Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
As Kendall Ryan moves through her Frisky Business heroes, her stories grow. In her latest book, The Stud Next Door, we are treated to Connor’s story, the single dad whose life has changed dramatically in the wake of his daughter’s birth. A former playboy, Connor’s life has become hyper-focused on his daughter to the exclusion of hook-ups and relationships. When a new neighbor moves in next door, Connor’s head is turned from their first meeting. Jessa, Ryan’s heroine, is living on the short-term next door since she will be leaving on a mission work trip in six months. On meeting her neighbor, Connor, she comes to his rescue to help him with his fussy daughter. Once Connor realizes she is a “baby whisperer,” he asks Jessa if she would be willing to be his nanny since he must return to work, and she clearly has the skill to help him with his daughter. What he doesn’t talk about (or her for that matter) is his immediate attraction to her. As this story progresses, their chemistry becomes undeniable, and Connor struggles with wanting more from his nanny, while Jessa struggles with sticking to her plan to leave. Will these two find their happy ending?
What is clear about Ryan’s storytelling is her capacity to develop out a story. She crafts steam and sweet like no other. It’s that element of her books, namely The Stud Next Door, that keeps you coming back for more. With this book, once again, she also brings in the men of Frisky Business, so you get updates on Hayes/Maren and Wolfie/Penelope from the first two books of the series AND you are introduced to more of the other characters, namely Caleb, whom I imagine is the next Frisky Business story. This acts as a cliffhanger with this book. Ryan has this ability to invest you in the stories of her characters, as she teases you with the characters from her earlier stories.
Where I’d love to see Kendall Ryan grow, though, is in her character development. For me, Connor and Jessa read as flat characters because we don’t get enough of their background to feel invested in them. As their story progresses, we root for their happy ending, but, at least for me, I didn’t really care about them enough. Even more, this is probably the easiest story of the three thus far. What I mean by easy is that the inciting incident and climax don’t ever really reach a fever-pitch. Jessa and Connor find an easy resolution to their situation. With that lack of tension, the story is good, but it doesn’t invest you into the story. You think, “this is sweet” and that’s the extent of their story.
Kendall Ryan knows romance. She can write the heck out of a trope. I worry, though, that her stories are becoming a bit predictable as she plots out her series. She has an immense capacity to write stories that her readers can’t wait for. However, I worry that a future might come where it feels a little predictable. In The Stud Next Door, you will like Connor and Jessa, and you will want them to find a future together. Does it bowl you over? Not entirely. For me, this is a precarious 4 star read.
In love and romance,