Series: Marked Men #6
Published by Avon on April 21st 2015
Also by this author: Better When He's Bold, Better When He's Brave, Leveled
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Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestsellingMarked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.
Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.
A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.
You don’t expect anything but perfection from Jay Crownover and her Marked Men, and Asa doesn’t disappoint. Early on in this series, Asa was the character that you wanted to like but he always did something to screw it up. He kept getting in my “I can’t decide if I like you or not” category.
Over the series, he redeemed himself in small ways but in this book, he really stepped up. He knew how to help Royal and was able to give her exactly what she needed. He didn’t want her to end up in the dark places he has been or currently still inhabitated. It was fantastic to see Asa realize that he could actually do positive and redeeming acts in his life for a selfless reason. Because his past was full of selfish, destructive actions, he has a hard time believing he deserves any kind of happiness.
In comes Royal…she is exactly what Asa needs too. She wants him to see that he is worthy of love and happiness. She doesn’t run away from his stories of past bad behavior and constantly reminds him to live in the present. She is a perfect match for Asa but he doesn’t want to believe it.
The bumps and bruises these two endure to get their HEA are heartbreaking but I expect no less from Jay. She sucks us in and keeps us their even after the last page. I am sad to see the Marked Men series coming to an end but so excited for Saints of Denver. She skillfully weaves these new characters into the back story of Asa which leaves us wanting more.
I gulped and fully expected Royal to stop what she was doing but she didn’t, and she didn’t bother to look up as I strangled out that we were fine and just needed the bill. The girl gave me a look full of knowing and, if I wasn’t mistaken, approval before she walked off. I curled my fingers at the back of Royal’s head until they were hopelessly tangled in her hair, and lifted her head off of my shoulder enough that I could kiss her. Her hand dipped even lower in my pants and I groaned against her tongue.
“You need to stop.” I rasped the words out because I really didn’t want to say them. We were in a public place, and while she might have a wild side, I doubted she would let me throw her on the cocktail table and fuck her like everything inside me was screaming to do.
She sank her teeth into my bottom lip hard enough, and when she coupled that with her soft hand squeezing the base of my dick, I was ready to come on the spot. “You need to stop, too.”
Her message was clear. She was all for games as long as they were fun and sexy, but she wasn’t going to be a pawn, and if I wanted to enjoy her while I had her, I better get my shit together real quick. She withdrew her hand, skating up under the hem of my shirt and letting her fingers run over the ridges of my abs. The scrape of her nails across my skin had me ready to go off like a rocket, so I threw enough money on the table to cover our bill and probably the table next to ours and dragged her out of the warehouse like it was on fire.
She laughed and it did something to the inside of my chest. I had put tears in her eyes first, but somehow she was amazing enough to understand the stuff I did better than I did myself, and now she was laughing about the disaster of it all. It was like the sun coming through the clouds on a stormy day. She was everything bright the darkness tried to swallow and I wanted inside of her so bad that I couldn’t see straight.
I pushed her up against the side of the battered car and closed my mouth over hers. I tunneled my fingers through the hair at her temples and kissed her with every bit of urgency I had. The funny thing was, I had to let go of some of the other stuff I was always holding on to in order to get the message across to her, and with the press of her mouth against mine, the brush of her tongue across my own, I couldn’t explain it but I suddenly felt lighter.
“I want to take you home and take you to bed.” I sounded rough. There was no smoothness in my typically practiced twang. I sounded impatient and needy, two things I don’t think I had ever been before this girl.