Smexy Books was started in 2009 and we review all sub-genres of romance and urban fantasy. We also enjoy a hairy-chested hero.
The first 20% of this book had me hooked. Rosemary (Rosie) Young is a bartender on The Lane, a poorer area where she has lived and worked her entire life. Rosie is an angry person, for good reason. Her mother has advanced cancer and it's very hard on Rosie to scrape money together to get her mother proper care. Rosie would work any job to get the money, but her mother feels guilty about Rosie giving up her life to care for her, and there is just a lot of guilt floating around. Rosie's brother also works at the bar, and Rosie is always worrying about him too. Rosie is tough, and admittedly not that nice. One night, a guy walks in who can stand up to Rosie's bad attitude. His name is Brandon and he somehow convinces Rosie to have dinner with him. After dinner, they can't keep their hands off each other. Brandon is poor as well, and makes money gambling. He lives in a crappy apartment and doesn't have great dreams of doing anything more. This is the point in the book where I started to say in my Matthew McConaughey voice: alright, alright, alright. I love that Rosie and Brandon don't have a lot of money. I love that they have attitude problems. I thought the author did a great job portraying Rosie's sick mother and her dire situation.
But then the book takes an odd turn. Rosie's boss is named Joshua King and after Brandon gets into severe financial trouble due to gambling, he owes his money to Joshua. Joshua happens to be kind of the king of The Lane. He bribes the police force, he makes the businesses pay him, he is into prostitution - lots of gray areas surrounding him. Since Brandon owes him so much money, he sends Brandon to Canada for three years to make him work to pay off his debt. Meanwhile, he turns to Rosie, and tells her if she works for him as his assistant for three years, he will take care of her mother, and basically keep everyone in her life safe and happy. If not, there are vague threats. She isn't allowed to see Brandon anymore as a result. Feeling this is her only option, she agrees.
Then the book immediately jumps ahead 33 months. The book goes from being this dark, slightly depressing tale of Rosie trying to make it in the world to Rosie working for this very rich guy - she becomes his henchman of sorts. We miss 33 months so we don't really know how her adjustment goes or anything much of what happened the past three years.
Joshua becomes a very big character in the book, and it turns more mafia-ish rather than the quaint story we started with. I really didn't like the Joshua storyline, or the fact we jump three years into the future.
Worse, the romance led nowhere! This book is in Rosie's point of view, so Brandon is more of a mystery to the reader at first. We see him during the sex scenes, but otherwise he is off page. His gambling addiction is all off page, and I did wish we had seen that more in the story. When we jump ahead three years, he comes back into the picture, but he always remains a mystery. We never get to know him enough to be anywhere invested in the romance. This is pretty much a Rosie and Joshua book with Brandon way in the background. There is sex, but not romance. And that was unfortunate. Along with the Joshua storyline in the second half of the book, I can't recommend this one,