I was more than curious to read this. You see, fellow readers, I am always fascinated how authors, regardless of genre, will portray the ‘deeply religious’ person and the people who are raised in their household. So my curiosity was piqued with Shelly. Will she be the stereotypical rebellious wild child who sees the need to break every household rule and societal law or will she take the teachings of her father and her father’s religion and use them for good?
It’s really not a hard decision, but then again I think that if Shelly Walker’s life was influenced more by Levi King, she wouldn’t have turned out to be the amazingly wonderful and giving person that she is. Shelly was one of the few people who befriended Levi when they were both much younger and he was still living in Destiny with his older brothers. It’s that same ‘deeply religious’ father who allowed that friendship and taught Shelly the value of not judging others. But I digress.
Race-car driver Levi King is the youngest of the King brothers. Levi’s on a bit of a break after a very bad car accident the year prior. He hasn’t decided his future in racing, but in the meantime, he’s hosting a TV show that showcases his brother Duke’s custom cars. On a mundane day the brothers are notified that the woman who helped raise them, after their father left, is in the hospital and she’s requested that they all come home to see her.
Levi’s best friend, Shelly, still lives in Destiny. She writes him quite often (weekly) and he’s writes back when he gets a chance. There’s a lot about these two that I really enjoyed. But there’s a lot that makes Levi a pretty crappy best friend. Hear me out. Levi has money. We know he’s got money from his wins, sponsors and his TV hosting gig. Shelly’s a school teacher in a small town. Who do you think has the most money between them? Who has the more disposable income? I deduce that Levi’s the answer to both my questions. Here’s why I think Levi’s not so great – why would you NEVER have visited your best friend, when you have the means to do so, in the last 13 years? If you won’t visit because of some slight done against you by some people in Destiny, how about sending a ticket to your BFF to come to you? Shelly didn’t seem to mind, but I did.
Once Levi gets back to Destiny, he starts realizing all the things that Shelly’s never said in her letters. All the things she does without asking for anything in return. All the things she does for others without saying that she’s doing them. All the things that Levi doesn’t know about her because he really doesn’t know Shelly as well as he thought he did. Heck, he didn’t even know what she looked like because he’s not seen her in 13 years. Once he sees her, he gets a visceral response, and it’s such a surprise because he can’t believe how attractive his best friend is.
Shelly knows a lot about Levi. She follows him online and she sees what he’s been doing. Unfortunately for her, she gets the majority of her news about Levi from whatever online presence before she gets it from him. But even with all that, she still considers him her best friend because she tells him her private thoughts, things she wouldn’t tell anyone else and he doesn’t judge her.
Once Levi is back in town, their friendship flourishes. Shelly knows that she’s on borrowed time with him being in town, so she’s open for new adventures with Levi. Their friendship goes to another stage, lovers, pretty quickly but it works. Shelly’s realistic in her expectations of Levi – she’s seen his life unfold, so she knows his type and she knows she ain’t it. But even with that, she’s not holding an internal grudge; she’s getting out and doing things that she normally wouldn’t do. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship grow – there were moments of angst from both which were pretty credible. When Shelly stood up for herself, I was thrilled, but then she kind of ruined that moment for me when she gave in to Levi too quickly at the end.
There’s a lot to like in this story – it flows well, there’s character development for both H & h. The relationships between Levi and his brothers were fun to read and very touching; Duke is a bit too hard for me, but I guess if you spend 10 years in prison, you end up like that; and I’m not really sure what Colt’s story is. I really liked Shelly and Judy’s friendship, and I especially enjoyed Shelly and her Dad’s relationship. There’s much more to like than dislike, and the epilogue was quite nice.
Happy reading folks!
*ARC provided via NetGalley
Click to purchase: Amazon
Heart of a Bad Boy
by Sugar Jamison
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Swerve – St. Martin’s Press