Beautiful Sinner by Sophie Jordan
Book Five of the Devil's Rock series
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Locked in with the town bad boy . . .
Most women would be scared, but Gabriella’s only worried about resisting Cruz Walsh, who’s even hotter than he was back in high school. Cruz was wrongly accused of the high-profile crime for which he was imprisoned; Gabriella’s desperate for the scoop that will get her career off the ground and get her out of Sweet Hill, where everyone still remembers her as “Flabby Gabby.” Being stuck in a supply closet with Cruz is the perfect opportunity to land an interview. What Bri doesn’t count on is Cruz taking “up-close and personal” to a whole new level.
If there’s a silver lining to the hell Cruz went through, it’s that losing his freedom put everything in perspective. Maybe starting over someplace new would be easier, but after years locked up, Cruz values his family—and his true friends—more than ever. So he’s back home, facing the gossip, dodging reporters . . . and face-to-face with Gabriella Rossi. They’ve both changed: Bri wants a story and Cruz just wants her. Another thing he’s learned? Don’t let a good thing slip away.
What I Liked:
I've been in a bit of a reading slump, and I decided to pick up this book even though it doesn't publish for another month and a half. I love this series - books one and four are my favorite, but all four are great - and I had a feeling that this fifth book would be excellent. I believe this is the final book in the series, and it's a great concluding story.
This is Cruz's story; Cruz is the older brother of Piper (heroine of Beautiful Lawman). He is a good friend of Knox and North (they went to high school together, and went to jail for the same incident, though with varying offenses). This book is set approximately six months after the ending of Beautiful Lawman - so Cruz has been free for six months. He's living in Sweet Hill, he owns his own home, and he opened a gym in the town. He's doing well, except most citizens of Sweet Hill still treat him like he was the one who killed Shelley Rae, seven years ago. Enter Gabriella Rossi, who went to high school with Cruz. She has always had a crush on him, and never believed that he killed Shelley Rae. She has been living in Austin, but moved back to Sweet Hill to live next door to her grandmother and take care of her, post-surgery. Gabriella doesn't expect to run into Cruz, or to feel the immense attraction she used to feel when she was in high school. What she doesn't know is that Cruz also crushed on her in high school, and years later, he hasn't gotten her out of his mind.
This was a unique love story. We have two people who never dated, were never friends, never interacted much, but went to high school together, and crushed on each other. Cruz was always the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Gabriella was always the smart, good girl who was going places. Twelve years later, life has stalled for both of them, in different ways. But life has a way of surprising everyone. Imagine Gabriella and Cruz's surprise when they get locked into a closet together, the night of a high school function. (Cruz's youngest sister is in high school, and Gabriella's niece is in the same high school.)
When Cruz and Gabriella run into each other in the high school event, the chemistry is electric. When they get stuck in the closet after the event, the chemistry ignites. I love how good Sophie Jordan is at building chemistry! There is explosive chemistry from the start, and it doesn't let up.
I liked seeing Cruz and Gabriella's progression, in terms of their relationship and the mushy gushy feelings. It was the cutest thing - Cruz decided he wanted to spend more time with her, so he started bringing her food and "chasing" her. Don't get me wrong - Gabriella is not opposed to this! I would be mildly worried about consent and creepy behavior, but Cruz and Gabriella are both interested in each other, and Cruz makes a move. The romance is as sweet as the chemistry is steamy.
This book is steamyyyyy, as per Jordan's usual when it comes to her contemporary romance novels. There are closet scenes. There are backed-into-a-car scenes. There are gym scenes. So many steamy sexy times, and a great buildup to the bigger moments!
I should talk a little bit about Cruz and Gabriella individually - I adored them both. Cruz is a sweetheart. He seems like a block of marble, a hardened individual whom the town has not accepted since he was exonerated. But he's a good guy who wants to make a difference in the town. Gabriella was never a popular kid in high school, and she always wanted to get out of Sweet Hill. She has self-esteem issues, and she was bullied, and so Sweet Hill doesn't hold good memories for her. She's a kind and hard-working person, very smart and sweet and a tough on the innocent side. She and Cruz are a great match!
The climax of the book came quickly - I couldn't stop reading! This book has the usual conflict in which there is drama that could separate the couple. In this case, Gabriella's job as a reporter directly conflicts with Cruz's privacy. So it's understandable when he feels like she has stepped over a line. But I LOVE how Gabriella fights for him and holds her ground. (Side note, she did nothing wrong, and was never using him to boost anything at her job.)
Obviously I loved this book. I highly recommend it, and the entire series. Book four is probably my favorite, and then book one, but the whole series is worth reading!
What I Did Not Like:
The only complaint I have is that this book felt too short! Which is absurd because it's like 350 pages long! I think I breezed through it - I was totally engrossed. I didn't realize I was almost at the end until the big drama came along. I wouldn't have minded more pages, but I'm not unhappy with what is presented!
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book and the series in general. I've not read too many books involving ex-cons, or those exonerated, so this series was a little different. Jordan doesn't romanticize the felon aspect - I thought she did a great job with this. She isn't just looking for big, bad heroes. (Though they definitely are big and bad, no complaints there.) There is so much depth and backstory to each hero in this series. Start from the beginning, with Knox and Briar! They'll sway you.
4 stars. I love this book! I think it's the final book in the series which makes me a little sad, but now I have a good excuse to reread the entire series. I have reread most of the books anyway, no excuse needed. I can't wait to read more adult contemporary romance by Sophie Jordan!
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