Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “When it comes to matters of the heart, the only thing you should want to be temporary is an STD.”
Harlow Glass is the town leper. A teenage bully whose childhood was filled with emotional and verbal abuse, she made lives miserable and now she is paying the price. Broke and homeless, she lives in a tent on the outskirts of town and forages for food and clothing. When she breaks into her old house in order to steal some food, Beck catches her and she is shocked by the instant flash of lightning sharp attraction she feels.
Beck Ockley is the original bad boy. A foster kid/criminal turned millionaire, this sexy, flirty, rich, and emotionally unavailable man will give any woman the ride of her life for one night only. His inability to let got of his past keeps his guard up against anyone who seeks to become more in his life. Harlow is the first woman he’s ever met that he can’t just walk away from.
Beck and Harlow’s rocky path to friendship that soon blossoms into more as Beck finds his attraction to her is increasing instead of decreasing. But Harlow is a forever kind of girl and unless Beck learns to open up his heart…he’ll only end up breaking hers.
Who doesn’t want a bad boy in their lives? Beck Ockley is the epitome of bad boy and then some. But it’s often noted that the badder they are, the harder they fall and this boy falls hard. The Hotter You Are is the second book in Showalter’s Original Heartbreakers series. The series follows three best friends who settle in the small town of Strawberry Valley in order to move forward from their traumatic childhoods.
I adore small town romances because of the setting and inevitable eccentric characters. Small towns are notorious for being nosy, unforgiving, and gossipy. Everyone knows everyone’s business and what happened 10 years ago is viewed as if it happened yesterday. As always, Showalter builds an ambiguous tale of love, loss, redemption, and forgiveness with her trademark humor, passion, and a wee bit of angst.
My heart broke for Harlow when we first meet her and as we learn how she was growing up and what led to her change in personality. I was very surprised that Beck is the only one who actually questions the abrupt change in Harlow’s behavior when he learns of it. The town has a long memory and they are quite nasty to her from refusing to hire her to work and being abusive to her when they see her. This woman can’t even go into the local library. I admired her perseverance as she not only takes ownership of what she did in the past but actively sought to make amends.
Finally something had gone in her favor-but it only depressed her more. The fact that a guy hadn’t punched her or called her horrible names was the highlight of her day? Wow.
Beck. Beck, Beck, Beck. What a heartbreaking mess. Though he is introduced as somewhat of cliche, Showalter irons out the problems quickly and we meet the real Beck. Hotter than sin, this man’s emotional barometer is skewed. As a child he was tossed around from family member to family member when his father walked out of his life. Eventually ending up in foster care, his life is a series of abandonments that had a huge impact on the way he is now. He refuses to allow anyone emotionally close (except for his two best friends) because people always leave him. He loves women and uses them as a way to satisfy his urges; gifting them with one night than never repeating. He’s never mean or cruel but his emotional detachment is strong. It’s rather sad when you see him do everything in his power to help Harlow regain her footing. He sees the potential in everyone except himself.
“He was no one’s savior. He couldn’t even save himself.”
Beck and Harlow have some of the most remarkable chemistry that is only made hotter by their fun snarky banter. This couple clicks instantly and you can only hold on for what looks to be an emotional and laughter filled ride as they struggle to come to terms with their individual pasts in order to move forward. The romance is definitely slow moving though the sexual tension and drama filled scenes keeps you firmly engaged.
“I’ll ignore your early start at sexual harassment and get dressed just as soon as you exit my bedroom.”
“Why? You don’t have anything I haven’t seen before.”
“Actually I do. For all you know, my anything is better than any other you’ve ever seen.”
“You think so? Show me.”
“Not even if you begged me.”
“I’ve never begged before. But there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?”
Multiple themes are dissected and Showalter uses humor to help guide them along in smooth manner as she peels back the layers of Harlow and Beck and maneuvers them into the direction she wants to go without giving the reader the feeling they are being manipulated or rushed into a happy ending. Early on we are told what Beck and Harlow want from one another and they communicate it well. I admit at times I glazed with a weary eye as yet another example of Beck’s juvenile behavior towards Harlow came our way but his growth is a major aspect of the story and Showalter does justice to it.
“There were so many things he wanted to do with her and to her. One night would never be enough.”
Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of familiar and some not so familiar faces that lend their advice to helping Beck and Harlow along their journey. Brooke Lynn, Jessie Kay, and Kenna were all victims of Harlow’s viciousness in high school but they were able to look beyond that, accept that Harlow has changed, and offer her what she needs most-friendship. Jesse Kay especially entertains as she strives to find her HEA despite a certain man whose indecision is causing her conniptions. Showalter introduces some new men from the boy’s past and I hope we see more of them in the future. Dorian-YUM! Poor Wade gets caught in the middle between Beck and Harlow one too many times but manages to extract himself with grace and a fair amount of hilarious confusion.
Showalter continues to offer up a yummy dish of guilty escapism her fans are sure to love in her return to the Strawberry Valley and her Original Heartbreakers. Sexy opinionated men and women, deliciously drama filled romances, and just enough zaniness to keep the story from becoming too serious. I look forward to Wade’s story, The Harder You Fall, which is set to release, November 24, 2015 from HQN Books. It looks to be perhaps the most outrageous and emotional of them all. *crosses fingers*