Saturday, February 7, 2015


Maya and the Tough Guy by Carter Ashby

Series: Big Girl Panties, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: NetGalley
Purchase links || amazon | bn || add to goodreads


Maya Bradley is on her own now. With the help of her dear friends, Zoey and Addy, she’s determined to give her children the lives they deserve, away from their abusive father. But the journey is destined to be difficult, and she meets her first roadblock when she asks sexy, tattooed bar owner, Jayce Gilmore, for a job serving drinks. 

Jayce has two reasons for not wanting to hire Maya. One: she deserves a more respectable job. And two: he’s been madly in love with her since he was a young boy. But when he finally realizes how desperate she is for work, he has no choice but to bring her on. 

With Maya struggling to earn a living, get an education, and raise two children, Jayce finally finds himself in a position to help her. And though she isn’t interested in a relationship, Maya is showing definite signs of physical attraction. Jayce is sure he can keep his love hidden and fulfill her every fantasy. Unfortunately, he has severely underestimated the needs of his heart. As the moment of truth fast approaches, Maya must decide whether to break a tough guy's heart, or open her fragile soul to the risks that come with loving again. 

{ review } .
Right away at the beginning, you have major feels for Maya. She stops the boy in the car from going too far -- she's not ready. He steps out, smokes a cigarette, and she starts getting that ill feeling that he's going to be mad and hit her. Instead, he proves her wrong and drives her home, giving her his number and telling her to call him (to which I had to sit back a moment; they go to prom together, nearly go 'too far' in the back of his car, but haven't even exchanged numbers?!). That receipt ends up being her talisman -- she holds it when she falls to sleep after he drops her off, she clings to it as her father beats her, and she holds on to it as she's leaving the house and is picked up by her best guy friend's brother. And in the morning, after said friend's brother has slept with her, she burns it. 

That right there, the burning of the receipt with tattooed, smoking Jayce's phone numbers, is symbolic for the loss of all that could be good in Maya's life; had her choices been different, she may have not become a statistic, leaving one abusive situation for another.

A Goodreads reviewer stated:
I would give a 5 star rating if it was just Jayce! But Maya only deserves a 3 star rating if you ask me... She was a heartless b*tch for about 93% of the book, all Jayce ever did to her was being nice and still she was pushing hiim away after using him.. I get it that she was betrayed and hurt by her husband BUT damn girl did it also make you blind or what!?
Did I enjoy this book!? Yes but only because of Jayce, Kellen, Zoey etc... I just did NOT like Maya.
 ...and I would have to agree with her.

It is extremely understandable that Maya has hang-ups and issues after she leaves Damon. Not only did she grow up abused, she just spent the last eight/nine years in an abusive relationship/marriage. She's going to have issues.

But when your friends vouch for this man, and he's kind to you, pulls you out of a bad situation and offers you a job -- not only offering the job but trying to teach and help you with things that will arise when waitressing at a bar... at some point you need to realize he might actually be worth something.

Jayce... man, oh man, is he a stand-up guy. He's been in love with Maya since high school (at least) and has watched her on the sidelines. When she agrees to prom, he thinks he's finally getting somewhere, and when she asks him to stop when they start to go too far... he does. He doesn't reprimand her, he doesn't yell at her... He stops and respects her. Even as adults, he's just... nice to her. He's kind to her kids (even though they terrify him) and he treats Maya with kid gloves until he figures she can handle a little more, then a little more...

And still Maya holds him at arm's length... again and again and again. 

I wanted Maya to grow, and I felt that rather than two steps forward, one back, gradually moving forward, she did more backsteps than forward ones. I am, however, interested in seeing how their relationship progresses in the following book(s).

Sidenote... while I liked this book, and am excited to read book one (Zoey's) and the next (Addy's)... I am a little put off that that books are dealing with late-twenty-somethings but the covers are very much teenaged-somethings. Don't get me wrong -- I love the cover. Wasn't a big fan of Zoey's, which is part of the reason why I didn't bother reading the synopsis... but MAYA AND THE TOUGH GUY has a great cover and it drew me to the book. So when I saw -- Eight Years Later -- and realized it wasn't a young or new adult book, I was a bit taken aback.

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