Review: Better When He’s Brave

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Better When He's Brave
Better When He’s Brave by Jay Crownover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thrillingly intense, seductively addicting, keep me on the edge of my seat read about a woman looking for atonement, a man determined to save his city and the attraction neither can ignore.

“The cop and the sexy criminal with the heart of gold.”

Titus King has dedicated his life to uphold the law, to protect the citizens of the city known as The Point, one of “the most dangerous and corrupt cities in the world.” But with the demise of the city’s underground overlord, a new evil force has declared war and vengeance on everyone involved, collateral damage welcomed. Can detective King keep the lines between good and bad firmly in place while he tries to protect the lives of the people he loves or will he walk in a gray area when he combines forces with the only person who can help bring down the cruel and ruthless criminal?

“Some men wanted to watch the world burn. Titus was a man that wanted to put out all the flames single-handedly from inside the blaze. He was so beautiful…built like an impenetrable bastion…so tall and wide that it seemed like nothing would ever be able to break its way inside of him. He was everything a man should be.”

Reeve Black had run away from her bad choices, but living with the guilt is something she can’t keep on doing and the only logical choice takes her straight to the heart of a city steeped in vicious violence and into the arms of the only man she can trust to save it and help redeem herself. She grew up in The Point, lost her sister to its brutality, she knows the risks and the danger she’s putting herself in, but together Titus and Reeve will find the bravery to confront the threat and hopefully be left standing to embrace the love that has grown between them.

“I had to do something not motivated by my own selfish desires and my own burning need for payback and revenge against the cruel injustices I knew this place was capable of doling out…Hiding was for the weak…The Point was going to war and I was about to become the advantage that the good guys were going to need if they wanted any chance of being able to hold their own.”

This book about a man with inner demons but a clear cut vision of right and wrong is full of anarchy, men who make their own rules, and a romance that develops between black and white areas which is a dangerous place to be for homicide detective Titus King’s heart. It’s harsh but provocative. It captured my attention with its violent and suspenseful prologue. Kept me engaged with its characters who are forced to make difficult decisions in order to survive all the while trying to guess why, how and when the villain would strike next while enjoying its racy sexiness and smiling with the sweet relationship developing between its protagonists.

“My beast made of gentleness and compassion was made to fit perfectly against his beast made of hardness and fight.

I really liked Reeve, it was impossible not to. She’s strong and brave and owned her decisions. And even if she had made decidedly wrong choices before she ultimately put her life on the line in order to put away (or down) a former lover who had for years disguised himself as a good guy but was pure evil underneath and was wreaking pain and destruction everywhere. All the while trying care for the man she loves and admires but who she feels is too good for her.

“She was going to be my downfall. She was going to be my corruption and my vice. She was going to be my addiction and my compulsion and I was still going to fall headlong into her knowing the landing was going to be rough for both of us.”

Having to pretend to be head over heels for an untrustworthy woman who doesn’t share his moral code while actually being attracted to her is something I could understand Titus having trouble with. What took a while for me to appreciate was the depth of his inner struggle. But Reeve saw him to his core and not just accepted him, she wanted more. Once Titus saw past her surface he was all in and I loved how they suited each other perfectly.

“You are it for me. You get all the parts of me. You make me feel like I can just be me, not a cop, not a big brother, not a hero, not a savior… just a man. A man that has his good and bad parts.”

Their relationship is a difficult one because on the surface he was good and she was bad, they were complete opposites. But Jay has an incredible ability to develop complex and addicting characters that can’t be defined so simply. They’re all shades of gray and I loved both their journeys. For Titus accepting that his roots did not define him and for Reeve knowing that she was worthy and could still make good choices.

“Beyond her bad choices, which had been fueled by grief, she was an amazingly good woman. She had a hard heart with a soft center.”

The more I read about the Point, the more it feels like a Gotham-ish kind of place and in this particular book the hero wasn’t a vigilante dressed up like a bat but a sexy, badass officer of the law who’s dedicated his life to serve and protect. Having Bax and Dovie, as well Race and Bryse, Booker and Nassir back was the perfect complemented to the plot. And even though the bad guy deserved to be killed dead, he provided an interesting tangled web that kept me on edge wanting to inhale the story.

I love reading emotionally charged books, and Jay knows how to wield her keyboard and create alluring descriptions that provoke feelings ranging from anger to happiness, from guilt and shame to respect and honor, from hate to desire. It’s was easy to get lost in this story, all her previous ones and I’m the ones to come. I can’t wait for the next one.

“Bonds created in the worst circumstances, love forged in the fire, were bound to shine brighter and last longer than feelings that weren’t put to the test.”

Better when he’s Brave is book #3 in the Welcome to the Point series by Jay Crownover. It is a standalone, full-length, thrilling romance filled with scorching hot scenes, violence and lots of emotional turmoil. Told from both points of view, with interconnecting characters from previous books in the series, with a happy ending.

4.5 stars

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Other quotes I loved:

“He tasted like he looked, strong, sure, and potent. He tasted like righteousness and honor. Redemption and repentance. He tasted like goodness, and I didn’t think there was any way I was going to get enough of it.”
“I wanted to manhandle him with softness, rough him up with tenderness, love him up until he was breathless and boneless under light touches and barely-there kisses. I wanted to kill him with kindness.”

* I was graciously given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via HarperCollins. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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