Jun 25

Justified by Jay Crownover Review


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The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

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I’ve been a long-time reader of Jay Crownover’s, and I’ve loved all of her rough-around-the-edges, tattooed bad boys and their complex, hard-fought happily-ever-afters. I wasn’t sure exactly what Jay would do with cowboys, but boy, did I love it. She has completely swept me off my feet with her Loveless, Texas series. The prequel novella, Unbroken, absolutely whetted my appetite for these cowboys, and Justified has blown me away!

Crownover comes out swinging with a two-pronged plot that drew me in from page one. Pairing an angsty, steamy enemies-to-lovers romance with a twisty, turny suspense arc, Justified was a riveting love story between two people with a long and complicated history. A Stetson on his head and a badge on his belt, Case Lawton is formidable, commanding and heart-flutteringly handsome. Dark-haired, porcelain-skinned and a pint-sized powerhouse in the courtroom, Aspen Barlow, is Case’s opposite in all ways. She was that weird goth girl in high school who never felt like she truly belonged in Loveless until she was welcomed and befriended by the younger, gentler, high school heartthrob version of Case.

The sweet friendship they once shared is scorched by the explosion of Case’s life, and he holds a mean grudge for eight years as he believes Aspen, a divorce attorney in town, is partially to blame for his woes. As the elected sheriff of Loveless, though, he can’t exactly pick and choose who he protects and serves, and Aspen, though loathe to accept Case’s protection, needs it. They say that love and hate are the opposite sides of the same coin, and Jay tests that theory out in Justified with spectacular results. This story was so passionate in absolutely every sense of the word. The gut-churning angst, the anger simmering between them, and finally, the lust. Oh yes, the sparks were flying in Loveless, right along with the bullets.

Bursting with authentic emotion, sizzlingly sexy with a suspense story that kept me tapping my Kindle as furiously as the relationship build-up did, Justified was a quintessential Jay Crownover story, but with a fresh, new spin. I positively devoured this story, and I’m hungry for more. Justified is Jay Crownover at the top of her game, doing what she does best, and giving her readers a difficult, hard-earned, heart-tugging love story between two seemingly ill-matched people. Five smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo




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