Series: Norcross #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Anna Hackett on October 20th 2020
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Never, ever fall for your brother’s annoying, infuriating, gorgeous best friend.
Gia Norcross’ life is exactly how she likes it. She has a successful PR firm in San Francisco, a beautiful apartment, a loving family of overprotective brothers, and her fabulous designer shoe collection. Perfection. Sure, occasionally she has to deal with her aggravating nemesis who happens to be her brother’s best friend. Saxon Buchanan: tall, rich, handsome, bossy, and knows how to work her last nerve.
She’ll never, ever admit to anyone that most days, she isn’t sure if she wants to punch the arrogant, tattooed, suit-wearing know-it-all…or kiss him.
After a military career spent in a covert special ops team doing hard, dirty, and very classified missions, Saxon Buchanan is happy working at Norcross Security as the company’s top troubleshooter. He also enjoys the perks of civilian life. That includes sparring with smart, sexy Gia of the wide brown eyes, luscious curves, and sharp tongue. He’s spent half his life fighting the pull of his best friend’s little sister.
But seeing a man aim a gun at Gia changes everything.
When Gia’s troubled childhood best friend drags her into a really, really bad situation, soon bullets are flying, precious gemstones are missing, and Gia’s in danger. Saxon’s done pushing away the one woman he’s ever wanted. He’ll do everything to protect her, and he’s not letting anything get in his way: not the bad guys, not his best friend, and especially not Gia.
I had a hell of a hard time writing this review for ‘The Troubleshooter’, mainly because I’ve loved some of Anna Hackett’s books and series and jumped into Norcross (her latest ones) expecting to be thrilled and entertained like I was for the others.
Seriously, I wished I could have liked it a lot more, since Gia/Saxon’s story sounded like a fantastic one. But instead of the enemies-to-lovers kind of thing I was expecting, it turned out that Gia and Saxon had always sort of secretly wanted each other for a while and that their underlying tension was just…foreplay? And then they’re suddenly in love (how?) after some steamy moments and occurrences that bring out Saxon’s unreasonably white-knight tendencies.
There were several reasons behind which this didn’t work for me. First off, the premise of the story was one that began with Gia’s TSTL behaviour when it came to obstinately believing her friend’s goodness when it clearly posed a personal danger to herself. Carrying on in that fashion didn’t make her loyal; it made her eye-rollingly stupid. That Gia also expected so little of Saxon, and was so quick to cave when it came to his obsessive over-protective behaviour was just as disappointing.
Which brings me to the second reason that’s a little more complex…and it’s one that I struggle with time to time with Hackett’s short and sharp erotica-ish action-drama-adventures. The stories’ brevity mean that they’re typically trope-laden to the max—not that there’s anything wrong with that especially if there’s a lot of nuance or world-building in it—but I did feel ‘The Troubleshooter’ and the pairing were undeveloped to the point where it became merely a retelling of another stereotype where you shouldn’t think too much deeply into the idea that both Gia/Saxon finally gave into what they really wanted after years of looking the other way.
Using the brother’s best friend (and thus, the little sister is forbidden) trope unfortunately, is one that I have too many arguments against that need to be internally resolved before I can buy into a pairing like this. All too often, if the best friend’s brother is truly a bad choice for instance, wouldn’t that say loads about the type of friends you keep, let alone the hypocrisy of staying friends because he’s reliable in every way except with women? And if Saxon really wanted Gia, why not man up and go for it earlier instead of screwing around and being a philandering bastard until a threat to Gia’s life suddenly made him realise that he was always ‘in love’ with her after all? Had no threats come, would nothing then have broken this holding pattern after all? Would Saxon have contentedly just gone after his type of leggy blondes for the rest of the time?
As I said, too many issues—my own, admittedly—that weren’t satisfactorily addressed in this short, sharp tale.
Hackett’s Norcross series is shaping out to be a collection of very similar men in suits: players, all attractive, never really committed, ex-military and too much of a bully as they run roughshod over the women to the point of being distastefully controlling (yet staying cowards when it comes to relationships). I found myself quite disappointed in the lack of variation in the characters and the somewhat-recyclable themes found here so far. Not too sure if this series is working out for me right now, sadly.