Review: Rough Around the Soul by Maria Monroe

Note: This ARC was provided by the author via L. Woods PR in exchange for an honest review.

Maria Monroe is a new-to-me author and when I originally read the synopsis for her latest release, I decided I didn't want to sign up to review it. Not because it didn't appeal to me, but it was more about me having read more than my fair share of "taboo" stories which led to nothing more than too much meaningless sex and a supposed story line that crashed and burned. However, when someone posted in the L. Woods PR Facebook group how worthwhile a read this, I gave it a second look...and I bit the bullet and signed up. After having read Rough Around the Soul--in one sitting, mind you--I readily admit that I'm glad I changed my mind about reviewing it. Yes, there's a lot of sex, but a strong story and flawed characters who you know are doing something illicit but you still cheer them on anyway earned high marks from me. The writing itself was surprisingly more than satisfactory--yeah, yeah, I tend to have guarded expectations when it comes to authors whose work I've never read before--and while this may have been my first Maria Monroe read, I wouldn't hesitate quite as long to say "yes" to reading another.

Bells Park is nothing like Jake Beck's hometown of Chicago, but he's there as a favor to his uncle, so he's trying to make the most of it. When he spies the most beautiful girl he's ever seen, he doesn't even hesitate, and it's clear that she wants exactly the same thing that he wants--one night, no strings, all sex. Then he sees the girl named Aria again, only her name isn't Aria, it's Melanie Cannon and she's in the Life Choices class that Jake is the substitute instructor for. Oh, and she's barely legal at eighteen, a high school senior who has a great deal of potential and appears to have been the fall guy when drugs were found in her locker. With her scholarship at stake--it being her one shot at leaving behind her crappy home life and have a chance at a real future--Melanie is left with no option but to take the drug education program for first-time offenders. Seeing Jake again and learning that he's twenty-five and a police detective should have warned her away. But there's more going on between the two than the physical, and when it gets to the point of no return, will Jake and Melanie still be left standing together?

I'm only a fan of taboo romances when they're done exceptionally well, and Maria Monroe ticked a lot of the boxes on my checklist. The seven-year age difference and the fact that Jake is an authority figure and Melanie is a high schooler were points against them to the rest of the world, but these two had such a need for each other in a way that no one else could have satisfied. I liked the push and pull that was happening between Melanie and Jake, and how they recognized that there was indeed something taboo-like to their even having been together that first time and that they still crave being together. This was really more about Melanie's struggles to push beyond the limitations that were set by her circumstances. She came into her own and I appreciated that Jake wasn't the reason she wanted to be better or that Jake wasn't some hero who swooped in and ultimately rescue her. Yes, he was there for her, but Melanie, in the end, was her own person. I prefer to see this as having a happy-for-now ending because Melanie is just eighteen and things may change; either way, Rough Around the Soul gets 4.5 stars. ♥

Release Date: 18 April 2017

Date Read: 17 April 2017

Learn more about Maria Monroe.

Purchase Rough Around the Soul on Amazon.


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