This is my favorite book in this series by quite a large margin. (Although I haven’t read the second novella yet.) It still wasn’t a perfect read for me, and had a lot of the same problems I felt the others did, but I just loved the characters so much, and unlike in the other books in this series, I never thought their connection felt forced. And aside from how much I liked the two main characters and how well they meshed together, I thought this book brought some fresh perspective to some old romance tropes (not spoiling how):
*The virgin heroine being “debauched” by the hero
*The playboy/rake being “reformed” by heroine (and the reason he’s a rake at all)
*A fake relationship turning into a real relationship
*And this one isn’t really a trope, but the book does some interesting stuff with masculinity, although I wish it had been taken a bit further
Parts of this were a bit goofy, but that’s just the tone of this series. And Johan, who is a sensitive doofus hiding underneath the persona of an insensitive playboy, probably wouldn’t have been as enjoyable a character in a more serious book.
The two main complaints I had about this were that a) I could see the strings (particularly in some choice bits of repetition Cole decided to employ), and b) The ending felt a bit rushed. I wanted a little more emotional work to get there. That was a problem I had with her last book, which I really enjoyed otherwise as well.
All in all, a good way to end the series, in my opinion. Hoping I enjoy the final novella at least as much.