on October 13, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Joel Anderson doesn’t take anything seriously.
Not his relationships, which have been few and far between since his brutal divorce. Not the drama of working in a tattoo parlor, which seems to be around every corner. When things get him down, he smiles and cracks a joke. But he’s not the kind of man you cross, or you’ll find yourself at the wrong end of his fists.
Annika Belousov takes everything seriously.
Like her job as a reality television producer, given that she typically has something to prove. Or her love life, which is defined by a series of requirements — affluent, ambitious, accomplished, to name a few. Definitely her family, who worked their whole lives to afford her every opportunity, a sacrifice she doesn’t take lightly. When she’s tapped to produce a reality show at Joel’s shop, she doesn’t think twice, just goes in for the kill, as if there were any other way.
The second Annika walks into Joel’s shop, he makes it his mission to crack her open, but she’s not having it. He’s all wrong — too crass, too hairy, too un-serious. But it doesn’t take her long to find out there’s more to him than smirks and tattoos. And what she finds could put her career and his heart on the line.
Not that Joel cares. Because for the first time in a long time, he’s found his tonic.
I’m a big fan of Staci Hart so I was excited to dive into this one. It definitely did not disappoint! There were so many different layers to this story that just grabbed me. There was a bit of the forbidden, some love/hate angst, and drama that all came together to delightfully entertain.
Joel is the owner of Tonic, a tattoo parlor he operates with his brother. He is a sexy, bearded, tattooed man that had me swooning. Reluctantly, he agrees to be a part of a new reality show featuring his shop. The minute he sees his new producer, Annika, he can’t help trying to get a reaction out of her. Immediately, sparks fly, and both are left reeling from the encounter.
“She was a woman with two sides, behind a wall of determination.”
Annika is an ice princess. She puts up a mask to the world, and keeps her true self hidden away from all but her family. She has to be tough in an industry that requires her to be ruthless. She manipulates and schemes all in the name of ratings and drama. She doesn’t have time for emotions or hairy men who drive her up the wall.
“Joel and I made no sense. He was charming and annoying and bossy and hairy and all wrong. He was everything I wasn’t.”
The interactions between these two are delightful. Joel pushes and Annika pushes right back. They are opposites in every sense, but it was only a matter of time before they gave in to their attraction. I loved Joel’s determination to win her over. He is a genuinely nice guy, who is loyal to his employees and protective over those he cares for. Annika is not as likeable in the beginning, but her walls begin to crumble the more time she spends with Joel. I love her independence and the relationship she has with her family where she can be the genuine, caring person she actually is.
“I wondered fleetingly if we would ruin each other. If my fire would melt her ice until it evaporated. If her fire would snuff my fire out of existence.”
I enjoyed the premise greatly and thought the reality show aspect was a wonderful backdrop. It added just enough drama and conflict to make things interesting. Annika’s Russian heritage was also another fascinating layer that added depth to her character. Sexy, heart-warming, and emotionally charged, this was an enjoyable read from start to finish.