Series: Bad Bachelors #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
He's the bad bachelor who inspired it all... Annie Maxwell had her whole life figured out...until her fianc� left her when his career took off. If that wasn't bad enough, every society blog posted pictures of him escorting a woman wearing her engagement ring. To help the women of New York avoid guys like her ex, Annie created the Bad Bachelors app. But try as she might, Annie just can't forget him...
For bank executive Joe Preston, his greatest mistake was leaving the love of his life when she needed him most. Now, all he wants is to make things right--and she won't have him. But when Annie's safety is threatened by a hacker determined to bring down her app, Joe is the only one she can turn to. He'll have to lay himself on the line to prove to Annie that he's a changed man. But will their hard-won bond survive the revelation that Annie is the one pulling the strings behind Bad Bachelors?
Bad Bachelors Series: Bad Bachelor (Book 1) Bad Reputation (Book 2)Bad Influence (Book 3)
Praise for Stefanie London's Bad Bachelors: "Sizzling, sexy and so much fun!"--SARAH MORGAN, USA Today bestselling author "Wonderfully witty and achingly romantic. An absolute must-read."--LAUREN LAYNE, New York Times bestselling author "Original, witty, and sexy. My #1 romance read of the year!"--JENNIFER BLACKWOOD, USA Today bestselling author "Elegant, descriptive and delectable."--RT Book Reviews, Top Pick, 4.5 Stars
In my reviews for the previous books in this series – Bad Bachelor and Bad Reputation, I made no secret of my dislike for Annie Maxwell. I understood her motivations for creating the Bad Bachelors app, but the fact that she could see the damage it was doing to real people, and still insist she was in the right to not only keep it going, but to continue to have it operate as an unmoderated, unregulated site was inexcusable. This wasn’t some theoretical harm being done to internet strangers. It was real people, flesh and blood humans, sitting in front of her, including her 2 best friends, detailing the damage that was being done to their lives, and she continued to sit on her high horse and insist she was in the right.
So I went into this one predisposed to dislike Annie. And I didn’t know if I would be able to come around on her. And for the most part, I was right. I never really did get to a point where I liked Annie. There were certain things about her that I appreciated, like the fact that she refused to be outwardly cowed by Joseph’s domineering, bullying father no matter how much she was shaking on the inside, but even those things were tinted by my opinion of Annie, and I wish they hadn’t been.
Having this look into her thought process, and seeing the internal struggle she went through helped. She was able to see both sides of the issues, and to be completely fair to her, she really did think she was doing the right thing. She never monetized the site, so she wasn’t getting anything out of it besides the feeling that she was genuinely helping women feel safer while navigating the dating world. But it was doing so much damage, and she continued to be able to talk herself into keeping the site up anyway. Over the course of her story, she became increasingly uneasy with the site and the damage it was doing, but it really never came to a head until she was the one who was in danger. That’s what it took for her to decide it was time to do something about the site.
Three years ago, Annie and Joseph Preston were in love and getting ready to move to Singapore. Literally getting ready to. Their bags and apartment were packed, and they were leaving in the morning, when Annie got a call that changed everything for her. She told Joseph that she couldn’t go to Singapore, and he… went without her. Joseph kind of lost me here. Annie’s reasons for deciding to stay in New York were valid. His initial reaction was understandable, but his refusal to come around and see it from her side was baffling. He wasn’t wrong that she should have talked to him about it before making this huge decision, but considering the news she’d just gotten, it was understandable that her mind was a little scrambled and that she knew what she had to do and was set on it. He and Annie had grown up together; he knew her family better than he knew his own. I couldn’t understand why in the world he was so insistent that she still go to Singapore with him. Yes, she should have discussed it with him. But after all the time they’d known each other, and after being a couple for 5 or 6 years, he couldn’t let her do what she needed to do here? It just wasn’t a situation that needed to lead to a breakup.
By the time he returns from Singapore, three years have passed, and Annie and Joseph are both very different people. They’re both still in love with each other, though Annie is less ready to accept that than he is. She’s still hurt and still bitter, even more so because she believes he moved on very quickly after their breakup. She doesn’t want anything to do with him, but he’s also the only person she knows who could help her when she’s physically threatened because of the Bad Bachelors app. They’re forced to spend a lot of time together in order for her to be safe, and forced proximity with a second chance romance might be my favorite combination of tropes. There’s so much history that has to be worked out, there’s so much water under the bridge they need to get through before they can be together again, and it’s always fascinating to watch.
Even though Joseph and Annie get their HEA, Stefanie London doesn’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Life rarely gets wrapped up in a neat little bow. There’s still a lot Joseph and Annie will have to deal with, and I do wish them all the luck. Annie isn’t a bad person. She made this thing that she really thought was going to help people, and it did, in a lot of cases. She didn’t anticipate the damage it would do, and that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It wasn’t those issues that made me feel so negatively toward her. It was her stubborn refusal to change anything, even in the face of evidence of the damage it was doing. Either way, whether you agree with all of Annie’s decisions or not, Stefanie London has done an amazing job of showing the different sides of a really complicated issue, and creating a discourse that we all need to have. Social media isn’t going away. Stefanie London didn’t invent the concept of an app to rate people, and it’s only a matter of time before one that’s as big as Bad Bachelors shows up and creates as much controversy as this one does. When that does happen, it will be interesting to see the conversation that happens.
And even though I had as many issues with Annie as I did, I still went with four stars because, as usual with a Stefanie London book, it’s beautifully written, and the characters are layered and complex. There are no easy answers here, and she doesn’t create a character who acts like there are. The mere fact that she could make me feel so strongly about one of her characters is one of the reason she’s an auto-buy author for me. Even when she’s writing a character I don’t understand or agree with, she’s able to make me feel like I know that woman, like I could run into her at my local coffee shop and have an interesting conversation with her. The story of this app and the lives it touched was fascinating, and I think it wrapped up as well as it could have for Annie and her friends. I can’t wait to see what Stefanie London comes up with next.