Maya Bradley is on her own now. With the help of her dear friends, Zoey and Addy, she’s determined to give her children the lives they deserve, away from their abusive father. But the journey is destined to be difficult, and she meets her first roadblock when she asks sexy, tattooed bar owner, Jayce Gilmore, for a job serving drinks. Jayce has two reasons for not wanting to hire Maya. One: she deserves a more respectable job. And two: he’s been madly in love with her since he was a young boy. But when he finally realizes how desperate she is for work, he has no choice but to bring her on. With Maya struggling to earn a living, get an education, and raise two children, Jayce finally finds himself in a position to help her. And though she isn’t interested in a relationship, Maya is showing definite signs of physical attraction. Jayce is sure he can keep his love hidden and fulfill her every fantasy. Unfortunately, he has severely underestimated the needs of his heart. As the moment of truth fast approaches, Maya must decide whether to break a tough guy's heart, or open her fragile soul to the risks that come with loving again.
I really liked some things about this book, but I was reading some extraordinary books in and around the same time as "Maya and the Tough Guy", and unfortunately, this one didn't stand out as much as I had hoped.
Let's see, we've got Maya, the girl who's been abused by men all her life. We met her in the first book of this series, "Zoey and the Nice Guy", when she finally left her husband after a brutal beating. Then we've got Jayce, the "tough guy", who's been in love with Maya since grade school, despite her seeming lack of interest. We know that these two will get their happily ever after, because that's how romance books work, but the fun part is in the journey. How will these two get past their hang ups in order to be together?
I really enjoyed how Jayce was able to bring Maya out of her shell a bit - he showed her how to stand her ground and not feel bad about demanding the respect she deserves. I know it is difficult to put yourself first, especially when you're used to putting your own needs aside to please everyone else, but by the end of this book, I felt confident that Maya had made some big, positive changes in her life and that she will continue to become stronger and more confident in the future.
I also really enjoyed how Jayce's relationship with Maya's son developed. Matthew started off hating Jayce and didn't have a problem letting Jayce know his feelings. Eventually, through giving the boy time and space, as well as some boxing lessons, Jayce was able to build a bond with Matthew, and I thought this part of the story was exceptionally well done.
Although it seemed to take forever for Jayce and Maya to finally hook up, I think that slow build up was probably necessary, considering Maya's previous abuse. Still, I think the slower pacing is why my interest wandered while reading this book. The other problem was Jayce's temper, and there was one incident in particular that really turned me off! I don't want to give anything away, but I suppose I can say that even though things were resolved reasonably well, I was still irked.
All in all, some good, some not so great, but I'm glad I read "Maya and the Tough Guy" and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little bit different in their contemporary romance reads.