Series: Crossing the Line

Raw Redemption by Tessa Bailey

Raw Redemption by Tessa BaileyRaw Redemption by Tessa Bailey
Series: Crossing the Line #4
Published by Entangled: Select Suspense on June 13th 2016
Pages: 304
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Disgraced cop Henrik Vance is having a shit year. Banished to a derelict undercover squad, he’s been tasked with hunting down the daughter of Chicago’s most dangerous criminal. His obsession with saving the beautiful girl destroyed his career. And this time, it might cost his life.
Ailish O’Kelly doesn’t need a hero. She’ll save herself from her father’s violent criminal dynasty, thank you very much. Unfortunately, the sexy as sin cop who crashes her hideout isn’t hearing reason—especially not after the kiss that becomes much more.
His boss wants her as an informant. Ailish wants Henrik to keep whispering filthy things against her skin. But she knows too well the evil they’re up against, and when it comes down to protecting the man who owns her body and soul, she only has one choice...

I think I’ve only just been able to pin down what exactly bothers me about Tessa Bailey’s books of late that have rubbed me raw the wrong way: it is her penchant for over-exaggeration which is, oddly enough, in part due to her clever ability to write in a way that pushes the envelope straight out of the pocket. The case for instant lust and inexplicable actions done in the name of men thinking with their dicks, I think the dirty talk is starting to bore me as well simply because the sheer extravagance of language catapults every steamy sex scene into the realm of unbelievable rather than hot.

And yet, I go back for more each time, hoping for a plausible story that will rend my composure apart, bring out my deepest sympathies for the H/hr – because Bailey can do that if she wishes to – only to get disappointed every time.

That being said, Henrik and Ailish are still one of the ‘better’ characters in this series and that isn’t saying very much about the rest of those who have bypassed the grey areas and slipped into questionable ones here. Anti-heroes they may all be, but I’m yet to be convinced that they are even heroes in their own books.


Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey

Boiling Point by Tessa BaileyBoiling Point by Tessa Bailey
Series: Crossing the Line, #3
Published by Entangled: Select on January 26th 2016
Pages: 352
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Falling for a con man is the most dangerous game of all…
Con artist Austin Shaw’s been in disguise so long he’s not sure where his fake identities end and he begins. Now that he’s been strong-armed into working for a specialized undercover unit working with the Chicago police—criminals with unique “skills”—the last thing he needs is to risk his iron control. Especially when it comes to a certain stunningly sexy hacker who tempts him with every look of disdain.
Polly Banks will never, ever trust a con man. On the trail of a ruthless crook who destroyed the only family she’s ever known, Polly is unnerved by the shadow who follows her every move. The one who makes her pulse pound and breath short with lust. Austin. He’s infuriating, enigmatic, and pure sex appeal, and she’s determined to resist him.
But an untrustworthy man of disguise can become anyone he wants…including a man that Polly must trust if she’s to escape their dangerous game alive.

Austin Shaw’s number is up, and his allegiance to the undercover squad is only a thin veneer, as long as he gets what he wants: a glimpse of an illegitimate daughter of a woman he’d fleeced and slept with a few years back, his former partner…and more recently, Polly Banks, who has her own reasons for going after that same partner he used to have.

Frankly, this was tortuous to read and I’m excruciatingly aware that this is an opinion that clearly places me in the 0.0001% of the number of reviewers here. The lack of direction and shallow character depth are issues that I have with this story, but as with an increasing number of Tessa Bailey’s books, main characters tend to allow raging sexual need to overrule good sense. Consequently, the sheer number of explicit sex scenes detracts from – and diminishes – the entire story and its characters.

But mostly it’s the anti-hero himself who has tanked this story for me. I hadn’t warmed up to Austin (of whom I couldn’t get a mental grasp) and even if Ms. Bailey has done a credible job of making his slippery personality so ingrained that all he can do is move and talk within nebulous shades of grey, his insistence on living half-truths irked me when all it did was obscure a depth of character we could have plumbed. Even for an anti-hero, he was difficult to get behind when all I felt was revulsion for his con-man deeds, his bizarre stalkerish behaviour, leaving only a nagging feeling that he couldn’t quite earn his redemption in this tale that straddles the lines of morality.


Risking it All by Tessa Bailey

Risking it All by Tessa BaileyRisking it All by Tessa Bailey
Series: Crossing the Line, #1
Published by Entangled: Select on January 27th 2015
Pages: 400
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NYPD detective Seraphia Newsom will avenge her brother’s death at any cost. Even if it means insinuating herself into a rough, Brooklyn street gang and going so far undercover, she’s not sure she’ll be able to get out. Every minute she spends in their midst means the clock ticking down on her life, especially when she overhears something that could get her killed.
Bowen Driscol is the heir to a crime enterprise. He never asked for the job, but with his father behind bars, he has no choice but to step in and keep the operation running. But when the NYPD blackmails him with a piece of damning information in exchange for aiding an undercover cop, he finds himself on the other side of the law for the first time in his life.
Bowen knows the danger Sera is in, and keeping her safe trumps saving his own ass. The problem? She can’t know he’s on her side. And there's the matter of the seriously inconvenient heat sparking between them that's incinerating his resistance. But Sera only sees Bowen's past, and men like him are the reason her brother is dead. If they're to get out alive, he'll have to risk exposing the man beneath, and hope to hell he doesn't blow the whole operation in the process.

There’s a lot that’s shaping up to be commendable about the Crossing the Line series, if I’m to be grudgingly honest. As the series suggests, these aren’t squeaky clean H/h we’ll be reading about but characters with dubious moral centres who have generously dipped their feet into criminal activities. The ultimate dilemma for them, if I’m to guess where this is going for every book, would be how they could redraw their own moral boundaries and allegiances and come out stronger for it (and on the better side) by the end of the book.

With much angst and hard, near-acrobatic sex along the way.

As always, Tessa Bailey’s strength lies in her deft handling of relationships; in fact, she excels in crafting and drawing out twisted ones in which obsession and lust fuel the sex scenes that later also tend to get mistaken as love. I did enjoy the depth Ms Bailey attempts to give Bowen but Sera feels too innocent, naive and swayed by her emotions to be a believable undercover cop. 3 years on the force despite the buttoned-up and repressed burdens of a Catholic upbringing would surely have toughened her beyond giving into nipple-swelling moments each time she shared a smouldering look with Bowen?

I’m rather disappointed however, to find that there’s little deviation from the formulaic alpha male that I’ve seen repeated across her books: hot, dirty-talking, sexually forceful and dominant – only that they skirt the fine lines between right and wrong here. A virginal heroine is also like a hark back to the early versions of Mills and Boons where heaving bosoms and hysterical mood swings are the precursors to the all-important deflowering moment. Please, Ms. Bailey, give us a conflicted man who doesn’t see the need to screw everything in sight because he can’t commit or a controlled heroine who wears fluff bunnies to bed but not in her head.