We're doing something a little different today.
- I'm reviewing some straight up contemporary romance books. I know I've done this a few times, but full-length-ish review (do we like the name? this may become a thing).
- I'm reviewing (almost) all of the series because today the last full length book comes out and I need to share my feels.
- There will be spoilers to some degree since they are companions but also kind of sequels. I'll try to avoid specifics, but it's somewhat unavoidable. So if you don't want to be spoiled and have only read some books in the series, they'll be separated out by paragraphs. (On the other hand, these are romance novels, guys. And I'm basically telling you what's on goodreads.)
To start, let's tell you about the first book, Beautiful Bastard.
An ambitious intern.
A perfectionist executive.
And a whole lot of name calling.
Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He's exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.
Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family's massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who'd been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he's never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe's so tempting he's willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.
As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they're willing to lose in order to win each other.
How did this book come into my life, you may wonder. It's not really my normal read, aka it's not YA or historical romance or a school reading (although, THAT'D be a hell of a class).
Let's go back to, oh, 2008. Maybe 2009. Back when I was (kind of) in the Twilight fandom (it's...hard to explain how that worked) and heavily involved in the fanfiction community. There was this lovely little work called The Office. I wasn't interested at first because it seemed like a fairly normal story, but it was popular and a lot of friends loved it, so I caved. And then I was hooked. I sped through the available chapters and then waited anxiously for updates. I occasionally chatted with the author/let her know I thought she was a genius. I loved the fanfic and was heartbroken to see it end, but excited for the author when she announced she was pulling to publish.
Fast forward to 2012. Christina and Lauren are announced as new clients of Holly Root. As I (believe) I've mentioned before, I ALWAYS love Holly's clients books, so of course I was interested. But there was also something kind of familiar about them, I just couldn't place what it was. But I followed them on twitter, as I do when Holly announces new clients, and moved on.
Then the sale of Beautiful Bastard was announced. And man that sounded familiar. REALLY familiar. Like I'd read it before...
Because I kind of had.
Beautiful Bastard turned out to be a massively revamped version of The Office. Christina and Lauren seemed familiar because Christina was the author and Lauren the beta reader/critique partner of the fanfic. I felt significantly less weird for feeling like I knew them with that revelation.
So, I happily devoured the book when it came out this year, and I was addicted all over again.
Bennett and Chloe have the epitome of a hate/lust relationship, and it changes and grows from there. The characters are stubborn and headstrong and both are natural leaders. Having two leaders in a relationship...comes with difficulties. So there was this fantastic dynamic and it was again a story I'd never really read before because the fanfic was totally different and now this was pretty different from the fanfic.
And then there's a writing. If this series is crack, then I'm a very happy, needy addict. These girls can write a damn book. I never want them to end because the second they do, I require another but I can't HAVE another because it's not available yet.
But okay, I thought when I finished. What's the big deal? It's not like the next book will top it.
I went on to read Beautiful Bitch before jumping into the next full length book, Beautiful Stranger (the recommended course is to switch this, but I'm a rebel). Beautiful Bitch was this fun exploration of Bennett and Chloe continuing to figure each other and their relationship out. It's a tough balance of two workaholics, trying to be the best of what they do. And now that they've gotten past the initial phase of getting together, they figure out how to maintain their relationship. And oh, it's so incredibly satisfying to continue getting snippets of these characters lives in more than just a way that they relate to the main characters in the full book.
Then I read Beautiful Stranger and holy Max and Sara. The emotional roller coaster of these two. A British lover of women and a shy, somewhat vulnerable woman really come out of their shells and figure out who they are. I mean, Max has a decent idea, but Sara's kind of been in this one, stationary place for years. It's been a long time since she really explored who she was as a person, not as a power couple. Max helps her find that person and the way to self-confidence and soul-searching is clearly sexy times. It also helped that this was the first book set in my city. I'll always have a special fondness for books in my city.
In all seriousness, Beautiful Stranger has this wonderful emotional depth to it that I never saw coming and obviously, these girls could never top it.
The next in the series is Beautiful Bombshell, which is essentially these characters living through The Hangover (or so I'm told. I've yet to see The Hangover). This was another fun glimpse into Chloe and Bennett's lives post-initial figuring it out stage and they're kind of the reason the guys are in Vegas in the first place. This time, we get the added bonus of seeing Sara and Max as a firmly together couple still going strong. And we see a little bit more of the guy for the next full length novel. This was another funny, lovely way to feed my addiction and hold me over until...
Beautiful Player. Which kind of wrecked me. It's a loose (and obviously smutty) retelling of My Fair Lady, which is a storyline I always kind of adore. Or a lot adore. And Hanna is probably the heroine I related to most in this series for reasons. And Will is probably my favorite guy in the series and most like what I would want in a guy out of the three? They're all devastatingly charming and lovely, but there was something about Will that just kind of struck a chord with me. And these two, again, had a pretty emotional ride to go with the physical that I absolutely fell in love with. Suddenly, I had a new favorite booth within this series for the third time in a series with three full length books.
Much to my dismay, this series is almost over. Beautiful Beginning, the last novella, releasesmid-November, aka the week of my birthday, Catching Fire, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special (aka the GREATEST WEEK EVER IN EXISTENCE). I'm already trying to figure out how to cope. No more of my crack stories. No more Christina Lauren writing for a little while. They gave me six separate stories to read in less than a year, and now who knows how long I'll have to wait for my next fix? It's inconceivable. It really is.
And I refuse to be alone in my pain. Hence, why I'm recommending these books to you now. They're somewhat light, quick reads (which is part of their crack-ness. I can read them during the semester and not feel like the added stress will implode my brain). They've got fantastic character dynamics and development and voice. The writing is addicting and forces you to keep turning pages. And each story gets better. So you might as well hop on the Christina Lauren train now, when they're getting close to taking a (hopefully brief) break, so you're ready when they start producing some genius again.