Series: Real Love #2
Published by Loveswept on September 5th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Barnes & Noble
Last call! At the end of the night, a clean-cut hunk and a rebellious bartender act on their unlikely chemistry in this frisky standalone novel from the author of Eye Candy.
I’ve had my eye on Grace Buchanan for a while now. Unlike the bubbly blondes I usually date, the feisty, flame-haired bartender both intrigues and bewilders me. Something about Grace—the tattoos? the nose ring?—makes every part of me sit up and beg. There’s only one problem: She hates me. Trading insults and one-liners has become our M.O. But when Grace bets me that I can’t get a date with a non-blonde if my life depends on it, I’m determined to prove her wrong by landing the ultimate non-blonde: her.
I’m used to regulars hitting on me, and I’ve turned them all down, except for one: Davis Price. I like giving him a hard time, and he’s kind of cute in his suit and tie—if you’re into that kind of thing. Anyway, I don’t care how many blondes he takes home . . . until one of them sidles up to him in my bar. Nuh-uh. But after my little bet with Davis backfires, our first date lands us in the sack. So does the second. And the third. Neither of us wants more than the best sex of our lives. The trouble is, it’s not a question of what I want. It’s what I need. And what I need is Davis.
Guys. I loved this. I really liked the first one in the series, Eye Candy, and I liked this one just as much. To be fair, there isn’t much Jessica Lemmon could do that I wouldn’t like, and this series is JL at her finest. (We’ve met at a few conventions and follow each other on Twitter, so we’re totally on an initials/BFF status)
I knew immediately that I needed Davis’ story when we met him in Eye Candy. He’ll only date non-readheads, specifically blondes for the most part, but we didn’t really get into the why in the first book. In order to emphasize that he’s a short-term prospect only, he’s developed a few different “event packages” for his dates to pick from, based on whether they’d prefer one date, two, or three. They can be separate dates, or two or three times in one night, but that’s the most he’s willing to offer anyone. (Grace goes for the platinum package, skipping straight over the more popular deluxe). Davis is into Grace, and has been for a long time, but he doesn’t want to admit it, because she’s everything on his “do not want” list, and he’s not willing to stray from that. Until he just can’t keep ignoring what’s between the two of them any more.
I love Grace. She wanted Davis, and when it got to the point where she could no longer avoid it, she bet him that he wouldn’t ask out the next non-blonde he saw. Which, of course, was Grace herself. She managed to give in gracefully, and their great date ended with them spending an amazing night together, which means that there’s no way either of them is giving up on what they’ve started, even though it came with a built-in expiration date.
I liked this package concept. Grace says “Not knowing when we expire is throwing me off”, and boy do I get that. There’s definitely something to be said for going into a situation with everyone on the same page, with defined expectations and no second-guessing. It’s not everything, and there should be some surprises in life, but in the beginning of a new relationship, it’s hard to beat clarity. Davis’ package concept took care of that. He’s never felt the need to re-negotiate terms once a package has expired, but with Grace, even the platinum package isn’t enough and he’s already trying to figure out how to move past three dates.
Grace has had a lot of shit to deal with from her parents, too, and as a result, she struggles to be ok with herself and the choices she’s made in her life. She loves her job, but her mother constantly makes her feel like being a bartender isn’t good enough, and it doesn’t matter that Grace enjoys what she does. Her father went through one hell of a mid-life crisis, completely re-defined his entire life and left his family, only showing up sporadically after that, and Grace has never really dealt with any of it. She has a degree in communications collecting dust in the back of her closet, which is the source of her mother’s confusion and the main tool she uses in her make-Grace-feel-like-shit arsenal.
Davis’ issues were more internal than Grace’s. His romantic past has some bumps and he just hasn’t figured out how to move on. Well, he’s sort of moved on, hopping from blonde to blonde, usually without even bothering to learn their names, but emotionally he shut down years ago. I was so happy that Jessica Lemmon decided to give us the dual perspective on this. Only having one or the other would have been a huge missed opportunity. There wasn’t a lot of drama, just two people trying to defeat their own demons and be their best for each other and it was important to get both sides of this story.
As usual, Jessica Lemmon has delivered a charming story, driven by amazing characters, and a fun setting. I liked getting to spend as much time with Vince and Jackie from Eye Candy as we did, and I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy when it comes out in January.