Hard Rules (A Dirty Money Novel) by Lisa Renee Jones
Overview by Publisher:
How bad do you want it?
The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family’s business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.
Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.
I am struggling with what to say about this book. I found the plot to be similar to the billionaire trope – rich, successful man who gets involved sexually with a younger woman. There was a lot to recommend this book – the sex, the twists and turns of the plot, the villains. But then it came to the end.
I can’t remember a time that I have been so frustrated with a book. The main lead character, Shane, is dealing with hostile corporate and family matters. He meets Emily and while the timing is terrible, he enters into a relationship with her. We know that she has secrets and a hidden agenda. It’s explicit and clear that there is a BIG surprise coming. The whole book rests on the tenterhooks of this shocking purpose to her involvement with the Brandon Empire.
BUT, when I got to the end of the novel, I was confused. What was built up by the author was left hanging. Usually I would expect to read something like, “you’re so and so’s daughter?” or “why didn’t you tell me you know ____?” Nothing. The book ends on a massive, massive cliff hanger. So while, I was engaged throughout the book and held on when the coincidences seemed unbelievable, I stuck it out. I feel disappointed that while I wait for the next book, I have zero chance to ruminate on the characters’ future. It would have been much better to provide the reader with a tantalizing glimpse into the secret Emily holds, rather than nothing!
It’s clear that I enjoyed what I was reading in order to be this invested in emotions about the ending of this book. The writing and the plot were well developed. I liked the contrast of the characters and machinations and games they play. The sex was hot and frequent. While I didn’t enjoy the doubts Emily had regarding her relationship with Shane, I figured it was because I didn’t know her secret and the impact it would have.
Readers, I think this series has merit. I liked the story. If you can handle being brought to the precipice and left hanging until the next book comes out, go for it! Otherwise, wait to read this book until the second one is out so that you can binge read and not feel the angst and frustration I have right now!