Review: “Parks and Provocation” by Juliette Cross

Series: Green Valley Heroes #2

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: April 5th, 2022

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

CW: mentions of parental death, scenes of firefighting, characters with a learning disability (dyslexia)

Lola Landry stares through the window of her locked car with the keys in the ignition and the radio blaring Beck’s “Loser.” While standing there and sweltering in the soupy Tennessee humidity, she wonders how her orderly life had crashed and burned so badly. Then her high school nemesis saunters up in all of his tall, strapping, fireman-to-the-rescue glory, slapping her with the humiliating proof that it can always get worse.

When the uber-confident Jedediah Lawson requests a date in return for popping her lock, a lightbulb goes off. Revenge is sweet. He would make the perfect victim—guest, that is—for her next podcast episode on Kiss and Tell. What shocks her is the casual way he not only agrees to the post-date interview on air, but ends up hijacking her audience and wooing them with his swoony, southern charm. Not even a low score on the date-o-meter can dissuade the man or keep her fans from demanding more of the charismatic Jed.

What’s worse, she secretly wants a second date with this man who is so different from his teenage self. His unwavering patience and dimpled smile erodes her will, until she breaks the Kiss and Tell rules by agreeing to a second…and a third date. It’s a disaster. Not the date. They’re wonderful. The disaster is that she is falling for a man she once dubbed Jockstrap Jed.

 

It’s clear that Juliette Cross can write anything she wants. Because this book? Unreal. That is literally the only word I can think of to describe the brilliance of this story and the magic of it held. While I haven’t read a lot of books in the Smartypants universe or the first in the Green Valley Heroes series, I felt like I already knew all these characters. The world that has been built up by Penny Reid and these fantastic authors is so strong and Juliette swoops in and makes it her own.

Parks and Provocation was swoony, sexy, steamy and hilarious all at the same time. You’ve got these two brilliant leads who suck you in and keep you hooked from the first page. Lola Landry and Jedediah Lawson’s history goes way back to high school where he was the popular, handsome jock and she was the quiet girl he picked on. They were never actively cruel to each other and there was no bullying as much as there were some annoying nicknames and hurtful things overheard. And as adults, they’re still slinging hilarious things at each other, but all that history is coming to a head.

Absolutely loved Lola and her podcast life. She’s quirky and funny, sexy and beautiful. She is the ultimate girl next door. And her podcast where she goes on multiple first dates with bachelors across town is such an interesting concept. I enjoyed watching her describe these dates, talk about them like they’re the strangest thing she’s ever done in her life. I also love how driven Lola is. She’s got big dreams and they’re far bigger than Green Valley can ever be, but despite losing her previous job and not having the strength to get involved in a relationship, she pushes forward. And then there’s Jed. Sweet lord. Let me paint you a picture—former football star, currently firefighter, built like a tank with short hair and a beard and tattoos. Jed is the kind of alpha male we love in our romances. But you know what makes him EVEN better? He’s an alpha roll. Jed’s whole world revolves around his family and he would bend over backwards for them every single time. He might be all mountain caveman, but Jed’s heart is really what got me. He can dirty talk Lola as much as he wants, but the heart in this man? *fans self*

“I want you. I wanted you then. And that hasn’t changed, except that now I’m a grown man. Adult enough to lay it out, clear as day for you. I want a chance with you, Lola.”

Speaking of dirty talk…Jed and Lola’s relationship is beautiful. While she might have had a crush on him as a teenager, little did Lola know that the feelings went both ways. I liked that Jed’s been harbouring all these feelings for Lola since their first meeting in high school and after all the fumbles and screw ups, he’s fighting for a second chance. He’s hella swoony too; with his dates and his need to prove to Lola that he’s not the bad guy she thinks he is. Jed is charming and funny, he goes out of his way to be everything that he is and then some. I spent this whole book just swooning, because that’s the kind of power Jed had over me. Their relationship isn’t exactly a slow burn, but more of a gradual build up. It’s like running into a burning building head first and then slowing down to check what’s on fire; and I freaking loved the whole thing!

Things that Juliette Cross does really well? Sexual tension and chemistry. These two are oozing with it. I could not get enough of their physical relationship and desperately needed more! And, let’s not even get me started on the kissing. How can just kissing be so intense and beautiful? I don’t even understand! 

All of the love for the supporting characters, starting with Jed’s family. They’re an absolute riot. I loved the bond he has with his sister and his grumpy old father. I loved how he is with his nephews and nieces, how Uncle Jed is basically their hero. Then there’s Aunt Polly, who is an absolute hoot and how she loves and cherishes Lola in all the right ways. But, the award for best supporting character goes to Marly. The best friend a girl could have. She’s the complete opposite of Lola and their relationship is so wonderful. I definitely had a few good laughs because of Marly specifically. Also, don’t think I didn’t see that little nudge about Marly and Wade, Juliette. I saw it. I want it. I need it.

I’m so excited to see what other contemporary romances Juliette’s got up her sleeve. I know she teased it on her social handles, but I need more information and I want it now!

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

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