ARC Review – Evidence of Desire by Lexi Blake

Posted January 8, 2019 by smutmatters in ARC, Contemporary, Reviews, Suspense / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Berkley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review – Evidence of Desire by Lexi BlakeEvidence of Desire by Lexi Blake
Series: Courting Justice #2
Series Rating: four-stars
Published by Berkley Books on January 8, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Berkley
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

A fast-paced contemporary romance that sizzles from the New York Times bestselling author of Order of Protection where passion for the law isn't the only thing heating up the courtroom.

Isla Shayne knows she's in over her head. As former all-star linebacker Trey Adams's personal lawyer, she's used to handling his business dealings and private financial matters, not murder charges. She needs to find an experienced criminal attorney who speaks her client's language. David Cormack of Garrison, Cormack and Lawless is exactly what she needs in the courtroom--and the only man she wants in the bedroom.

For David, taking on the Adams case means diving back into a world he thought he'd left behind and colliding head on with tragic possibilities he's in no mood to face. There's a reason professional football is in his past and no matter how close Isla gets to the truth he intends to leave it there.

But long days working on the case together lead to hot nights in each other's arms. As their feelings grow, the case takes a deadly twist that could change the game between the two lovers forever.

I was a little hesitant with this one. Romantic suspense isn’t usually my thing, but the premise was intriguing, so I decided to go for it. And, overall I’m really glad that I did. This won’t be one of my favorites of the year, but it was clear that Lexi Blake did a lot of research regarding CTE and used it to great effect.

I have a lot of issues with the NFL. Like, a lot. We have season tickets to our local team, but I rarely go to the games. I can’t bring myself to support an organization that hates me and doesn’t give a shit if I live or die, and one that simultaneously gives 0 fucks about the players, the very people who have built the organization and without whom the organization couldn’t exist. And CTE, and the organization’s absolute refusal to even acknowledge it are a big part of that second piece of my issues. So I was interested for an in-depth look at the disease and how it affects not only the players who clearly have it, but also those who just don’t know.

Lexi Blake handled this piece of the story well. I really liked David’s story. I liked how his uncertainty was portrayed. He knew that based on the number and frequency of the concussions he had during his time playing football at all levels, that there was an excellent chance he’d have CTE at some point in the future. So he made the decision to avoid any real relationships because he didn’t want to risk burdening someone else with his care and upkeep later.

And, look. I get it. Being a burden on someone else is really scary. But because it’s not my issue, I can also see the other side. Which is, yes, he might develop CTE, which would mean Isla would have to take care of him. And Isla might get hit by a bus and end up with physical or mental changes that he would have to deal with. Either of them could get cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease, or have a stroke, or any one of a million other health issues that strike people every single day and have to be dealt with. That’s part of being human and of having other people in our lives. If everyone with a genetic or circumstantial chance at getting a disease avoided relationships, the population would be shrinking at an even faster rate than it is. I just couldn’t get behind his desire to avoid Isla because of a thing that may or may not happen years in the future.

Ex-football player Trey Adams definitely had CTE. And when his wife, Portia, is murdered, and he appears to be the only other person in the house, it seems to be a cut-and-dried case, especially because Trey himself can’t remember what happened. In his lucid moments thinks it might be possible that he did kill Portia, and he isn’t capable at this time of defending himself against the accusations.

But Isla refuses to believe it. She’s known Trey and Portia for years, and she can’t believe there’s any way Trey would kill his wife. So this is where the book fell apart for me a bit – the actual mystery. The answer to who killed Portia was so clearly broadcast to me that I couldn’t believe no one else could figure it out. I had trouble believing that David, Isla, the Lawless security people, the cops, literally no one could see it.

The cop in charge was a man who dated Isla briefly a while back and who was such a one-note mustache-twirling caricature of a bad cop that I couldn’t take him seriously. There’s no way he could treat lawyers and potential witnesses the way he did and get away with it, especially because his literal only reply could have been “Slutty bitch won’t have sex with me.”

I liked that Isla knew her limitations – she’s a contracts lawyer, not a criminal defense attorney, and she didn’t try to pretend she could handle this case on her own. And she’s really, really good as a contracts lawyer, and she knew it. She had plenty of professional confidence, which is a trait I admire in anyone, women specifically. I liked her. She’s an optimist, and actively tried to see the good in people, but that didn’t make her a pushover or easily fooled.

David was a little more difficult for me to like. He was perfectly nice, but he let his fear of what might be completely take over his life and keep him from what was right in front of him. He saw Isla’s optimism and faith in people as a negative and held it against her. He threw it in her face and told her that her optimism meant he couldn’t trust her to do what he needed her to do. Honestly, he kind of lost me here. I’ve read a lot of these romance novels and “you’re too nice” isn’t really much of a reason to break up with someone. He was definitely reaching here, trying too hard to find a reason to make her leave him. He wanted her, but he didn’t want to want her, and he didn’t want to leave her, so he made up some bullshit excuse to try and make her leave him. It’s not my favorite look for a hero, trying to make someone else do his dirty work for him.

But it doesn’t matter if I didn’t love David, it mattered that Isla did, and she certainly did. It took a little help from outside forces for him to come to grips with what he needed to do in order to allow himself to be happy, and I thought he actually came to that realization rather quickly, considering how resistant he’d been to those exact arguments from everyone else around him, but again, I let it go. Sometimes it goes that way.

The relationship between Isla and David developed pretty quickly, but I got the impression they met in the first book in the series, so I just went with it. This book stood on its own well enough to read as a standalone. Overall, this reminded me why I like Lexi Blake books and read them occasionally, but I don’t love them. She’s great a writing sex scenes, they’re generally pretty hot, but the story and the relationship usually fall a little flat.