Better When He's Bad by Jay Crownover

Better When He's Bad  - Jay Crownover

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TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE

“I told you to stop.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and looked down at him. He cracked open one eye and shoved his good arm under his head.
“You didn’t really want me to.”
I huffed out an annoyed breath. “You don’t get to be the judge of that.”
He sighed and let his open eye drift shut. “I do when you’re leaning into my fingers, one hand touching yourself, the other pulling me closer. I’m pretty sure you left half your fingernails in the back of my head. And ‘oh, Bax; please, Bax; more, Bax’ sounds a whole lot different than ‘stop.’ If I was more mobile I wouldn’t have needed your help. If you’re going to do this, Dovie, then commit; if not, then call your friend and take off. I don’t like rules, yours or anyone else’s. Like I said, if you want me to stop or you really don’t like something I’m doing, you need to mean it.


Definition of rape: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

I shouldn't need to say more than that. Because honestly, a story that dismisses rape this easily is all kinds of wrong. I could write an essay on this topic alone, and I won't do that here. What I want to say that despite the woman's (or man's) state, a no is a no. Stop means stop. And by every definition of it, the supposed hero does rape the heroine. And if you say that,actually, she did want it, I won't respond because it's such a stupid comment, and not to mention offensive to victims of rape. The only instance where I could get behind this kind of interaction is in a stable relationship where non-con is part of their sexual interactions, but that requires trust and is not a spontaneous thing.

So the biggest reason this one didn't work for me: the hero, Bax. Apart from him raping the heroine, he's an asshole. I mean, it's in the blurb, so I wasn't surprised. But there are two different kinds of bad: the kind of bad that means you're a downright fucking asshole, and then there's the bad guy who's rebellious, crossing some laws (not rape, though, never rape), and generally a bit dangerous. Bax is on the wrong side of bad. Well, not really. Because we're told by the heroine (about three thousand times) that Bax is bad. He's so bad. And ohmygod he's so bad. But not even once did he do anything in this story that would make me see him as a "bad boy" (or man). Yeah, he's bad in the way that he's a criminal (can't forget the rape part), a sexist, pretty misogynistic. But other than that, he's just a boring guy who thinks he's the shit. His character doesn't improve much over the story, and the few changes he goes through are so formulaic and stereotypical I figured them out after the first few pages.

Then we have the heroine, who's name I've forgotten. Dovie, that's right, it's even in the quote above. Says it all about how memorable her character was. She's supposed to be this strong girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, who stood up for herself and took care of herself. Who's had a rough life (but she's still untouched and innocent and all that other crap that makes a NA heroine perfection in the guy's eyes). Yet, she's none of that. She's constantly making the wrong decisions even when she has sensible people offering support. So yeah, she didn't do much for me either.

The overall plot then... well, it was kind of intriguing. At times. When I didn't want to throttle the characters. I'd say it wasn't done perfectly, it should've gone through a few rounds of editing and it would've earned itself at least two-three stars (plot-wise). The plot is that Bax has just gotten out of jail after five years, and now he's back to find the person who put him there: his best friend. Who he finds, however, is said best friend's sister, Dovie. Bax is determined to find out the truth about why his friend put him behind bars, but as Race (best friend) is hiding out, that isn't the easiest thing in the world. Together Bax and Dovie tries to solve the mystery and find her brother.

I was interested. But as I said, it needed editing. As it is, the story drags too much and the big secret could've been exposed to the reader much sooner and it'd still be interesting instead of mindless space where nothing happens. The mystery is easy to figure out after a while, long before the secret is revealed. The suspense is ripped away from the reader then, because there's not much to keep up the interest while the characters are busy catching up.

But really, obviously, the rape culture that is showed in this book is its worst feature. Not just the rape in itself, but as said, the entire rape culture. That's in a lot of NA books, so not a big surprise here, but for some reason (read:the obvious) it bothered me more than it usually does.