Review – Bending the Rules (Wicked Warrens #5) by Marie Harte

Bending the Rules cover image

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

A little southern charm, and a Yes, Mistress, goes a long way

Rex Samson is at the top of his game. His business is booming, his family loves him, and there’s not a woman—or man—he can’t charm. Until he meets Natalie Wielder, a tough-as-nails city planner who doesn’t fall at his feet. She’s firm, sexy, and exactly what he needs. A woman to put him in his place.

Nat has better things to do than play with the mayor’s golden boy, but orders are orders, and she accompanies him to a mandatory social function. To her shock, she thoroughly enjoys herself…and breaks rule number one—No dating the enemy.

Rex is charming, sexy, and fun to be around. Even a brief encounter with a sexy stranger can’t put her off memories of Rex’s smile. Except her sexy stranger and Rex turn out to be the same man. Now her secrets are exposed, his are shockingly arousing, and her policy on not mixing business and pleasure—rule number two—has gone by the wayside.

What else can she do but say yes when Rex has no problem letting her take the lead in bed? Before long, she knows she can’t live without him. But Rex’s kinky proclivities mirror hers—neither of which are good for her career. Loving him might mean losing what she’s worked so hard to attain. But soon she’ll have to figure out what’s important in life. Her rules, or love?

Contains a successful, carefree hedonist who wants to be dominated, and a sexy, career-minded vixen who is more than willing to oblige. Not one drop of vanilla in sight. Enjoy!

This blurb came from the author’s website.

I have enjoyed Harte’s Wicked Warrens series since the beginning so I will admit I put off reading this last one because if I didn’t read it the series never ended. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it. Earlier this year I reviewed the 4th installment Making the Grade, and expressed a wish that a certain “friend” would get his story. Well Harte certainly delivered. One of the things I have enjoyed about this series is how each succeeding series ups the stakes with romance, social acceptance, and decisions about what is really a priority. Bending the Rules was no exception much to my enjoyment.

Nat grew up in a family who needed her to step and take charge from a young age. Her control extended past her family to both her work and her private life. She works in a male dominated field and as a result has had to put in a lot of work and kept certainly aspects of her personality extremely private to get to where she is. She enjoys dominating men during sex and enjoys even more controlling the interaction of two men together. However, after dealing with some individuals who could not professionally deal with a woman in charge she developed a rule of NEVER mixing business with pleasure. With a morality clause for her most recent job, having to fend off the mayor’s son from taking her job, and working in a relatively smallish town Nat’s opportunities to relax and enjoy were not very frequent. Then Nat ends up taking a chance.

Rex was a rather successful business owner who got along with and managed to charm everyone he encounters. However, his friends were all in solid relationships and he was beginning to feel the lack of something to call his own when he spotted Nat. He was a sensualist who didn’t discriminate when it came to gender for watching or participating but his absolute favorite was to be under the control of a strong women who could get into his head and know he was striving to please her. He thought Nat would be an entertaining date but as he watched her in action and realized he had to work a lot harder than expected to get any of her time he started to wonder if there was more.

I really enjoyed the slow dance between Rex and Nat with the help of his friends. He gently pushed and manipulated yet gave Nat all of the decisions and allowed her to decide if/when to take their friendship to the next level. I loved how he respected her decisions and wishes for privacy. He was such a strong man and so supportive without being resentful of Nat’s job or her need for control. Even when it appeared as if she ceded control to him, he still seemed to ask permission with his every move to make sure she approved before doing it. Then when sh*t hit the fan and it seemed as if Nat’s worse fears came to fruition he gave her the space she requested and waited regardless of how difficult it was for him. I really respected his character for how he handled everything and it made me think they had a real chance as a couple.

In addition to Nat and Rex’s relationship, it was good to see the rest of the group from previous installments and also to meet Nat’s family. Like the last book, I missed the Warren Matriarch’s involvement but it seemed as if her children picked up some of her interfering ways. I also liked how Nat’s co-workers reacted and their combinations of subtle and outspoken support. Harte’s supporting characters really demonstrated a nice cross-section of humanity without being heavy-handed which I appreciated. I even managed to scrape up a few dregs of pity for a couple of the characters because their unhappiness was of the much more permanent kind.

While I am sorry to see the Wicked Warrens leave, Bending the Rules ended the series on a high point. Between the romance, the maturity level of the characters, and Harte’s trademark heat I was extremely satisfied. This is a series I certainly plan on re-reading.

I give Bending the Rules a B+

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