Review + Excerpt: Strong Enough by M. Leighton

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Is she strong enough to trust the most dangerous man she’s ever met? And is he strong enough to let her?

How would I describe myself? Well, I’m Muse Harper. I’m a twenty-something painter who loves red wine, quirky movies, and men with a fatal flaw. But that was before I met Jasper King. He became my fatal flaw. Eight months ago, I had a choice to make—abandon everything I’ve ever known to protect my family, or stay and risk someone getting hurt. I chose the former. My plan was working just fine until I found out my father had gone missing.

That’s when I met Jasper. A bounty hunter with the eyes of a tiger and the nose of a bloodhound, he was supposed to help me find my father. What I didn’t know was that meeting him was no accident. Hunting people isn’t all that Jasper does. And helping me was only part of his plan. I just wish I’d found out sooner, before my heart got involved. But even then, I don’t know if I’d have done things differently.

Now, I have another choice to make—trust the man that I’m falling in love with and hope that he’ll do the right thing, or run as far away from him as I can get.

Strong Enough was the first book I read by M. Leighton. I've heard of her before, of course. I actually have all three books in her Bad Boys series languishing on my bookshelf, but I just haven't had the time to pick them up. I will definitely make time now, because I thoroughly enjoyed Strong Enough and I am dying to read more books by her.
Strong Enough began with an awful, horrible scene. I read this book right after I read Damage Done (which centers around a psychopath) and it felt like I was still reading that book. But this scene gave us an insight to "bounty hunter" Jasper King, because when we see him again he's this hard, dark, dangerous, secretive man. Muse, who hired Jasper to find her missing father, was his opposite. She kept stuff to herself and didn't let herself get too close to many people, but that's because she's trying to protect her dad. But she let's herself feel every emotion and she's friendly by nature. I really liked Muse's character. And even though Jasper was very mysterious and his intentions were unclear, I also really liked him and rooted for him. I loved that we got both of Muse and Jasper's perspectives--I loved knowing what both were thinking and this helped me connect with both characters.

The sexual tension between Muse and Jasper was high from the moment they met. Muse quickly falls for Jasper and Jasper couldn't help falling for Muse too even though he knew he shouldn't. She's really just a pawn, or collateral damage when he's done with his job (which, unbeknownst to Muse, is more than helping her find her missing dad). I really like the romance between Muse and Jasper. I did think their relationship, or their feelings for each other, grew a little too quickly without that much build up. But damn, they were hot together. Like, you need to turn up your AC and get a cold drink ready because the sex scenes were scorching!

Strong Enough was an intoxicating read. I would've liked an extra scene of when Muse told Jasper her happy news in the end. It would've been nice to see Jasper's reaction. This book did have a lot elements that I love to read about: a road trip, the awkward car conversations (they're really fun to read), the inevitable hotel stay and all the tension that comes with that, as well as the dual perspective and a mystery aspect. I also enjoyed Ms. Leighton's writing and I found it very readable--I liked her style and her voice. If like reading about dark, sexy mystery men, relish hot smexy scenes, and enjoy a little suspense and some edge in your romance then I suggest you pick up Strong Enough. The little bit we got of Kiefer Rogan and the unanswered questions about the mystery of who was after the men got me so excited to read the next one (called Tough Enough) in the series. It's coming out in November. Not too long now!

I watch her lush lips part, her breathing already shallow. She’s off-kilter. Just the way I like. “Are you Tracey’s friend?” she asks, finding a coherent thought and clinging to it.

“I am,” I reply, reaching around her to lay the pencil on the desk. The action brings my face to within an inch of hers and our arms brush. I hear the soft gasp of her inhalation.

“Why didn’t you just tell me? You didn’t have to pretend to be a customer.”

Anger. It rushes in to clear away the cobwebs. I can see it in the way her sleepy green eyes start to flash like two fiery emeralds.

“I wanted a few minutes alone with you before you went on guard. Like you are now.”

“Why? Am I being interviewed or something? I thought I was the one hiring you.”

“You are. But I like to know who I’m working for when I take a job like this.”

While the look on her face says she doesn’t approve of my tactic, she’s too curious to let it go. “And?”

“And what?”

“And what did you find out? What do you think you figured out about me in ten minutes of silence?”

I hold her gaze for long, quiet seconds before I speak. I sense how uncomfortable it makes her. I’m used to it. Such directness makes most people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t stop me. Keeping others off balance is always a benefit to me. “I don’t need to interrogate you to learn things about you. Being with you is enough.”

“Yeah, right,” she scoffs, trying for casual.

“For instance, you’re a hard worker who takes her job seriously, even though I don’t think it’s really the job you want to be working. You’re good at this, but you’re not quite at home here, which tells me that this isn’t permanent. You looked sad and distracted when I came in, like you might be missing someone. Maybe that is where home is. And then there’s the fact that you’re trying to hire me. I’d say that accounts for the worried frown I keep seeing between your eyebrows.”

Her mouth drops open for a few seconds before she snaps it shut. “Is that all?” she asks sarcastically, pulling her vest tighter around her middle like she feels naked. I’m used to that, too. No one likes to feel exposed, like their secrets aren’t theirs to keep anymore.

“No, that’s not all, but I doubt you want to hear the rest.”

She eyes me warily for a few seconds before she raises her chin, eyes locked bravely onto mine. “Of course I do.”

She’s courageous. Ballsy. I like that.

“Well, just off hand you have a good eye for color, which makes me think you’re artistic. Artists are usually very . . . emotional. I’d say that when you’re not consumed with concern you have a tendency to throw yourself into the way you feel regardless of potential outcomes.”

“You can’t possibly know that.”

“I can. And I do. Just like I know you wash your hair in something that contains lilac.” Her eyes widen, but she says nothing so I continue, leaning in ever so slightly. “And then there’s the fact that you’re attracted to me. You don’t want to be. You probably even think that you shouldn’t be, but that’s like catnip for you, isn’t it?”

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