Author: Lexi Blake

Revenge by Lexi Blake

Revenge by Lexi BlakeRevenge by Lexi Blake
Series: Lawless #3
Published by Berkley Books on June 20th 2017
Pages: 352
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three-stars

When Drew Lawless discovers a fatal flaw in his plan to avenge his parents' deaths, he turns to the one woman he promised he wouldn't touch. He offers her a deal, one that will bring her into his investigation, his life, and his bed. Investigative reporter Shelby Gates never dreamed how twisted the case would become--or how fascinated she would be with Drew. Every day they spend together binds them. And every night brings her closer to realizing he might be the man for her. As Drew's feelings for Shelby grow, so does the danger. From the streets of Dallas to Austin's high-tech business world, Drew and Shelby play a game begun twenty years before--a game they will win, or die trying.

‘Revenge’ isn’t meant to be a standalone—that much becomes evident after the first few paragraphs into chapter 1. Too much has happened to the Lawless siblings and the murder mystery surrounding their parents and while Drew’s plot for revenge is detailed in the beginning, it involves manipulation and a rehash of so many details that a reader who hasn’t yet gone through the rest of the previous books would have difficulty assimilating all of them. But it’s also a setup of Drew/Shelby’s story, starting with his trying to convince her of taking up a contract and a non-disclosure agreement to work with him with several dangling carrots for her at the end of it all, only to take it all away.

I liked Shelby at first; she seemed sharp and capable as a reporter, lured as she is by Drew’s false promise that she would get a story of a lifetime while helping the family find justice. It was also difficult not to feel sorry for her, knowing she was also just a pawn to be moved about if Drew really had his way. Yet there’s a core of softness and naïveté that seemed out of place for an investigative reporter that had her being taken advantage of too easily. Drew, on the other hand, is as large a bundle of contradictions as Shelby: cold, manipulative, yet childlike in his need for touch and comfort. There are however, discrete parts of Drew and Shelby’s personalities that don’t fit and perhaps that’s what really threw me off, as did the idea that a family could be so rotten to the core—affairs all around, with psychopathic tendencies thrown in—where money and ambition instead of love fuel every action.

But the plot wasn’t quite what I expected as it took some strange turns along the way that made the storyline a little odd with characters turning on each other and muddying up the black and white lines drawn within the Lawless family. It’s also dialogue-heavy and much like a chess-game, with many threads that you can be expected to untangle right up until the climax of the story where a psychopathic mother finally faces off her own children.

‘Revenge’ straddles the line between intrigue, mystery and romantic suspense, and while actual action is lacking, the corporate espionage and the many bedroom games can keep you entertained…if this is the sort of thing that thrills you.

three-stars

Satisfaction by Lexi Blake

Satisfaction by Lexi BlakeSatisfaction by Lexi Blake
Series: Lawless #2
Published by Berkley Books on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 384
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two-stars

Brandon Lawless is a man on a mission: obtain the information that will clear his father s name. He s willing to do whatever it takes even seduce his enemy's personal assistant, the beautiful and innocent Carly Hendricks. But with her beguiling smile and captivating intelligence, Brandon soon realizes he doesn't want to deceive Carly, he wants to win her over both in the boardroom and the bedroom. Then a twisted crime leaves Carly vulnerable and Brandon finds himself reeling. The stakes of his mission are now life or death Carly s life. And Brandon realizes he's lost his heart to an amazing woman and his plan must succeed, because the stakes are no longer just revenge, but a once in a lifetime love.

And…the revenge plot rolls on, in ‘Satisfaction’, as each of the Lawless siblings find their happy-ever-after while getting payback for their parents’ deaths. What struck me immediately was how unusual this series is—a suspense plot that does not involve secret agents or high-octane chases but rather one of corporate espionage and layered discoveries where the build-up spans what I’m suspecting would be an entire story arc that will only end in the last book.

I did find the characters hard to get into though, even if the sex is undoubtedly hot. Bran/Carly seemed somewhat mismatched as their relationship seemed based mostly on needs fulfilment and Brandon’s superficial desire to ‘help’ all the women he sleeps with. Carly pings this radar because she fits his type to a ’T’ as the damsel in distress who badly needs rescuing, her passive and near-virginal ways (in comparison) a foil to this unstable character so full of rage and simmering violence that love really can’t conquer all.

In many ways, I found it hard to see Bran as a grown man in control of all his faculties but more alarmingly, I thought of him more and more as a man-whore-child who couldn’t shake his family’s shackles off him simply because he hadn’t proven himself capable. But it’s precisely the volatile, passive-aggressive behaviour of Bran’s that I found truly distasteful, as he slides constantly into the mantra that he isn’t good for anyone, then turns around shouldering a messiah complex tinged with a black-edged cruelty when he taunts the sexually inexperienced Carly with the sheer number of hookers/strippers/women he’s gone through in a bid to let her see the ‘real him’. That Carly mothers him thereafter, deciding he needs ‘domesticity’ instead convinced me that it wasn’t quite a pairing I could get behind at all, when she merely chose to see the tragic side of him.

That said, the tortured-leading man who needs a gentle woman to reform him is probably a trope that others would appreciate, even if it doesn’t appeal to me personally.

However, I do find myself intrigued with the setup for Drew Lawless and Shelby Gates, who start at opposite ends of the scale and go eye to eye as he tries to hinder her investigation into their family. And unless there’re some hard limits that are going to be crossed, I’m cautiously waiting out to see how the whole story goes down.

two-stars

Ruthless by Lexi Blake

Ruthless by Lexi BlakeRuthless by Lexi Blake
Series: Lawless #1
Published by Berkley on August 9th 2016
Pages: 352
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two-stars

The Lawless siblings are bound by vengeance. Riley, Drew, Brandon, and Mia believe the CEO of StratCast orchestrated their parents’ murder twenty years ago to steal their father’s software program. And there’s only one way Riley can find some solid evidence...   Heir to the StratCast legacy, Ellie Stratton hires a new attorney to handle a delicate business matter—and she’s shocked by her attraction to him. Over the course of a few weeks, Riley becomes her lover, her friend, her everything. But when her life is threatened, Ellie discovers that Riley is more obsessed with settling an old score than in the love she thought they were building. And Riley must choose between a revenge he’s prepared for all his life and the woman he’s sure he can’t live without...

‘Ruthless’s’ summary was a delicious draw for me and I jumped in, itching for a good revenge plot that should at some point in time, turn sour. The set-up was perfect in the prologue – the Lawless siblings, whose namesake seemed fitting for the plot – but I found myself getting more and more confused (and incredulous) as time wore on. The story begins in the midst of a corporate buyout and a legal battle; it soon becomes apparent however, that there are several wars to be won, even when there are people you think are on your side.

I think the biggest problem I had was with the very uneven writing, or rather, the lack of finesse in the execution of the plot: dialogues seemed off (business meetings just didn’t have the appropriate voice and tone – who really mentions breasts and sex in the first so-called professional meet?!), characterisations were wobbly at best and at times one-dimensional, motivations were insufficiently explained and the plot of vengeance and the backstory needed to be a lot tighter. There were some parts where I felt Riley and Ellie behaved more like juveniles than adults. The former prevaricated too much and the latter simply seemed too naive and a pushover where it should really matter, but apparently lust and attraction are enough to change agendas because instant love comes well (there’re pages after all, dedicated to sex here), instantly after someone has an earth-shattering orgasm.

I think this inability to suspend my disbelief here played a huge, huge part in my subsequent ability to go on without questioning everything I read and without my scoffing terribly at some dialogue or scene. In the end, I skimmed lots, only wanting the bits where the deception unravelled and when it all went to pot. If I started out excited about the overarching narrative, this book is making me think again. Yes, there’s the mystery that’s yet unsolved and intriguing leads like Drew and Bran who have yet to fall to their knees in supplication to their women, but well, it’s going to take something special to get my doubts out of the way.

two-stars