting!

5stars

Synopsis

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover’s third novel in her sexy, thrilling Welcome to the Point series, a woman’s search for repentance leads her to the one man from her past she can’t forget as they join forces to save their city—and the explosive love neither can live without.

Titus King has always seen his world in black and white. There is a firm right and wrong in his mind, which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray.

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and walking the straight and narrow seems far less important now. The difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town. This girl might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point but he can’t walk away because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about the threat trying to destroy The Point. She knows how ruthless, how vicious, and how cruel this new danger can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. Reeve knows that she has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.

My Review

Since our first intro into the deadly streets of The Point, when we met Shane Baxter, we also came across Titus King. He’s a cop, a protector… a man whose black and white view of the world was constantly threatened with a criminal brother and ever-escalating situations in his city. You got a sense of how hard he worked to stay on the straight and narrow… to make something of himself. But when The Point viciously comes under attack, rules are thrown asunder as his determination toughens. He’s determined to figure out who is behind the strikes in order to put a final stop to it.

Jumping right in, the prologue is intense, intense, intense. It sets the tone for the consuming tension in the novel. There’s so much intrigue and suspense to keep you entrenched.

“I would die in this shithole at the hands of these murders and miscreants, and no matter how much they threw at me, how much they tried to destroy the vessel it was housed in, my bravery, my calling to keep the world safe from people like this, would never be extinguished. I would never cave, never bow down and never let a guy like [him] win.”

But when Reeve Black and Titus King collide, the heat is turned way up.

The criminal and the cop.

The bad girl and the good guy.

There’s a fiery connection between them both, but Reeve has made many mistakes… mistakes that have affected Titus, Bax and Dovie.

“She was beautiful but she was also deadly. She was just as hard as this place we came from, and I had enough of the city hammering against my foundation, as it was.”

But antagonism burns into a desire that sets the pages ablaze, as Titus begins to understand Reeve and the reasons for what she’s done. Before too long, love finds a way to bind this improbable pair together.

And yes, as much as Reeve and Titus were an unlikely match, they were also, perfect for each other. The Point is their home, they’ve grown up knowing the ins and out of it, and they must work side by side to free themselves of their attacker, but also from their pasts.

“She was going to be my downfall. She was going to be my corruption and my vice. She was going to be my addiction and my compulsion and I was still going to fall headlong into her knowing the landing was going to be rough for both of us.”

I fell in love with The Point series immediately. There’s something about exploring anti-heroes and criminals, and all the shades of grey that color the worlds of these people. Titus is particularly fascinating as he wars with himself, always trying to do the right thing and protect those he loves. Jay Crownover always does an amazing job of mixing it up with sexiness, suspense, emotion and romance. You get a little bit of everything in a story that keeps you captive from beginning to end.

“There is no regret, Reeve, and there is no choice. Right or wrong you are it for me. You get all the parts of me. You make me feel like I can just be me, not a cop, not a big brother, not a hero, not a savior… just a man. A man that has his good and bad parts.”

Next up is Nassir’s book, and you best be ready for the emotional volatility and edge of the baddest of them all.

Excerpt

The car finally skidded to a stop in a shower of gravel and dust. The headlights illuminated the drop-off in front of us. The moon was high in the sky, forcing its way through smog and clouds to shine silver. It was the same color as Titus’s eyes when he was turned on, when he was buried deep inside of me.

“I haven’t had my parents in my life for a long time, so I shouldn’t feel like I lost them. But I do.”

“I felt that way when I locked Bax up. I knew he wouldn’t understand that I had to do my job, and when he got out, the first time I saw him he punched me in the face. He hated me.” He turned off the car and reached out a finger to twist a piece of my long hair around it.

“Don’t let Roark win. Once everything is settled, go back to them and make them understand.”

I turned to look at him. He was fierce in the shadowy light. He was what heroes were supposed to look like no matter the path he had taken to become one.

“I don’t even know if I understand. At the time it felt like my only choice. Now I’m not so sure.” I leaned across the space separating us and brushed my knuckles across his still-bristly cheek. He was almost in full beard mode and it looked so good on him. “Lately the only thing I understand is you, Titus.”

He lifted one of his dark eyebrows at me and asked, “What is it that you understand about me, Reeve?”

“That you make everything better. You make me better, and I might never be good enough for you, but you make me feel like I can get close.”

One of his hands slid down to my wrist and the next thing I knew he was guiding me over the console and the emergency brake so that I was straddled across him with my back to the steering wheel. I hadn’t been in a car like this with a boy since I was a teenager. I kind of liked it. More than kind of.

“You make everything better too, Reeve, and there is no good enough because this with you is the best there has ever been.” And then his mouth was on mine and I didn’t get a chance to tell him we had left this behind and were now firmly venturing into more. Knowing that Titus was flawed, that he had made some questionable choices on his road to becoming the man he was today, made me love him even more. Where he was from was even uglier than where I was from, and that was beautiful to me. So was the way he was pulling on my clothes and kissing me along my throat.

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Reading Order and Links
About Jay

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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Review: Better When He’s Bold (#2, Welcome to the Point) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

An intense, sexy as hell, suspenseful page turner.

5stars

Synopsis

better when he's bold coverSome men are just better when they’re bold.

Welcome to the Point…

In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has to be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them.

Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like the Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself?

Brysen Carter has always seen her best friend’s brother for what he is–too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous to touch. Basking in Race’s golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she’d eventually get burned.

When she starts receiving threatening texts and someone tries to take her out in parking lot, the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can’t allow herself to have.

Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life . . . if it means losing herself to him?

My Review

The Point has a new ruler, and it’s golden boy Race Hartman that dons the tattered crown. He’s running the streets now and it’s anything but easy as debts continue to be collected in blood. Race battles much on the inside and outside as he strives to carry out a plan that could change things for those that call The Point home. Luckily for him, he’s got the baddest of the bad at his side. He’s got Bax, who is notorious for being the most dangerous guy around. On the other side, he’s got Nassir, who is the dirtiest, get-it-done-by-any-means-possible guy.  The Point is in for a new world order with these three at the helm as bullets, blood and secrets reign.

Brysen Carter has had a crush on Race Hartman for a long time. The golden boy with the green eyes. The new kingpin of a broken kingdom. Race was bad, unpredictable… a complication she needed to stay away from despite the near-irresistible desire she felt every time she saw him. So she was mean. Guarded. Did everything she could to push him away.

Meanwhile, Race had more problems than he knew what to do with. Even his sharp, intelligent, problem-solving mind couldn’t fix everything he faced. And yet, a problem like Brysen was the best kind of challenge. He was fueled by her hard-to-get game, but he also sensed there was more to her story.

“We had never really been friends, didn’t know each other beyond the powerful attraction that seemed to pull us together, but the more bits and pieces of him I uncovered, the more I realized he was so much like me. His life looked one way, but underneath the surface there was so much more, so many other things going on.”

After Race swoops in to help her during a bad situation, Brysen begins to soften. Race is willing to help her, becoming someone she could trust. Before to long, her defenses fall and they become each other’s safe haven. But Brysen couldn’t forget who Race was… what he did every day. Could she really be with someone who ruined so many lives?

“In a place like this, there aren’t very many good people running around. That means there are a lot of bad things happening under the surface and a lot of bad people doing those things. I’m not a bad guy, Brysen, but I’m not a good guy either.”

As Brysen and Race battle turmoil inside, everything around them spins out of control. Someone is after Brysen and someone is looking to dethrone Race. The violence is escalating and there are no answers to who is behind it. Race, who is driven by his ability to fix things, to protect those he loves, begins to unravel and it’s Brysen who must come to terms with her emotions if she’s to help him.

“Being with guys like us… It’s like being in love with a loaded weapon and you’re the safety.”

I love Race as a character. He’s a really complex guy. He’s not a natural for the streets, but it’s become the only home he’s ever known. He doesn’t like being the bad guy, but he knows he has to do what’s needs to be done or things can get a whole lot worse. He’s got a plan for making The Point a little better, a little more manageable, and a little safer for those he cares about, but he’s afraid of losing himself in the process.

“I would hold on to her with everything I had and I would make sure she stayed just the way she was. I would never take the little things for granted, and just as tightly as I planned on holding on to her, I was going to hold on to this dark and dangerous place that was my home. They were both mine, and I would give up anything and everything to keep them.”

This was an intense book, and although the story is primarily plot driven, the character development is rich and you really want to learn more about each person in the novel. People like Booker and Nassir and Titus… I just can’t wait to experience their story. And in typical Jay Crownover style, it’s also super sexy. She always does an amazing job at creating that believable, hot-as-hell chemistry between her characters.

There are so many reasons to read this book, this series, but one of them is that Jay Crownover is really pushing the boundaries of the New Adult space, giving us stories that are edgier, grittier, more intense and twisty than those we’ve seen. For those of you that feel like New Adult has run its course, Jay’s books are the perfect example of how the category continues to evolve in a fresh, contemporary way. Next up is Detective Titus King, Bax’s brother, and I anxiously await diving into his story in Better When He’s Brave.

“I thought we weren’t a good bet, but now I would go double or nothing on us any day.”

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Reading Order and Links

Each book can be read as a standalone.

better when he's bad better when he's bold cover

Reading Order: Better When He’s Bad | Better When He’s Bold | Better When He’s Brave

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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!

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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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