Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

ARC Review: Once Upon A Bad Boy (Sometimes in Love 3) by Melonie Johnson

Title: Once Upon A Bad Boy
         Sometimes in Love 3
Author: Melonie Johnson
Release Date: June 25, 2019  (ARC Version)
Published By: St Martin’s
Category: Contemporary – Romance
Type: Digital – Paperback – Audio



Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend―the one who took her heart and ran away.

Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them―Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet―is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age.
If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

Favorite Lines:

“No one is ever too busy to ger busy.”  ~  Ana

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus on a hamster wheel.”  ~  Ryan

“I’m not convinced my mother does that…Shit, I mean. It’s not ladylike.”  ~  Sadie

“It’s your birthday…You are entitled to relax and enjoy a drink, damn it. Now, bottoms up, bitch!”  ~  Ana

“Don’t thank me yet…It’s liquid, it’s warm, and it’s brown, but I’m not sure it’s coffee.”  ~  Bo


          “This looks cozy.”Someone observed from behind them, the low male voice tinged with a hint of mockery. 
          Sadie froze. No way. She hadn’t heard that voice in more than ten years. But she recognized it immediately. No freaking way
          Maybe she was wrong. She was probably wrong. She had to be wrong. 
          Beside her, Ryan turned toward the voice. “Bo! Hey, man, what’s up?”
          Bo. The name slammed into her gut, as if someone had written it on a piece of paper, tied it to a boulder, and hurled it straight at her. 
          Oblivious to her sudden discomfort, Ryan stood, shaking hands with the person behind them. Sadie remained frozen. She had not been mistaken. How did this happen? What was he doing here? 
          “Sadie?”Tugging on her elbow, Ryan provided the answer. “Say hi to our stunt coordinator, Bo Ibarra.”
          Not trusting her ability to stand, Sadie glanced over her shoulder. “Hi.” She smiled weakly then forced herself to look up, meeting his gaze. “Stunt coordinator, huh?”
          “That’s right,” Bo said. His light brown eyes were exactly the same. Still that unique tawny shade that reminded her of an Irish halfpenny she’d once found in her nana’s coin collection, still framed with the most incredibly long and ridiculously thick eyelashes she’d ever seen. His hair was darker, only streaks of the golden blond she remembered glinting here and there. And shorter, much shorter. Last time she’d seen him, it had brushed his shoulders. But what hair Bo had chopped off on top of his head, he’d made up for on his face. 
          A full beard covered his lean cheeks, hiding the cleft she knew dimpled the center of his chin. The fact she was aware of that feature despite it being hidden from the world felt . . . intimate. Sadie squirmed in her seat, recalling all the times she’d pressed her lips to that dimple. Dragging her attention away from that spot, she noted the beginnings of laugh lines creasing the corners of his eyes. She wondered if besides the cleft, the beard hid more laugh lines around his mouth. 
          Had there been much laughter in his life? She hoped so. 
          “Bo-dacious is one of the best in the biz,” Ryan continued, patting Bo on the back. “Soon as my agent told me we’d be filming in Chicago, I got on the horn and insisted they hire you, man.”Ryan turned to Sadie. “Ain’t nobody better to have your back than Bo-dacious here.”
          “Dude, come on, I told you to knock it off with that Bo-dacious crap,” Bo said, taking the sting out of his words with a light punch at Ryan’s arm. 
          “You have a stunt company?”Sadie asked, unable to mask the surprise in her voice. 
          “I do,” he said. “Windy City Stunts.”
          “I’ve heard of it.” Sadie nodded. “But I didn’t . . .”She hesitated. “I didn’t know it was your company.”
          “It is.”His mouth twisted. 
          The answer was spoken softly, but his words were sharp. Biting. An accusation. An acknowledgment of the fact she’d not bothered to stay up to date on what he’d been doing in the years since . . . well, in the years since she’d last seen him. 
          She hadn’t. She’d been afraid to. And she never thought she’d see him again. Certainly not here. Not now. Not like this. 
          Digging deep, Sadie got to her feet and turned to face Bo. He seemed bigger than she remembered. Not in size exactly, not taller or thicker, but sturdier. More substantial. The last time she’d seen him, they’d been teenagers. A man stood before her now. 
          “That’s great,” she managed. 
          “Yeah, I started with some freelance gigs. Did that for a couple of years before helping form WCS. Now it’s become the number-one source for stunt performers in Chicago.”
          The pride in his voice was unmistakable, and well-deserved. The company had an excellent reputation—even she knew they were the go-to company to hire in this city. 
          “Wow. I’m happy for you,” Sadie said, and meant it too. Despite everything that lay between them, everything that had happened, she was truly glad to see him doing so well. 
          “Hold up.”Ryan glanced between her and Bo. “Do you two know each other?”
          For a moment, neither of them answered. 
          “Yeah.”Always the braver one, Bo spoke first. “We were friends as kids.”
          “Yep,” Sadie agreed brightly. Too brightly. “Friends.”Throat tight, eyes stinging, she added, “Although it’s been a long time. Ten years, I think?”
          “Eleven,” Bo said, eyes never leaving her face. “But who’s counting.”
          Sadie’s heart began to beat faster, wild and fluttery, thumping against her sternum like a bird trying to escape its cage. She knew exactly how many years it had been. Despite her best efforts, she’d never been able to stop keeping track. 
          “Small world, huh?” Ryan chuckled, either completely oblivious to the tension zipping around him or a better actor than she’d realized. “I met Bo last year when I guest-starred on an episode of Chicago Rescue. He set up this amazing stunt, right? An explosion that sent me flying out a twelfth-story window.”Ryan brushed one palm over the other, pumping a hand skyward, as if to demonstrate his airborne body. 
          Sadie’s skin crawled at the thought. 
          “Got any cool stuff like that planned for us, man?”Ryan asked, eager as a kid about to ride a roller coaster. 
          Sadie hated roller coasters. Hated heights of all kinds, actually. She didn’t even do well with escalators. Bo, of course, knew this. 
          Fuck. She jerked her head toward him. Would he use that knowledge against her? He could. Easily. 
          “I have some ideas,” Bo answered Ryan, but kept his gaze on her, his tawny eyes giving away nothing. 
          “Do stunt coordinators usually come to first reads?”Sadie asked, struggling to hide the wave of anxiety crashing through her. 
          “Occasionally.”Bo shrugged, the thick line of his shoulders rising and falling. “Depending on the complexity of the stunts, directors will sometimes ask me to sit in on a read, so I can get a feel for things. Identify potential problems.”
          As he talked, he’d begun rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. Sadie tried not to stare as the strong masculine lines of his forearms were revealed. What was it about a man rolling up his sleeves that immediately upped his hotness factor? And with a guy like Bo, whose hotness level was already off the charts, it simply wasn’t fair. “Is that what you’re doing today? Identifying potential problems?” Because she could think of a few
          Bo looked at her, a knowing twinkle in his eye, as if he was aware of how discombobulated she was. “For one, I’ll decide which stunts I think are suitable for the actors to perform themselves.”
          “Oh?” Sadie rubbed her palms on her jeans. 
          A grin curved one corner of his mouth as he nodded. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to make anyone do anything that makes them uncomfortable.”The teasing edge of his smile eased the vise around Sadie’s heart.


          “Cut!” Sylvia ordered, pulling off her headphones. 
          Maybe the director sensed something was off too. Bo let out a breath. Good. Well, not good, exactly, but at least he wasn’t imagining problems where there weren’t any. He was finding it hard to be objective today—being around Sadie so much was fucking with his head. Making him doubt his instincts. 
          Sylvia hopped down from her perch and crossed to the actors, her assistant Tanya trailing behind her. “What’s the problem, MG?”
          “Nothing.”Sadie glanced at the director. A flicker of unease passed over her face. “Why? Was something wrong with the take?”
          “The timing was flawless, the choreography spot-on.”Sylvia rubbed her fingers together, as if trying to conjure an explanation out of thin air. “But we’re missing something.”She turned to Bo. “Do you get what I’m saying?”
          Bo moved closer, mentally reviewing the footage. As the scene played back in his mind, he realized what had been bothering him. “Yeah.”He nodded at Sadie. “Her punches don’t look real.”
          Beside him, Sadie sputtered. He swore he could feel her hackles rising. Bo jerked a thumb at his trio of fighters. “They’re doing their job and selling the hits.”He shifted his gaze in Sadie’s direction. “But I’m not buying your delivery.”
          “He’s right, MG.” Sylvia frowned, her gaze bouncing back and forth between them. “Why don’t you take a minute and go over the choreo a few more times? I’ll have the crew take five.”
          “But,” Sadie began. 
          Decision made, the director walked off, telling her assistant to announce a break. 
          By the way Sadie bristled, back going ramrod straight, jaw clenching in a smile that was all teeth, Bo could tell she hadn’t appreciated his critique of her performance. 
          There’d always been so much pride in her—an endless need to prove herself. 
          And the thing was, he knew she could do this. The pieces were all there. She just needed a little push. Something to get her fire going. 
          The thought gave Bo an idea. A slow smile spread across his face. Just like when they were kids, the fastest way to get Sadie to do something was to tell her she couldn’t. 
          But he had to play it just right. 
          Bo adjusted his features, hiding his grin and furrowing his brow in concern. “I don’t know if I can make this work.”He heaved a sigh, adding a little extra tsk of frustration for her benefit. “You’re not ready.”
          “What did you say?” Sadie stiffened and turned to stare at him. 
          “I said, you’re not ready.”Bo held his ground, even though her stricken face looked as if she’d been the one hit in the solar plexus by a roundhouse kick—delivered by him. 
          “Of course, I am.”She glared, eyes narrowed, mouth pinched, ready to spit nails. “I spent my entire summer preparing for this role, hours of conditioning, followed by more hours of training.”
          “Exactly. That’s your problem.”
          “What are you talking about?” She crossed her arms over her chest. 
          Don’t look. Bo did his best to ignore how the shift of her body pressed her breasts together, soft creamy curves threatening to spill over the tight line of the leather vest she wore. He had to hand it to the costume designer, the sight alone was worth the price of admission. “I’ll show you.”He jogged over to grab one of the prop dummies. 
          He set the life-size weighted foam figure in front of Sadie. “Punch it.”
          With a glare that said she’d rather punch him, she did what he asked. Dropping into a fighter’s crouch, Sadie drew her fist back and slammed it into the dummy. 
          It was a good hit, he’d give her that. And her form was perfect. But it was missing heat. 
          “Harder,” Bo ordered. 
          Sadie pulled back and drove her fist forward again. 
          “Harder,” he repeated, wanting to goad her, push her. “You’re not trying, princess.”
          “I am trying!”Sadie’s back stiffened. “Don’t tell me I’m not trying.”Her arms shot out, jabbing choppily at the dummy’s torso. “And don’t call me princess.”
          “Loosen up.”He wrapped a hand around one of her tight fists. The scrape of her knuckles against his palm was electrifying. Bo cleared his throat, covering his reaction with a gruff command. “This isn’t the gym. You’re not wearing gloves. You’re going to break a finger.”
          “I’ll give you a finger,”Sadie muttered, jerking out of his grip. 
          Bo chuckled. There she was. There was his little bee, the sharp sting of her temper, the fire he used to know. Nice to see it was still inside her. It was that fire that likely drew Sylvia to cast Sadie in the role of Jamie. He just needed to coax it out of her. “Relax,”he told her, making a point to keep his own voice overtly calm and cool. A tactic he was betting would have the opposite effect on her. 
          He was right. 
          Infuriated, she drew back her arm and swung, fist smashing into the dummy’s torso. 
          “Is that all you got, princess?”he taunted. 
          Taking a step forward, Sadie threw another punch. A wicked right hook that took him by surprise. “Not bad,”he observed. Even though Bo was damn impressed, he purposely kept any note of approval or praise from his voice as he moved to stand behind her. “Again.”
          She grunted, clearly pissed now, and swung again. 
          “That’s it.”Bo spoke low in her ear. “That’s my girl.”He felt more than saw the shiver ripple through her. 
          Awareness radiated between their bodies, an undercurrent of tension. 
          “I’m not your girl,”she snapped, whirling around to face him, eyes blazing. “What’s the point of all this, anyway? I told you, I spent my entire summer learning how to throw a punch.”
          “Fake punches,”he snorted. 
          “Yeah, I’m acting. It’s supposed to be fake.”
          “You know what happens when you learn to throw a fake punch?”Bo stared down at her. “It looks fake.”
          “R - i - i - i - g - h - t,”she spoke slowly, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “it’s supposed to.”
          “No. It’s supposed to look real.”
          “You’re saying you want me to throw real punches?”Sadie crossed her arms over her chest again. “I think the other actors might take issue with that.”
          “No.”As if pulled by an invisible string, his gaze dropped to her cleavage. “I’m saying I want you to learn how to throw a real punch.”
          “Weren’t you listening? I told, you. I spent the summer—”
          “That’s practice, not passion,”he said. “You need to know what it feels like.”
          “The script calls for my character to take an arrow to the shoulder,”she sniped, “should we shoot me with one of those for real too?”She leaned toward him, breasts straining against the front of her leather vest. 
          Bo swallowed. She had to know what she was doing. What it was doing to him. “Why would we do that?”he asked, forcing his attention back up to her face. 
          “So I know what it feels like.”
          “If we need to,”he began, deciding to yank her chain. “Sure. Thanks for the suggestion.”


Sadie is finally making her mark in the acting world. Having landed a coveted role in a new movie, she’s on her way toward the recognition she’s been desiring for so long. She might be a privileged rich kid, but she’s worked her butt off for everything she’s attained, and she wants nothing more than to prove it. This movie will require intense training and a very skilled special effects instructor. Unfortunately, said instructor is the same boy who broke her heart so many years ago. Bo was from the wrong side of the tracks, but he was The One – her first everything. Unsure what finally forced him to walk away despite her suspicions from that fateful night, he’s now standing in front of her. Up close and personal, just as it will be throughout the entire production. They may have parted ways badly, but that sizzling attraction has not dimmed one iota and they end up picking up where they left off but with the understanding that it’s just for a bit of fun. Sadie can’t afford for it to be more. For one, her career is finally taking off, not to mention she refuses to allow Bo to break her heart again. But the most devastating issue would be if he found out what happened all those years ago after he left. Some secrets should stay buried. Nothing good can come of revealing her dark past – but suddenly her choice is yanked away by a relentless hater who somehow keeps leaking stories to the press about occurrences on set. She’s between a rock and a hard place, forced to make a decision. Face the past or try to bury it and save the delicate relationship she and Bo have just begun nurturing.

Bo knew Sadie would be in this movie prior to signing the contract. He almost begged off, but the blockbuster budget is exactly what his stunt company needs for that extra push that’s been hovering just out of reach. He’s just going to have to figure out how to keep things professional while being so close to the only one who ever held his heart. And dang if she doesn’t tangle him up in knots from the first glance. Once they give in to the passion which refuses to be ignored, Bo begins to wonder if there could be a chance for them. They had so many odds against them when they were kids. Actually, things aren’t much different now, except that they are adults with an entirely different set of obstacles to face. Things move along fairly well, all things considered, and they nearly make it through production without their relationship being found out. But a leak clearly exists on set and Bo aims to find out who it is. Unfortunately, the damage they set out to control is bigger than Bo could have imagined and he struggles to come to grips with the shocking truth of the revelation.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book. It was so good and had me captivated from the get-go. I only had one issue and that was regarding Sadie’s big secret. I don’t want to provide any spoilers and despite the fact that I knew what the reveal would be far before the words provided confirmation, I don’t want to do that to anyone. There are times where spoilers are unavoidable. This is not one of those times. To be clear, my objection is entirely due to personal beliefs and if I were to push those on to another within this review, I would betray my purpose for being here. I am here to review – not jump on a soapbox. That said, outside of that single issue, I absolutely loved the book! I haven’t had the opportunity to read anything by Ms. Johnson before and unfortunately, I was unable to complete this book prior to the release. The copy I am reviewing is an ARC, so there may have been slight adjustments made in the time prior to publication. I can see why many are describing Ms. Johnson as a new and relevant voice. She is definitely that – tackling difficult issues and still managing to set her characters on an inspiring path involving clawing through the darkness, desperately grasping toward the light hovering elusively at the end of the struggle.

The secondary characters Ryan and Ana were a real treat. Between the two of them and the sexy banter between Bo and Sadie, I was regularly chuckling throughout the story. Ana, her childhood friend, and nearly the polar opposite of Sadie, portrayed a friendship forged of time and trust. Sadie tends to retreat into herself, but Ana helps to push her outside of that shell and to embrace new experiences. Ryan is a movie star already and has been much sought after, so his pairing with Sadie in this movie is a huge deal for her. He almost projects dumb jock, but underneath that playboy exterior is someone who pays attention and simply lives life to the fullest – in touch with the fact that celebrity is a fleeting thing. He’s quite the character. And thank you for bringing up Ryan’s fear! I 100% agree with him although I do love to eat them. If you wish to find out what it is, you will have to discover that detail when you read the book yourself. No spoilers here. Readers of this tale are sure to experience a roller coaster of emotions from one extreme to another. Endearing characters, emotionally charged, heartbreak, playful humor, second chances, gripping topics, scorching romance … you will find all of this and more within these pages. I am most definitely looking forward to my next experience with Ms. Johnson and the satisfying escape she is sure to deliver.

Kindle version provided by NetGalley/St.Martin’s in exchange for an honest review.

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