Series: Saints of Denver #2
Published by William Morrow on 5/24/16
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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation...or her ruin.
Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.
When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.
Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.
As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.
Yes! I loved this one much more than the first. If you read my review of Built, then you’ll know that I had a tough time connecting with the characters, and didn’t feel their chemistry strongly, nor did I particularly love the prose. However, I loved the message and was very intrigued by the minor characters, so I was genuinely excited to receive an early copy of Charged. I love an opposites-attract trope, particularly when it involves a wild and flawed heroine.
Charged has the characteristics of a Jay Crownover novel that I fell in love with when I read the early novels in the Marked Men series: the dynamic and real characters that I could chat with in real life, no problem; the smoking sexual chemistry — this one taking a bit of time to build before things combusted; and the interesting storyline, if a bit cliché at times.
Charged opens up with a banger of a first scene. At least it was a banger of a scene to me. Avett and Quaid are sitting at a table across from each other, she’s raw and disheveled in her criminal orange and he’s slick and seemingly unattainable in his designer suit. Avett is at a crossroads, in a position she put herself in, a position that could irrevocably change her life. Quaid is Avett’s salvation. See, she’s a damsel. Sort of. From the opening scene it’s made clear that Avett has a lot to atone for and Quaid is inexplicably drawn to her. He sees something in her that calls out to a part of him that he’s kept hidden so that he could built the life for himself he always wanted. In that scene I felt their connection right away, so I kept reading.
Quaid’s backstory is my favorite part of Charged. I didn’t expect it and I loved him even more because of it — he’s such a dichotomy. I could’ve read the book from his perspective alone and been satisfied. But, I also loved Avett and her growth — she’s such a different character than I expected. She’s softer than I expected. As mentioned, she is a bit of a damsel. Her story isn’t very original since she has a wild past, filled with personal demons and sins she feels she needs to atone for. She’s a bit of a martyr and the angst was a tad repetitive and eye-roll inducing (though not nearly as bad as with Sayer). However, I did connect with Avett and she came into her own in the end.
The characters are the strongest aspect of this novel, which is why I’ll recommend it to friends. (Avett’s parents need a novella!) Unfortunately, I still had some issues with the writing style. It was repetitive. I don’t think it was as repetitive as I thought with Built (see what I did there?), but the narration was still too much tell and not enough show. There were times I exclaimed, “I get it, I get it.” I just think it would’ve been better if we’d gotten some of Avett’s perspective before she got herself into her mess. But, I don’t want to harp on that too much because I did enjoy experiencing this book.
Avett and Quaid are fire together, and if you like a couple that evolves together as they evolve individually, then you’ll like… #Quaivett? Nah, that’s a lame ship name. I’ll think of another one later.
P.S. A character is introduced in Charged, a certain hot and sweet neighbor, yeah… I am going to be all over him if he gets a book.
As it seems to be with Jay’s novels as of late, my reaction to Charged is a mixed bag. Some parts I loved and others I just can’t muster any excitement for. But, I think it is worth noting that the things I do love are what keep me coming back for more of her stories.
I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, and it is clear as crystal with Charged – this is a Jay Crownover novel. Her writing style and approach to romance is so uniquely hers that I could pick out her work in a romance excerpt line up. It’s confident and measured despite the high frequency of releases in the past three years (13 if you’re counting). Her stories have depth and are abundant with relatable themes and Charged has it in spades. Jay approached the clichéd opposites attract theme with contrary and colorful characters resulting in a sharp story despite the trope’s overuse in the genre. Like Cristal, the opposites attract trope is one of my favorites and I thought Jay worked it brilliantly.
If you’re familiar with the Marked Men series, you know what a hot mess Avett is. She is irresponsible and careless, always beating down the outreach of love and support shown by her father and his tight knit group of men. As she has resurfaced time and again, I never felt betrayed by her despite her foolishness, figuring she was just young and immature. In Charged as my true understanding of her behavior was formed I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards her. Thankfully as her story unfolded, she grew from self-inflicting, petulant brat to someone who is making a positive way forward. I really enjoyed the familial undertones of her story, as she rebuilt her relationship with her parents, and loved getting to know Brite and Darcy a little more.
Sorry Cristal, but Quaid was a little harder for me to get to know and love, but eventually I came around. Jay carefully interspersed his story parallel to the love story between he and Avett which heightened my curiosity for him and motivated me to finish the novel. I liked that regardless of his past and his materialistic camouflage he seemed to be very forthright, unwavering and affectionate. He didn’t close himself off or beat himself up and seemed to be eager to share himself with Avett.
Despite my enjoyment of both Avett and Quaid unaccompanied, I didn’t feel that their connection was all that overwhelming like Cristal did. Okay, yes, their intense sexual chemistry resulted in some of the hottest Jay Crownover steam scenes to date. But, as a couple, in a romantic relationship? It wasn’t as believable and I think that this is due in part of the delivery. Sure, the writing is solid and Jay’s talent shines but, there is a lot of inner monologue going on here, a lot, and I just didn’t like it. There is too much tell and not enough show and I can’t help but feel a little boo-hoo about it, because I think Quaid and Avett do complement each other, but the internal narration was excessive and tedious. Cristal and I have talked at length about this, and we just want them to do more and think less. Sigh.
Anyway, would I recommend this? Probably. I think romance readers who appreciate themes of family and redemption will really enjoy Avett and Quaid’s story. I’m looking forward to the next book and cannot wait to meet more of the men and women in the Saints of Denver series.
I blew out a breath and felt that bottom I had careened onto reach up to embrace me even tighter. “It is what it is. I’ve let both my folks down a lot over the last few years but getting caught up with a guy that would rob the bar, a guy who could threaten my dad’s people.” I shook my head. “I deserve to rot.”
I was being overly dramatic but that’s how I felt. I deserved to sit in jail and so much worse than that. Self-pity was good company down here at rock bottom and I wasn’t ready to let go of the warmth it provided just yet.
He gave me a look I couldn’t read and headed for the door. “I’ll call your parents for you and see if we can have something in place before tomorrow. Working on your case will be a lot easier for both of us if you aren’t incarcerated. Remember, you need to listen to me, Ms. Walker. That’s the first rule in all of this.”
Panic hit me like a truck. What if he called my dad and my dad told him he’d had enough of his problematic daughter and her endless nonsense? What if he couldn’t love me anymore? Jail I could survive; losing my father for good, well, it would be the end of me.
Without thinking I jumped to my feet, which had the chains on both my hands and my legs rattling loudly, and two uniformed officers hurried into the room. I was about to make maybe the worst decision to date but I couldn’t stop the words from sliding off my tongue.
“Don’t call my dad!” Recklessness, thy name was Avett Walker.
The attorney turned around and looked at me like I had grown a second head. He didn’t say anything as the officers moved to either side of me and told me to calm down.
“You can’t call my dad.” The words sounded as panicked and as desperate as I felt on the inside.
His broad shoulders lifted and fell in a shrug like he really couldn’t give a shit that he was about to ruin my life…which was saying a hell of a lot considering where I was.
“I have to.” He sounded bored and impatient with my outburst.
I narrowed my eyes at him, and that vortex of awful, which I always seemed to be smack dab in the center of, started to spin faster and faster around me.
“Then you’re fired.” I saw the cops exchange a look and my rushed words had the blond man turning fully back around to look at me. “I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.”
Finally, there was something other than indifference in his gaze. There was surprise, maybe a hint of admiration colliding with a huge splash of humor in the pale depths.
“Sorry, Ms. Walker, but you didn’t hire me, so that means you don’t get to fire me.” That grin of his, which should be registered as a deadly weapon, flashed across his face again as he watched me, and then he was gone.