Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
LK Farlow’s Rebel Desire continues what I’ll call her Rebel series. While I missed reading the first book of the series, Rebel Heart, I met Farlow with the second book of the series, Rebel Soul. With that book, I appreciated the heroine, Stacia, for her strength and willingness to persevere through her situation. What I struggled with was the pacing of the story and the sometimes confusing chemistry between the hero, Wes, and Stacia. Wes’s friend and lawyer in that book, Colton, intrigued me however. I’m a sucker for grumpy, alpha heroes. They tend to be undermined by a strong heroine in a way that makes my heart swoon. With that knowledge, I decided to read an ARC for an honest review. While there are some parts of Rebel Desire that I appreciated, I am still struggling with some of the same issues from Rebel Soul.
Let me begin with the challenges. First of all, the pacing of Rebel Desire seems uneven. It stutters at some points, and it feels like two stories are being told: the opposites attract, contemptuous romance between Colton and Ashley AND Colton’s single daddy story. The first one comes before the second one, and it makes it confusing at times as they can undermine the other. Had Farlow developed one of them more distinctly (for me that would have been the single father story), it would have felt less uneven. Even more, there are parts of the story that don’t feel concluded well, namely the disgruntled bride and Cruz’s mother.
Secondly, the chemistry between Ashley and Colton is a mixed bag mostly because Colton’s character development feels uneven too. For one, it’s hard to understand why he so willing begins to “fall” for Ashley when “she’s not his type” and “she’s unprofessional.” Then, he becomes protective of her. It feels like whiplash between these two, namely due to Colton. If a man treated me as Colton treats Ashley, I don’t know that I would (1) continue to seek him out for legal advice and (2) help him when he needs help with his son. I understand Farlow’s intent, however, with their coupling, but there were times when their physicality didn’t feel organic. I don’t know that I believed them as a couple for much of the story.
Now, Ashley’s characterization is worth reading Rebel Desire. This is the type of heroine you love. She’s intuitive, compassionate, intelligent, and strong. She knows herself, and she’s attuned to Colton in a way that Colton is not self-reflective enough for himself. She is responsible for settling Colton’s son, Cruz, and helping them develop a relationship. She sees Colton when Colton is unable to see himself. She is my favorite part of the book, just as Stacia was my favorite part of Rebel Soul. Crafting heroines is clearly Farlow’s forte.
Additionally, Cruz and Colton’s evolution is heartwarming. As Cruz recognizes that his value doesn’t lie in his actions you can’t help but fall deeper for him. When Colton shows Cruz unconditional love, he redeems himself from the inconsistent and sometimes boorish way that he handles Ashley.
There is also something in Rebel Desire about the strength and empowerment of women. I see Farlow working to show us women who are interesting and in control of their agency. This is always important in romance, but I think Colton can sometimes undermine Ashley’s agency and becomes troublesome, making it difficult to easily like him. He tends to control their relationship in a way that I don’t like.
Overall, I see LK Farlow’s direction with this series of standalones. She loves pairing these interesting, creative, non-standard heroines with your standard heroes, letting the fireworks explode at will. I can appreciate that. Should you read this book? Yes especially if you love to read a grumpy hero brought to his knees. If that’s your romance crack, then Rebel Desire is a guaranteed one-click.
In love and romance,