Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: Business as Usual by Denise Grover Swank

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Business as Usual (Off the Subject #3)
   by: Denise Grover Swank

Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by InkSlingerPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 354 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancée Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago.

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?


I am a huge fan of Denise's Off the Subject series, so when I saw she was writing Lexi's story, I was over the moon! I loved her in Redesigned, and I know she had a heartbreaking story to tell. As much as I wanted to love this book, I found I just couldn't.

Pacing: This is a slower paced book. I found myself struggling to stay engaged at multiple points in the novel because the plot was a bit meh for me.

Storyline: This book went in a completely different direction than I thought. I was really looking forward to Lexi's story and seeing how she overcame what happened to her previously. I also was looking forward to seeing how she would find the strength to become intimate with another person again after that event. While we got both of those, I just felt this story wasn't quite balanced in the way I would have liked it. I felt like Lexi's relationship with her brother, Reed, really dominated the book. I love Reed Pendergraft something fierce, but he REALLY irritated me in this book and was way too overprotective of Lexi. I understand his reasons for being so, but I just felt she spent a lot of the time trying to prove that she wasn't this breakable little girl.
I also felt like the Lexi and Ben had some serious insta-love going on. Being the two main characters, they really didn't have hardly any interaction until 40-50% into the book and that made their relationship more difficult to buy into. I needed more from them in terms of development, because it all happened rather fast and things were resolved a little too quickly for my taste.

Characters: Lexi wasn't a bad main character, but there were times I felt she was acting a bit immature for her age. She makes decisions that are not in her best interest, considering what she's been through and that was really hard to swallow. I felt like the whole thing with Tina was overdramatized and really didn't sit well with me at all.
My heart ached for her, as I can't imagine everything she's gone through, and I was saddened to see her flee from a really great relationship because emotionally she couldn't handle what had happened. She is terrified of feeling that loss of control again, and so she really struggles sexually because of that. Lexi is also incredibly grateful to her older brother for everything he's sacrificed and done for her. However, she feels suffocated by his need to protect her, and is angry that he would sacrifice his own well-being to ensure that she is kept safe.

I absolutely loved Reed in Redesigned. He was an overall GOOD guy and I loved that he was equal parts sexy and equal parts Math geek. Here, Reed really takes the overprotective big brother to the extreme and as I said, sacrifices his own relationship and well-being to ensure Lexi's safety. The majority of the book focused on what he was hiding and why he was pushing his fiancée Caroline away. I hated seeing Caroline hurt, as did Lexi, Tucker, and Scarlet. Again, I understand why he felt the need to do what he did, and I respect the hell out of him for doing it, but I just feel it was made into this huge deal and felt like it added unnecessary drama.

I liked Ben's character, but I didn't feel he was consistent. We first meet him and it's clear he has been seriously burned by a girl in the past, so he is not looking to date any girls from Southern University. Upon meeting and talking to Lexi, however, he finds himself looking for her and hoping to run into her again. He is a good guy at heart and a hard worker, which definitely earned him bonus points with me. For not really knowing Lexi, he is incredibly protective of her and after seeing her in a potentially dangerous situation, steps in and plays the hero. He never should have hidden his past from Lexi, especially after she confided in him with her secret. He knew that it would affect her and still he remained silent. Argh.

Final Thoughts: I am really bummed I didn't love this like I did the other two in the series. The above issues really did detract from my reading experience and so I found it difficult to truly enjoy the story for what it was. I would have preferred to see more of Lexi and Ben falling for one another and developing their relationship. I felt there was unnecessary drama and I just didn't like how everyone was more centered on finding out what was going on with Reed and why he was acting the way he was. I would have preferred for the focus to be on Lexi and her development as a character. I do love Denise's writing and I feel she did a great job with the moments Lexi and Ben do have with one another and how patient he was willing to be with her and how he refused to be pushed away. Go Ben! While this wasn't the one for me, I would still encourage fans of the series to give it a try and make their own decisions.


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  1. Oh no! I have been really looking forward to this one! Sorry this one didn't work out for you =[ Thanks for the honest review.

    1. I'm really bummed! I love DGS! And this series! I hate that it fell short. :( I hope you enjoy it though.

  2. Sorry you didn't enjoy BaU very much. The hint that Reed had something big going on definitely held me back from reading. I just didn't want to see him and Caroline struggle.
    Thanks for the review!

    1. Yes. That bothered me because I felt him and Caroline went through enough in their book.

  3. Bummer - I'm sorry this one didn't live up to your expectations, Jessica. Particularly since you really liked the character. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thanks Brandee. I guess we can't win them all, yes?


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