To be honest, I expected to like this a LOT more than I did. While the sassy and fun Boss in the Bedsheets grabbed my attention from the first page, the somber Belle and the Beard never pulled me in. It’s long, and it felt that way. The problem might’ve been that I didn’t particularly like either character – at least for a long, long while. These two are not quite what I was expecting (more on that in a minute), and the story didn’t really feel like a take on Beauty and the Beast. I ended up setting this down for a few days – and read a couple of other great books – but when I picked this back up, it wasn’t with any real enthusiasm. That kinda says it all. Ultimately, I DID end up liking these characters more in the back half – but it took too long for that to happen.
The story follows Linden and Jasper, two strangers who become neighbors. Linden’s a reclusive guy who likes his solitude when he wants it, and Jasper is a political darling who has fallen out of favor. As she tries to pick up the pieces of her life – while living in a rundown, unsafe home – Jasper becomes friendlier with Linden. The grumbly bear of a man has a sweet side, and it’s not long before he’s taking care of Jasper. Not that she’d ever allow that. The two clash but also come together, and their relationship continues to evolve before either of them realizes it. They’re happy to heat up the sheets together, but neither one is looking for more.
This was one of my most anticipated books of the month. Not only does this author’s writing style really work for me, but the blurb sounded so very awesome. And there ARE some great moments: I loved the chemistry between these two in the back half, the banter and the dialogue. Linden is actually a pretty sweet guy, and I loved watching him fall. However, I struggled with both Linden and Jasper in the beginning. Minor spoilers that I wish I knew before reading: Jasper is the kind of independent woman who likes to remind you of that on every page… and she’s married to someone else. And this reclusive hero? Is actually a manhoe who at one point recalls the time (somewhat recently) when his mom walked in on him in a “sweaty, sticky pile of pansexual skin.” I have no problem with the representation, but it was incorporated in an off-putting way, more than once. If you’re looking for a non-player, loner hero… that’s really not what you’re getting here. It took awhile for me to readjust my expectations of the storyline, and that’s definitely a big reason for my disconnect for so much of the book. It’s certainly not bad, but it really isn’t what I was hoping for – simple as that. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this rustic romance.
If you find yourself publicly humiliated, out of work, and unemployable at 35—not to mention newly single—here’s how to salvage your life:
1. Run away. Seriously, there’s no shame in disappearing. Go to that rustic old cottage your aunt left you. Look out for the colony of bats and the leaky roof. Oh, and the barrel-chested neighbor with shoulders like the broad side of a barn. Definitely look out for him.
2. Stop wallowing and stay busy. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to bake or fix things around the house. Do it anyway. Dust off your southern hospitality and feed that burly, bearded neighbor some pecan pie.
3. Meet new people. Chat up the growly man-bear, pretend to be his girlfriend when his mother puts you two on the spot, agree to go as his date to a big family party. Don’t worry—it’s only temporary.
4. Cry it out. Screwing up your life entitles you to wine, broody-moody music, and uninterrupted sobbing.
5. Get over it all by getting under someone. Count on your fake boyfriend to deliver some very real action between the sheets.
6. Move on. The disappearing act, the cottage, the faux beau–none of it can last forever.
If a hell-in-heels campaign strategist moves in next door to you, here’s how to survive the invasion:
1. Do not engage. There is no good reason you should chop her wood, haul her boxes, or pick her apples.
2. Do not accept gifts, especially not the homemade ones. Disconnect the doorbell, toss your phone over a bridge, hide in the basement if you must, but do not eat her pie.
3. Do not introduce her to your friends and family. They’ll favor her over you and never let you forget it.
4. Do not intervene when she’s crying on the back porch. Ignore every desire to fix the entire world for her. By no means should you take her into your arms and memorize her peach-sweet curves.
5. Do not take her to bed, even if it’s just to get her out of your system.
6. Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with her.
About the Author:
USA Today Bestseller Kate Canterbary writes smart, steamy contemporary romances loaded with heat, heart, and happy ever afters. Kate lives on the New England coast with her husband and daughter.
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