Grand Central Publishing, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-446-58279-7
Contemporary Romance, 2011
Hope Scroggs has been the darling of Bramble, Texas all her life. Everyone hangs on to her word, she is the center of attention everywhere she goes, she is just beloved. When she took off to Hollywood to become an actress, the people here are actually proud of her. Unfortunately for Hope, in LA she is just another pretty face fighting for movie roles, and she finally comes back to Bramble to pick up where she last left off. Alas, the guy she and everyone else expect to marry, Slate, has fallen in love with the twin sister she has never known! (That story can be found in Going Cowboy Crazy.)
When Make Mine a Bad Boy opens, Hope is trying not to choke as her sister and the guy she had always thought to marry begin their happily ever after, but distraction arrives in the form of her childhood pest, Colt Lomax. He’s an ex-con whom everyone believes to be currently leeching off the wealthy husband of his sister Shirlene (who is Hope’s best friend). They detest each other, but this time around, it’s also clear that they experience irrational surges of hormonal urges when they are in each other’s company. Naturally, the rest of the folks in Bramble conspire to find Hope a beau, and while these people don’t immediately see Colt as the right guy for Hope, their antics inadvertently keep throwing Colt and Hope together.
This book is in some ways better than the author’s debut effort, but it is also a weaker effort in other ways. Hope and Colt are far better characters than the couple in the previous book. In many ways, Hope and Colt are familiar archetypes, but Ms Lane manages to give these characters personality traits and quirks that make them seem unique. The sexual tension between these two is explosive, and these two also have a believable romance on top of all that sexual chemistry. The author has the couple scream and rage and generally address the issues between them in a quirky-funny yet believable manner, although I personally feel that there is way too much use of the hero’s sad past to justify his current state of emotional immaturity. Both Hope and Colt are generally likable characters whose reactions to their developing relationship feel pretty real. They are sometimes very immature, but then again, they do have some growing up to do before their happy ending.
Unfortunately, this book also suffers from too much repetition, especially in the middle portion of the book. While an important development occurs in that portion, it is too easy to tune out during that section because everyone keeps thinking and saying the same thing over and over again. Colt, especially, keeps pointing out that he is the bad boy who surely isn’t the man that Hope is looking for, when he’s not rehashing about how he doesn’t want anything permanent with Hope. In the last few chapters, the main characters try to grow up and deal with each other maturely, but the author, instead of letting Hope and Colt hash things out properly, opts to have the secondary characters crowd around those two and offer very repetitive “insights” and “advice” to mend the relationship. These people all say the same thing over and over – Hope has a thing for Colt since she was an embryo in the womb, or something like that – so they actually serve as an annoying distraction in this story. If there is a way I can erase them from this story and let the two main characters scream and yell at each other, I would have. Hope and Colt have issues, and these issues are best worked out without intrusive meddling by the secondary characters. All that meddling and heavy-handed preaching only serve to prevent Colt and Hope from thinking much deeper about their issues.
Make Mine a Bad Boy has a far more memorable and better drawn couple compared to the previous book, but this one also has too much repetitive padding. There is also too much interference from secondary characters that end up weakening the believability of the main characters’ epiphanies. This one has the potential to be a better book than the author’s debut effort, but the execution ends up falling short of expectations.