This was the June read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' group. I put off reading it a bit, because I just had so many books I was more interested in reading, but I never skip a read, so I finally got to it in the last week of the month.
The plot revolves around Jason/Jay, whose family dies in a fire when he's a little kid and who ends up being sent away to live with his uncle. Jay swears revenge on the people who set the fire and killed his family. After the prologue, the viewpoint switches to Matilda, who was Jay's childhood neighbor but who barely remembers him. Matilda's mother was killed in a home invasion and she has a bad scar from it on her face/neck. She still lives with her father and supports him as secretary at his legal practice, and supplements her income by sewing vintage-style dresses that she sells online. When Jay shows up seeking help from her father in a legal case involving defamation, neither Matilda nor her father recognize him. Matilda's father refuses to take on his case, but does rent out a room in their house to him...and therefore the scene for romance is set.
I'm gonna be honest: I didn't like this book, and Jay is the reason. He's a magician by trade, which I find kind of creepy (I was evidently not the only person in the group that felt this way) but if he'd been a decent person, I could have forgiven that. However, he's really not. He swears he loves Matilda, but he lied to her for the duration of their relationship. He's violent, punching out guys who so much as look at Matilda even when he says he doesn't want a relationship with her and scaring off perfectly nice guys she's interested in. He leaves bruises on her neck after pressuring her into having sex with him when she specifically said no. Jay just left me feeling slimy, and I can't really excuse his behavior throughout the book.
The "revenge" plot of course circles around the court case, and that's when all of the big "reveals" come out, though they were pretty easy to guess beforehand with one minor exception. But what I found so unlikely here is that, even with such a clear-cut case, Jay and Matilda's father would have won. Because they went up against a big newspaper with a ton of money; their opponents would have buried them in paperwork and driven them beyond what they could do. Of course it's more poetic to have it come out the way it did in the end...but it wouldn't have actually worked and really challenged my suspension of disbelief.
So, no, I did not like this book. The writing was decent and Matilda was an okay main character--sweet and smart, with the exception of Jay--and the secondary characters were good, too. But Jay himself was just so awful that I couldn't get over it.
2 stars out of 5.