I received this book for free from Entangled Publishing, Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Betting the Bad Boy by Stefanie London
Series: Behind the Bar #3
on May 8th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Entangled Publishing, Netgalley
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Self-confessed perfectionist Paige Thomas isn't used to failing. But when a critical error in romantic judgment sends all her big city career dreams crashing down, she scrambles to find a job—any job—to make ends meet.
Noah Reid may as well have "trust issues" tattooed on his forehead. Being raised in the foster system didn't give him a positive outlook on relationships, but now he's looking after his best friend's bar for one month, and he can't do it alone.
Things get steamy when Noah hires Paige, but she's determined not to repeat her mistakes and she bets Noah that she can keep her hands to herself while they're working together. Too bad for her, Noah is an expert at breaking the rules...
This is the third, and I believe final, book in Stefanie London’s Behind the Bar series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. One of the things I really like about Stefanie London’s books is her ability to write hot, romantic stories that make me laugh without actually crossing the line into straight up romantic comedy. This was a perfect example. Opening with a discussion of a cupcake latte that looked like “unicorn vomit”, this book was everything I’ve come to expect from this series. Paige and Noah’s meet-cute involved mistaken identities that were quickly cleared up, and they moved pretty quickly into the wanting-each-other-and-refusing-to-admit-it stage of their relationship, which is where the titular betting came in. But to be clear, this is not a book-defining “I bet I can sleep with that chick” bet. Paige and Noah bet on a lot, but none of it is mean-spirited.
Noah bets that Paige wants him. Paige bets that she can keep her hands (and lips) to herself. There’s not much substance to the bet, though, and it’s usually only referenced in a jokey “Oh, right. We’re not doing this” kind of a way.
Paige was intriguing. She’s a transplanted country girl, recently moved to Melbourne to escape the life she didn’t want. She worked in her parents cafe, which is where she learned the skills that convinced Noah to hire her even though she wasn’t actually the interview he had lined up for that afternoon (which they also bet on). She was determined to leave the country and make a life for herself in a large city, but that is not as easy as she expected it to be. She’s sleeping on a friend’s couch while she tries to find a job, but she’s not having any luck with the job and the couch suddenly has an expiration date. The job at First, the bar Noah is currently running, is supposed to just be a way to get some money coming in while she continues her job search, but she quickly finds the job to be a lot more enjoyable than she expected. And the eye-candy certainly doesn’t hurt. But she can’t imagine telling her parents that she broke their hearts by not wanting to work in their cafe only to move to Melbourne and work in a cafe there. So she continues the job search.
Noah was… I liked Noah. I got a picture in my head really early on and I liked what I saw. I just felt like there was a little less to him. He’s the perpetual single guy, no commitment for him, thank you very much. He hasn’t seen commitment work out for very many people in his life, and he’s decided not to bother going after it himself. He likes women, he likes sex, he’s just not trying to keep either of them around for very long.
But he was clearly a good guy, book title notwithstanding. He still has a great relationship with two of his foster sisters, and an rocky relationship with the third. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to run the bar in Des’s absence, but he stepped up to do it so his friend go on a babymoon with his wife, and he was really good at it. He was great with Paige, when he was with Paige. When they weren’t actually together, he had a tendency to let his inner demons get the better of him and he did and said some really dumb, hurtful things. Which he would always own up to, I’ll say that for him, too. So I did like him, I just felt like he was a little less of a known quantity than Paige. There was just a little less there there.
This was a perfect wrap-up for this series. Everyone from the previous two books was here, they’re all well on their ways to their own happily-ever-afters, and the bar is even going to open a second location. I was happy to hang out at First for the brief amount of time we spent here, and as usual, I’m excited to see what Stefanie London will do next.