Reviewed by Tori
Jackson Paige AKA Jax Pain. Drummer of the up and coming metal band- Manix Curse. Jackson shocked to see his old lover walk through the door of his tattoo shop after he left her with no explanation five years earlier and never looked back. Time hasn’t dulled his feelings for her and he wants back in her life but once she hears his reasons for leaving, she may be the one this time who leaves and never looks back.
Jami Dillon. A contract attorney who always follows the rules. She never expected to see her greatest heartbreak when she comes looking for her younger brother, Mason, concerned over some of the choices he’s making in his life (book one-Beautiful Crazy). She is stronger this time around but still hiding some pretty deep scars. She can’t/won’t allow Jax to break her heart again…because this time she won’t survive it.
I was really looking forward to reading this installment after reading book one, Beautiful Crazy, and briefly meeting our leads. Second chance romances with an opposite attraction trope and buoyed by some serious undertones? Sign. Me. Up. Unfortunately, what should be an emotionally complicated and extremely sexy romance struggles under the weight of too many tropes, an underdeveloped storyline, repetitive dialogue, and two characters who romance I didn’t buy.
The beginning starts off on a high note as our hero and heroine run into one another for the first time in five years. It’s deliciously tense scene with plenty of sexually fueled anger and shock. We learn that Jackson and Jami were fellow law students and lovers. Jackson lets us know right off that he left her one night without so much as a goodbye and that she deserved it. And you believe it because Jami comes off rather snobbish in her attitude and dialogue. Right away Lane sets up the dichotomy between this couple- giving more credence to Jackson’s claims. Jami is so uptight and rigid while Jackson seems to go with the flow. Jami followed her parent’s demands and became an attorney while Jackson grabbed his dreams with both hands and is a talented artist and musician. I liked the tone of this couple and was ready to see how Lane was going to break them and then put them back together whole.
Their next meeting is at Jami’s brother’s engagement party and that’s the beginning of where the story started to fail for me. Jackson and Jami have an interlude in the guest bedroom and while it was H.O.T. as all get out, it felt manipulative. Jami doesn’t say boo to Jackson over his disappearance five years ago but we are suppose to believe she will fall into bed with him a few days after seeing him again?
From there the relationship picks back up with Jackson and Jami bobbing and weaving; unsure if this was the route they wanted to take again. It made me nervous too. We really don’t get to see what they were like previously nor do we get to see the fallout so I never got a good feel for how they were compared to now. Also, while the chemistry between them is smoking -Jackson is quite the bossy boy with the dirty mouth- I was more weary of what kept the attraction alive for five years of no contact and how easily it was for them to fall back into it.
Jami and Jason’s reconnection is littered with numerous pitfalls. Jami is a control freak who lacks self-confidence and self-esteem due to her parents’ constant emotional attacks on her. They really are awful people. She develops some coping mechanisms but they aren’t healthy. Jackson also suffers from some self-esteem issues. When we learn exactly why Jackson left Jami five years ago, it explains some things but also makes him look like a huge arse and I lost respect for him. Lane does an admirable job of facilitating communication between Jami and Jackson over Jami’s many issues but they seem to rehash the same things over and over with no real insight or resolution. Lane truly misses an opportunity to dig in and extract more from both characters. As it was, they stay pretty much one dimensional and boring.
I did enjoy seeing some familiar faces from Beautiful Crazy. Kelvin and Mason are still crazy in love and the band is on its way to stardom. Mason and Jami have a wonderfully close sibling connection and their interactions are where she seems to really shine. Lane gives just enough interaction with various other the secondary characters to ensure fans there is more Rock and Ink to come.
Beautiful Mess suffers from the dreaded sophomore slump and is sadly not of the same quality as the first book in the series. It does have a solid base, strong writing, and plenty of potential so I hope this was just an anomaly and book three brings back quality I know Lane is capable of.