Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
Publication Date | April 17th, 2018
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| Book Review |
Have you ever read a blurb and felt like the author must have crawled inside your head to find exactly what you’d want your new favorite book to be about? That’s exactly how I felt when I read the synopsis for Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas. This was a top secret project the author was working on, but I can tell you that if I’d had any inkling this book was in the works, it would have been at the top of my anticipated reads for 2018. One of the things I like most about this book was that it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Yes – it was taboo and hot enough to make a reader squirmy, but there was a sweetness to this book I didn’t see coming. And I just soaked it right up. I’ve only read one other book by this author (Misconduct,) so I know the author does forbidden romance well; I just didn’t know she could do it even better.
First off, I loved the way Jordan and Pike met, that they formed a connection from the get-go without knowing who the other was. I love that they had something that was separate from the betrayal they felt they were part of. It was sort of soft and sweet, and again, so unexpected! So the gist is that Jordan and her boyfriend have lost their apartment and need a place to live. Her boyfriend’s dad steps in and offers to let them live with him. To Jordan’s surprise, his father is a man she’s already met and felt a connection to.
There were parts of this story that felt a bit slow, but I think it’s important to remember that Pike is experiencing a push and pull about not being exciting enough for Jordan, and Jordan is loving the stability and comfort of being with Pike. It was essential to the story to establish their connection and see them just being together to understand how well suited they are for each other. Every moment they spent together was special for different reasons, and I just loved that Jordan was happiest being with the people she loved. The evolution of her character was wonderfully done and felt so natural. I love it when a character can identify their personal issues they have and then have the wherewithal to change them. Jordan was determined to make better decisions, and there was no time like the present for her. She was so likable and admirable. While she had her moments, Jordan was mature for her age after the things she’d gone through, and I think that’s what made Jordan and Pike’s relationship so credible. Pike hasn’t had a lot of women like that in his life, and it was one of the things he really liked about her. There was a lot of heat here and this book was so damn sexy, but it was the softer side of Pike and how he wanted everything to be so perfect for Jordan that made me love it so much. Going in, I really thought this was going to be a story of lust turned love, but that’s just not what it was. It was hot, yes, but so sweet and holy slow burn! So worth it. I also liked Pike’s character arc and his struggle with his son. He was so torn (about a lot of things,) and I loved seeing how his relationship with his son changed throughout this book.
I have to say, too, that I really appreciate the way things fell apart with Jordan’s boyfriend, that he wasn’t painted as a villain, but he had his own issues he was trying to get through and was just so unaware as to what was going on around him. It would have been stereotypical to turn him into an asshole, but I like that the author went another way with this.
Birthday Girl may have been a taboo romance, but that was just one layer of this story. There was so much more to this book and so much character development to witness. I enjoyed every single moment I got to spend with Jordan and Pike, and if you like a sweet love story that will leave your heart racing and melting, I think you will, too. This one will be going on my favorites shelf for sure!
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| Excerpt |
“What the hell is she wearing?” I grumble, sliding into the booth.
Dutch turns his head toward me, his drink inches from his lips. “It’s the lingerie show,” he tells me. “They have it every Thursday night. The bartenders and servers don nighties or corsets and serve drinks and food. It’s fun.”
No, not really.
But I look around and see a few other ladies carrying out appetizers and bringing drinks, some of them in very thin attire. At least Jordan’s corset looks as thin as armor.
“But Jordan’s never done it before,” he goes on. “That’s what shocked me. Thought you should know.”
“Why the fuck would I want to know?” I pull a beer out of the ice bucket on the table.
“Yeah, sorry.” He turns away, mumbling into his glass, “You seem like you couldn’t care less.”
I shoot him a sideways look, hearing the laughter in his words.
Sticking the beer back in the bucket, untouched, I rise and head to the bar. I hear a snort behind me, but I don’t care. She’s kind of my responsibility, and I don’t want her doing things like this, because she thinks she needs money.
There’s only one bartender besides Jordan. The owner, Shel. I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten me, so I veer to the opposite end and catch Jordan’s attention as she pops the tops from a line of six bottles of beer.
“What the hell are you wearing?” I lean in, speaking as quietly as I can.
She jerks her head toward me, meets my eyes, and quickly turns away again like I’m the last person she wants to deal with right now.
She hands over the beers, collects the cash and spins around, punching the screen in front of her. “It’s fine,” she assures me. “It’s just a corset, Pike.”
“They are all looking at you.”
She nods, smiling sarcastically. “That’s the point.”
“Jordan,” I sigh, trying to whisper as I squeeze around some old dude at the bar. “This is a small town. What if your father were to walk in?”
“He doesn’t come in here,” she says, closing the register drawer and finally looking at me. “And neither do you, normally.” A blush crosses her cheeks. “Besides, I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t take part in something I thought would humiliate me.”
She turns and hands the change back to the customer, but he waves her off, letting her keep it. She smiles and turns back around, dropping the bills into an already overflowing canister.
“What are you even doing here?” she says, starting to mix another drink. “I thought you were sitting the bachelor party out, because…” She sets the bottle down and does air quotes as she imitates my growling voice, “‘there needed to be at least one sober person at work tomorrow’.”
I arch a brow at her. I don’t sound like that.
Reaching into my pocket, I pull out the flyer and push it over the bar at her.
She stills, and her face goes ashen. “Where did you find that?”
She grabs it and dumps it somewhere under her. To a trash can probably.
Taking a napkin, she sets it in front of a customer and gives him the fresh drink she just made.
“If you need money,” I tell her, “I’ll lend you whatever you need, okay?”
And she stops, slowly turning her eyes on me. Her gaze sharpens, angry, and she looks like she wants to yell at me, but she doesn’t. Instead she whips around and barrels down the bar and through the partition, turning only enough to crook a finger at me before she twirls back around and heads down the hallway.
My stomach sinks. I really don’t mean to piss her off as much as I do. What did I say now?
Veering through the crowd, I make my way down the empty hallway, finally coming to the same room she was crying in when I pissed her off the last time.
Entering through the open door, I see her standing with her hands on her hips and her head cocked at me.
“I would rather eat from a dumpster than take money from you,” she bites out.
I should shut up. But God help me, I can’t. “Hate to break it to you, but you already do,” I tell her. “You live in a house where you pay no rent or utilities, young lady.”
“I cook and clean for you!” she shouts, but I doubt anyone can hear us back here and through the music. “I pay my way, you arrogant prick!”
“Alright, alright,” I growl, blinking long and hard. “You’re right, okay? But, Jordan, men will get ideas. They’ll think they have a free pass and they can touch what belongs to my son. You’re embarrassing him.”
“Your son?” she mocks, laughing. “Well, you just missed him, actually. He already saw me, and he doesn’t care, Pike. He thought I looked good, and then he left with his friends. He doesn’t care!”
“Well, I care!”
The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them, and I freeze, almost too afraid to breathe.
Oh, shit. What did I just say?
| about the author |
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and include The Fall Away Series, The Devil’s Night Series, and the standalones, Misconduct, Punk 57, and now Birthday Girl. Please look for Kill Switch (Devil’s Night #3), coming later this year, and the standalone, Motel, coming in 2019.
She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.
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