Friday, February 12, 2016

ARC Review: Barefoot with a Bad Boy (Barefoot Bay Undercover #3)

Barefoot with a Bad Boy (Barefoot Bay Undercover #3)

by Roxanne St. Claire


A man who trusts no one is forced to believe the unbelievable...
For years, former spy Gabriel Rossi has been secretly searching for CIA linguist Isadora Winter, a woman he loved and lost long ago. But recently, he learned of her untimely death in an accident...and death of her son named Gabe. Angry, hurt, and uncertain of his next move, Gabe is stunned when a woman he's never met approaches him on the beach and claims to be Isadora. She doesn't look, act, or talk like his beloved Isa, but she knows things about their past that only a lover could know, and she assures him that his son is alive as well. As much as he wants to believe her and knows that in the spy world, anything is possible, doubts and distrust plague him. Still, he sees glimmers of the woman he once knew shine through and she begins to melt his hardened heart.
A woman who is tortured by emotions must endure the pain of love...
Lila Wickham has been working deep undercover for so long that sometimes she's forgotten who she really is. Now that her assignment is over and the surgeries she endured left her utterly changed, she is determined to fix the broken life she left behind and assure that her little boy is safe. With lingering threats from an unknown source and blinding headaches that torment her whenever she feels deep emotion, she seeks Gabe Rossi for help and protection. But instead of setting her up with a new undercover identity, he insists on luring her nemesis to Barefoot Bay so he can end the threat to Lila and her son once and for all.
Can they survive the worst betrayal of all?
Even if they succeed in drawing out the killer who has Lila in his sights, a much more serious threat hovers over them...a treacherous, deadly truth that could not only destroy their love but end their lives as well.
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
The story we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. For long-time fans of Ms. St. Claire’s romance suspense novels you know who Gabe Rossi is and you have been dying to see him find his match for years, which is a category I can say I fall into whole-heartedly.  Gabe’s story is one that has been building for the last three novels in real intensity, setting up the circumstances of the book and even offering us an idea of exactly what we could expect.  Roxanne has a unique ability to make her readers salivate for her characters and come to see her world as the escape from our own often boring and mundane one.  Barefoot Bay is an idyllic setting and the people that call it home are all exciting, intense, and quirky in turns, but Gabe and his immediate circle are also intense, secretive and full of surprises.  If you are just coming into this series, I promise you will enjoy the story with its twists and turns and intrigue, but sorry to say nowhere near as much as we fans enjoy seeing Gabe meet his match and fall in love again.  Another masterpiece for Roxanne’s Barefoot Series and a great addition to the stories of the Rossi/Angelino clan. This story picks up immediately where the last story did, actually with a bit of overlap of the epilogue from the previous story, and Gabe is confronted with a blast from the past that will bring his world crashing down around his ear once again.  And once things really get interesting the story never releases its clutches in your heart and soul.
Gabe’s story is one that is heartbreaking and tragic, but the greatest trait of our hero is that even as his world crumbles around him, he is determined to keep others from dealing with the same pain.  He has dedicated his life to keeping his country and his family safe and when faced with the ultimate loss he remains steadfast in his desire to keep others safe.  Gabe is one of those heroes that stays in the back of your brain, even after only briefly meeting him in previous stories, and begs for you to learn all you can about him.  His strength and obvious love and devotion to his family makes him sweet, while his skills and general badass attitude shows that even macho alpha guys can be the perfect man when they come with an understanding side as well. Along with Gabe of course comes his amazing and quirky family and his fabulous “Uncle” Nino.  But there were a few times, I must admit, that his biggest character flaw—his lack of trust in ANYONE—is more of a hindrance for him than anything.  It turns him into an ass and almost costs both him and his woman their lives.  Luckily he learns the lesson we all must just in time; everyone has to have someone they can trust and rely on as backup. In the end it was my greatest joy to see Gabe find his HEA and build a new family for himself and finally have a chance to lose some of that distrust and anger at the world.
Lila/Isadora was an enigma more often than not as she tried to find a way to prove her identity and ultimately her love to Gabe and keep everyone she loved safe.  She has made some regrettable decisions in her past, ones that cost her the love of her life and almost cost her own life, but she has given up her life as a spy so she can protect her son and give him the one thing he’s never had—his father.  Lila underwent a lot of changes so she could take a job that she truly believed in initially, but has come to realize wasn’t the best choice in the end.  She has her son in her life, but whenever she thinks about how much she loves him the pain she feels is unbearable, so her best idea for his future is to bring him to his father who can truly love him the way he deserves.  As she and Gabe become reacquainted and investigate the true reason for her pain, they begin to fall back into love, though both resist.  I liked Lila a lot, but I felt a few times that she was not acting correctly.  Personally if I had her issues I would see every doctor in the world to figure out the problem, regardless of who someone tells me I can or cannot see. Defying an order for the safety of my child and myself is a non-issue, there’s just no way I wouldn’t  have solved that problem long before she did.  Once she finally got over that hurdle and began to stand up for herself I liked her much more.  She showed us the kickass woman that is the perfect match for and the woman that Gabe fell in love with so long ago.
True to its name, Barefoot with a Bad Boy, takes readers on a journey through the past and present of a real bad boy with a heart of gold as his life changes forever with the return of his woman to Barefoot Bay.  The danger and intrigue is interesting enough to make the story truly suspenseful, even though I figured out Lila’s issue long before either of them did, I never saw the true villain coming until they arrived on Gabe’s doorstep. True to all the greatness of Gabe, that man proves again and again that he really is almost the perfect man.  Once he drops his barriers and allows himself to trust in love and his woman, he becomes the loving man he always showed us glimpses of, proving that only by opening ourselves up to pain can we truly fall in love.  Lila/Isadora was a woman that has tried her best to make decisions in life to the benefit of all, but has hit a few bumps along the way.  Once she returns to the man she loves and begins to unravel the mess her life has become, she shows us glimpses of the fiery and spirited woman that once held Gabe’s heart.  The passion between these two is undeniable, even as Gabe fights his feelings for this woman that is so different from his heart’s desire.  I was thrilled to see that Gabe was able to bring everyone their HEA and find his own.  I cannot wait to see where this series goes next but can honestly say it will be a challenge for Roxanne to beat Barefoot with a Bad Boy, but I look forward to seeing her try.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

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