Title: Arrogant Bastard
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Mature YA, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 Stars
I gotta say, never having read this author before, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for when I picked up this book, but that title, and the cover along with the blurb, it was a triple whammy for me.
It’s not often I find myself in possession of a book (especially one that’s a first read of an author) that’s impossible for me to put down until I’m done it. But this book did just that. I think this may have been the fastest I’ve ever read a book, that’s how drawn into the story, the characters and the inevitable end I was.
Now, this book isn’t going to be for everyone. There are subject matters touched on within this story, ones that have a light shined pretty brightly on them that might rub some the wrong way. For me personally, this was my first foray into the world of polygamy and just what it entails when you attach religion to it. But it wasn't enough to keep me away. If it's not your thing though, proceed with caution.
Turns out, I went in as blind as Jensen did. Which might be why I loved him so much. Well, one of the reasons.
When I read step-brother romances (and I wrote one), I don’t go into it expecting to walk away with a book boyfriend. I really don’t. But I did here. There was just something about this flawed, yet somehow sweet as hell guy that hooked me right in and wouldn’t let go. There was only one person that thought this guy was an arrogant bastard by the end of the book and that was his father, or I suppose if this is what an arrogant bastard looks and acts like, sign me up because I want myself one of those.
Jensen hasn’t had the easiest life. He’s the son of a preacher and if that alone wasn’t enough pressure, he’s abused on top of it. This turns him into a rougher version of what I think he would have been had this not been going on. It’s clear the deeper you go into the book that there’s a sweetness under the cockiness and that’s what endeared him to me. He was rough around the edges and made some pretty bad choices (sleeping with his step mom anyone?), but that’s what made him work so well. He wasn’t perfect.
I might not make the same choices as he did, but I did completely understand it. He gives just the right amount of insight into his past and why he does what he does for me to believe in him and what really makes him tick and do what he does.
Ending up in this world that in a lot of ways mirrors the one he had been taken away from at the beginning of the story, made this intriguing to me. The step-father here mirrored his own father in a lot of ways, so when he finally lands at his mom's and gets a load of the lifestyle, he's immediately resistant and stays that way. Even taking that resistance a step further with the step-sister(but not really) he can't help but feel connected to.
Enter Waverly. Sweet, virginal. Untouched by the world and wanting to do right by her family. Essentially attempting to be the perfect daughter. Which unbeknownst to her, she can never be because what he expects of her, no one can keep up with.
Now I will admit, through a good portion of this book, I had issues with this girl. There were a couple of moments throughout where I wanted to slap her, if I’m honest. She would say things, act all holier than thou when it pertained to Jensen and the things that he’s done in his life and it twisted me up pretty bad and made me dislike her. I had a hard time understanding why he would sign himself up for anything with her. If she was going to be that judgmental with him so early on, how would they work later down the road?
What I had to see though, and be shown through these characters and their story was that this wasn’t entirely all her. She was almost programmed this way with the way her father was. And then how docile the women he was married to were (including her mother and Jensen’s).
Now there was an arrogant bastard. Maybe that’s who the author named the book after. Hated this guy on sight and it only got worse as the story went on. The things he did and said to his daughter, the situations he put her in, they made me uncomfortable and that usually takes a lot. I’ve never hated a book character like I did that guy. Hell, I would have done what Waverly ends up doing just to spite the son of a bitch.
But this book isn’t about him, at least not entirely. It’s about the relationship that blooms between Jensen and Waverly. I enjoyed how this didn’t just jump right into something. That there was time taken here to develop a relationship aside from a completely physical one. By the time they did enter into the more romantic end of things, I was able to be sold on them much more easily.
The only real issue I had as it pertained to their relationship, was not getting to see just a little more of it. Or have it happen a little sooner overall than it did. I felt that by the time I really got to see shades of what I knew was going to be love between them, it was wrapping itself up, and I just wanted more.
I suppose that could be also because the author wrote these characters so well (flawed, real, raw and human), that even a book that went on forever wouldn’t have been enough. Either way, I just wish there had been a little bit more before I turned that final page.
The way it wrapped up was well done. Again, along with the relationship, I think it all wrapped up a little too quickly near the end, but what actually did take place, what went down, it was done well. I got the payoff I was after by the time I turned the last page, and really that’s what it’s all about right?
Winter Renshaw, you have written one hell of a book. Be proud. You sucked this reader right into your world and I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Now where do I get myself a Jensen? ;)