April 7, 2014

Title:  Business As Usual

Series:  Off the Subject

AuthorDenise Grover Swank

Published:  April 10, 2014

Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancée Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago.

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?

Note:  This book was provided to the Book Hookup by the author but that did not in any way influence this review!

Ana will put Business as Usual on her top shelf!!

The Off the Subject series just gets better and better!  We met Lexi in the second book and learned a little bit about her past and how it had affected not only her but her brother, Reed, as well.  What we didn’t see in book two was the depth of emotions and the amount of heartbreak Lexi carried around with her.  Here, the author throws open the door and allows us to see the full impact of what happened to Lexi and how it has changed her life.  And, as always, Ms. Swank has a way of making the reader root for her characters every step of the way!

Lexi, although broken and seemingly unable to overcome the terrible consequences of being raped, is in fact a very strong character.  Her loyalty to her brother and her desire to move forward despite what happened to her shows us how much of a fighter she really is.  Although the steps she takes may be small, she’s constantly trying to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future for herself…one without fear…one with the love she deserves.  Reed, on the other hand, is more possessive of his sister than we’ve ever seen him before.  My heart fills with emotion as I think about the fact that he’s, once again, willing to put his life on hold to ensure Lexi is safe.  He means well, and for that I cannot be mad when he does silly things.  Now let’s talk about Ben.  He’s the best thing that can possibly happen to Lexi even though he’s got demons of his own to slay.  I think Ben is my favorite hero from this series!  He’s been through a lot and been abandoned by almost everyone he loves, yet he’s still got a heart of gold.  He’s one of the good guys, one who’s willing to put himself on the line for people and willing to do whatever it takes to help Lexi.  He’s swoon-worthy, smart, loyal and caring…*sigh*….every girl should have a Ben in her life!!  And I love that Ben and Lexi just click.  Their relationship cannot be denied.  Oh, and their chemistry is through the roof!!!

This book felt like coming home.  I knew the secondary characters from the first two books and, once again, they prove that family – whether blood or not – can help us heal.  The writing is, as usual, flawless.  There’s just enough information to help the reader understand the situations and feel the emotions, but not so much that the reader gets bogged down in detail.  The author gives us enough to allow our hearts to experience the sadness, fear, love and lust first hand.  This is a great read, as are all the books in this series and I highly recommend you pick them up!  But, be warned, I’m not sure I’m willing to share Ben…just thought I’d let you know up front!!

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