Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey
The Academy, #1
August 29, 2017
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “No one moves like us, Ever. No one talks to each other without words like us. Don’t you know that?”
Charlie Burns figured he found the elusive unicorn of all relationships when he meets and engages in a no strings affair with the most beautiful and sexually enticing woman in the whole state of New York-Ever Carmichael. A police cadet currently at the academy training to be an officer, Charlie is on the fast track and he has no time to devote to an actual girlfriend. When Ever decides to end their arrangement, declaring she is ready to find a steady boyfriend, Charlie realizes he’s not ready for them to end and decides to “help her” find Mr. Right by sabotaging her dates while solidifying his place in her bed as a friend with benefits.
Ever was taught from an early age that if she controlled the relationship, then she couldn’t get hurt, but now she wants more than a string of meaningless flings. She wants the brass ring and everything that goes with it. And in order to get that, she needs to let her current fling go. Only, he won’t go. Every time Ever turns around, there’s Charlie. There to offer her a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen. He’s everything she’s looking for in a relationship except commitment.
Charlie wants Ever and Ever wants Charlie but unless Charlie mans up and realizes that falling in love won’t cost him everything, his disorderly conduct will push Ever away forever.
Tessa Bailey’s Disorderly Conduct opens up on a sexy but superficial meet cute that introduces our protagonists-Charlie Burns and Ever Carmichael. Charlie and Ever’s eyes meet across a crowded bar and they just know they are perfect for one another. Two commitment phobics who only want the fun sexy times without all the baggage or hard work of a real relationship. Adorably humorous and deliciously dirty, the story comes across pretty commonplace in the beginning, building on the notion of you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, only to slowly reveal something deeper and heartfelt as Bailey effortlessly snips away at all the superficial overlay to show us a couple whose fear of falling in love but unavoidable need for one another creates a comedy of errors as they struggle to define their relationship and learn to trust themselves and each other.
What Ever and I had only comes around once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, and if I can show her that, she’ll come back to me. Hell, I’m saving us both. This is literally God’s work I’m doing.
I’ve always been a fan of Tessa Bailey and her blue collar heroes and heroines. Bright, witty, strong, and vulnerable, Bailey gives her readers characters we can easily relate to. Her romances are brimming with real life and it’s very easy to place yourself into their shoes. I like that she often uses first person dual narrative, allowing us a deeper intimacy with the protagonists as we watch and listen to both sides as the drama unfolds.
He’s just not ready for a commitment now. And not with me. A spiky, slimy, realization creeps under my armor. What if I’m just not the kind of girl you bring home? What if Charlie…knows it?
The storyline is pretty straightforward and low key in terms drama and conflict, which surprised me. I had expected more because of the setup and potential for mayhem. A strong emotional plotline more than makes up for it and keeps the reader firmly engaged (and laughing) as we watch Charlie try and justify his actions once he realizes just how much Ever means to him while Ever become stronger and surer of herself.
How was I so fucking unaware?
The chemistry between Charlie and Ever is instantaneous and it only increases as they both try and deny what is occurring between them. Ever is serious about wanting to experience a real romantic relationship and does her best to avoid Charlie. She doesn’t want to cheat anyone out of her full attention and she knows the more time she spends with Charlie, the more likely that is to happen. But Charlie can’t let her go. At first, he just wants to stay in her bed. Then he takes the time to get know her, realizing just how incredible she is, and just wants to be a part of her life any way he can. It’s rather heartbreaking.
“I want a picture of us together.” Those blue eyes drilled into mine. “One where my hands are on you. Touching your hips, your belly. Your face. I need something to look at when I’m not here to remember. Remember I got to feel you. When you’re not under me, I swear I fucking dreamed it all.”
Charlie and Ever are fantastic characters-both as a couple and individually. They are both intelligent, forthright, industrious people who aren’t afraid to grab what they want and/or tell it like it is. Bailey does a great job with Ever but she really excels in her characterization of Charlie. She doesn’t sugar coat him or make him instantly realize the error of his ways. He’s not a bad guy but he is a little selfish and self-absorbed. He has some abandonment issues and it takes him awhile to find the confidence he needs to prove to Ever and himself that he deserves and is capable of love.
“…I look back and see the things I missed and I never want to miss them again.”
A fun and diverse cast of secondary characters help to round out the story and provide some background and back up. Charlie’s two best friends (Jack and Danika) along with his fellow cadets help him on his missions and provide him with advice or admonishments when needed. The speed dating scene was hilarious. It looks like Jack will be the hero of book two. Ever’s bestie and business partner Nina is good for few laughs as she tries to help Charlie with Ever. We don’t see much of Ever or Charlie’s parents beyond a few key scenes that act as catalysts for both parties.
I did have some issues. Charlie essentially stalks, manipulates, and sabotages Ever because he wasn’t ready for them to be over. Her happiness wasn’t his first concern in the beginning. Some scenes made me uncomfortable and I’m glad he stops early on. This couple is young and it shows in their actions and dialogue. Also, there were a couple of moments that seemed a bit of an overkill for the results. Regardless, Bailey gives readers the perfect ending with some excellent groveling by Charlie and an epilogue that leaves the reader happy and content with this couple’s HEA.
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