By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I steered clear of Christina Lauren's Beautiful series, because just the blurb of Beautiful Bastard (smart intern, asshole boss, lots of name-calling and hate sex) was a big HELLS NO for me... and that was before I started seeing reviews like this one. But then I read Kati's review of Sweet Filthy Boy at Dear Author, and it sounded like this book might work for me, too, and it did (mostly).
It took me awhile to get into it. It starts with Mia, the heroine, graduating from college and going off for a weekend celebration in Las Vegas with her two best girlfriends. (I'm a decade (plus) past my own "New Adult" years and, even back then, I was never the type to think a drunken weekend in Vegas sounds like a good time, so I didn't connect with Mia at first.) While in Vegas, Mia catches the eye of a beautiful boy across a crowded bar, and a few pages later, she wakes up with the worst hangover of her life, vague memories of lots and lots of sex, and a gold band on her finger. My first thought was, oh, please, not another drunken Vegas wedding... *snore*.
Somehow, in the chapters that followed, I got over that. There was something really honest and appealing in the way Mia and Ansel try to balance their sense of holy-shit-how-could-I-be-so-fucking-stupid?! with their dawning understanding that, stupid as the wedding may have been, the feelings they have for one another may be more than drunken insta-love.
Ansel invites Mia to go home to France with him for the summer, to give their marriage a chance. Initially, rationally, she turns him down, but then she changes her mind and dashes for the airport, barely making the flight. In the weeks that follow, she explores Paris while Ansel works way too much, taking the summer to come up with a plan for what she wants to do with her life (since her initial plan, business school on her daddy's dime, holds no appeal).
There was a lot of sex in this book. Too much, in my opinion, but maybe that's just me. It wasn't bad or boring--in fact, I liked the way that sexual role play helped Mia be more honest and confident in the marriage--but I would have preferred more story. (It's funny: I read romance for the story and am tempted to skim the sex scenes; I read erotica for sex and often skim the "story".)
I found Ansel a very appealing hero, smart and sweet and sexy, despite a huge lie of omission that almost derails their Happy Ever After. Mia grew on me, too, even though many of her choices make no sense to me (example: if I had planned to become a professional ballerina, only to have my career derailed by a tragic car accident, teaching little kids to dance is probably the very last thing in the world I would ever choose to do with my life). I like that she spent so much time on her own, exploring the city of Paris and simultaneously getting her head on straight. I like that she discovers and develops her own talents and confidence, rather than magically becoming a super talented sex goddess just because of the love of the right man. Overall, I'm glad I gave this book a chance.