cover image Disorderly Conduct: The Academy, Book 1

Disorderly Conduct: The Academy, Book 1

Tessa Bailey. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-246708-9

A no-strings-attached physical arrangement takes a turn for the messy and coercive when police academy cadet Charlie Burns and caterer Ever Carmichael begin navigating a complex relationship. He’s all but married to his work, and she lives by a “30 days and it’s over” relationship credo passed down by her mother. When they break up at the end of the allotted month, Charlie realizes he wants more from Ever. His strategy: act as her friend, sabotage any other dates she goes on, and catfish her online in another persona, all to win her affections for good. Meanwhile, Ever, now searching for true love, remains susceptible to Charlie’s physical charms; they wind up in bed frequently, despite being “just friends.” The end goal is a traditional romantic happily-ever-after, but this particular story seems more like a cautionary tale of an obsessive stalker with rage issues (such as assaulting a fellow cadet) and a brainwashed victim who’s far too willing to forgive his excesses and trespasses. Bailey (Too Hard to Forget) packs this story with copious scenes of steamy sex, powerful chemistry between the leads, and enjoyable supporting characters, but they don’t mitigate the abusive aspects. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary. (Sept.)