Dear Max Monroe,
Overall grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Just when I think you’ll give us more of your delicious brand of rom-com, you twist it and bring us something a bit edgier and a whole lot steamier. Your book, The Bet, feels different from your recent fare, Oops I’ve Fallen and Grumpy Cowboy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a funny story that tickles my funny bone. However, there is something almost silly in their manifestation. And I loved them because you always offer what I need at the moment. But The Bet…whew, The Bet. Well, that is something altogether different. Yes, you had Thatch make a cameo again for your beloved readers who adore that rapscallion of a character. You also proffered up brief cameos of Kline, Georgia, and Cassie; granted, they had one line, but you reminded us of this universe of rom-comness that you two have created. But this book is, by my estimation, your steamiest to date. When you say in your introduction that there are a lot of Os in this book, ummm…well, you were not lying, and I think your long-time fans will love your foray into steamier fare away from that slow burn that you’ve been touting in recent books.
I will say, though. I wasn’t a fan of Jude for a large portion of this story, which might surprise other readers. He eventually gets with the program and acts as I would hope a romantic hero should act, but there were times when I was yelling at Sophie to run. You even gave her a therapist who encourages her to “have fun” with him, when I wanted to say “get away from the manw*ore.” Yet, that created the tension of this story. It gave it an edge that feels different from the last several stories you’ve written. The Bet felt a little like your Jerk duet with a light shade of 4th and Girl, the story that brought me to you and your quirky universe of beloved characters. And I’m HERE for this direction.
If I have one criticism of The Bet, it would lie with the last few chapters where you prepare for Remy, Ty, and Flynn’s books. I get that you need to set up the rest of the series, but I thought it was a little too obvious and interrupted Jude and Sophie’s story in a way that felt tangential. However, you set up the series, and I’m now incredibly excited for their stories as much as I loved Jude and Soph’s.
But let’s be honest. You two are still the masters of rom-coms, so there is plenty of funny here. It just tends to be usurped by all of the steam of this book. I mean a Girl Scout-inspired badge system? And that place that Jude takes Sophie…consider me shocked and titillated by your dark, $exy sides.
All in all, The Bet continues to remind me that your storytelling draws me in and makes me feel like I’ve found a home in each book. I’m ready, though, for the rest of those Winslow brothers. Based on Remy and Flynn’s responses to Jude being in love, they all need to fall…and FAST.
In love and romance,