To the Studs by Roxanne Smith Release Date: February 21, 2017 Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc. Book #1 in Bound by Design series Number of pages: 202 Kindle Edition Source: ARC from Net Galley Contemporary Romance M/F Rating: PG Read 2/13/17 to 2/17/17
I’m going to ease my way into this one by starting with the cover. I have issue with a cover that looks NOTHING like the characters are described. Where is the long flowing hair and braided beard on Duke? This is not the case of the reader’s vision being different from the authors. Duke’s hair and beard are mentioned often throughout the book. Or course, this is most likely a publisher issue and not the author’s fault.
In the blurb about this book, the heroine Neve is described as fiery and hot-tempered. I guess it could be said she’s hot-tempered, but not fiery. She’s just a bitch, plain and simple. Neve constantly tells herself and others that she is just truthful and tells it like it is, yet she mocks people and enjoys the reactions she gets when they take offense. It’s very briefly mentioned that she had to fight tooth and nail to overcome the misogyny and stereotyping she ran into as she worked her way up in her profession. Not enough information was given to warrant the way she treated people. Instead of tearing into her assistant, she could have mentored her to help her achieve that boldness she claimed she would admire. I waited and waited for the author to give Neve some trait that would endear her to me, but it never happened. I’m all for a strong female lead. To me strong does not equal mean.
Duke is a likable hero in many ways, but the fact that he told Neve he was gay in order to keep some sort of distance between them struck me as icky. It really didn’t make a lot of sense to me in this day and age. The blurb describes Duke as headstrong. Again, I have to disagree with that description. Although he stood up to Neve more than most people, he still let her walk all over him and talk over him so he couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Plus, at the beginning when they’re still home he thinks about how easily he’d give into Neve if she came onto him. All of the sudden, once they’re in the Ozarks, he’s thinking about how she’s not even attractive and her “little boobs” are referenced a LOT. I don’t feel he was really a well fleshed out character.
I was more than halfway through the story before Neve was no longer hated by me. I didn’t necessarily like her, but I no longer despised her. I honestly can’t say if that was because I got used to her being so mean or if she had calmed down a bit. Because of my feelings about Neve, it was hard for this story to hold my interest. Once I got to this point where I no longer hated her I was able to get into the story a bit more.
There is a bit of a mystery story within this story. A strange box found on the work site, somewhat creepy neighbors, no cell phone reception, woods. Honestly, that held my interest more than anything else.
I’m not sure if I’ll read any more of this author’s work. If this had been her first book I would have chalked it up to her getting her feet wet. Maybe that’s still what it is since she doesn’t have but a handful of books published. I love a faux romance story so her book Men Like This sounds interesting so I may give her another try.
**I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review**