Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Luke Whitford’s father doesn’t think much of his only son. And this is despite the fact that Luke has done everything to mold himself into the kind of man his father wants. In an attempt to make his father proud, Luke takes a meeting for him with dangerous Russian businessman, Roman Demidov. Roman is less than impressed and initially dismisses the boyish Luke out of hand. But then he decides to kidnap the man in order to force the elder Whitford into paying back a large some of money.
But from the start, the kidnapping doesn’t go according to plan. Roman finds himself inexplicably drawn to Luke. Roman and Luke attempt to manipulate one another, all the while trying to ignore their growing feelings for one another. Luke manages to escape, but finds himself consumed by thoughts of Roman and their time together. When his father’s shady business deals threaten Luke once again, he has no choice but to turn to Roman for help. But with Roman back in his life, Luke must decide if he willing to let his chance at love walk away or risk his heart to a man who could destroy him.
I chose Just a Bit Ruthless for our September Reading Challenge Month because I’d never read anything by Alessandra Hazard, but had heard good things about this author. And while I definitely had issues with this book, I will be seeking out more of Hazard’s work. Just A Bit Ruthless is a part of the wider Straight Guys series, but easily read as a standalone. Any references to other books and characters were limited and didn’t affect my understanding of the overall plot. The basic structure of the story is simple: a guy is kidnapped and falls in love with his captor, who in turn falls in love with his hostage. The writing is solid and while occasionally wordy, the pacing is even and the book moved quickly for me. Both Luke and Roman are fairly well developed, though somewhat formalized in their personalities. Luke is a man who struggles with his sense of self and while he has accepted he is gay, he wrestles with his needs and sexual desires. We are told far too often that Luke is innocence personified and youthful in his appearance and this becomes an almost excessive point of Luke’s connection to Roman. A few mentions would have been fine, but I felt I was bludgeoned over the head with this particular aspect of their relationship. Roman is more of an enigma and though we are told about his past and upbringing, he still comes off as something of a stranger. But this works for his character and plays into the tall, dark and mysterious vibe he carries.
Unfortunately the romance didn’t work for me. Almost from the start Roman and Luke seemed like they were going through the motions rather than engaging in any kind of believable relationship. Almost everything romantically themed between them read as stilted and lacking in realistic passion. Luke never felt like an equal member of the partnership and while this possibly stems from his self identify struggles, it just came off as awkward and implausible.
Just a Bit Ruthless didn’t work for me because I couldn’t buy into the romance between Roman and Luke, and as this was such a huge part of the plot, the book suffered. This said, the writing was relatively strong and there was enough to like about the book that I will be seeking out more of Alessandra Hazard’s work. So while this particular title won’t be a favorite of mine, I’m thrilled the challenge month has given me a new author to explore.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Interlude Press. One lucky winner will receive a selection of signed print books, as well as a variety of ebooks by authors new to Interlude Press this year. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!
Thanks for your review, Sue. I haven’t read anything by this author, but I suspect this book will not be my first. I appreciate hearing what worked and what didn’t work for you.
Alessandra is a new-to-me author as well. Appreciate your review and thoughts on the story as well as the writing. If I try anything by this author, will probably start with a different book.
I’ve read quite a few from this series of books and, for the most part, found them entertaining just as long as you totally suspend disbelief! I agree that they are well-written but I have found some of the characters and angst pretty over-the-top (so, engrossing when I’m in the mood for this kind of story but with the potential to be annoying when I’m not!).
Which is one of the reasons I’m going to give this author another try. I can see all the potential but at least with this particular entry in the series, there was just a bit too much nonsense to wade through for my taste.
I haven’t read anything by this author yet. I suspect I’ll grab them if they’re marked down but won’t go out of my way to seek them out. Thanks for your review.
I’ve never even heard of this author, but I’d be interested in hearing what you think of the next book of hers that you read. Right now it doesn’t sound good enough to move up in my TBR mountain. Y’all have reviewed some other books this week that I can’t wait to get started on.
Since this isn’t a plot that really intrigues me, I think I’ll be giving a pass on this one. Thanks for the review!
Huh, this is an author I have never heard before! Well thanks so much for the review then
I’ve never read a book by this author although I have come across the name. I’m curious about the interactions of Ramon and Luke.
Thanks for the thorough review. I haven’t read anything by this author and I appreciate your thoughts.
Oh, I’m sorry you did not like this book that much, Sue. I’ve read the two first books of this series, Straight Boy and Just a Bit Twisted, and I absolutely loved them. I want to continue reading the series, but I keep getting distracted by other books. Anyway, they are waiting in my ebook, I guess for the right moment to read them. Thank you for the review!
I haven’t run across this author before, but hearing your thoughts on the book, Sue, I can see where those same things would bother me. I’m glad you found something you did like in it, though, and I hope your next experience with Hazard’s stories turns out better.
I can’t really agree with this review. I have read all the books in this series and loved them. Though I thought this one had the slowest start, I think the writing is exceptional and the characters well drawn. Highly recommend reading this series!
So glad you have enjoyed them! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Hazard is a new author to me. Alas the plot from this book didn’t pique my interest. But maybe another book from her will 🙂
I might skip this one, but it sounds like the other installments of the series could be good…
Thanks for the review! It sounds pretty interesting but I’m not sure I’ll be reading it if the romance isn’t so great.
I have this serie on my wishlist but for some reason still haven’t read any of the books yet. Thank you for your review. If i ever do start this serie i will probably start with the first book.
This author is a new-to-me too. I’m going to check other works by her, hopefully there are good romance I could enjoy.