Second installment of a contemporary romance series revolving around a powerful family with criminal ties, the son who wants to go legit, and the woman on the run who falls for him.
Emily Stevens and Shane Brandon fell hard and fast for each other in Hard Rules (2016), but Emily’s secrets and Shane’s controlling family still threaten to tear them apart. Corporate attorney Shane has returned home to Denver to battle his brother Derek for control of Brandon Enterprises. Emily is on the run and working as an administrative assistant for David Brandon, the family patriarch, who is dying of cancer. Shane is determined to end Derek’s shady business deal with the Martina cartel to cloak a banned performance-enhancing substance with legit Brandon Pharmaceutical labeling, but he'll have to convince his father to side with him. Hard Rules introduced a large cast of characters and laid out a complex plot and believable internal and external barriers for Shane and Emily. With all the pieces on the board, this should have been an exciting read, but issues that could be forgiven in a first installment prove problematic here. Emily is underdeveloped and does little, if anything, to address her own precarious situation or help Shane with his. The sex scenes are more explicit and numerous, but their repetitive nature mirrors the circular conversations between Emily and Shane about her safety and their future. Although the series promises Sons of Anarchy–style gang action, the Martina cartel remains frustratingly offstage for most of the book, and Emily’s own connection to a mysterious hacking group remains unexplored.
An intriguing high-concept premise sabotaged by glacial pacing and a static central romance.