Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Review: Rowdy by Jay Crownover

Series Order Number: Marked Men #5
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★1/2

After the only girl he ever loved told him he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and decided he was going to do everything in his power to live up to his nickname. Life was all about a good time, good friends and never taking much too seriously. Rowdy learned his lesson early on, when you care that much about anything it can destroy you, and he never wants to risk feeling like that again. Only now he has a new coworker, a ghost from the past who’s making him question every lesson he ever learned.

Salem Cruz grew up in a house with too many rules, too many regulations, and no fun allowed. That never worked for her so she left it all behind as soon as she could, but she never forgot the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been in love with her little sister. Fate and good intentions from an old friend have placed her right in Rowdy’s path and she’s determined to show him he picked the wrong sister all those years ago. A mission that is going along perfectly until the one person that ties them together shows up and could very well tear them back.

As I read through the Marked Men series, a couple of things have occurred to me.  One, Jay Crownover comes up with the best names.  I hate reading books that have the same names as people in my life. It makes it more difficult to separate myself from my world, little annoys me more than a romantic hero with the same name as my nephew.  Totally not an issue in Crownover's books.  Some may find them odd, I'm not one of them.  I find them uniquely refreshing.

Two, I fall a little harder for each new boy and girl she introduces to me.  While Nash is still my favorite of the Marked Men, Rowdy is hot on his heels.  And Salem... I have a huge girl crush on this chick.

Many of us have that one special childhood friend.  One that made a difference in your life, even if it was a small difference.  Maybe they made you feel comfortable in uneasy situations, maybe they just had a way of making you smile, maybe they were more. A safe place, a solace, an unknowing encouragement.  Salem was all of those things for Rowdy. Until she wasn't.  Until she left.

For the past decade Salem has been searching for her safe place, for her home.  She thinks it lies with the boy that held such a large part of her heart as a girl. Landing back in Rowdy's life isn't an easy thing though, not when the boy you think has the key to opening your heart, gave his away a long time ago, only to have it crushed.

Rowdy is one of those guys with a beautiful bad boy exterior, think Abercrombie model except with a pompadour and heavy ink, but is so sensitive on the inside.  He's not a bad boy, a bit of a slag, okay...a lot of a slag but without any malicious intent.  He likes sex, refuses relationships. Until Salem shows up and refuses to leave.

Salem has this light about her that drew me in immediately.  Her strong determination to overcome a rough past, to be a light for others, just made her that much more special.  I want to be someone like Salem in my next life. A free spirit, brave, confident, yet still just a little vulnerable.

The push and pull between Salem and Rowdy at the beginning of this book was really rather heartwarming.  Neither has easy issues to get past.  Feelings of abandonment and lack of trust that come from real childhood trauma is not something you simply sweep under the rug and forget about. That kind of shit follows you.  But the willingness, or stubbornness, these two have in working out was adorable.

Crownover has a special way of making her characters so very real, they feel like people I know or people I would love to know, people you can't help but care about.  She gives you all the little things a good book should. Characters with heart, growth, playfulness and just a bit of heartache.

As always, I'm very excited for what she has in store for us next.

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