Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Hard Rules - Lisa Renee Jones

Hard Rules (Dirty Money #1)
by Lisa Renee Jones
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Published: August 9, 2016

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.

How bad do you want it?

The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family's business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.

Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.

4.5 Stars
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

"It's time for some rules?"
"Rules? What rules?"
"Hard rules. And hard rule number one is, NO MORE LIES."

Shane Brandon has been called in to clean up his father's empire and keep the family business legitimate. His brother used to be his best friend, but now they're better defined as enemies, with Derek being reckless and pushing Brandon Industries into more lies and danger. Shane must learn to embrace the dark side if he wants to pull Brandon Industries back into the light, but he must be cautious of who he puts his faith in. Then he meets Emily and everything he ever felt about women and relationships changes. She is what keeps him from turning too dark, except when he is commanding her in the bedroom.
Emily is on the run, hiding from everything she used to be, but she can't hide from Shane. He brings out a side of her she's never known, a sexual side, a passionate side, a side that desires to give him all her truths. She has a secret though and her secret could destroy him and all they share.

“There is nothing about you,” he says, “or this night, that is uncomplicated or what I expected.”

'Hard Rules' by Lisa Renee Jones is book one in the "Dirty Money" series and it does end in a cliffhanger that will pick up in the next release, 'Damage Control'. Told in dual POV, Hard Rules is one of the sexiest romantic suspense novels I have read in quite some time. Though the novel itself is fairly slow in pacing, the romance is quick to kick off between Emily and Shane. The reader gets to know Shane's background extensively, understands Emily's current situation but not what brought her to it, and can immediately see how these two took to one another. Their chemistry is off-the-charts, their interactions and dialogue only reinforcing how perfectly these two match up. It was so easy to like Shane, to see his good side and support his dip into the dark side. His family is a painful set of characters to read about; I didn't enjoy watching the showdown of good and evil, but it was written incredibly well. Emily is an unknown, I loved reading her perspective, but not knowing her secret is so hard. She is confusing, at times seeming weak and other times so brave, so I really want to know more about her. In an odd way, though I know very little about her, I know I am in her corner. Then there's the cliffhanger, I am never one for a cliffhanger and I wasn't prepared for this one, but it didn't gut me like most do and left me feeling more excited for book two.

We are one in this moment, two people lost and found in each other, both of us fighting a battle the other understands in ways no one else can.

'Hard Rules' is a slower novel, this first book in this series can best be described as a stepping stone, introducing all the characters and the basic plot that revolves around Brandon Industries. We're left with the understanding that a secondary plot line, Emily's story, will come to fruition with the release of 'Damage Control.' I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see how these two story lines mix together, part excited and part terrified it could ruin my hopes and dreams for these two. I admit it is the kind of novel I could take a walk away from with no desperate desire to dive back in, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Lisa Renee Jones writes very well and setting the story up with extensive detail as she did worked for me. It didn't take me away from living life like some novels can, but it also never left my mind.

Blood doesn't mean loyalty, and that's what I've been counting to save me.

I was sucked in by the synopsis, in love with the cover, and completely intrigued from the very first page. I think 'Hard Rules' is best described as a novel, and series, with far more to it than first meets the eye. I highlighted so many passages, I think I had more fun posting quotes as update statuses with this novel than any other. I truly love Shane and Emily and though I'm never a cliffhanger fan, I will be hanging onto this series with all my might because I love the suspense and the deceit I know is to come.

Plus, I really really REALLY want Shane for myself. I'll be his Emily anytime. 

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