Pages: 272 pages
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source of my copy: Harlequin/MLM Media
Series: Fifth Avenue #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Austin, Hunter and Alex were inseparable during their school days, but the sudden death of their good friend Sarah Michaels tore them apart. However, her death was not as it seemed. Under the many falsehoods lies a corruption so sordid that New York’s elite would never believe it.
With ruthless determination, Alex Diaz has risen up from his deprived roots to become the head of a global media empire. But he has one last thing to achieve…avenge his friend by destroying the man responsible for her death, Jason Treffen. With stunning talk-show host Chelsea Maxwell about to interview Treffen live on TV, this is Alex’s chance.
He’ll use her show to exact a very public revenge—and seducing Chelsea, if needed, would certainly be no hardship. But he underestimates Chelsea and the attraction between them, and as their relationship deepens, Alex realizes that to annihilate Treffen could also shatter the life that Chelsea has built to protect herself…
Like I said in my review of Avenge Me (book 1) and my review of Scandalize Me (book 2), I really like the concept of the Fifth Avenue series: three friends come together to bring about the downfall of Jason Treffen, a wealthy, successful New York City lawyer and well-known women's advocate. But beneath his glittering public image lies a manipulative, evil man who runs a prostitution ring by blackmailing young women under his employ and was responsible for the suicide of their friend Sarah Michaels. Each book will be written by a different author, which kind of adds a unique spin on the series, and I'm curious to see how the continuity of the books will work out.
In Expose Me it was Alex Diaz's turn to bring down Jason Treffen. Alex felt a special kinship to Sarah because they both grew up poor and, like Austin and Hunter in the previous books, Alex felt tremendous guilt over Sarah's suicide because he failed to see the signs that she was in trouble before she jumped to her death. Alex's revenge was to expose Treffen's evil to the world via national television. Treffen was set to appear on popular talk show host Chelsea Maxwell's show for an interview and Alex planned to use Chelsea to achieve the final step to bring Treffen down. But Chelsea did not make it easy for Alex.
Like everyone else, Chelsea thought very highly of Treffen and the interview with him could propel Chelsea's career to the next level. She was not willing to jeopardize the career she had worked so hard for and just take Alex at his word without solid proof. But Alex was not sure he could trust Chelsea despite the growing spark between them.
Both Alex and Chelsea had dark secrets, but we've kinda of seen Alex's character before in the previous heroes in the series. His guilt, his feeling that he failed Sarah was nothing new. The character that really stuck out for me in Expose Me was Chelsea. She was a fascinating character to get to know. She had a lot of secrets, issues to work through and was very broken beneath her facade of a glamorous talk show host known for getting celebrities to spill their guts and literally break down on her pink couch.
If I had to pick a favorite book in this series as a whole, it'd be Scandalize Me but if I had to pick a favorite character it'd be Chelsea Maxwell. As we learned about her past and what she did and what she went through to get to where she was--there were parts where I cringed. I don't want to reveal too much about Chelsea because it may spoil the book for you but I really like how the author developed Chelsea's character and how she grew in the novel. The development of Chelsea and Alex's relationship and the romance was still a big part of course, with the revenge a running vein in their conversation. But unlike the previous novels, I felt like Chelsea's character growth took precedence over the romance in this one and I really liked that.
However, while Chelsea and Alex's romance was not as intense Zoe and Hunter's there was a lot chemistry between them. Their happily ever after did not happen overnight and they needed each other to bring them out of their past and find absolution. It was all so very, very good and, surprisingly, dark at times--something I did not expect to find in a Harlequin Presents novel.
Like in the previous books, the whole revenge thing was a running conversation between the characters but we don't really get to see them act on it until the last twenty or so pages. We didn't really see Jason Treffen's true ruin--it was more like the revenge seed germinated and, with the events in Expose Me, pushed out the soil but we don't see it sprout leaves and grow tall. I know I mentioned in my previous reviews that I'd like to actually see Treffen's actual downfall with the public shunning him and him rotting in jail but didn't really mind at this point. It was easy to imagine all of that happening after Expose Me, with Treffen's entire life falling like dominoes.
Looking at the series as a whole, I think the first book was the weakest of the three because I couldn't really connect with Austin and Katy's characters and they lacked chemistry but once you get past the first book it's all good. This series surprised me in a very good way, especially with Scandalize Me and Expose Me, because when I saw the covers I was expecting fluffy, easy breezy reads but instead I got meaty stories with interesting, well-developed characters and romance. I highly recommend this series.