An entertaining adventure story from start to finish! We have an ancient treasure map, a klutzy female lead, and a muscled guide with a temper. All the ingredients necessary for a fun romance!
What’s it About?
When Aster Persephone Ainsley-Drummond set out to find Professor Bartholomew H. Pemberton, her mission was to recruit, hire or otherwise convince the mysterious archeologist to help her reach the elusive, mythical place called El Mourat. When Hunter Pemberton woke up from a drunken stupor, his mission was to avoid, ignore, kill or kiss the stunning redhead who appeared out of nowhere with a delusional plan that would get them robbed, killed or both.
But another day, another dollar, and soon the world’s unlikeliest pair will find themselves on a mission to solve the riddle of an ancient map, discover just how many times things can go wrong in a row and maybe stop arguing long enough to realize how crazy about each other they actually are. One thing’s for sure… in this story, lessons will be learned. A shy, awkward librarian may find out that sometimes Professors don’t look like Professors… at all. And a hunky Professor may find out it’s better not to contradict, provoke or lose your heart to someone called Aster the Disaster.
This novel has a wonderful comedic blend and adventurous spirit that reminded me so much of some of my favorite movies featuring a bookish female lead and a seemingly ill-mannered male hero. The setup of our story is particularly reminiscent of the Mummy, or Romancing the Stone, with our heroine on a quest for a hidden treasure in a foreign land. Aster is definitely out of her depth in the sense that she’s more of a bookworm than an explorer, but seeing as it was the last wish of her late grandfather for her to head out on this journey, Aster is determined to stay the course. She can’t do it alone though. Enter her drunken guide, Hunter.
He’s the most skilled man for the job, yet also seems like the most incompetent upon first meeting. He’s rude, crude, has a nasty temper, and the last thing he wants is to lead this clumsy city girl around the jungle on a hunt for a mythical treasure. They don’t get off to the best start, and as their mission progresses they’re not shy about openly sharing how much they hate each other. They also can’t deny the underlying sexual tension simmering just below the surface. Neither wants to admit an attraction to the other, but they constantly find themselves drawn together more and more, and even a few scenarios where they have to pretend to be a couple. I’m always a sucker for a scene à la Leap Year where our lead couple must play the ruse of a married couple in order to find shelter for the evening, and are inevitably goaded into proving their love through a sensual kiss. This book definitely doesn’t disappoint in that sense either!
Arrogance and Sarcasm
While Aster has the bookish personality of the female leads from the Mummy or Romancing the Stone, Hunter was a wonderful blend of the dashing male leads in those movies with a little bit of Indiana Jones mixed in there as well. He’s arrogant, sarcastic, and even though this isn’t a movie, you can easily envision a delightful smirk playing across his face at so many points throughout the story. Hunter initially has no intention of accepting Aster’s proposal of following an ancient map into the unknown so that he can keep the ultimate treasure as a reward. His initial goal was to take her back to civilization, but funnily enough the more he tries to lead her away from the trail of the treasure, the more adventure and shenanigans they inevitably encounter. From thieves to ruffians, princes with ill intentions and women with their sights set on Hunter. It’s non-stop excitement from the moment these two literally bump into each other in a dingy bar in the middle of nowhere.
As a bookworm myself, I was understandably drawn to Aster’s character. Nothing like backpacking through the wilderness and choosing to bring an 800 page book along. When it came to Hunter I loved his sarcastic wit, his strength, and the naturally slow way he realized that his frustrations with Aster were born from a desire to make sure she would be safe and out of harm’s way. The only thing I didn’t care for when it came to Hunter was the fact that by trying with all his might to deny these burgeoning feelings for Aster, he had the tendency to get mean. He’d yell and scream at Aster because of his frustrations, and I couldn’t help but feel that at times it crossed the line from sexual tension into actual real tension. Aster also has a few choice words for Hunter throughout the novel that make you cringe at their harshness. By the end they both have sort of a light-bulb moment where they realize in the heat of ultimate danger how much they actually care for each other, and that the thought of losing the other is their biggest fear. It’s definitely a saving grace moment to help remedy all of the fights and bitter words they’d exchanged pretty much from opening bell, but there were a few scenes here and there that I think could have been toned down in how scathing they were.
No adventure novel would be complete without a good ole fashioned curse or two, and this little diddy has curses flying left and right. Except, they’re not necessarily the curses you’d expect! We have no cursed treasures or relics, no old craggy witches placing curses on the innocent. Oh no, these curses are a bit more…humorous. Let’s start with Aster. My goodness is this poor girl cursed with bad luck! It seems to follow her everywhere, and Hunter’s fortifying strength proves no match for the calamities following Aster in her wake. Her friends don’t call her “Aster the Disaster” for nothing! It seems like every mode of transportation they encounter breaks down in some dramatic fashion, from buses to jeeps and getaway cars. They get shot at, arrested, sick, pursued by unsavory characters, you name it. Aster’s trademark bad luck definitely ran the risk of being over-the-top, which at times it certainly was, but I must admit I loved every single minute of it. These misfortunes simply added to the overall fun and humor of the story, and had me chuckling aloud a time or two.
As for Hunter, the more time he spends with Aster the more he becomes convinced that he’s been beset by a curse. And it’s not just because her bad luck is rubbing off on him by mere association, although that does play a minor role. Instead he insists that Aster has bewitched him in some way, as he’s seemingly become possessed by an all consuming need for her. Hunter has always been a lone wolf, yet he continually finds himself inextricably drawn to this walking disaster. Other women no longer hold any appeal for him, and by the end of the story he’s astounded to admit that the bachelor lifestyle no longer seems as enticing. He’s intoxicated by her vanilla scent, and becomes enraged at the thought of anyone else having her. His need for her is downright painful at times, especially considering whenever they start to make progress in the physical sense they’re consistently interrupted, adding to a very serious case of blue balls. At first Hunter assumes once he gets Aster into bed the “spell” will be broken, but through their various adventures it becomes clear that this curse is here to stay.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Bookworms & Alphas, book 3. This might just be my favorite book of the series so far. It’s humorous, sexy, and it was fun to lose ourselves in a foreign land right along with our characters.
Final Impressions: An entertaining read to be sure! At times the shenanigans and misfortunes which befall Hunter and Aster are slightly over-the-top, but never to the point where it becomes an annoyance. Aster and Hunter are both determined to hate each other, so whenever they feel the hint of a simmering passion coming to the surface they try and lash out at each other in the hopes that those lustful feelings will simply disappear. If only it were that simple! This is the one area which had some over-the-top arguments that I think could have been toned down a bit. All in all though, a fun tale of adventure.
Smut Level: Hot damn I need a shot of tequila or something after this one. It surprisingly takes quite a long time before Hunter and Aster finally seal the deal, which was expounded by the fact that they were interrupted every time they started to rub up on each other. At one point though Hunter reaches his breaking point, and enough is enough. What follows is some lust-filled and steamy hair pulling, moaning, licking, pushing up against a wall, dirty talking sexy time.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 177 Pages.