Review of Runaway Brat by Shelby Kent-Stewart


Author: Shelby Kent-Stewart

Genre: Erotic Romance, Domestic Discipline

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My rating: 5 out of 5

Blurb: Architect Hadley James is a woman on a mission. Leaving a string of shattered hearts and broken engagements across Europe, she returns to Chicago to put her playgirl image behind her and focus on her career. And she intends to do it alone — no men, no angst, no problem — but when she crosses paths with a client, one hell-bent on claiming the bad girl, all bets are off.
Scott Barlow knows what he wants. He wants Hadley James in his life, his bed and under his thumb. A strict disciplinarian and advocate of tough-love for women, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
There is another who watches and waits, someone from her past with a deadly agenda, someone who will prove that before a heart can be shattered, it must exist.

Review: I’ll be perfectly honest. I was not sure whether Shelby Kent-Stewart’s work would be my cup of tea when I first checked her books. The stories of strong, confident and intelligent women who get in touch with their submissive side are usually the hardest to write. It is a delicate balance when you have to represent the different sides of the female psyche and re-create a healthy relationship between two consenting adults. I’d find it deeply frustrating if the writer fails and the strong yet submissive leading lady gets reduced to a domesticated bimbo who is being “tamed” by the strong, dominating “hero”, a.k.a abuser.

However after reading some of the author’s blog posts and small excerpts I thought that I should get over myself and give her a chance. Runaway Brat is the first of her books that I read and all I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t let my prejudice mislead me. She is a truly fine writer who can weave a compelling story, interesting characters and crisp, snarky dialogue that was an absolute delight to read.

Her leading lady Hadley James quickly turned into one of my most favorite characters in erotic romance. She is intelligent, eloquent and knows how to stand her ground and fight for her beliefs and happiness. But Hadley is also a normal red-blooded woman with healthy sexual appetite and preferences for a lifestyle that usually clashes with the traditional idea of “an independent” woman. She is definitely smitten with Scott Barlow’s appearance and allure, but she wouldn’t let her judgment be clouded by his chiseled body or firm hand. Their witty banter and conflicts followed by tender or rough moments of sexual pleasure were some of the things that made the novel special for me. Well, at times I really felt like telling her “Hm, Hadley, that guy is going too far, how about restraining order?” Luckily she knew how to take care of herself.

Another typical character that I usually hate with the passion of a thousand suns is that of the meddling sister who has no personality and no other hopes and dreams except to see her older brother matched with the woman of his life. Skylar Barlow, our hero’s little sister, is nothing like that, though. I loved her just as much as I loved Hadley. It was a pleasure to read about a character who is a passionate feminist without being a prudish man hater. Her views on women’s rights and feminism quite matched my own, with a heavy emphasis on our right to choose how we want to live. I’d say that while Scott and Hadley eventually find the balance and the right way to communicate their desires and feelings Skylar was a very much needed mediator.

At times, I almost wished that the author would do an unexpected twist of a traditional love story in which the heroine dumps the hero for his sister. Now, that would be a huge blow to a certain physicist.

That brings us to our leading man and the character I struggled the most with. Scott, Scott, Scott, what should I do with you? I had mixed feelings for him from the moment when he was introduced. For a man of science, he had the annoying habit of jumping to conclusions and believing rumors before checking the facts. As the story progresses and we learn a bit more of his past and early history his actions and lack of actions make more sense to the reader. I never accept the excuse of someone being a jerk just because they have had troubled past, but these facts helped me understand him. At the beginning of the novel I really hated him, his initial condescending attitude and contradictory views on women, sex, relationships and discipline were everything I hate in a man. At least at first sight. There were moments when Scott struck me as a downright stalker who really was going too far. However, he succeeded in redeeming himself and in the end I accepted him as a well-written flawed character with his good and bad sides. There was more than met the eye with him and he proved to be really kind, caring and generous person who makes the mistake of bringing experiments out of the laboratory. Scott was also capable of acknowledging his errors and shortcomings and that is a quality, which is always worthy of respect. So to my surprise I grew to love him as well.

The story between those two unlikely lovers was laced with incredible erotic chemistry, a lot of spanking, orgasms, fights, doubts and mind games. While they met and fell for each other pretty quickly it wasn’t a story of insta love. Both Scott and Hadley go through a lot before they found the peace and completion they both craved. I suffered with them, I was mad at their stubbornness, laughed at their exchanges and was happy when the obstacles got cleared of their way.

It was saddening that Scott was not the only to judge Hadley for her past mistakes. In spite the sexual revolution, we still live in the world where a woman’s professional skills and character can be tainted by sexual/personal history. I wish I could say that this was just fictional story however it hits close to home.

Perhaps the only aspect of the story I was not happy with was the subplot regarding the person from Hadley’s past mentioned at the blurb. It was clear to see who that is from the very beginning of the book. I know that this is erotic romance and the suspense goes on second place. But still I feel it could have been handled in a different way that would have increased my pleasure even more and make the novel truly fantastic.

If you like steamy romance, witty dialogue, clever characters and well-crafted passion, give Runaway Brat a chance, you’d be in a for a delicious time. That was my first book by Ms. Kent-Stewart but I am keen on repeating the experience with her other novels.

Buy it today on Amazon!

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