Better When He’s Bad (Welcome to the Point #1)
5 out of 5 Bad A** Stars
Reviewed by Yesi
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About BETTER WHEN HE’S BAD:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover returns with a heart-stopping new series… 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, awakening feelings she never thought she’d have for a guy like him. But it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize . . . some boys are just better when they’re bad.
Better When He’s Bad has many selling points without ever opening to the first page… one, it’s written by Jay Crownover, two, the HOT cover, three, the phenomenal synopsis, and four, the wanting to know the difference between a bad boy and a bad man in books is a very intriguing concept. Are you sold yet??? You should be, this book is phenomenal and Jay Crownover’s best book to date. I absolutely LOVE her Marked Men Series and if you know me, you know Rule is my number one of all the men Jay has given us but, good Lord, Shane Baxter is in a class all of his own. I never in a million years thought I would fall for a bad, bad man, not a bad boy who is a jerk or screws anything in sight, no, an actual bad man. A felony record, prison time, and extremely questionable behavior, Bax, that’s what everyone calls him, and I fell for him, HARD. Jay Crownover made it impossible not to.
“She was the epitome of everything good that came from bad people and a bad place.”
This is the story of Shane “Bax” Baxter and Dovie Pryce. It is dark, gritty, emotional, and raw, yet beautiful, intense, and sexy as hell too. Better When He’s Bad is told in dual POVs and honestly, that is my absolute favorite. I love getting both sides of the story and in this case it was absolutely necessary. Bax is a bad man, the life he leads is a direct reflection of growing up in the awful place known as the Point. The choices he has made throughout his life have led him to prison and now that he is free, he is hungry for answers and for revenge. He was betrayed and the only person who can give him what he needs is missing, his best friend Race. Right from the beginning I was completely drawn in to Bax and to his story. He is determined and on a mission to find Race and finally learn what really happened the day he went to prison. When he meets Dovie Pryce, he knows she is a game changer. She is nothing like the women he is used meeting at the Point, she is wholesome and sweet, but feisty and strong as well. When their worlds collide there is no turning back to the life they have grown accustomed to. Dovie has a very special connection to Race and soon she finds herself on crazy and extremely dangerous ride with Bax. She also feels this insane attraction to him and she knows that nothing good can come out of that, well at least that’s what she thinks. These two together are explosive, in more ways than one!
“I’m not going to pretend I don’t like it when you’re Shane better, but Bax has his place and I can deal with him, just not in bed.”
I absolutely LOVED this story from beginning to end. The twists and turns, the danger and mystery, the very realistic life they lead, and the urge to find the good in Bax is overwhelmingly awesome. Jay Crownover is masterful in her writing and she can make you fall in love with the most unlikely man. I love how she brings her characters to life whether they are the focus or the supporting. It is easy to build a connection to all of them. You will be rooting for the bad man that has some good in him and you will be cheering for the girl who won’t give up on him. A truly fantastic story that will stay with you long after you are finished reading. Better When He’s Bad is a MUST read! I now anxiously await Race’s story, the preview at the end of the book is one big tease and it left me wanting so much more! Well done, Ms. Crownover, well done.
“That was what undid me about him. He was unpredictable, he was a criminal he was hazardous to my sanity, but then he held me when I couldn’t sleep and he touched me like I would break. It was an intoxicating combination that I was having no luck in fighting.”
Some authors say the characters speak to them and their story must be told…sometimes taking it in a different direction than they originally planned. Has this happened to you? If so, who has spoken the loudest?
Yeah it happens all the time. Ayden was initially gonna end up with Nash and then she met Jet and it was game over. Asa had a different love interest then the one he has now when I initially sold the books. He was also supposed to die in Jet and Ayden’s book but something about him kept whispering at me to keep him around.
I don’t know about speaking to me the loudest but Bax’s character from start to finish was the most clearly defined. Like I felt like I knew every little single thing about him, there was no guessing, no surprise…his story was bright and clear and so was the way he wanted it told.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Well I am heavily tattooed and I do like music and bars so I mean it’s all subjective. None of the plot lines are based on any actual events in my life, but I think the world is pretty much 100% reflective of my life experience and preferences.
I have a wild imagination but all of it is touched with bits and pieces of reality. For instance Bax is a car thief-I have no idea if I got it spot on or not-but I know all the car stuff inside out because my dad builds muscle cars. Imagination with colors of the real world.
Rule seems to be the favorite of the Marked Men series, did you ever imagine it having such a big impact on readers and that a published series would follow?
I knew more books would follow. I knew it was going to be him, Jet and Rome for sure-regardless if I published independently or with a traditional publisher. The last three were more of a surprise but I’m ever grateful all the boys in the group get a chance at a HEA.
You know it’s nice readers love Rule the way they do. It’s special to have created a character that is so beloved-what I don’t enjoy about that devotion is the idea or notion that no one can touch-that none of the books have followed have been on the same level as Rule. I just don’t agree with it. I think my writing has matured, the way I tell my stories has tightened and I understand so much more now than I did with Rule. I adore his unique hold on my reader’s hearts but I also kind of resent it too.
Better When He’s Bad is getting lots of buzz. How did you come up with the idea about a boy who is bad versus a bad boy? What’s the difference in your opinion?
A bad boy is a gimmick. It’s a guy with a look, an attitude that gives him an excuse for bad behavior towards others. I think a bad-boy is a trope…they walk alike, they talk alike…they have characteristics that absolutely define them as bad-boys and it doesn’t matter who the author is or what the story they are trying to tell is. Bad-boys are effortlessly sexy and have an allure that means they don’t have to work very hard at getting whatever it is they want.
A boy who is bad isn’t a caricature of what we’ve come to think of as a bad-boy. He’s a real guy, with real attitude and real problems that I think he genuinely doesn’t care one way or the other how he is perceived by anyone else. A boy that is bad is that way for a purpose, because he has to be, because he hasn’t ever been able to be any other way. I think a boy that is really, truly bad is far more scary than he is sexy and alluring.
You have given us Rule, Jet, Rome, Nash and soon your readers will meet Bax… which one is your favorite? Which one did you enjoy writing about most and why?
I like them all. They are all a part of me. I feel like each book has a tiny piece of my heart and soul in it.
Bax has been my favorite to write because I wrote it with no rules. I wrote it to expand my genre. I wrote it to surprise people.
And mostly I wrote it to prove I could do something besides basic boy meets girl romance. Bax is a personal feather in my author cap and I love that about his book.
When someone finishes one of your novels, what do you want them to walk away with or to feel?
Whatever they want to feel. I’m always trying to teach a little life lesson along the way. I’m always trying to remind people little things they may have forgotten in the grind of the everyday…sometime it works. Sometimes it absolutely doesn’t.
I would hope people feel satisfied and connected to the world I’ve created, but even if they don’t then that’s okay. As long as they felt something, anything…even annoyance or frustration I did my job.
They only way I feel I failed is if a reader was just like…blah…
Finally, what is up next after Better When He’s Bad? We know Rowdy and Asa are coming. Any other future projects in the works that you can you share something about?
The second Point book, Race’s story, Better When He’s Bold is up in Feb after Rowdy. Oh Race…he’s a smooth operator and has a really intense and interesting take on what needs to happen next on the mean streets.
And after Asa..the last official Marked Men book….well I have ideas…all kinds of ideas but they have to be secret for now…..
I let out the breath I was holding and took another step closer to her. The water was splashing on the sleeve of my shirt as I reached up to grab both of her cheeks in my palms. “Are you scared of me?”
It was the start of the questions I had asked her what felt like a lifetime ago. Her answer didn’t change, but this time when she answered, she was holding back a smile that made my heart hurt.
“Terrified, but I kind of like it now.”
“Do you trust me?” My voice broke. I had never really trusted anyone but Race and now there was her and my brother and just all kinds of new things making my life so much more complicated and undeniably fuller.
“With my life. I trust all the parts of you, Bax. You need to know that.”
“You going to go to bed with me?” That made her outright laugh and she reached up to curl her hands around my wrists.
“As often as I can and anyplace in between when the mood strikes.” The rest of the blood racing around my system went solidly south.
I dropped my forehead so it was resting on hers and the water from the showerhead was cascading down around us. I was making a mess, but I didn’t care because I had her, and she was my home. “Do you love me?”
The words sounded so foreign, but so right, when I was saying them to her. She brushed her full lips across mine and the last three months without her faded away.
“Do you want me to lie to you or tell you the truth?”
I smiled against her mouth and kissed her back twice as hard as she had kissed me. “Lie to me.”
She reached up and put her arms around my neck and took a step back, dragging me all the way into the shower stall with her. The water was lukewarm at best, and it made me shiver. So did the fact that she started to impatiently pull the tail of my shirt up over my head. A task made increasingly difficult considering I was now soaked head to toe and the material was clinging to me.
“Of course not. You’re the last person in the world I could love.”
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Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She will also be introducing the dark and sexy world of The Point in a new series this summer starting with Better When He’s Bad. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.