Wanting It All
by Christi Barth
In the follow-up to Risking It All, hailed by Lauren Layne as “the perfect escapist read,” the heartthrobs of the Naked Men blog and podcast get a little too real about friendship, love, and sex. For one wealthy bachelor, the trouble starts when all three collide. . . .
After narrowly surviving a bus crash in high school with his best friends, science geek Knox Davis resolved to become so successful that he could have anything and everything he wants. Now he’s über-wealthy, a huge business success, and a notorious ladies’ man. Knox refuses to limit himself to one woman, but when his latest conquest—a blond beauty from the Alaskan bush—challenges his superficial ways, Knox begins to see the world through her eyes, and finds he likes what he sees.
A nurturer at heart, Madison Abbott wants to put down roots. She left Alaska to meet Mr. Right—and to track down Logan, the half-brother she’s never met. Instead, she finds Knox. Although the sexy-as-sin bachelor may not seem like marriage material, Madison’s starting to think that Knox is The One. But Knox refuses to settle down, especially once he learns that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Now it’s up to her to convince Knox that she’s everything he really wants.
The second Naked Men series book had such a strong start. I really love the ACSs (Italian abbreviation for “American soccer survivors”)–the dynamic between these guys, and the women who intersect their orbit, is great. Former scholarship student/geek turned bazillionaire fashion plate/tech guru Knox and Library of Congress librarian (!) Madison are absolutely adorable together. For 60+% of the book, I was in love.
But…it kinda goes off the rails in the last third or so. While I realize that the person who said yes to a marriage proposal one week into a relationship shouldn’t point fingers (in my defense, I figured he 1) was kidding or 2) was insane, and either way, I could easily get out of it later, since the only witness was fast asleep–and we didn’t make it official for 5 more months and the actual event was 2 years later–that all makes it more sane, yes?), there were so many, many things that happened in that last third that had me shaking my head.
1) Madison’s declaration to all and sundry that she’s in D.C. to get married. Um…okay. Not sure you need to tell everyone that quite so fast, especially the commitment-phobic womanizer you just met and started to date, and hey, you’re only twenty-four. It’s not Regency England, so take a breath, okay? Maybe enjoy living somewhere other than Alaska and your brand new job at the LoC for a few minutes first?
2) Though you could see who her mystery half-brother was going to be about a million miles away, it’s still a pretty convenient coincidence.
3) Expecting that previously-oblivious-to-her-existence half-brother to have an instant sibling love connection? Slightly unrealistic. Springing it on the guy 1) at the crack of dawn 2) on a sat phone call from halfway around the world 3) without any easing into it at all and 4) with said half-sister right there, expecting that instant connection? Not fair. Ripping into the guy for not taking it well? Beyond not fair.
4) Mystery half-brother is yelled at, threatened, and then extends a completely insane email invite to his half-sister, whom he still hasn’t met in person. What the what? And Ms. I-have-my-brand-new-dream-job considers it? What???
5) My brow is still furrowed from Madison’s and Knox’s friends’ pep talks toward the end. Were those really supposed to be helpful and supportive?
Still–such a strong start. Chemistry and cuteness all over the place! Set in one of my favorite places in the world! Madison’s a librarian! Jerry’s the butler I never knew I wanted!
Final verdict? I really do love all of these characters, and Ms. Barth’s writing has some truly funny moments throughout. It shouldn’t be too hard to put the crazy aside and look forward to book three–Logan’s story! (Giving It All: A Naked Men Novel)
Rating: 3 stars / C+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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