Author: Sophie Jordan

Beautiful Sinner by Sophie Jordan

Beautiful Sinner by Sophie JordanBeautiful Sinner by Sophie Jordan
Series: Devil's Rock #5
Published by Avon on 30th October 2018
Pages: 368
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Locked in with the town bad boy . . .

Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.

If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.

Sophie Jordan’s ‘Devil’s Rock’ series is not an easy one to pin down. I’ve been mixed on these books, but keep on going back because I like the premise of how her protagonists pick themselves up again after life kicks them down. And what best demonstrates this spiral than time in prison, where things can only go up from then onwards?

‘Beautiful Sinner’ is just that: a wrongly-accused man who’s free but who can’t escape his past, paired with a woman who happens to want him…and something from him. There’s little else, apart from a huge preoccupation with the heroine’s body issues, and pages and pages trying to ramp up sexual tension before Cruz and Gabriella fall into bed which then later turns supposedly into love, so much so that the story could have been cut in half and still been told satisfactorily.

There’s also an intensely N/A feel to it, if that’s your thing: the flashbacks, the innumerable self-image issues that Gabriella faced, the inability to get past those teenage years with peripheral characters behaving like stereotypical mean-girls, the journey of self-discovery along the way…all of which had me turning the pages wondering if I’d fallen into high school or college drama without meaning to.

The baffling bit is a small bit of history over a decade ago that Cruz apparently can’t forget—a make-out session with a mystery girl who did a Cinderalla-move on him where she pretended to be someone else, before disappearing for a long time. Yet what tossed my suspension of disbelief out of the window however, was the painfully ridiculous notion that Cruz, at that time (even as a manwhore), couldn’t tell the difference between girls in total darkness (they’re not the same size!) as they made out. That this particular night was given so much weighty significance 12 years later left me incredulous (most people barely remember such things), because well, I’d thought that life experience and a myriad of memories in the intervening years would have long overshadowed that night that both apparently could never forget.

It’s also hard to deal with a heroine so insecure about her own body and so downtrodden in so many ways, seeking validation in every small compliment she can get. Even harder yet to deal with is the way Gabriella had made Cruz out to be the one and only man who could persuade her with sex so different and so out-of-the-world from her other boyfriends. (It certainly helps that Cruz only wants her type of body) Body-image issues are hard to deal with—this much I acknowledge. But to read how it becomes all-consuming where a heroine can’t believe anyone would want her, let alone a man with a smoking hot body pushes it too far even for me.

I think I was looking for more to this story but never quite got it, until way past the halfway mark when the conflict finally kicked in. It was only then when things got more interesting, though by which time, I was a little too ready to throw in the towel.


Beautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan

Beautiful Lawman by Sophie JordanBeautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan
Series: Devil's Rock #4
Published by Avon on December 26th 2017
Pages: 368
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From the wrong side of the tracks and with most of her family in jail or dead, Piper Walsh is used to everyone in town thinking the worst about her. It doesn’t seem to matter that she’s worked hard to build a good life for herself. So she isn’t surprised that when she comes into contact with Sweet Hill’s wildly irresistible, arrogant sheriff, Hale Walters, they’re instant adversaries. Piper has nothing in common with the town golden-boy-turned-lawman—and she refuses to be a notch on his bedpost.

Despite rumors, Hale avoids fooling around with the women of Sweet Hill, many of whom are hoping to get him to the altar. But staying out of Piper’s path is proving near impossible. The infuriating troublemaker clearly has no respect for his badge. As she continues to push his buttons, it becomes clear to Hale that he must either arrest Piper—or claim her as his own.

Whatever it is—jobs or money or security—that most people take for granted, Piper Walsh hasn’t had an easy time of it.

It isn’t often that I feel a huge affinity for a protagonist, but Piper certainly made my chest ache big time. There was so much I loved about her: her work ethic, her willingness to sacrifice so much for her family, as she silently took the barbs in about being the town’s loser family (with the often run-in with law enforcement and several family members in jail) that can do nothing right. But that desperation hasn’t eliminated her pride and her thick-skinned, desperate search for a way out in a town dripping with nothing but disdain for her was just so admirable.

In steps Sheriff Hale Walters at the strip club where she works and that very thing changes the course of small town history so to speak, because he’s absolutely the worst person—considering the Walshes’ history with the police and the town—that Piper can ever get into bed with. The cop and the perceived delinquent…it’s a toxic mix, at least on paper.

This antagonistic sniping doesn’t last long though, and the shift to full-blown desire and fumbling still caught me by surprise because I didn’t quite feel that they’d gone past their dislike of each other to give lust its full reign, just as I was more convinced that their relationship at the end still had more to do with lust than love. I was definitely sold by their sexual compatibility but not by their falling for each other, because there just didn’t seem to be enough persuasive scenes of Hale or Piper reaffirming each other’s qualities beyond how explosive they were physically together—the criterion of not being able to imagine being with another person in bed seemed to be a good enough argument why they should stay together, in fact.

Overall, ‘Beautiful Lawman’ became more of Piper’s story for me than Hale/Piper together, despite the pairing being the primary part of the romance bit of the book. Sophie Jordan’s ‘Devil Rock’ series has been a standout for its unusual premise to begin with and even though it sounds like I’m nitpicking in this review, it’s a series that I do like and want more of.


Fury on Fire by Sophie Jordan

Fury on Fire by Sophie JordanFury on Fire by Sophie Jordan
Series: Devil's Rock #3
Published by Avon on January 31st 2017
Pages: 368
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When you live next door to the big bad wolf . . .
After years in prison, North Callaghan is finally free. But the demons haunting him still make him feel like a caged beast. He loses himself in work and hard living, coming up for air only to bed any willing woman to cross his path. So when his new neighbor snares his interest, he decides to add another notch to his bedpost. The only problem? Faith Walters is a white picket fence kind of girl.
Prepare to be devoured.
Faith’s new neighbor is the rudest man alive. He’d rather grunt at her than speak and he takes her “welcome-to-the-neighborhood” scones without a thank you. She knows she should run for the hills from the ex-con. If only he weren’t so smoldering sexy…if only the sounds of him with other women didn’t drift through their shared wall and fill her with longing…and if only he didn’t look at her like they were a collision waiting to happen.

Crass, crude and an absolute bastard of a neighbour to have, North Callaghan is tortured by his own demons, slaying them with getting in his one-night stands and in turn, torturing his new neighbour with his shenanigans. Faith Walters will not take it lying down—not literally at first—and her efforts to get him to behave are infuriatingly futile at best.

Like Knox or Reid in Sophie Jordan’s previous books, North strictly belongs in the category of the mighty having fallen a distance—a distance that he never really closes by the end of the book, except to realise that he wants what Faith can offer him: some kind of redemption perhaps and a true shot at love. Yet in ‘Fury on Fire’, we aren’t really given the depth of North’s transformation from happy prince to angry arse, only that the four years he’d had to survive without his brother had been difficult. Throughout, there’s only this constant reminder that he isn’t good for anything except for the peace he craves and the women he uses to silence the pain and noise inside. As a result, I was left wondering about the demons he professed to have but don’t really see manifested – except for his abominable actions towards Faith that made him look like a self-absorbed and self-indulgent character.

That said, I do like Jordan’s very edgy take on ex-felons who so badly need their second chances. They aren’t quite heroes in any overt way; instead, they’re broken, hardened and so difficult to get through and perhaps, the ultimate bad boys who have honed their bodies and skills in one of the harshest battlefields of all as they did their time. But none have hit me that hard as much as Knox’s book, which I find the best of the lot with its brutal, claustrophobic prison scenes and the wire-tight tension between him and Briar.

‘Fury on Fire’ didn’t quite scale those same heights or plumbs those same depths, but there are parts I liked about it: the injection of humour and Faith’s snappy, no-nonsense attitude with North, her hard stance with North’s unforgivable behaviour only to have them backfire on her, North’s efforts to sabotage her date, his grovelling efforts for instance. Faith herself, is easy to like, in contrast to North, whom I felt hardly deserved her because of his own cowardly ways. Yet while there are moments between them, there didn’t seem to be anything that meaningful in their meetings. Most of their initial interactions are tangential almost, revolving around the women he brought over and what she heard of their bedtime activities; these later evolved a little to flirting and banter but nothing quite much deeper, so when a moment of passion led to an admission of love which jumped abruptly to an epilogue, my scepticism remained.

I’m still glad I accidentally stumbled across this series nonetheless. The impression that ‘All Chained Up’ made on me was huge and even if Jordan’s last 2 books didn’t have an impact on me as much as the first did, Devil’s Rock will remain a prominent memory among the sea of forgettable series I’ve come across.


Hell Breaks Loose by Sophie Jordan

Hell Breaks Loose by Sophie JordanHell Breaks Loose by Sophie Jordan
Series: Devil's Rock, #2
Published by Avon on July 26th 2016
Pages: 368
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Hell hath no hunger like a man let out of a cage . . .
Shy and awkward, First Daughter Grace Reeves has always done what she’s told. Tired of taking orders, she escapes her security detail for a rare moment of peace. Except her worst nightmare comes to life when a ruthless gang of criminals abducts her. Her only choice is to place her trust in Reid Allister, an escaped convict whose piercing gaze awakens something deep inside her. Reid is nothing like her other captors.
He’s tougher, smarter…and one blistering look from him makes her hotter than any man ever has.
Reid spent years plotting escape and revenge . . .years without a woman in his bed. For this hardened felon, Grace Reeves isn’t just out of his league—she’s from another planet, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Escaping Devil’s Rock was tough, but resisting this woman could be the end of him. For a man with nothing to lose, protecting her . . . claiming her as his own, becomes more necessary than his next breath.

A series of coincidences bring Reid and Grace together – and these are events where the stakes are too high for either side to lose. The setup for Reid and Grace’s story in the first book was compelling enough for me to dive straight into the second book, but this story falls prey to what I’ve come to call the hype not living up to the reality syndrome (this is happening way too often!).

A kidnapping, a calculated riot and a cunning escape…one might expect these three very exciting elements to come together in a way that would be a perfect marriage of suspense and romance. I for one, was eager to see how Sophie Jordan how resolved the two opposing sides Reid and Grace found themselves on. One one hand, Jordan doesn’t make light of the fact that her heroes are meant to be dubious, suspicious characters – they really aren’t princes in disguise – who waver and struggle to do what they deem honourable…by their own (questionable) standards. It’s this particular honesty and how they deny themselves in ways most romantic heroes don’t dream of that somehow drew me first to Knox and now Reid.

But the pairing and the circumstances in which Reid and Grace came together felt forced, with Stockholm Syndrome hard at work while they went on the run. If the former tried hard to do the honourable thing, the latter was too sheltered and too full of naïveté to the point where the gulf between them seemed insurmountable. Could I buy into their relationship – and all the political manoeuvrings – at the end of it? Not really, but I was still glad that Reid got his HEA.


All Chained Up by Sophie Jordan

All Chained Up by Sophie JordanAll Chained Up by Sophie Jordan
Series: Devil's Rock #1
Published by Avon on March 29th 2016
Pages: 384
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There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil’s Rock . . .
Some men come with a built-in warning label. Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through to Briar Davis’s most secret fantasies. But there’s one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Knox is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.
Knox feels it too—a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar’s. Paroled at last, he tries to resist her. She’s too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Knox is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss—and a taste . . . until the only crime is denying what feels so right . . .

I never expected to be flailing for this book, but I did. Neither did I think I would come to like it so much, but I did. Or that ex-con, anti-hero types like Knox Callaghan would actually do it for me, or that I’d be so invested in his quest to start over that I felt all of the guilt, the wild, pinging emotions and the instability he felt as he found his feet again in a world that has mostly turned against him.

And that made my weekend a little brighter and well, hotter by several degrees.

Everything, from the tension-filled start to the building heat, resonated with me in a way I didn’t think it would, as Knox’s and Briar’s odd, unspoken connection grew from within the walls of the penitentiary to the point where it all broke – and palpably exploded. There wasn’t a point when I found myself entirely surprised by the turn of events, yet I loved every moment of their interaction and the (very exciting) turning point where Knox and Briar could finally work towards a normal life, though not without recriminating self-doubt, anger and general angst-ridden bouts that take them 2 steps back when it almost looked as though a great leap forward was going to happen.

In all, a very solid start to the series and despite the awkward insertion of a secondary character’s POV as a lead-in to the next installment, Sophie Jordan’s got me good with this one. And it’s straight on to the next book for me.