Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Rebel by Laura Pavlov is the third book in her Montgomery Brothers series, and it’s the first of her books that I’ve read. It tells the story of Jackson Montgomery, an ambitious playboy of a hero who works in the media portion of his family’s business. His best friend’s sister, Monroe, has been recently hired as a lifestyle/anonymous political analyst/columnist. And it is not love at first sight for these two. Actually, Jack feels a strong physical attraction to Monroe, who has a strong hidden one for Jack, but given that Monroe is his best friend’s sister, he feels he can’t act upon it. Until Monroe’s brother creates a fake relationship between the two to save Monroe from the introspection of her step-mother. Then, the attraction between these two escalates, and they must determine if they want to engage in a real relationship considering that Monroe’s brother might not like a real relationship between the two.
So, here’s the thing with Rebel. This romance is chocked FULL of story. If the romance trope fairy created this story, you find the forbidden, workplace, brother’s best friend, romantic suspense tropes abounding in this book. Laura Pavlov did not hold back which means there is a little something for every one of her readers.
What I liked most is the simmering chemistry between Jackson and Monroe. When these two exist on the page together, it’s alight with witty banter and enough $exual tension to light up a city. This is what Pavlov does well in this book. Jackson is also the type of hero that you can’t help but love. On the outside, he is seemingly carefree, fun, and nurturing especially within his big family. Yet, underneath his insouciant demeanor is a man who is interested in an eventual relationship and has a protectiveness that makes him a steamy romantic. Additionally, the Montgomery family is the type of wealthy family you love to read in romances. They don’t allow money to impact their relationships within their family or outside of it. Their sense of family, integrity, and responsibility to power and privilege make reading them interesting.
What I struggled with is Monroe’s characterization. It takes quite a bit of time for her to become likable, partly because Pavlov has constructed her with a walled fortress as her emotional exterior. There is a strong reason for it, but it also creates a level of dissension between her and Jackson that is prolonged throughout the story. Thankfully, Jack acts as a perfect foil to her rigidity of character. When she eventually trusts Jack enough to lower her forcefield of protection, then the story turns swoony. That becomes the sweet spot of the book. Another struggle with the story is simply the amalgamation of tropes. There is so much in this story that it slows the pace because as one aspect of it is resolved, another pops up in its place. I think tightening up the plot beats would have improved the pacing of the story.
That being said, Rebel has intrigued me enough that I want to read Ford and Harrison’s stories, the first two books of the series. The familial aspect of this story is a major draw. Add to that a fiery chemistry between Jack and Monroe along with Jack’s journey into love, and you find a story that reminds you why you love to read romance.
In love and romance,