Book Review – ‘Burn For You’ by J.T. Geissinger

Title: Burn For You
Author: J.T. Geissinger
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: 17th October, 2017
Page Count: 348 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real…

Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancé the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it has everything I look for in a romance – a witty capable heroine, a dark brooding hero with a heart of gold, the marriage-of-convenience trope executed to perfection and slow-burn development from enemies-to-friends-to-lovers. AMAZING.

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I love that even though Jackson comes off as a typical alpha male, he doesn’t cross the line into asshole as many of these types so frequently do. He may be arrogant and dictatorial, but respects Bianca’s boundaries and while he blusters and acts testy, it’s just that he has terrible social skills and has no idea how to woo her. It’s ridiculously charming, tbh, and it works precisely because Bianca isn’t cowed by his dramatics and can puncture right through his gruff demeanor where others fear to tread. Their courtship is so endearing right from the start with how he finds her insults amusing because nobody else dares to speak their mind to him; his male ego doesn’t come into play, he enjoys the way she sasses him!

And Bianca is a gift of a heroine, I absolutely adore her. She’s smart and ambitious and independent, but that doesn’t keep her from being practical; sure, Jackson might be a jerk, but she needs his money to help look after her sick mother, so of course she’s going to accept his deal instead of hand-wringing and moralizing about it. She’s also not too proud to reassess her opinions of Jackson as time goes on and she realizes her first impressions were mistaken or at least, not fully based on his true self, and it’s lovely how she goes out of her way to make it clear to Jackson that she views him more positively and gives him compliments, however begrudging at times!

“It’s not all bad,” she said, looking at the ceiling.

My ears perked up, but I didn’t want to sound too eager, so I said with utmost disinterest. “Do tell.”

“Well. Um. You smell amazing. After you stopped murdering me with your eyes and I got past all the hair and your generally disheveled, hobolike appearance, it was the first thing I noticed about you. And you have a really beautiful voice. If you ever decided not to be a layabout rich person, you could have an incredible career as a phone sex operator.”

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It bothers me in a lot of these types of stories where the women make a snooty point of not accepting anything aside from what they bargained for when the hero tries to spoil them, as though it cheapens them somehow, but not Bianca! When Jackson presents her with the perfect ring that came out of her daydreams and a wardrobe of new clothing perfectly suited to her tastes, she sees these gestures in the spirit they were intended, how hard Jackson is working to try and please her, and she shows her joy and appreciation. Because they may have signed a contract for a fake marriage, but the emotions and bond that’s growing between them is all too real, and both parties recognize that. ❤

“Hey, Boudreaux. Down here.”

His lips pressed to a thin, pale line, he looked down at me.

I said firmly, “I’m your friend. Don’t forget that. No matter what you’re dragging me into here, what psychotic ex-girlfriends or crazy relatives or dead bodies rotting under the rosebushes that you’re not admitting to, I’m on your side. Got it?”

He swallowed. His eyes went all melty. He tried to cover up his emotion by scwoling and looking away, but it was too late.

Mama was right about him. The man was crème brûlée. Tough on the outside, but on the inside all soft and gooey sweet. It made me feel good to know that secret, and also surprisingly protective.

The best thing about this story is how they believably become good friends and have such hilarious banter as well as emotionally supporting each other, all the while dealing with some smoking hot chemistry! Normally there would be some sort of Big Misunderstanding to tear them apart or angst over pining in vain, but not here, I love how big these two are on honest communication. ❤  Any time one of them tries to retreat and hide behind a wall, the other will call them on it and make sure they talk through whatever’s bothering them, even if they have to bare their soul and be a little vulnerable in the process.

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I also enjoyed the supporting cast of characters from Bianca’s mother and her restaurant crew (nonstop hilarity there!) to Jackson’s main employee Rayford and his parents later in the story. Everyone had their moment to shine and no matter how few scenes they were in, each character came to life and practically stepped off the page. Kudos to the author for depicting such a vibrant well-drawn world and populating it with characters bursting with personality and individual quirks, this was such an amazing and rewarding reading experience.

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 kitties approve this book!

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Disclaimer: I received a digital copy free from Montlake Romance via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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