Original Heartbreakers #3
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Millionaire video-game creator Lincoln West has a dark and tragic past. The sought-after bachelor lives by a rigid schedule and a single rule—one relationship per year, lasting no more than two months. No exceptions. He moved to small town Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, with his brothers-by-circumstance hoping to escape the worst of his memories—until a brash beauty dredges up long-buried emotions.
A reformed party girl, Jessie Kay Dillon is determined to walk the straight and narrow. But her love-hate sizzle with West is just too irresistible. They can't be near each other without tearing off their clothes, but the last thing she needs is to be his next two-month dump. Can she be the one exception? Because as any former girl-gone-wild knows: rules are made to be broken.
The synopsis for The Harder You Fall leads us to believe we'll crack the spine of this book and find a hate-sex fueled relationship that eventually turns into so much more, and while that would have undoubtedly been entertaining, what we uncover instead is a slow burn romance full of delightful banter to offset the baggage both Jessie Kay and West carry.
Jessie Kay has a past she's not entirely proud of, labeled a sure thing by the men in her small town and therefore burdened with their suggestive comments and wandering hands whenever in public, and though she wishes she had made different choices here and there, she's not overly self-pitying or convinced she's deserving of such treatment. She's instead determined to find a man who's willing to give and take with her in equal measure, and while West tests that resolve through the majority of the book, she sticks to her guns and gives herself the respect she's so long overdue. She and West fully admit to their mutual attraction early on (once they take the animosity down a level that is), and what follows is two people taking baby steps toward a future that's not limited by the sins of their respective pasts.
It takes West a little while to recognize how low Jessie Kay's self-esteem truly is, distracted as he is by her ability to make light of any situation, but once it becomes clear that her self-worth is linked to her reputation he does everything in his power to show her who he sees when he looks at her. He knows his offer of a 2-month relationship (which stems from the aforementioned baggage) isn't good enough for her, and he's both frustrated and proud in turn when when she tells him she wants and deserves more. They both push each other at just the right moments, never asking for more than the other person can give and content to wait until they're both emotionally ready to be all in, and the journey they take to get there plasters a smile to our faces throughout.
The intensity of their feelings for one another is over the top at times, but the two of them are just so much fun together it's hard to be too bothered by their boldly possessive declarations. Overall, The Harder You Fall is the perfect read for those (like myself) who love tension and banter in their romances, the chemistry between Jessie Kay and West off the charts from page one as they push each other's buttons, and it only builds as their enmity shifts to lust and finally love.