"Like I said before, I know we ain’t in love, and I don’t expect us to ever fall in love, but I want us to be good to each other. People have been gettin’ married in situations like this for hundreds of years, and they’ve made it work. It doesn’t matter if this doesn’t last forever. I’m goin’ to make sure I’m good to you, and I’d appreciate it if you extended me the same courtesy.” - Javier Meza
The sudden and tragic death of her mother throws Hannah Hawkins into a position she doesn’t feel at all prepared for. With the duty of leading her family’s decades-long moonshining business weighing heavy on her shoulders, the last thing she needs is something making her transition even harder. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she gets. A band of vicious new players has arrived in small-town Harlan, Kentucky, and while what they really want remains a mystery, it quickly becomes clear they’re willing to stoop to dark lengths to get it. To fight off a beast, Hannah realizes she needs to join forces with a rival.
Javier Meza may be the sole heir to his family’s moonshining empire, but he’s certainly no leader. He has no head for business or diplomacy, preferring to spend his days in the trenches, making corn liquor with the rest of the “cooks.” That doesn’t mean he isn’t more than willing to step up and take charge when his family finds themselves in danger. Forming a shaky partnership with the Hawkins family is one thing, but marrying Hannah Hawkins to keep their deal on the straight and narrow is something else entirely.
While Hannah is determined to keep their marriage as something that exists in name only, Javier is eager not to leave this wife hurt and disappointed like his last one. They both quickly learn that their feelings, much like their enemies, don’t plan on going away without a fight.
From All Things Burn author, Jodie Slaughter - illegal white whiskey, a marriage of convenience between decades-long rival families, and Black Appalachia. Jodie blends romance and suspense to bring to the forefront a spotlight on the impact of populations of color in small-town Kentucky. A full-length romance novel with a very satisfying HEA.
Slaughter has a certain languidness to her writing. It's not that it's slow on the action, but her books take their time reaching the climax. It builds you up and lets you down slowly. It's a perfect balance between slow and just right. This second book, like the first, starts off with an interesting and collar grabbing bang.
Hannah is in the moonshine business. Her mother died recently, and it's now her turn at the helm. Though she's not fully seated in her boss position, she's ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to keep the business running successfully. Even if that means marrying her rival's son.
I liked Hannah. She wasn't too much. She wasn't insecure or questioning her very being because of a man. She might not have been completely comfortable filling her mother's shoes, but she maintained a reasonable and likable amount of confidence. I liked what she brought to the table as a young black woman in the seat of a boss.
Javier is a gentle giant. It's not that he's a punk or anything, he's just soft when he needs to be. And tough when he doesn't. He's the perfect balance of hard and soft. Hannah was a lucky woman I'm just saying.
He's loyal to his family and to the business they've built. It's admirable and sexy if I might say so myself. He handles the arranged marriage like a man on a mission and I was not mad at that.
I liked him most of all. He's the ultimate book boyfriend—but you can't have him he's mine. We're married. The paperwork is in the mail.
The story itself was exciting. I don't read a lot of stories that focus on these type of career paths, so it's unique plot definitely pulled me in and kept me reading. It does the standard thing with the romance, meet, resist, fall in love—but I rooted for them all the way. It was a slow burn, but it was worth the wait. Slaughter did what I've learned she can do, which is rock my socks off with a unique tantalizing romance that's sure to singe my eyebrows with its sexy hotness.
I had high expectations; she met them all—and that's why I stan.