Phenomenal X (Hard Knocks #1)
Author: Michelle A.Valentine
Release date: 22 April 2014
Good Girl. Notorious Bad-Boy. One Phenomenal Love.
From the mean streets of Detroit rises the newest superstar of professional wrestling, Xavier Cold, better known as Phenomenal X. His muscular physique makes men cower before him and women lose their minds with desire.
Anna Cortez is fresh out of college and naive to the harsh realities of the real world. Tired of living under the thumb of her conservative family, she defies them when she accepts a job as the assistant to wrestling’s most notorious bad-boy. Phenomenal X has an animalistic nature that even good girl Anna finds hard to resist.
One night forced to share a bed in a sold-out hotel, lines blur between them and they quickly learn that one lustful night changes everything and neither one of them will ever be the same.
I was so darn excited when I heard about this book. I not-so-patiently awaited its release date and started reading it as soon as I could. Alas, my excitement tapered off the more I read. I'm pretty disappointed. I can see why other people might love it, but it just didn't quite work for me in the end. Really, it was totally cliche-ridden. Like, there was a serious cliche infestation happening. Cliches can be kind of hard to avoid in a lot of romances, but there were just so many!
Alright, let's take a look at Anna. She's escaping her oppressive life with her father, for freedom in Detroit with her aunt and cousin. She's had a very sheltered life and is super naive. I liked that she was so innocent because I thought it worked as a contrast to Xavier's toughness. But sometimes I just wanted to give the girl a really thorough shake. There's innocent and naive, and then there's just stupid- Anna crossed that line too many times for my liking. It made her irritating at times when I should have been feeling a lot more sympathetic towards her.
Now, it's time to have a look at Xavier. He had all the ingredients to fight his way to the top of my book boyfriend list, but ultimately he didn't float my boat. He sounded insanely hot, I'll give him that. I clearly should be watching wrestling because Xavier sounded delicious! He had the whole messed up childhood thing going, which means he thinks he can't be loved and destroys those he loves. But for some reason I just didn't buy it, I still can't put my finger on why not but that's just how I felt.
I loved the chemistry between Anna and Xavier. From the moment their eyes lock on the plane, there's a palpable and raw sexual tension between the two of them that morphs into a really strong bond. Understandably, Anna isn't willing to jump straight into bed with Xavier, but he doesn't give up so easily. Then they agree to just be friends- right, like that was ever going to work! With the kind of chemistry they had going, they were never going to be able to keep their hands off each other if they were together so much. I had some serious eye rolling going whenever they clarified that they were 'just friends'.
I was left very unhappy with the last couple of chapters and the ending in particular. It wasn't because of the cliffhanger, I just thought that the characters acted like morons and it all felt very predictable and cliche. I liked the beginning of the book the most, when Xavier and Anna are trying to figure out their friendship/relationship and Anna's trying to figure out life away from home.
Overall I don't think it's bad, but not great either. I'm disappointed and frankly, I'm unlikely to read the next book- partially because I can guess at what's coming and it doesn't particularly appeal to me.