Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: October 15, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
There’s sin, and then there’s literally going-straight-to-hell sin…
Being in lust with my dead brother’s wife pretty much guarantees that one day I’ll be the devil’s bitch. But Eden Gordon works with me, so it’s getting harder and harder to stay away. I promised my family—and him—I would, though.
My days as an MMA champion are behind me. But whenever I see her, with those wicked curves and soft mouth created for dirty deeds, it’s a knock-down fight to just maintain my distance. “Hard Knox” becomes more than just the name of my tattoo shop. However, surrendering to the forbidden might be worth losing everything…
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: heteroromantic
TROPES: in love with brother’s widow, family / found family, friends to lovers, workplace romance / coworkers to lovers, mutual pining, forbidden romance
TAGS: adult, contemporary, erotica, romance, erotic romance, Polynesian character, POC character, Black author, POC author, tattoo artist
WARNINGS: sexual harassment, non-consensual touching, groping, alcoholism mention, spousal death, slurs, gendered slurs, parental death mention, misogyny, ableism, suicide mention, anti-queer language, therapy mention, survivor’s guilt, verbal abuse
When I requested this book on NetGalley, literally all I knew about it was the title, author, and the cover. I was immediately drawn in by said cover and requested it based on that alone, to be quite honest. There was no blurb, so other than what I could gather from the title and tagline, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But happily, this book was a wonderful angsty, sex read with lovely bits of sweetness tossed in!
All of the characters were super great! I really enjoyed Knox, who is a born protector and has been eaten alive by guilt the past two years after failing to prevent his brother’s death. Alongside the guilt he feels for desiring his brother’s widow. He was a great, albeit difficult, character to read at times because the guilt about these two things saturate practically his every thought. And, in some ways, I was able to relate to him, as regards his family. It’s so hard loving and wanting to protect them, while knowing you’re often helpless to do so. And trying to master your emotions when they’ve hurt you in ways only your loved ones can is a struggle, one that I empathize with. But I loved seeing his relationship with his other brothers and how close they still are, how they love and support each other.
Also, Eden was a wonderful character and I loved watching her grow and become the woman she was meant to be. Throughout the novel, we get to watch her through mourning Connor and realizing she needs to move on but not forget, through becoming more independent and discovering different facets of herself that were buried, through loving Knox and making it known that he is her choice and no one is going to take him away from her. While she’s a great character at the start, I loved her so much by the end. Because by the end, she’s not afraid to say exactly what she needs, to stand up for herself and Knox both, and to embrace the love and life she could have with Knox, despite their strange circumstances.
Additionally, Knox’s brothers and the other characters in the shop were so fun to read! The camaraderie between all of them was really enjoyable to me personally, as I love a good found family story!
As far as the plot goes, I did enjoy it over all. The angst over their wants, needs, and desires, how things would play out if people found out, and of course, Knox’s guilt over both Connor and Eden was beautifully done. You could feel the struggle they tried to fight their way through. And I also enjoyed how the plot played into the character development of both the main characters. My main complaint, though, would be that the story was extremely repetitive at times. The first two chapters are basically the same things repeated, just one from Knox’s point of view and one from Eden’s. It was a bit of a struggle to slog through that when I already had the information, but once I powered through, I was able to really appreciate the story, even though similar repetition happened at different points throughout.
All in all, though, this book was really great and I’m excited to see more from this series!
USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Linda Howard many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— writing sizzling romances with a touch of humor and snark.
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.