Review: Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey

Reviewed by Victoria

This book is the beginning of the Made in Jersey series from Dirty Talk Queen Tessa Bailey. Guys, this book is hot. How hot? I was trying to read it while making dinner, and chapter 4 was so hot, I burned the whole thing. That hot.

The story opens with our hero, Sarge Purcell, returning to the factory town he was raised in after a 4-year absence. As Sarge is amusedly noting all the things that are the same, he quickly realizes that one thing is very different. His sister, single-mother River, is having a hard time. She sends Sarge to stay with her best friend Jasmine Taveras, not wanting her daughter to get too attached to an uncle who isn’t sticking around. Sarge immediately realizes his error, and begins helping his sister in more ways than just sending money. 

Sarge is an excellent hero. He intervenes when Jasmine’s date turns rough. He takes his responsibilities as defacto leader of his band, Old News, very seriously. He is on hiatus as the story opens to mull over a big contract offer by the record label. Once he realizes that his sister and niece need more than money every month, he genuinely considers rejecting the record label’s offer to be physically present for his family. He jumps at the chance to stay with Jasmine, the inspiration behind many Old News songs, and the woman Sarge measures all other against.

While the story opens with Sarge returning home, our heroine Jasmine’s emotional arc is the motor of the story. Jasmine had dreamed of being a famous singer her entire life, but the rejections piled up. Now working at the town factory, Jasmine doesn’t see life getting any better than a promotion to floor manager. Jasmine is on yet another date with a guy from the factory when River asks for a favor. Unimpressed by her date, and willing to help out her best friend, Jasmine is happy to let Sarge stay with her.  She is immediately dismayed by her reaction to his broad shoulders, and while trying to convince herself that she can’t possibly be attracted to her former babysitting charge, Sarge makes his own feelings very clear. He’s had a crush on her for years, and intends to act on it now that he’s an adult.

As soon as Jasmine realizes that Sarge isn’t just her best friend’s little brother, the chemistry between the two of them kept the story moving. The main action takes place over a quick break for the band from their tour during Christmas. The best scene is at the mall, as Sarge contemplates buying out the toy store for his niece, while engaging in a “Who can find the ugliest outfit” competition with Jasmine, and hoping that she doesn’t notice that a giant crowd of his fans are following them.

Bailey, while deftly describing the intimate moments, also has a surprise in store: the conflict that I was expecting, River’s dismay over her brother and her best friend hooking up, never appears. Jasmine informs her of the relationship right away, and they behaved like best friends: a little surprise, a quick joke, then assurances that everyone is on the same page, and no one will get hurt. Bailey also treats Jasmine’s factory job as a regular part of life, not something to be sneered at or avoided. The job isn’t right for Jasmine, but blue-collar employment isn’t portrayed as a bad thing.

The real conflict comes from Jasmine’s resignation that her dreams won’t come true, and her hesitance to “bring Sarge down” with her non-celebrity. Jasmine’s broken dreams and shaken self-confidence have put an end to all singing, even around the house. Sarge notices right away, and works to restore her confidence in her talent.

The supporting characters read like real people, with hints about their own stories woven in. I am really looking forward to reading River’s story. The only part of the book that surprised me was the speed at which things happen. Huge decisions are made in the course of days, and Jasmine makes one of her decisions from a conversation with the manager of Old News, instead of just talking with Sarge.  Overall, this is a fast-paced, scorching hot book with an end that’s wrapped up a little too quickly.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

Crashed Out
by Tessa Bailey
Release Date: December 7, 2015
Publisher: Entangled

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