Series: Toxic Love, #2
Release Date: December 11th, 2021
CW/TW: Teenage pregnancy, character suffering from alcohol abuse, manipulative behaviour, slut shaming
Now Camden Hayes is a rock star. He’s every bit as seductively beautiful as he was years ago, and yet he wants ordinary me to pose as his live-in girlfriend for the next six months. If I agree, I’ll walk away with enough money for my little girl and me to live comfortably for years to come.
The catch? He still hates me. This is only a temporary arrangement for him.
I can’t let it become more for me.
The woman who betrayed me is in desperate need of money. Lucky for me, I have a lot of it.
Since the band’s world tour is cancelled, I’ll be living in San Diego for the first time in years. It’s the perfect opportunity to finally get over this irrational longing for Lauren Henderson. For the next six months, I’ll spend every waking moment getting everything I’ve ever wanted from her.
The catch? At the end of this, I have to let her go.
No matter how badly I want to hang on.
You know how sometimes you find yourself struggling to like a character so much that you keep reading in hopes that something redeems them by the end? That was Camden Hayes for me as I read Wild & Bright, Skyler Mason’s second book following her intense and emotional Revenge Cake last year. I also want to add that this book might not be for everyone even if I love it. As mentioned in the warnings, there are some topics that might not work for people and you should go into this book with an open mind.
Lauren and Camden have history—one that includes the front seat of a car on a drunken night or so—and five years later, things are starting to get very real. For Camden, Lauren has been the only woman he’s ever loved. He spent most of his teenage years pining for her and while Lauren felt the same way, neither of them did anything about it other than for that one night in his truck. Five years later, Camden’s a famous rockstar and he’s cancelled the tour the band was supposed to go on because of his brother’s recovery and he’s back home in their town of Coronado. The last thing he expects is for his brother—Hunter—to make Lauren an offer that will allow her to leave her parents home and make some money to make a life for herself. See, in the five years they’ve been apart, Lauren had a little girl and has been raising her the best she can while living with her parents. But her mother is quite possibly the worst person on the planet and after saying nasty and horrible things to each other, Lauren knows she needs to get out of the house. But Camden isn’t going to let Lauren go off with Hunter, no. His obsession and love for her drives him to make the same offer, but with more benefits, just so he can be around her again.
These characters are so complex. That’s one of the things I like about Skyler’s stories, there’s no obvious direction these characters are going and every time you think you’ve figured them out, they toss something else your way. I experienced this when I was reading Revenge Cake and I enjoyed it in this one too. It’s wild, it’s careless and it’s all kinds of chaos. Camden is an incredibly hard hero to like, but that’s the point. He’s a control freak, he’s obsessive and he’s constantly wound so tight all it takes is a gentle tap and he’ll explode. Camden doesn’t like people and those he likes are a very tight circle of five people and everyone else can take a hike, because he has no patience for you. You’re not meant to love Camden at the start or in the middle, but there are times when I wanted to scoop him up and comfort him, because the man has been through a lot and he’s struggling to balance all of it without tipping over.
And then there’s Lauren. She’s a tough woman, having to raise her daughter alone and deal with her manipulative and often cruel mother. Lauren is, in simple terms, struggling. Even though she’s a well known and liked makeup influencer, Lauren isn’t doing very well for herself. And life hasn’t given her any favours that allows her to live a bigger and brighter life. But what life has taught her is how to fight for what she wants and to never let anyone bring her down. Lauren fights back with her mother, with Camden and with life—some of these fights and the yelling hurts and you can feel how much it affects Lauren—but she also loves Camden so much that she hates the way their relationship is going. I really admired and understood Lauren in so many ways and while she also had moments where I almost didn’t like her, she had more moments where I loved her and wanted to protect her.
It’s safe to say that their relationship is toxic, but only to an extent. I did enjoy the push and pull, the constant battling with each other to piss the other one off. But there were so many deliciously sexy, hot and sweet moments that you almost forget all the ugliness that they end up spewing at each other. I know, none of these things sound like something that would make for an interesting relationship, but trust me, it’s there! Lauren and Camden have loved each other for so long that their relationship is, in one word, complicated. Camden doesn’t flat out trust Lauren and she’s constantly afraid that he’s going to leave her high and dry. But all this history they share, the chemistry they’ve built over the years and this unhealthy pining comes to a head in a really hard and romantic situation. I enjoyed watching them fight for each other, for the love they deserve and the place in the other person’s life that is theirs for the taking all the time.
There’s so much that I can’t say about this book because I’m afraid I’ll give so much away, but brace yourself for frustration, lots of angst and moments where you want to bash Lauren and Camden’s heads together so they stop being idiots. But you’ll also find yourself falling in love with those idiots because what they have is great, even under all the rage and chaos.
Thanks to Skyler Mason for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.