Review: “The Badge and The Bad Boy” by Lena Hendrix

Series: Redemption Ranch #1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: March 11th, 2022

Add to Goodreads | Amazon.in (Available on KU)

CW/TW: gun violence, threats, character suffering from panic attacks

Examples of things I shouldn’t be doing:

1. Staring at how nicely Evan Walker fills out his Wranglers.

2. Sneaking around after dark, hoping we don’t get caught.

3. Fantasizing about a life with a man who isn’t supposed to exist.

He’s a criminal, a dangerous man with connections to the Chicago mafia.

And I’m a cop.

Now we’re stuck hiding out in this quirky small town, and my eyes have a way of wandering.

So do his hands.

But the rules are clear––no connections to your former life. Ever.

We can’t afford to give into temptation. I’m only here on this Montana ranch until I can safely return to my job–and the promotion I’ve worked so hard for. And he’s only here to keep his little sister safe.

But as we’re forced to work together, I find that Evan is much more than I ever expected. He’s strong, hard-working.

Did I mention the Wranglers?

We’re drawn to each other in ways that are completely hopeless. I know I shouldn’t give in to his hot, smoldering looks or the way his lingering touch lights me up. It’s reckless.

Addictive.

I can hide it, but the truth always has a way of coming out. In Tipp, Montana, secrets can save your life. The only cost is your heart.

 

When it comes to Lena Hendrix’s books, the one thing I’m sure to find is a beautifully written story. Lena has a way with words and she weaves a tale that hooks you from the start. And with The Badge and the Bad Boy, it’s the unique concept that really had my attention. Sure, Val and Evan also had me excited, but the idea of a ranch where criminals and those on the run can come to stay safe and protected blew my mind. While it’s the first in a series, I am definitely intrigued to see what else the series is going to offer!

As a big fan of romantic suspense, I was really excited to see what Lena would do with this story and she did not disappoint. I was at the edge of my seat as I read, holding my breath when I thought that everything was going to fall apart, only to release my breath just as chaos ensued! I am forever impressed with what Lena can do with her stories! The book really does hit the ground running with Officer Val Rivera getting caught up in a really messy situation with the mob in Chicago, which then takes her out of commission for a few days while she goes through evaluations to see if she’s ready to be back on the job. Val’s got big dreams and she wants to go places, but being in limbo with her current job makes it hard for her to get where she wants to go. Till she’s sent to a small town in Montana, to work at a ranch. And then her entire life changes.

Like I mentioned before, the idea of a ranch working like a WITSEC situation was so great. I don’t know if these exist in real life, but I loved the setting. All of the characters at Redemption Ranch and the lifestyle at the ranch were all so wonderful. But the most wonderful of them all? Evan Walker. Sweet lord. This man is just delicious in every way. I loved his strength and his depth, I loved how protective he is of his sister and the life he’s running away from. I admired his dedication to hard work and his drive. I loved that you can feel his fear of everything he’s worked to protect and keep safe being taken away from him if he’s not careful. Evan has been through a lot and it’s evident in the little things that he does. Also, broody, sexy mafia cowboy? We need more of those.

“There’s darkness in me, Val.”

“Maybe some. But I can see the light.”

Val and Evan’s relationship is so juicy. Another thing that Lena does well is she builds up all this sexual tension and desire between the characters, she puts them in close proximity that forces them to really look at each other in a different way. And everything about where Val and Evan are is testing their strength in so many ways. I love me some forbidden romance, especially when there’s all this external tension and stress involved, because I enjoy watching the characters come together when things are ugly on the outside and need a little joy in their lives. And Val and Evan know that everything they’re doing is dangerous, but the heart and body wants what they want! There’s all this sneaking around, there’s some secrets and there’s lots of loose threads that I was itching to connect as their relationship built, and I loved it all so much!

I hope that Gemma gets her own book, even though she’s pretty young in this one, because she’s such an interesting character! I loved her relationship with Evan and what she and Val created together. I liked that even though she was a supporting character, she had a story to tell and it was a good one! The banter between the siblings was amusing and it reminded me so much of what I have with my own sibling. And Evan’s possessiveness doesn’t stop with Gemma, it goes all the way to Val. It’s just a different kind of possessiveness and I gobbled that up hungrily.

While not as steamy as the books in the Chikalu Falls series, Lena is a master at writing steamy scenes and between the chemistry, the sexual tension and the fact that they are not allowed to be together; Evan and Val have some deliciously forbidden steam that I might have read twice. Just because. But seriously, all that sexual tension? It had to go somewhere!

I loved that after the swoony, steamy, romantic elements of Lena’s first series, we got a tension filled romantic suspense that had all those things that she’s known for, but with an added bonus of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. I am so ready to see what else happens at Redemption Ranch, because I am currently hooked!

Thanks to Lena Hendrix for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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