With the encouragement of a friend and a few too many drinks at a masquerade party, Livi finds herself grabbing a quickie with a stranger in a closet. Running off without his name — or her underwear — she assumes she'll never see him again. But strapped for cash under crushing student loan payments, she hits up a bar for a part-time job, only to discover that the owner is no stranger.
The Verdict: Livi's life hasn't been easy since graduating college. Finding a steady job in her area of expertise isn't an issue; it's the student loan payments that are killing her. Add in a car that needs repair, overdue bills, and no other options, she makes the rounds at local bars, looking for a job that will help her catch up financially while working around her day job. When a local dive bar gives her a shot, she's determined to prove herself. She just never expected the man behind the bar to be the very same man she shared a few hot minutes with in a closet.
Hendrix and his brothers are still grieving the loss of their mother and dealing with the father who never really gave a damn. But they're doing okay for themselves, and Hendrix is fixing up the they own and beginning to show a decent profit. Uninterested in a serious relationship, he has one hot tryst in a closet at a party with a girl he never expects to see again, but he soon learns that the very same woman he hired to help out on busy nights is the one he hasn't been able to get off his mind.
To be honest, when I got to this book in my TBR list, I was having second thoughts. It looked like it might be a bit dark for my taste, and I expected it to be rather formulaic. To my surprise, it wasn't long before Hendrix turned all the usual tropes upside down and delivered something refreshingly different. Aside from the hot and heavy one-night-stand, there was so much to the story and the way the characters behaved that I rarely get enough of in this genre.
Hendrix is definitely a rough around the edges kind of guy. He's all alpha male, heavily tattooed, not above throwing a few punches, and certainly not inclined to engage in any committed relationships. But he's an all-around decent guy, up front with women about his intention to stay unattached, and immediately willing to step up when someone needs help. He's also enamored with Livi, the funny, sexy, hilarously awkward girl who comes into his bar looking for a job.
Livi surprised me. There were so many things about her character that could have turned her into a cookie-cutter romance novel heroine. Yes, she was down on her luck financially, a hard worker, and opposed to taking handouts. But she laughed when least expected, had faith that she could take care of herself, and didn't let her rather traumatic past get in the way of living her life. She wasn't looking for a relationship and didn't exactly trust men, but she was surprisingly open to the new feelings developing the more she got to know Hendrix.
Their relationship was just as unpredictable as Hendrix and Livi were. When I expected her to overreact to a conveniently misleading scene, she did just the opposite. When I expected Hendrix to deny his feelings for Livi and push her away, he did the opposite. When I just knew that everything was going to blow up in their faces, the way it always does in romance novels before the happily ever after is served up, Livi and Hendrix were generally open and honest with each other, and they didn't fall into the same cliched trap. Even the cause of Livi's adolescent trauma surprised me, and while it would have been easy to label all the characters with the same stereotypical pen, nothing about them fit the tired old standard.
Their romance, of course, was crazy hot. But instead of heading into gratuitously obscene territory, Livi and Hendrix's sexier moments were punctuated by laughter and a great deal of consideration for each other. Now that I think about it, it's kind of sad that I now expect every romance novel I read to follow the same boring plot, but Hendrix proves that there are still authors out there willing to give us readers stories that are both classic and unconventional. Hendrix is everything I didn't know I was looking for in a romance, and I can't wait to see what's next in the series!