Better When He's Bad
by Jay Crownover
When fate dealt Shane Baxter his hand, she made damn sure it wasn’t stacked in his favour. His chances were few and far between but what was certain was that he was never going to be anybody’s hero – the man that someone would want to call their own, because he wasn’t going to be around that long.
Life had other plans for Shane Baxter and none of them ended happily – or did they?
As a huge fan of Jay Crownover’s work with her Marked Men Series – I was intrigued to see what else she had hidden up her sleeve – well, now I know and it is was the meanest, biggest baddest surprise of all – she had the brooding magnificence of Shane “Bax” Baxter all tied up and ready to blow my mind.
When the blurb stated that Bax was not a good guy it wasn’t kidding – but sometimes it is what isn’t said that carries the most weight. Just released from a 5 year term in prison, Bax is looking for the one person who can give him answers to what went down that night and why he was sold out.
His best friend Race is the man that he needs to find –the only problem being that Race doesn’t want to be found and Bax isn’t the only bad guy looking for him!
The Point was no picnic to grow up in but Bax has a reputation that most definitely precedes him and when he starts asking questions, people start to take notice.
His search for Race leads him to the one secret his best friend had managed to keep from him – Race’s half-sister Dovie Pryce. Now Race is missing leaves Bax with the dilemma that Dovie may just be the key to all of this and if he has worked that out then it won’t take long before the others realise that she has more than a bit part in the whole scenario.
Dovie is more like Bax than he would care to have imagined- grown up in the system and having lived in the Point for much of her life, Dobie knows the score – she knows that bad things happen to good people but having managed to stay in school and out of trouble, she is as far from the norm in the Point as you can get.
But what she doesn’t know is just how Bad you have to be to survive and unfortunately she is about to learn a lesson.
Dovie loves Race to the point of distraction and when Bax appears on the scene she is determined that there is no way she is letting Bax loose to search for her brother on his own. She has questions that she needs answers to but moreover – she wants her brother back –Alive!
While she may not approve of Bax – she knows that she can trust him and that if anyone can get Race back it is Bax.
Feelings don’t mix well with Bax – he’s never had any need for them up until now and that has served him just fine but now - what he is feeling is screwing with his mind. How can this one feisty little redhead have gotten under his skin so quickly?
Dovie on the other hand is walking open eyed into a “relationship” with the enigmatic monster that plagues her every thought and despite the fact that the world and its wife is telling her that he is playing with fire and that nothing good will come of it – she sees a side of Bax that she doesn’t think he has shown to anyone before – she sees Shane!
The chemistry between them is unshakable and as they try to make sense of the whole situation they find themselves drawn together – they open up to each other and possession takes over – she feels a draw to him that has her front and centre in his life and gives her the strength to be the woman that he needs but Bax knows that his feelings for her have now put her on every bad guys radar – he has to protect her because she is the one good thing that he has in his life. He can be the guy he never thought he had the right to be with her around.
“I don't know how love works, Dovie. I don't know how to be anything other than this, but I know the only thing that gives me hope is the idea of you and me. I know I'm not the ideal, not the dream guy, but no one will ever fight for you the way I will. I promise you that you will always have the best parts of me I have to give.”
I loved the fact that Dovie gave as much sass as she did, didn’t back down and looked past the packaging( no matter how smoking hot it was) that Bax was and saw him for what was inside – not a good guy but a guy that circumstance had created and that deserved more.
She loved him – not just the good bits but all of him – because, him being bad made the good bits better. Love really knows no boundaries and in this case Dovie saw the bigger picture – her bad guy was just what she needed to make her life worth living.
Shane on the other hand was the quintessential bad guy and he played the part to a tee and while he revelled in the notoriety and kudos that surrounded him, I got the feeling that he longed for something more. That something just hadn’t presented itself before but now he had it before him- with Dovie- he had the chance at a future that might mean that he wasn’t either dead or in jail.
I loved Shane – the good and the bad – the passion that he employed in everything he did and the honesty he treated Dovie with – I love that he asked her if she wanted him to lie to her when he was trying to explain how he felt about her – a fantastic way for him to get his point across, knowing full well taht he could tell her what she meant to him wiitout actually saying the words.
“Do you want me to lie to you?"
I grabbed his hand and forced him to hold the towel so I could work on his face. I cleaned him off with a cotton ball soaked in peroxide, which had him swearing and scowling at me. I found the little butterfly Steri-strip I bought and slapped a couple on his cheek.
"Yeah. I think I do." I couldn't tell the difference when he lied to me anyway. He grunted and narrowed his eyes even farther at me when I slimed some antibacterial goo on his lower lip.
"Then no. You would be exactly like all the rest.”
Bax was the reason that I turned each page, the bad guy coming good always has me weak at the knees but this time, he threw everything but the kitchen sink at me. Emotionally Bax was draining because I wanted his happy ever after, even if he didn’t! I want him to ride off into the sunset with Dovie and be a good guy but again I knew that was never going to happen – people do what they have to, to survive and Bax survived by being the guy that the world around him expected him to be.
The story turns at a speed that is both fast and efficient- the secondary characters are tied nicely to the tale and I am looking forward to Race’s story next but I wouldn’t mind a peek inside the life of Bax’s older brother Titus either.
Great Start to what is no doubt to be another fantastic series