Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Even the Score by Kate Meader and His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey

Hey peeps! I've got another set of Brazen reviews for you! On Thursday, I reviewed Over the Top by Rebecca Zanetti, to be published on July 21st. Last month, I reviewed four other Brazen novels, mini-review-style. Today, I have two reviews - Even the Score by Kate Meader (July 21, 2015), and His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey (May 13, 2013). Forgive me to cramming these two reviews into one post! It's the only way to get them both posted. Enjoy!

Even the Score by Kate Meader
Book One of the Tall, Dark, and Texan series
Publisher: Brazen
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

He'll make her an offer she can't refuse...

Actress Tess McKenzie is performing in the Tenth Circle of Showbiz Hell-dinner theater. All she really wants is to start a theater of her own. Then Tess receives an offer she can't refuse. She'll get her funding...if she pretends to be the fiancée to her nemesis, Texan property tycoon Hunter Dade. If she's going to pull this off, she'll need all the luck she can get. Break a leg, indeed.

On the verge of a big business deal, Hunter needs to hire a fiancée. He hasn't quite forgiven Tess for ruining his wedding, but when their chemistry goes from combative to straight-up lust, the "no sex" clause in their mutually beneficial arrangement is tested. Which is a serious problem, because if Tess isn't careful, she'll go from breaking a leg to breaking her heart...

What I Liked:

This is definitely one of my favorite Brazen books ever! I don't think I've ever rated a Brazen with five stars, but this one deserves it. It isn't super long - under 300 pages - but it is magnificent. I loved it from start to finish. Certain aspects really jumped out at me, and I urge anyone who enjoys adult contemporary romance and/or Brazen's titles to read this one in two weeks!

Tess is a struggling actress that wants to start her ow theater, on her own terms. When Hunter Dade crashes back into her life with a huge offer, Tess finds it difficult to refuse. Play fiancee for a weekend, and get a one hundred thousand dollar check. But there is history between these two - Tess was Jenna's best friend, Jenna being Hunter's former fiancee and bride-to-be. On Hunter and Jenna's wedding day, Jenna left him at the altar, and Tess was the one that broke it to Hunter. Tess and Hunter don't like each other - but that changes very quickly as things between them unexpectedly heat up...

I had my doubts about this one, initially. The guy is going to fall for his former fiancee's best friend/roommate/maid of honor? That seems odd to me, even if it was a year ago (I think it was a year ago). BUT. Here's what I found out: Hunter is a Texan business, buying properties for a living, and his marriage to Jenna would have been a political-type one. A business arrangement, sort of. Which is why Jenna left him at the altar - she had been cheating on him for a long time. Neither of them loved each other, but Hunter really wanted the marriage, for the connections, as well as to have a socialite wife.

Hunter is a complex guy. He grew up in a trailer park and sometimes still considers himself Texan "white trash", which is why he wanted a socialite wife. But Hunter is know a very rich businessman who buys properties. He's trying to buy a specific property from a man he knows, but he will have to procure a fiancee to convince the man that he is living a stable life (and isn't after the man's wife - which Hunter isn't anyway). I like Hunter a lot - he has a good heart, and he is persistent. Also, he is one sexy guy. Dirty talking, smooth, and super hot. He knows how to turn about the heat! Tall, dark, and Texan, he sure is. 

Tess is an actress, and she is smart, funny, and feisty. One thing I absolutely LOVED about Tess is her relentless attitude. Once Hunter "hires" her to be his fiancee, he adds a no-sex clause so that it wouldn't be unethical or he wouldn't have her feeling like he was taking advantage of her in any way. However, Tess has other ideas. She is persistent and keeps teasing him, never taking no for an answer when she knows they both want each other. She knows she has an effect on him, and has no problem flaunting her inner sex goddess. Outer sex goddess?

This book is HOT. Let me tell you, it didn't matter how short this book was - the intimate (and/or dirty) scenes were numerous but unique and scorching. The chemistry between these two are basically on fire, and there is no extinguishing it at any point in the book. *fans self*

Another thing that really jumped out at me was the writing style, and the humor. The way Meader wrote this book had it reading very wittily and snarkily (the latter of which is not a word), and with a fair amount of humor. Witty humor, which is my favorite type of humor. Love!

I love the progression of Hunter and Tess's relationship. This book takes place in a weekend, give or take, but the relationship feels very full and developed. I didn't think there was insta-love present - maybe insta-lust (fine by me), but Tess and Hunter do not love each other in the very beginning. I was rooting for them since the scene in the theater though! And then they go and play engaged... Tess learns a lot about Hunter. And she gets a good look at his past and his inner self-deprecating attitude. But their relationship is a strong one, and the finish of this book is very strong.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Clearly, since I gave it five stars. I don't dish out the five-star rating often, but there was something about this one! I've already reread it several times. *wink*

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything at the moment that was terribly "bad" or not good... like I said in the beginning - you'd think this romance would be weird, given that it's a guy and his ex-fiancee's best friend. But no, it was not weird at all, and a great romance at that!

Would I Recommend It:

I would absolutely recommend this novel to all romance readers! Especially if you enjoy Brazen's books, definitely give this one a shot. This is my first Meader book and I will definitely be looking out for more from her! Especially from this series.


5 stars. I love Brazen books, and this one is one that I will be recommending as long as I am able! I am so glad I did not pass on the opportunity to read it. Be sure that you don't either!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey
Book Two of the Line of Duty series
Publisher: Brazen
Publication Date: May 13, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Copy bought from Amazon

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

The greater the risk, the hotter the reward…

Homicide cop Troy Bennett had a reputation on the Chicago PD for being fearless and in control—until the night his daredevil partner is killed during a raid. From that moment on, he swears he’ll never again be responsible for the loss of a loved one. To escape his demons, Troy transfers to the NYPD, bringing him up close and personal with Ruby Elliott, a beautiful, street-savvy pool hustler.

Reckless and stubbornly independent, Ruby embodies everything Troy’s avoiding, but when she walks into O’Hanlon’s Pub and blows his carefully laid plans to hell, Troy knows he has to have her—risks be damned. But there’s a connection between Ruby’s shadowed past and a case Troy’s working involving a notorious Brooklyn felon, throwing her safety into jeopardy. Confronted with his biggest fear, will Troy push Ruby away to keep her safe or fight to keep her in his arms where she belongs?

What I Liked:

I'm a little confused by the covers, titles, imprints, and publication dates of different editions of this novel... I've seen it published in 2013 and 2015, by Entangled: Brazen and Entangled: Select, there is this blue-green cover and a grey-pink cover, and one title is this one (His Risk to Take) and another, Riskier Business. I imagine the story is exactly the same, but just be aware of this if you decide to search for the book for more information or to buy it.

Ruby is a professional pool player/hustler, who grew up in pool rooms, trying to earn money. One night, she's doing her thing, hustling guys out of their money at the pool table, when Troy Bennett walks into the bar and into her life. He is dominating, controlling, and undeniably attractive - Ruby can't resist him, and he can't resist her. But as he learns her connection to a criminal, Troy lives his greatest fear again - will he be able to keep Ruby out of danger?

This one took me a while to read and finish, but I finally did! Brazen never really lets me down - three stars is the lowest I've rated a Brazen novel. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to adult contemporary romance - no love triangle, no threesomes, no kids during the story, and we're pretty much good! Pretty much. This one was a decent Brazen novel, though I didn't love it (as is evident by the rating).

I really like Troy - there is something about men in uniform that I absolutely love. Clearly Ruby thought so too. Troy has a bit of a controlling hero complex, and he is always trying to keep Ruby safe. Easier said than done. Nevertheless, he is a good guy with a good heart and a difficult past in the police force. I liked Troy a lot. Not to mention he is a hottie - he can arrest me any day! *nudges*

See my thoughts on Ruby below. I didn't quite like her, though I like her and Troy together. Speaking of the romance - I think I liked the romance. There is a tug-of-war going on, in which Ruby is super freaking independent and doesn't want Troy "fighting her battles", but then there is Troy who is both trying to do his job and trying to protect his lady friend. I think I liked the dynamics of their relationship - they are fire and ice, and are good for each other, in a twisted way.

The criminal story is an engaging one, a good way to tie in the romance. Ruby used to work with the man that Troy is trying to arrest. Which is why Troy is trying to keep Ruby out of everything - to protect her from someone who knows about her, especially now that she has a connection to a cop. This storyline is predictable, but I liked it.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the story, ad the romance - but I had difficulties with the female protagonist. Read on!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said, I had trouble with Ruby. She has an independent streak the size of Montana - which is fine, I think. It's great for women to be independent and own it. But in her case, she wants to keep her pride going and ignore what a cop is telling her - to stay out of an investigation. At that point, Ruby is just being a dumba**, and not a "smart", "independent" woman. I have little respect for her because of her idiotic decisions, all in the name of "I can take care of myself" or "I'm independent" or "I don't need a man to tell me what to do". Honey, it's not about a man trying to boss you around. It's about keeping you safe from a dangerous criminal that you are connected to via your father's past. 

Le sigh. I didn't like Ruby. She needs to tone down the attitude, the rebelling-against-authority thing, the trust issues. Troy grovels, but she is the one with trust issues, the one that pushes him away. I don't think this is fair at all. I get it, everyone loves feminism these days (don't get me wrong, I'm all for equal rights and treatment of women), but there's feminism and then there's common sense.

But still, I liked her role in the romance. Troy and Ruby are a hot pair together!

Would I Recommend It:

I don't think I would necessarily recommend this one, especially if you think you'll have trouble connecting with Ruby, like I did. Tessa Bailey rarely steers me wrong, and I will read just about anything she writes with high hopes of enjoying everything. And I liked this one! Just didn't *love* it. Not liking the female protagonist is kind of a deal breaker! I could recommend a ton of other Brazen novels though, like Even the Score by Kate Meader or Down for the Count by Christine Bell!


3 stars. Good, but not fabulous. I'll still be reading any/all of Tessa Bailey's books. And of course, being the Brazen addict hoarder that I am, I will be on the lookout for new Brazen books!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Clearly I will be getting Even The Score for sure!
    Great reviews Alyssa!

  2. Gorgeous reviews Alyssa :D Yay for enjoying both books. <3 Love reading about all the different and awesome sounding books that you read, hih :)

    1. I'm honored that you still comment on my romance reviews, even though you don't read adult romance! Thank you, Carina ^_^


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