Reviewed by Helyce
Charismatic bar owner Rowdy Yates isn’t the kind of man women say no to. So when he approaches waitress Avery Mullins, he fully expects to get her number. However, the elusive beauty has her reasons for keeping her distance-including a past that might come back to haunt them both.
Avery spends her nights working for tips…and trying to forget the secret Rowdy is determined to unearth. But when history threatens to repeat itself, Avery grows to rely on Rowdy’s protective presence. As the sparks between them ignite, she will be forced to choose between the security she’s finally found…and the passion she’s always wanted. (Goodreads)
We met Rowdy back in book #1, Run the Risk, and his character made an impression with me from the start. While he’s made appearances throughout books one and two (Bare it All), we only had the barest of information on him and I looked forward to getting to know the real Rowdy Yates. A bad boy who seemed to walk a very fine line between things “legal and illegal” we learn enough to see that Rowdy is truly a good person, who does what he needs to do to help the people he cares about.
While child abuse was hinted at, we get much more detail about what exactly Rowdy and his sister Pepper went through as young children. Rowdy’s street smarts come from years of attempting to protect his sister and keep her safe from their parents. In fact, it is due to Rowdy’s quick thinking that kept Pepper alive the night their parents died. As Ms. Foster shows us Rowdy and Pepper’s childhood through Rowdy’s memories, we come full circle to how he became the man he is today. He’s totally a bad boy but he’s got integrity and a true heart of gold.
We also met Avery in a previous book, and it was clear from the moment Rowdy and Avery meet that the author had plans for them. I found Avery intriguing; the fact that she didn’t immediately fall under Rowdy’s spell was a fresh change, both for the reader and for Rowdy himself. Not used to women saying “no” to him, Avery provides a bit of a challenge and this throws Rowdy for a loop, making him want her more. As a reader, we know Avery has a secret in her past and it’s this secret that comes back to haunt her and provide the conflict in this book.
This part of the story was intense in a good way. We get lots of information and some really interesting suspense. When the bullets start flying and Avery is forced to reveal who she is and the events that led to her being in a really shitty part of town living the way she does, Rowdy brings in Logan and Reese to help figure things out.
I have to point out that I was a bit worried about the trope of Avery being the rich, spoiled girl who was trying to make a statement to her parents by giving up the comforts of her perfect life. There’s much more too it, of course, and Avery is so not that girl as we see clearly through Ms. Foster’s writing. I also really enjoyed how Rowdy is portrayed when he meets Avery’s parents for the first time. He is clearly taken aback when they first arrive at her parent’s home and he begins to realize just how much money Avery’s family has. This small bit of vulnerability and uncertainly the author lets us see in Rowdy was adorable. Better still was that he kept it in check and did not even try to be somebody different for the benefit of Avery’s parents. It’s one of my favorite scenes in this book.
I liked the pace of the romance between Avery and Rowdy in this story. There is no jumping into bed with these two. Avery is attracted to Rowdy, but after walking in on Rowdy getting blown in his office, she makes it very clear to Rowdy that she will not ever be a convenient or easy lay for him. Once she sets him straight, and Rowdy realizes that if he truly wants her he’s got to make some changes, everything falls very nicely into place.
We also get a heartwarming side story in here when Rowdy meets a young boy who’s dad has come into the bar looking for “payment” from the previous bar owner. Rowdy’s soft spot for children in crisis comes from his own experiences and this part of the story, watching Rowdy slowly get to know this little boy who has no one left in the word, was especially touching. The little boy is placed with Reese and Alice (couple from book 2) and as Rowdy forges a relationship with this little boy, we get to see another unexpected side of him.
We are introduced to a new character in this book, Cannon Colter. A young man in his mid to late 20’s, he grew up in the neighborhood and doesn’t like what’s happened to it. He and his friends have taken it upon themselves to “keep an eye out” so to speak. Not in a vigilante sense, but more like a neighborhood watch. He takes a job working in Rowdy’s bar and a friendship based on mutual respect forms. Avery refers to Cannon as the “hottie”. I’m intrigued by his characters, and can only hope Ms. Foster plans on writing his story as well.
Followers of this blog know how much I adore Ms. Foster’s contemporaries as I’ve read and reviewed several of them here. In each story there is just the right balance of focusing on the main couple, while bringing back previous characters so we get to revisit them and what’s going on since their book. She is also a master at giving us just the right amount of hints as to what we can expect from our next couple. Because of this, I am very much looking forward to Dash of Peril which will feature Dash Risk and Lieutenant Peterson who have been dancing around each other since book 1. It’s out April 2014.