❈ Huge thanks to French Kiss Press LLC & NetGalley for providing me with an ARC ❈
Title: EXES – A Second Chance Billionaire Romance Novel
Author: Aria Hawthorne
Release Date: December 30th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Potential Triggers: N/A
POV: dual 3rd person
My Rating: ★★★
When Chicago real estate tycoon Harvey Zale pings a “friend of a friend” with a flirtatious text, he never expects to start an addictive sexting affair with a complete stranger. He’s a billionaire who can get any woman he wants, but he can’t have her—his mysterious, sultry Contessa, who inspires his nightly confessions and soothes more than just his conscience from the consequences of his own shallow ambitions.
He’s determined to build the tallest towers in the world and he needs to sell his Chicago riverfront property to finance it. But when Alma Castillo, the Lara Croft of antique hunters, shows up on his land, claiming the existence of a priceless Tiffany stained-glass window and doing everything in her power to muck up his deal, he knows he’s got more than a stray cat to collar and tame. She’s not only on a mission to save long-lost antiques; she’s also on a personal crusade to hate his guts.
He would know. She served him divorce papers a year ago, just to prove it.
And he’d care a helluva lot more if his ex-wife’s sassy tongue and wicked intelligence didn’t turn him on every time she called him “a**hole” and if she didn’t look so damn cute in those baggy overalls, disguising her affinity for being naughty as much as being nice.
Perhaps even as naughty as his Contessa, who unlike Alma, doesn’t know anything about his real identity or flawed, billionaire reputation, which flames his desires to escalate their fantasy relationship into the reality of one scorching night of mindblowing…
If he could just get his mind off his ex-wife—the only woman he’s ever truly loved. God, woman…if she would just let him pleasure her scornful frown and turn it oh, oh, oooohhhh so upside down, maybe he could convince her to marry him again.
But no one ever said it was easy being a greedy opportunistic billionaire bastard, especially one who happens to know there’s nothing better than make-up sex with an ex…
“You know… there’s no shame in believing in fairy tales, ” Harvey offered, knowing she was the type of girl who put too much stock in trying and failing rather than the joy of trying at all.
“Even if there’s no hidden door, the journey still took us pretty damn far.”
Second Chance romances are my go to. I cannot recall a time when I did not read a book after finding out it was a Second Chance romance. One of my favorite sub tropes in particular is divorced or nearly divorced couples reconciling, so I was really excited for EXES after finding out about it. Another one of my favorite tropes is the “We are talking to each other online/via text, but don’t know it is each other” trope. EXES having it was the icing on the cake.
For the first half of the book, I loved Harvey and Alma’s relationship. I really liked seeing how different their interactions were in person versus the ones they had via text unknowingly. When they started to falter for me, was after Alma found out that it was Harvey who she was texting all along. I didn’t like how she found out, and the incident that took place right before it. After that, they lost the uniqueness of their backstory and started to become victim to tropes. The resolution for them was prompted by one of the biggest tropes SPOILER WARNING: (
accidental pregnancy) END SPOILER WARNING. I was disappointed that that was the thing that brought them together again. Also, I would’ve liked more backstory about how their relationship started, and seen what it was like for them right before they divorced.
What kept me going was Alma and Harvey’s search for Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass window known as Eternal Love and the myth surrounding it. I adore myths and legends, so I was pleasantly surprised by Alma’s quest and connection to Eternal Love. Contemporaries, especially romances, that have artifacts that are legendary and important to the story are rare. Even when the characters and their actions weren’t up to par with what I wanted, the myth of Eternal Love kept me engaged. It was also interesting to see how real people from the past and Chicago’s history played into Alma and Harvey’s journey.
Exes had a lot of cool side relationships. The interactions between Alma and her sister Conchita were sweet. I liked that Conchita tried to help Alma out through her matchmaking even when she didn’t want it. What really stood out to me was Enrique, Alma’s father, and Harvey’s relationship. I thought it was cool that even after Harvey and Alma’s divorce, they still kept in contact and went to baseball games together. I wish that their relationship was featured more.
If you like billionaires, hunts for mythical objects, and second chance romances, then I would recommend EXES.
Favorite Quote (taken from an ARC, so may be subject to change):
“Sometimes I replay the scenes in my life and think about how I could have been a little bolder and a little less fearful. I think about how I should have taken more risks and should’ve have been so cautious. I think about how I could have spoken up more for myself and not worried so much about what everyone would think of me if I did.”
Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers New Years 2017 Reading Challenge for a Millionaire/Billionaire Romance.