Reviewed by Helyce
Devlin Calvary makes his own luck. Orphaned as a young child, he was taken in by a crew of bookies and gamblers—and they became his family. They’re the reason Dev’s running a trendy bistro, living in a high rise, and enjoying the good life with a string of women who never ask for too much. Until, one night, he finds out how much it hurts to trust the wrong people.
Rena Lewis sticks to the straight and narrow, determined not to slip up again . . . like the terrible night of partying four years ago that ended in tragedy. A waitress at Oak & Sage, she knows that sleeping with her boss is not a smart move. But when Dev shows up on her doorstep, beat up and clearly shaken, Rena’s not about to turn him down . . . or kick him out of bed.
Dev reawakens something primal within her—a need to go wild. And Rena soon finds out that the heart she’d sealed away years ago still has the power to fight for love.
Fighting for Devlin is the first in a new series by Jessica Lemmon, a fairly new-to-me author, but one that has quickly proven herself to me with her interesting characters and intriguing romantic situations. I expected there to be a fair amount of angst in this story, Devlin being an orphan and all, but it really was so much more.
I really liked Devlin. I wasn’t sure what to expect of him. We know he’s young, but he owns and runs a restaurant that was left to him by his father. We know that he uses the restaurant as a meeting place for guys to drop off or pick up bet money for Sonny. And even knowing that, you get the sense that Devlin is not a bad guy. In fact, considering his childhood, he could have turned out completely different. Devlin fell into the role of “collector” for Sonny Lawrence because at the time of his death, Devlin’s father owed Sonny a lot of money and Sonny decided to collect from Devlin. But their relationship is so much more than that. Sonny is the reason Devlin’s restaurant is successful-he mentored and showed him the ropes.
Rena had a life altering tragedy during her senior year in high school and it affected her outlook on life. She’s changed herself into what she feels she should have been out of some sort of misguided sense of guilt following the death of her boyfriend. She lost a job that she loved and that’s how she came to work at Oak and Sage as a server. I wasn’t sure about Rena at first, she seemed nervous and jumpy but I quickly realized it had everything to do with her attraction to Devlin. Rena doesn’t think she’s even on his radar, but she’s so wrong.
Devlin shows up on Rena’s doorstep one night, beat up and bloody, and Rena doesn’t think twice about helping him. Devlin is surprised by Rena’s tough nature and I think that it’s a turning point for him with respect to how he sees her. I liked how Devlin and Rena are thrown together in that it shows each of them what the other is really made of. Later, Devlin asks Rena to handle a pick up when one of the gamblers comes in to drop off a debt. Rena does it, but she immediately questions Devlin about it and I was surprised when he answered her honestly. It immediately sets a tone that I didn’t expect from Devlin.
I think what I really liked about this story was the fact that in spite of the backdrop of illegal gambling, bookies, hoodlums and such, there is this sense of family and oddly, loyalty. Devlin may not have had the ideal childhood; his dad gambled and he was around that from a young age. When his father died, he was taken in by his father’s friend Paul, who also may not have been the best influence, but he provided some stability at a time when Devlin needed it. You also have the relationship Devlin has with Sonny Lawrence. An additional “father figure” for Devlin you see genuine love and caring, especially on Sonny’s side as he does not have any children of his own. You see it further when Sonny makes a huge sacrifice for Devlin at one point during the story.
Getting up close and personal with the ugly side of what he does is huge game changer for Devlin and he realizes that he doesn’t want to continue on the path he’s been on. He sees a future that he doesn’t like when he looks at Paul and Sonny and he wants something different for himself, especially after he realizes just how much Rena means to him.
I don’t think we got to know Rena as well as we got to know Devlin in here. There is some focus on Rena’s backstory, so we have an idea of where her head is at, but other than the fact that she falls for Devlin, I don’t think we really got to know her.
There are some predictable conflict scenarios, considering the illegal circumstances surrounding our characters, but the author deals with them in a very tidy manner. I was glad that she didn’t drag out the whole process because in all actuality things could have gone a whole different way. The author weaves in enough of a tease that we can see a love match between Rena’s friend Tasha and Paul’s son Cade and I look forward to seeing that though.
I really enjoy Ms. Lemmon’s writing style and she brings her talents to the new adult genre with a fresh and unique start to this series. Us romance readers love our bad boys, and Devlin really fits the bill while still being a guy with heart deep down inside!