Blog Tour and Giveaway: Better When He's Bad: Jay Crownover

Better When He's Bad
Welcome to The Point #1
Publication Date: June 17, 2014 
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Welcome to the Point There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad . . . meet Shane Baxter.

Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he’s the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there’s a new player in the game, and she’s much too innocent, much too soft…and standing directly in his way. Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She’s always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con The Point has ever produced. 

Bax terrifies her, but it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize that some boys are just better when they’re bad.

 This is how Jay describes her new novel/series:
“It’s dark and dangerous and set in a fictitious underworld/bad part of town. The men in all of the books are way more along the line of being anti-heros than true leading men. I guess the easiest way to sum them up is by saying the books are all about the choices these characters have to make and the outcomes and results of those decisions. Bax’s book is all about having to make the hard choices and what becomes of him and his lady in doing so. They are super fun, very atmospheric and I think really what writing a bad boy should be like if you’re going to do it :)”

I picked a lot of really angry, fast paced punk rock for the soundtrack. Mostly because that’s what I feel like Bax would be into. The story moves fast, he moves fast…the loud guitar and the screeching vocals seem to fit the angst and violence of the Point. There are even a few punk songs about girls in there because I think even how Bax sees Dovie is sort of high-octane and overwhelming. Nothing about him is gentle or soft.

I wish I could steal “Bad Things” away from True Blood because really this a perfect theme song for not just Bax and Dovie but all of the point. I like the sexy, bluesy vibe and he really does want to do all kinds of bad things to her, for her and with her…

I picked Fear and The Dead Kennedys because they are both talking about the city grinding people down and about class-warfare. Back when punk was about anarchy and the resistance it was all about rising up above whatever was holding you down. That really speaks to who Bax is. He makes his own rules, lives his own way…he really is kind of an anarchist.

I threw in some old G&R because I really think they have the grit and grim that kind of permeates the Point. Back when rock was dirty and you just knew the bands that sang it were filthy! It totally fits, plus “Ain’t It Fun When You Know You’re Gonna Die Young” is awfully prophetic when it comes to our anti-hero in this book. Bax really starts out thinking he has two options in life…a body bag or a life behind bars!

Shane "Bax" Baxter is out of prison after five years and back in his rough neighborhood, The Point. His transition home is anything but smooth, and soon he is on a mission to find his best friend, Race, who has gone missing and is probably in trouble. He gets saddled with an unlikely assistant in Dovie Pryce. But she has her own reasons for wanting to find Race.

Bax is a bad boy...a real one, not just a  guy who looks like one because he has tats and piercings. He is a thief, felon, thug, man whore, and Trouble with a capital T. He is tough, tatted, controlling, and intimidating, but oozes raw sex appeal. He does not do emotions or attachments.

Dovie is sweet and innocent looking, but is full of sass and fire. She is strong, street smart, and determined. She has been fighting her whole life and hoping for better, so when something is important to her, she will not be left behind.

They drive each other crazy. They argue, annoy, and taunt. But they both see what's under the surface too. There is sexual tension, chemistry, and a fire that they cannot contain. She gets under his skin and tries to convince him he has both good and bad in him. And he wants to be better for her, but knows he does not deserve her. 

And all along there are questions, secrets, and mysteries they are trying to unravel and it is all tied up together with Bax's past, Race's disappearance, and the evil man who basically controls The Point. And even as they get answers, it is hard to find solutions to the problems that seem insurmountable. They are all mixed up in one risky, dangerous situation and the outcome is not looking good. And when it is a fight going down in the The Point, it means life and death. It is action packed, intriguing, suspenseful, and kept throwing plot twists at us along the way. It is not a sweet, sappy fairy tale. It is raw, intense, full of danger, and out of control.

I loved Bax. There is just something about a bad boy. He was all rough edges and darkness, but then we would catch small glimpses into the man who thrived on having a connection and wanted to have a chance...even if he did not think he deserved one. It was hard to get "in" with Bax, but once he cared, he would do anything to protect those he cared about. He was strong, alpha, sexy, conflicted, and maybe 70% bad and 30% good give or take. He was a character I could not help but feel for and want to see make it despite the horrible circumstances. 

Bax had to fight himself, his feelings, friends, family, the law...and a crime lord. It's all in a day in the life of Shane "Bax" Baxter. But to save those few he cares about, he is willing take on the whole Point if he has to. And it might just come down to that. It's a good thing he is better when he's bad (even though when he is good, he is also oh so good.).

This was told in both Bax and Dovie's points of view so we got to see into their innermost thoughts, doubts, confusion, and feelings. I really liked them together even though in some ways they were opposites and in others they really were alike. They had the potential to bring out the best and the worst in each other. Their connection was deep and fierce, but fragile and volatile. 

I was also totally intrigued by Race. He is his own kind of bad boy. Different than Bax, but just as dangerous. He will be the subject of the next book Better When He's Bold. And I liked Titus too. He is the guy who came out of the bad situation they grew up in and tried to do the right things instead of the bad ones. Dovie had a few girlfriends that I am sure we will see again in the future: the sassy Brysen, tough Carmen, and maybe even the conflicted Reeve. There are definitely more stories swirling around these characters just asking to be told. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Better When He’s Bad is harder and grittier than what we’ve seen from Jay so far. I love her Marked Men, but compared to Shane Baxter, those boys are soft. 

Bax has a bad side, and a worse side. I spent a good half of the book wondering if I was going to be able to find anything redeeming about Bax, other than he was unapologetically himself. Even through all the plot points, at his core, Bax doesn’t change. He is hard. He is reckless. He is not afraid of criminal activity. And by the end I loved him. Those things I wasn’t sure I would be able to love? I loved them because he made normally negative traits into something that was purely himself. He was always honest about who and what he was, and continually driven to meet his own needs above those of others around him. This doesn’t sound like a glowing character description, but on Bax it works. 

Dovie grew up in a place just like the Point. She knew the hardships that come from being from the wrong side of town. But through it all, she retained a light that no one was immune from noticing. Even when she found herself more or less alone, she had people willing to look out for her. She was sweet in a way that isn’t often found in places as dark as the Point. 

When they try to work together to locate Bax’s best friend, Race, they transition from tolerance to attraction as they are forced to spend more time together for Dovie’s safety. The attraction between them wasn’t immediate beyond a surface level physical attraction, especially with the way they met. As the questions that Bax has spent the last five years asking himself begin to be answered, this became a page turner that I didn’t want to put down. I was absolutely sucked into the Point and Bax and Dovie’s journey to find out what exactly happened 5 years before, and just how thick the tangled web was woven. Between a cop, a fight coordinator, the local crime boss and Dovie and Bax, there were so many twists and turns to the story that made this an experience unlike any other. 

I loved that neither main character changed major parts of themselves to be in the relationship. There was no waiting for Prince Charming to come to the rescue when trouble found Dovie, nor did Bax clean himself up to get the girl. They both stayed true to themselves and found acceptance for the other just as they were. 

The Point as a location is perfect for this story. While it is a fictional city, it contains elements of the rough parts of any big city, and it’s ambiguous placement lets it resonate no matter what part of the country or world the reader is from. Everyone can picture this kind of area, and not tying it down to one specific region allows the reader to project as much darkness as possible. It’s the kind of place that breeds hardness, where light struggles to permeate. It’s the kind of place where Bax is perfectly at home, and Dovie can’t help but hide herself. 

This was not an easy story to read. It was dark. It hurt. It surprised me in the best possible ways. As the beginning of a new series, it has a perfect amount of world-building and peripheral character introduction without taking too much focus away from the main couple’s drama. There is enough of Race’s story dropped that I am already anticipating the next book, Better When He’s Bold, where we get his story.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Jay Crownover Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

 I’m supposed to share interesting details about myself so that my readers get to know me so here we go in no particular order: I’m an natural redhead even though I haven’t seen my real hair color in years, I’m a big fan of tattoos and have a half sleeve on either arm and various other pieces all over the place, I’ve been in the bar industry since I was in college and it has always offered interesting insight into how   men and women interact with each other, I have 3 dogs that are all crazy, I live in Colorado and love the snow, I love music and in all reality wish I could be a rock star not a writer or a bartender but I have zero talent so there is that. I love to write, love to read and all I’m interested in is a good story with interesting characters that make the reader feel something.
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  1. I love bad boys that have a soft spot for animals and kids!

  2. I love when the bad boys take control! ;)


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