Author: Lexi Blake
Publication Date: 14 November 2017
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment
Series: Masters and Mercenaries/Topped, book 14.5/4
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Age Recommendation: 18 and up
Rating: 4 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~
Juliana O’Neil’s promising future was burned away in the heat of battle. She had been an officer with a bright future in the military, but now she is struggling to survive. Her husband gone and her career in shambles, she finds a job at Top as a hostess and tries to put together the pieces of her life. The last thing she needs is any kind of male attention, but she can’t help but be amused at her neighbor and coworker’s lothario antics. Not that she would have anything to do with him, at least not for more than one night. Javier Leones doesn’t understand monogamy. No woman could ever be enough for his endless libido, but he has to admit Juliana has his attention. For reasons he doesn’t fully understand, he can’t seem to get the gorgeous redhead with the sad eyes out of his head. After one scorching night together, he realizes he’ll never be able to get her out of his system. But with his reputation, he fears she’ll never see him as more than a one-night stand. When their passions collide, these new lovers will be forced to confront Juliana’s past and come to terms with Javier’s present. Will they find their way or will this reservation be canceled at the last minute?
I throughly enjoyed the story of Javier and Juliana. I have been quite anxious to get my hands on Javier's story, I mean how was Lexi Blake going to redeem Javier the 'manwhore'? I can admit to some serious worry, but I should have never feared a moment, Ms. Blake pulls of his redemption flawlessly and she wrote the only heroine that could have done it, Juliana.
What happens when two people who feel that they don't deserve love come together? I loved the pull and push between these two. I can honestly say that normally that little bit of angst would drive me nuts, I am not an angst type of girl but I loved how it went with these two. How the relationship between Juliana and Javier builds, how they fight their demons and their fears without every fully giving up on one another, how open Javier is with his feelings. I loved the strength of Juliana, particularly at the end of the story when she isn't fighting her own demons but she is fighting to save the love she has found with Javier. Sometimes what a strong hero needs is a stronger and more determined heroine and Juliana is all of that, though it may have taken her a while to get there. I loved how Juliana starts as Javier's rock during a difficult time, how that then changes to Javier being there when Juliana needs him most, then back again to Juliana holding them together, and finally them both coming together and realizing that they need to be each other's strength.
We get a lot of Sean and Ian in this book as well and Gah, I loved it. I will admit now that when this whole series began I was not a fan of Ian's, but with every book I fall deeper and deeper in book boyfriend love with him. Sean, oh Sean, I have missed him in the Masters and Mercenaries books so it is so wonderful to walk back into his world and see how much he has grown. He is so much like Ian and becomes more and more similar with each book and it just makes me chuckle every time those two brothers come together.
At Your Service, was such a wonderful book. The romance, the character development, the laughter, the friendships....it is classic Lexi Blake and something I have come to love about this series. I want to be friends and family with these people. I want to watch them grow and change. I love that with Topped we get the stories of Veterans. Veterans who come with not just a history of having fought for their country, but of having been to war, of having survived and not always easily. I love that Lexi Blake gives us a glimpse into the life of these Service Members who come back with not only 'opened eyes' but changes in their minds, changes in their bodies, changes in their life. I love how Lexi takes their pain, their ups and downs, their fall and their recovery, seamlessly into their love stories. I love how she doesn't use their military service simply as a gimmick but as a major role in their stories, because if this were 'real life' those issues would be just that, a major part of their life and their relationships.
If you love Lexi Blake this is a great addition to this series. If you have never read any Lexi Blake you can go ahead and pick this one up, there is a long past that goes along with these stories but you won't be overly lost and you will be getting an amazing story and I am certain a desire to go back to the first book and begin at the well, beginning.
~ HAPPY READING ~
All alone with the storm. Maybe she should call Kai. And ask him to get out in the middle of this? That seemed pretty selfish especially since she knew exactly how poorly driving in storms could go. A hard flash of white light made her jump back. Nope. She wasn’t going there. She was going to stay in the here and now, and that meant finding a flashlight and trying to get some candles lit. Someone was out there working on getting the power back on, and then she would ride out the storm watching rom coms and falling asleep on the couch. It was going to be okay. Deep breath. It was going to be okay. A few moments later she’d found her one flashlight and had a nice set of candles out, and she was faced with the problem of lighting the suckers. Oh, she had a big box of matches, but she’d never struck a match without her left hand. A lighter would be easier. She could figure out a lighter maybe. Jules tried holding the box against the table with her stump while she struck the match with her right hand. She fumbled, the action so unnatural it made her slip up and break the match. And the second one. And the third one. Tears pierced her eyes, but she wasn’t going to shed them. She was going to figure this out or she would make due with the flashlight. It was all about adapting. That was what she had to do. Adapt. She wasn’t going to let this beat her. Normally she was tough. It had happened and she dealt with it, but between the storm and the conversation with Suzanne the day before about her mother and the sweetness of flirting with a handsome man she couldn’t have, she was feeling awfully vulnerable. She wasn’t going to sit here in the dark and cry. A knock on the door made her gasp and jump. Fuck. She wasn’t like this. She hated this…this anxiety she got when it rained. It was weakness and she couldn’t abide it. If you walk away from this you’ll ruin your life, Juliana. Don’t think I’ll watch you do it. You go through with this and you do it on your own. Am I understood? Sometimes she felt like she was still seven years old, and if she could just get her mom’s attention everything would be okay. Jules gripped the flashlight and walked across her apartment to the door. It was likely one of the neighbors coming to check on her. Actually, that was an excellent idea. She could go down and see if Mrs. Gleeson needed some company. There were some elderly residents she could check on and a single mom she’d met at the end of the hall. She could see if she could be of any assistance and that would get her through the night. She opened the door expecting to see anyone but the man she saw standing there. Javier Leones. He had a flashlight in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. He was wearing jeans and a button down that he’d left undone enough she could see a nice swath of golden brown skin. His hair was deliciously mussed, as though he’d taken a shower and simply rubbed a towel over it to get it dry. He was big and male and so sexy it hurt to look at him, and Jules realized she could do something else to take her mind off things. Those plump, sensual lips of his broke into a bright smile. “I thought you might like some company. I know I would. I actually don’t have any candles, so I was sitting in my living room with this sad one flashlight. You look like a woman who likes some candles.” But she couldn’t light them. She hadn’t figured that part out. His face fell and he walked into her place, closing and locking the door behind him. “Hey, what’s wrong? It’s okay if you don’t have any candles. It’s cool. Two flashlights are better than one.” He set the flashlight and wine bottle down and moved into her space, his hands coming up to cup her shoulders. “Jules, what’s wrong?” She had to be stronger than this. She shook her head. “Nothing. I’m fine.” His jaw tightened. “Don’t. Please don’t. I live with a stubborn asshole who won’t let me help him in any way. I get that we’ve only known each other for a few weeks, but I thought we were friends. You help me out all the time. You’re kind to me. Fucking let me be kind to you. I spend every day trying to help someone who won’t let me. Please let me feel like I’m worth something.” If he’d said anything else, joked about the weather or told her to suck it up, she could have, but he’d opened a door. He’d been vulnerable and honest, and she found she couldn’t pay that back with stubbornness. “I have candles and I can’t figure out how to light them.” Tears rolled down her face. She was vulnerable. All the time. Even when she pretended like she wasn’t. “You can’t…” he began and then he looked down. Instead of stepping back and giving her space, he drew his hand down her arm, warming her skin where he touched her. It was dark but the moon was full and gave enough light to see the outline of his face. There was no look of horror there. He caressed her arm until he got to the place where she’d been split apart and sewn back together unwhole. He brought it up and wrapped it against his palm, his fingers closing around it until the whole thing was surrounded with his warmth. “You haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Probably hasn’t come up or you would know what to do. How long since you lost your hand?” “A year and a half,” she said. He was touching her there. No one had touched her there except her doctors and therapists. Come to think of it, no one had touched her at all since before the accident. Had it really been so long since she’d felt warm flesh against her own? He was so close, close enough that all she would have to do was go up on her toes to brush her lips against his. Would that be wrong? As long as she remembered who she was dealing with, why couldn’t she take a few moments of respite for herself? If he wanted her.
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.