Despite the fact that it’s not marked on Goodreads, I do distinctly remember reading the first book in this series, The Bad Boy CEO. I enjoyed the premise, a trio of brothers dragged to their home town which shunned them in their teen years when the closest thing to a parent they have falls ill in the hospital. Even with that book, it was clear three stories were taking place at one time. Bad Boy CEO covered one brother and was good. This one was great and focuses on the oldest brother, Duke.
Duke King is a former jailbird. He was sent there because everyone assumed the worst about him and he’d nearly pounded a fellow teen into the dirt. Said teen was well connected and was also assaulting Duke’s just-recently-broken-up-with girlfriend, Grace (daughter of the local judge). Since getting out of jail, he’s fixed his life up and become the genius artist behind the car design (erm…detailing? not sure of the word here) business.
Grace was devastated ten years ago when Duke dumped her – not understanding it was because he felt it was for her own good (he thought she’d throw her life away for him). What neither knew at that point was that she was pregnant. And now Duke’s come back into her life and has a son he’s never met.
Grace to her credit HAD tried to let Duke know about his son but of course her rotten father (who again was not shown as a very nice guy – see the first book for more issues with this man) had made sure said notices never made it to Duke. But rather than letting her father continue to control her (she didn’t know he’d intercepted the messages), she forged her own life, giving up a lot of material comfort so that she could raise her boy.
I found Duke to be an enjoyable lead – he’s understandably upset to find out he’s got a son he’s never known about. The one aspect to Duke I didn’t enjoy was that it took so very long for him to understand that Grace did not want to just walk away from everything she worked her butt off to accomplish. Yes, he could make it easier on her, and yes he had an obligation to do so. However, it just dragged on for too long (for me) until he figured out why she was fighting him on accepting things from him.
Grace – stubborn but an incredibly strong woman to walk away from an easy life (her father would have paid for college, etc. if she’d just given up the baby). Instead, she’s worked to put herself through nursing school instead of going to be a doctor. She’s raised a (mostly) good son who turns out to be a genius (inherited from Daddy Duke) even though she’d thought he was slow – turns out he was bored in school.
These two souls really needed each other and it takes them a while to figure out how much they really need (and love) the other. I enjoyed seeing Grace’s father get stood up to, and how Duke helped his son develop into a less moody/rebellious young man-in-training.
The other brothers are present, along with alternate points of view on a few scenes that came through in an earlier book, along with hints of what the third brother’s story will be like. I’m looking forward to that in the months to come.
So – yes, this is a bit muddy, but I did really like the book and won’t hesitate to pick up the next.
4 of 5 gargoyles!