Sometimes, you see a book’s cover and read the blurb and it’s so unbelievably over-the-top that you can’t even, and it goes straight onto your Goodreads TBR. That’s what happened with Big Rock by Lauren Blakely. Her name was one that kept coming up over and over again in the things I’ve been reading online and listening to, and so I figured I’d check her out. Off to my library website I went. Big Rock was one of two of her books that they had on the shelves, and after reading the premise, I snickered. Loudly. (For real, go read the Goodreads blurb. I’ll wait.) Apparently, the whole story started when, according to the acknowledgements, Ms. Blakely asked a friend if they could make a C look like an R, and…well, that’s some pretty clever graphic design, if you ask me. *snort*
Spencer is, to put it lightly, extremely well endowed. He knows how to use what he’s got, and the ladies about town appreciate his playboy ways. His life thus far is pretty sweet- son of the owner of one of the country’s most successful and well-known jewelry store chains, creator of the uber-profitable Boyfriend Material dating app (known for featuring absolutely zero dick pics), and now, with his best friend Charlotte, co-owner of The Lucky Spot, one of New York City’s hippest bars. With all that and a handsome face to boot, you’d think Spencer would be an insufferable asshole, but…he’s not. When his father decides he’s ready to retire and sail the seven seas with his wife, the man looking to buy his jewelry business is eyeing the WHOLE family before he makes his final decision, and this includes on-the-prowl Spencer. What’s a man about town to do but convince his best friend that a fake engagement will help Dad seal the deal?
But as we all know, when it comes to romance novels, best friends and fake engagements don’t stay fake for long, and within days, Spencer and Charlotte are seriously burning it down. Spencer can’t believe all of this was sitting right under his nose for so long. Just as he’s come to terms with the fact that he’s feeling something he never expected to feel, it all heads south, and Spencer’s got to make things right, FAST, before he hurts and maybe even loses everyone he loves.
First off, I’m usually not at all a fan of the whole ‘fake dating/engagement/marriage’ trope. I don’t like lying in fiction and usually find the premise so unlikely that it kind of throws the whole rest of the story off. That didn’t really change here; I’m definitely not a convert to the trope and you won’t catch me singing its praises anytime soon. But Lauren Blakely made the story work well for me. Spencer is a fantastic character, carefully crafted in order to not stray into chauvinistic territory. He’s confident without being smug, alluring without being cocky, self-assured without being irritating. That’s no simple feat for a writer and I very much appreciate her hard work in that area. He may have had a different woman on his arm most nights before his agreement with Charlotte, but there were never any hurt feelings, and Spencer was not only respectful to women- all women- he routinely stepped in when other men were letting their misogynist flag fly. As both a narrator and the hero, Spencer gets an A+ and two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
If you’re more in the market for a chaste romance, you can probably guess from the cover that Big Rock isn’t the book for you. This book is a five-alarm habanero bouquet with extra ghost pepper sauce. Have your fans and fainting couches at the ready, readers, because Lauren Blakely leaves scorch marks on every page, and you’ll find yourself panting, “I’ll have what she’s having!” after every smoking scene with Spencer and Charlotte.
Phew. I’m glad I picked this up. Spencer’s definitely more alpha male than what I typically enjoy, but having the story narrated by him and having his every thought accessible made him such a sympathetic character that it absolutely made this story. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Lauren Blakely in the future! *dons fireproof suit*