Read my review of the first book in the Naughty in Pendleton series: Date in a Pinch
This post includes reviews of the other currently available books:
- Embracing His Shame (#2)
- Made to Order (#3)
- Flipping the Switch (#4)
Embracing His Shame (Book 2)
I’m the last person to kink-shame, and I’m certainly aware that not everyone shares the same kinks. That being said, I hesitated to read this book because not only do I not have much interest in Forrest’s kinks (especially the humiliation aspect), but I also experience pretty hardcore second-hand embarrassment. As in, I genuinely wasn’t sure whether I’d make it through this book depending on what direction Vaughn took the spicy elements.
However, not only did I finish this book, but I devoured it in a single afternoon and enjoyed pretty much every bit of it. Vaughn does an excellent job of focusing on the characters experiencing a connection in their scenes rather than playing up the kinks for shock value or dramatic effect. Even before Forrest and Jarod even consider that there might be something more, Vaughn also highlights how Jarod specifically focuses on how best to meet Forrest’s needs in a safe way for both of them. Of course, they run into trouble along the way, but it’s nowhere near as awkward to read as it is for the characters to experience.
Ultimately, the kink is merely how the characters initially connect. Everything beyond that is a solid romance arc that only made me want to occasionally roll my eyes at the main characters. Both men experience significant character development—internally and externally—outside of the romance plot that was also thoroughly enjoyable to experience. Though this book is a stand-alone, I encourage readers to check out Three Shots, which is also set in Pendleton, for another angle on Jarod’s family issues (and a lovely romance story of its own).
Once again, Vaughn teases us in the epilogue with the couple we’ll meet in the next book in this series. Between Vaughn’s excellent storytelling and dynamic characters, I can’t wait to read it in a few weeks.
Made to Order (Book 3)
Certain elements of this book echo the first in this series in that it covers one character who introduces the other to kink, and they accidentally fall in love along the way. However, it also contains significant differences—an enemies-to-lovers story that features half of the pair coming to terms with a greater understanding of his own sexual orientation.
Sparks have always flown between Tyler and Donovan at the restaurant where they work, but it’s not until they have to work even closer together that they realize the sparks might be foreplay rather than actual dislike. The spicy bits of this novel are always hot, but it’s the quiet moments between the characters where this book shines. Tyler experiences a certain amount of angst about what he shares with Donovan, but it is all based on his care for the important friendships in his life rather than any self-loathing. For his part, Donovan knows exactly what he’s getting into with Tyler and has to weigh how he feels now against the potential for future pain.
The secondary conflict in this story involving a close friend of Tyler’s from their time in the military is unfortunately quite accurate in terms of how hard it is for service members to get timely care. The silver lining to this book’s dark moment is that it helps Tyler come to terms with his connection to Donovan, and I loved the unique twist Vaughn puts on how Tyler understands his half of the D/s dynamic.
Vaughn sets up the next book in this series by creating a delicately balanced secondary character who is appropriately annoying to the book characters while also sympathetic for the book reader. I look forward to the next installment of this series to find out what happens for that character now that I’m quite sure about Tyler and Donovan’s happily ever after.
Flipping the Switch (Book 4)
Not every character is redeemable, and I was less than impressed with Jude after the previous book. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, so I was more than willing to give Vaughn the benefit of the doubt and give this story a try. I appreciate that Jude is up-front from the beginning about regretting the way he acted toward his ex and that the plot does not revolve around him coming to that conclusion. Instead, this story is about three men with very specific needs and desires coming together to have them met, then falling in love along the way.
Of course, as the man “in the middle,” this gives Jude an entirely new opportunity for angst. Logan and Tony do their best to support him through his various issues. In fact, it feels like most of the book is Jude being supported through his problems. Jude and Logan also do their part to help Tony work through his character development, but that is much more fulfilling than Jude being a bit of a spoiled brat. And though Tony might be the “cinnamon roll” of the trio, it’s Logan who’s a little too perfect. He’s a great character, but he doesn’t get much development beyond finally getting the romance he deserves.
The spiciness between these three men is delicious, but I didn’t always understand the directions taken by the kinky elements took. For example, I enjoyed how Logan and Jude used their power dynamic to help Tony overcome past fears and push certain of his boundaries, but the guy makes it clear from day one that he’s not interested in pain. So, why is that one of the boundaries they keep pushing when masochist Jude is literally right there? I also wish that a little bit more time was spent focusing on Logan and Tony as an individual couple, even within their dynamic.
Overall, this is a satisfying romance involving three men who are perfect for each other if they are willing to fight for their dreams. While it might not be my favorite book of the series, it is not to be missed if you enjoyed the previous installments.