Review: Rough Road (Lake Lovelace #2) by Vanessa North

Eddie Russell is many things: A wealthy pillar of the community. An outrageous flirt. A doting best friend. A masochist with a kink for brawling with his bedmates. But he is definitely not a man who invites intimacy. His friends are close but few, his lovers rarer still.

When Eddie runs his Mercedes off the road on a hot July afternoon, Wish Carver comes to his aid—and leaves his number in Eddie’s phone. Wish, a road crew worker half Eddie’s age and sexy as sin, seems fascinated by Eddie’s different sides. Mutual attraction and compatible kinks ignite the sheets, but it’s their connection outside the bedroom that Eddie begins to crave.

When the two come down on opposite sides of a local issue, Eddie finds his growing feelings for Wish at odds with his business interests and his devotion to his best friend, local wakeboarding legend Ben Warren. Torn between old loyalties and his new love, Eddie is reluctant to make a choice. But he knows he can’t make Wish wait too long to make up his mind.

This review is going to sound like a backhanded compliment and I really don't mean it that way. Really, I don't. 

So let me just state up front, I liked the book. I didn't love it, but I liked it.

It's a nice read with some decent kink which I'll get to in a minute. My unpassioned response to Rough Road starts and stops with Eddie. North did a great job with his voice, characterization and realizing him as a character for me despite my not having read the first installment in this series. I just don't care for him. I mean, I'm not in digging a shallow grave in the Mojave near a nice, tall Joshua tree territory, but I don't like him. I found him self-absorbed, immature, sorely lacking in foresight and egotistical. 

He's not absent redeeming qualities. He's decent at communication, willing to admit wrongdoing, a good friend and charitable. But there was no escaping him and his choppy inner dialogue since the entirety of the book is told from his perspective.

Eddie meets Wish shortly after wrecking his Mercedes near Wish's road construction site. He's instantly attracted to the angel in the hard hat, but wary due to the 20 yr age gap. Thankfully, the age gap didn't get pounded into the dirt. They both realize they like each other and it quickly becomes a non-issue. The class difference between the two is a bigger hiccup and well executed conflict wise. Eddie's enmeshed relationship with Ben is by far and away their biggest obstacle. Ben is a blind spot in Eddie's worldview. His lack of insight and objectivity are prominent where he's concerned and it nearly costs him Wish on more than one occasion.

Wish isn't as well constructed and without the benefit of his perspective I had a hard time understanding why he's so keen on Eddie. I came up with two hypotheses: Eddie must be fuckhot and/or a whirlwind in the sack. Wish isn't perfect, but he does seem to be more mature in most respects than Eddie aside from his aversion to any sort of confrontation.

Rough Road is a contemporary slice of life tale that is low angst. It's fun and light, though I'm sure some will take issue with the kink and balk at that proclamation which brings me to the kink.

I like my kink with an edge, an intensity, some grit and if you can make me a teensy bit uncomfortable I'm liable to start spontaneously twirling around. What Eddie and Wish are into is intense and I'm not going to slight it be labeling it BDSM lite, but the intensity isn't on the page. What's on the page is superficial and primarily focused on sex rather than the intensity of the experience which is what turns my crank. The sex is medium hot with a good bit of biting in true Vanessa North fashion.

If you're shying away from reading this due to the BDSM tag, it's not the focal point of their connection. I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of their relationship. This is where North really shined. Neither of them are drama llamas nor is there an overabundance of conflict and what conflict there is they resolve like adults and it's not overbearing.

Recommend as a great summer read with the wakeboarding and boating and sunscreen and microscopic Speedos. And fans of Eddie will undoubtedly adore the stuffing out of Rough Road.

An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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