Title: The Complete Explicitly Yours Series
Author: Jessica Hawkins
Genre: Erotic Romance / Love Triangle / Revenge
Rating: 3 ♥‘s
WARNING: This Review is one giant page of Spoilers and 100% Honest. Proceed at your own risk.
I’m a new reader of Jessica Hawkins, and I can’t deny my love for her writing style and the depth of her characters. This review does not reflect my overall opinion of the author, and I will be giving her books another shot, I just have to lick my wounds first. Since this is a collection, I’ve broken my review down for each book and the rating I would give them, individually:
Possession / 5 ♥‘s:
To begin, this is an ‘Indecent Proposal-esque’ story, but I was immediately enthralled by Possession. I loved not only the instant chemistry between Lola and Beau, but that he didn’t just sweep in, make his offer and leave. Nothing about this book was cliché or predictable. The progression of Lola and Johnny’s contemplation over Beau’s offer was extremely believable and real. I fell in love with Lola, because of her relatability in those matters of the heart, where she begins admitting things to herself about her relationship with Johnny she’d known for quite some time, yet had been ignoring. Her first night with Beau was not only off the charts sweltering, but endearing in those moments where he proved in so many little ways how he already appreciated the ‘real’ Lola far more than Johnny ever had. I was not surprised she wanted to run back to him – I wanted to run back to him! Needless to say, I was completely enraptured with this book and couldn’t wait to read the next.
Domination / 5 ♥‘s:
I was immediately taken by the way night two with Beau didn’t just happen. That it was a realistic, roller-coaster ride of uncertainty, soul-searching and emotional highs and hard-hit lows between Lola and Johnny, before the decision was actually made. However, it did start to drag a bit, as if the author needed to stall the reader more than she actually needed the time to relay pertinent information. The best part is there’s really no ‘bad guy’ in this love triangle. Both Lola and Johnny have had a hand in the slow destruction of their relationship that has nothing to do with Beau. That was refreshing and very realistic. I know I keep repeating those words, but this exact style of writing by Jessica Hawkins is why I’m not giving up on her as an author, yet it’s also why this review was so troubling to write. At the end of Domination, after softening us up with some suspenseful action, some deeper heartfelt moments between Beau and Lola, our world is shattered and the truth behind Beau’s obsession with Lola is finally revealed. I was striding right out of that hotel room with Lola, 100% on her side the whole time and just as heartbroken, but I loved that she didn’t go back on her plans to end things with Johnny. I applauded that despite what happened between her and Beau, she still recognized that her relationship with Johnny was over and needed to be.
Provocation / 2.5 ♥‘s:
Provocation is where my love for this series began it’s gradual decline, but I held out hope the author wouldn’t let me reach rock bottom. My first issue was that it began 3 weeks into the future, then kept jumping back to show us how Lola and Beau had gotten to present day. That was pointless, the book could’ve been written chronologically without losing any of the information and would’ve been far less annoying to read. I was on board with Lola’s initial idea to get a little revenge on Beau, because he definitely needed to be taken down a few notches and his character is so pure in itself, only getting a taste of his own medicine would work. But, I’m not a fan of eye-for-an-eye revenge plots, if they don’t eventually evolve into a more meaningful outcome. I felt fairly confident, knowing the characters thus far, that it would turn out to be a good thing. I was wrong. I kept waiting for Lola’s plan to get to the point, but it became painfully obvious the only thing she would be satisfied with, was being the victor. Eh… hypocrite much? It took her 2 nights to fall so deeply in love with Beau that she spends 3 weeks plotting her revenge? Perhaps, if the 3 weeks had continued the same way their 2 nights had gone, I would believe that, but instead she spends 3 weeks playing second fiddle to his work, with all of her days and nights alone in a cold, empty house. That should’ve completely disenchanted her, cooled her lust, love and resentment. Instead she allows his love of money to feed her single-minded obsession with vengeance to the point where I was really beginning to doubt my loyalty to her as a character. She’d quickly become a much bigger lying fraud than I ever saw from Beau. Whatever happened to two wrongs don’t make a right? And why is my heroine turning into the villain?
Obsession / 0 ♥‘s:
My love and enjoyment of this series went from slow decline to rapid nosedive with its final book. By the time I got half-way through Obsession, I was already done. I was angry that I was being forced to travel around the continental U.S. with the self-righteous coward, Lola, whom I no longer had any feelings for. I had already stopped being on her side, so I started skimming over the details. I just didn’t care enough to read it word-for-word, because NOTHING was going on with Lola. She was traveling and thinking, and none of it meant anything. She never once owned up to her own mistakes out loud, so her ability to think about it was inconsequential. The only reason why I wanted to read the ending was because I’d invested so much time and energy into the story. I think the attempt to sidetrack us with the development between Brigitte and Warner was too much, too late. At this point, they were getting far more screen time than I could stomach. I didn’t care about them and it felt, once again, like a stalling tactic. The best part about his entire book was the reconciliation between Lola and her mother, but even that was tainted by the one plot point I absolutely despised, the very one I feel was worse than anything else – a pregnancy. Are you kidding me? I nearly threw my laptop the moment Lola realized she was pregnant. I actually stopped reading, deciding I was for sure done. Beau was the one who drew me back in. I wanted to see him get his ending, whatever that may be.
It was wrong. All of it was 100% wrong. By the time Beau finally catches up with Lola – at the very end of the very last chapter, which is not nearly enough time to reconcile anything – I had switched sides and then some. I despised Lola a thousand times more than I’d ever been angry with Beau. I didn’t want her to get a happy ending anymore and the final argument that was supposed to resolve their MASSIVE issues in just a matter of seconds was asinine. It was Lola throwing a temper-tantrum, because it was happening before she was ready and not on HER terms. Girl needs a serious reality check. And if she’s still clinging to all of that resentment, that means this relationship is far from being “fixed” and there should be at least a whole other chapter afterward to convince me (the reader) otherwise. There is absolutely no trust mended between them, because they haven’t spent a single second of the entire book together and very little in the book before it. Lola was no longer in the right by any stretch of the imagination. She had surpassed all of Beau’s wrongs by miles and then to add a baby on top of it! I’m sorry, but these two characters shouldn’t even be together anymore, let alone having a kid together – a baby does not make this a better HEA – it makes it worse!
I’ve never started out loving a series as much as I did this one, only to end up despising it so much. I was the one left feeling betrayed, cheated and heartbroken – and not in empathy of the characters. There were a million other ways to show Beau getting a taste of his own medicine and the time he needed to start becoming a better man while Lola, too, started coming down from her revenge tower and admitting her own mistakes. But, they never spent any time together to make that happen. Lola never returned to being the woman I felt supportive of and wanting to root for in the beginning. To have seen both of them evolving into better people would’ve made this series end on such a high, satisfying note. But it didn’t. This entire book dragged on, using time the characters needed to start healing their relationship TOGETHER, rather than moving at a turtle pace – completely apart – to what felt like a rushed stand-off that only proved why there should be no relationship at all.
“I want to gut you of your dignity” is not a phrase you spew at the person you supposedly love five seconds before forgiving them and walking off into the sunset. If a woman can’t trust a man without ‘gutting him of his dignity’ first, then she has no business being with him – or anyone else for that matter, as she clearly needs time to detox from the power trip she’s gotten addicted to.
I write some pretty messed up characters, but even I felt like Lola and Beau had reached a level where their relationship was purely toxic and unhealthy – as in DO NOT PROCEED – and the author really should have reeled it back – on both sides – because in no known universe, fictional or otherwise, had their dynamic developed into anything remotely heartfelt, let alone deserving of a HEA. Therapy, definitely, and a lot of it.
In the end, I’m left feeling crushed by the weight of disappointment that only hurts more for how much I want to praise the first two books.
♥ This is an HONEST review of a box set that I purchased, I was not given anything by the author in exchange for it.