Top positive review
Nick & Reese Get Their Own Story In This Slow Burn Enemies-To-Lovers Story ...
Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2021
About A Grouchy Bad Boy Chicago Billionaire Trying To Escape His Troubled Past! Nick Can’t Seem To Do Anything Right When It Comes To Reese, Who Stubbornly Challenges Him To Up His Game. Don’t Forget To Download The Free Flash Forward Via The Link At The Back Of The Book!
ABOUT THE GRUMP SERIES:
This workplace romance is part of the Chicago-based billionaire Grump series of related standalones. To date the series includes:
1. Office Grump (Magnus Heron & Sabrina Bristol’s story)
2. Bossy Grump (Ward Brandt & Paige Holly’s story)
3. Perfect Grump (Nicholas Brandt & Reese Halle’s story)
In Office Grump, Magnus and Brina’s enemies to lovers romance will have you in stitches! The slow burn turns tender when a teenage boy named Jordan enters the mix. It is a story about family and grouchy billionaires with golden hearts.
In Bossy Grump, Sabrina’s roommate Paige gets her own story with a different Chicago billionaire. Note that Sabrina and Paige attended college together and roomed together after graduation until Magnus came into the picture. In Sabrina’s story, she had attended the University of Chicago. Bossy Grump has the girls attending Northwestern together.
In this story, Perfect Grump, Ward’s wild younger brother Nick gets his own story with their driver, Reese. Their story was hinted at in Bossy Grump; here readers get to see what was really going on between the pair. Although both books are standalones, since they both revolve around the Brandt family and Brandt Ideas, much is gained from having read both.
Fans will appreciate references to other series by the author sprinkled throughout, including Heart’s Edge and Knights of Dallas. Paige is cousins with Olivia, the heroine of book three of the Enguard Protectors series. Liv is an author who finds love with Riker Woods in Still Not Yours.
FROM BOSSY GRUMP:
Brandt Ideas Inc. is an esteemed Chicago architecture firm. Started by the legend Beatrice Nightingale Brandt and her husband Godfrey Brandt, the company’s designs are highly coveted. Godfrey passed away seven years ago, but Beatrice, in her seventies, shows no signs of slowing down as the creative genius behind the company’s success. She views architecture as an art form. Her designs have become known for her unique ability to combine design and nature with a modern eye for style and a sustainable green imprint. Her home base is known for its iconic Arboretum Office, which is both an office and a greenhouse. A replica is included in the Nightingale Brandt exhibit housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Beatrice and her husband shared the dream of one day winning a contract with multi-billionaire Ross Winthrope to build a fabulous new hotel that graces the Chicago skyline. Beatrice just might have the opportunity to fulfill that dream as Mr. Winthrope is finally getting serious about the project.
Despite the stellar reputation of Brandt Ideas and Beatrice, the family’s reputation is far from squeaky clean. Victor and Giselle continue to grace headlines from time to time, apparently not having learned their lesson back during the Dylan Parnell incident. Nicholas is routinely featured in the gossip columns with models and actresses, and the bachelor enjoys playing the field. Ward, too, has been the subject of some stories that paint him in a negative light. Roland Osprey of The Chicago Tea is always game for running stories on the troubled Brandt family.
Ward Brandt, thirty-two, is the straight-laced Senior Partner at Brandt Ideas Inc. Ward assumes personal responsibility for both Brandt Ideas and the tarnished Brandt family reputation. His younger brother Nick seems to do his best to keep the family in the gossip rags. Ward spent four years in the Army, where he made good friends, developed great discipline, and enjoyed a sense of purpose. That last deployment to Iraq, however, had left him jumpy. He returned home a little lost, but went to college while working at Brandt Ideas. He attended Northwestern and earned two degrees. He is a tireless workaholic and poised to one day take over as CEO. He hasn’t had time for dating in a few years – not since that disastrous breakup with his ex-fiancée, Maria Duchessny. The tabloids ate up his heartbreak with stories about his playboy ways. It seems he will never live down his family’s scandalous past. Ward knows it is his job to protect his family and the company that his grandparents built. The company is especially vulnerable with him and Nick in leadership roles. Though they are both well-educated and practically grew up in the company’s offices, some will forever associate the Brandt boys with the sins of their parents. Determined to maintain a sterling reputation both personally and for the company, Ward works hard and follows the rules, and expects nothing less from Brandt Ideas employees. This unfortunately makes him come across as grouchy and hard to get along with. His employees call him The Warden.
IN THIS STORY:
Note that this story opens a few months before Ward and Paige’s story, which begins when Paige begins her new job as an executive assistant at Brandt Ideas and sometime after Nick has finally taken a closer look at the new driver. At least eighty percent of the story takes place after Ward and Paige are married, meaning most of the story takes place after Ward and Paige’s story comes to a close. Nick and Reese’s romance is thus very slow to develop over time and takes well over one year to play out.
Nicholas Brandt, thirty, thinks everything is a joke. The billionaire bad boy plays hard. He is the easy-going Brandt brother. He isn’t the one people turn to when they need help – that would be his older brother Ward. His whole life he has followed in Ward’s shadow. It doesn’t stop him from being useful, though. He knows how to work hard. Like Ward, he grew up in the Brandt offices and does have a good work ethic. Ward had joined the Army, and Nick chose to go into the service as well, serving in the Navy. He accumulated so many credits while he served that it only took him just over a year after ETSing to graduate with two degrees – one in business and the other in architecture. Nick lives in the fast lane, all chronicled in the gossip rags, in particular The Chicago Tea. Roland Osprey seems to take sick pleasure in trashing Nick’s reputation.
Nick learned a long time ago that it doesn’t really matter what he does because he cannot escape his past. His own parents’ antics were so notorious that he and Ward didn’t stand a chance at getting fair press. And Nick had made more than his fair share of mistakes, leaving behind a trail of heartbroken models, influencers, and actresses. All of his antics are documented for posterity. He has been defined by the press, and he has lost control over his reputation. With a hungry press looking for dirt on him, it makes trusting people rather difficult. The public doesn’t know who he really is, but reality doesn’t matter. So he enjoys himself, living the high life – drinking, partying, and enjoying plenty of women. He even puts his propensity to party to work by entertaining clients that like to have a good time, too; Ward cannot say much about it when it ends with a lucrative new contract.
Reese Halle, about twenty-three, has always enjoyed driving. It destresses her. She even considered skipping college to get her commercial license. She had moved her way up to working as a chauffeur when she was assigned to drive Beatrice Brandt, the well-known billionaire architect. She must have left a good impression because a few weeks later, at Beatrice’s suggestion, she applied for the position of driver for the management team at Brandt Ideas and landed the lucrative $90,000 per year job. That job is a godsend, making it easier for her to help out her sister Abby and three year old niece Maddie. Abby and Reese lost their parents when they were six and two, respectively. After that, they were thrown into the foster system. Abby struggled a bit in her transition to living independently – something not so uncommon amongst former foster kids. She had gotten into drugs briefly, but those days seemed long gone. Ever since she had Maddie over three years ago, Abby has been a devoted mother. But being a single mom is taxing, and she does tend to be short on money, no thanks to Maddie’s deadbeat father, Will Frisk, who barely shows interest in his daughter. Reese occasionally helps out, and she enjoys showering her niece with attention.
Reese’s new job is always interesting. Beatrice is absolutely wonderful in a grandmotherly way. Ward is very stiff; he is hot and cold and incredibly grumpy. Nick is so egotistical that he hasn’t even noticed that she is a woman. Reese wears a bulky winter coat and a hat, granted, but he seems convinced she is just one of the guys. He rambles on and on to her about women and going out. It certainly is a hit on her self-esteem, but Reese isn’t about to complain. She needs her job. It takes about two months for him to realize she is a woman, but then his endless attempts to make it up to her only grate further on her nerves. He isn’t particularly good with boundaries, and Reese is determined to keep things professional. His Jekyll and Hyde personality is hard to keep up with – grumpy one day and too friendly the next. As the Windy City billionaire bachelor, she knows he is out of her league and enjoys playing the field, so nothing good can come from a dalliance, which is all it would ever be despite their insane enemies to lovers chemistry.
One day the pair actually spends some time together. The two begin to bond and form a friendship, but the peace is short-lived. Carmen Seraphina has had an on again off again relationship with Nick for years, although it has been mostly off for a while now. They grew up together, and she eventually went on to become a Hollywood actress. When Carmen causes a scene and publicly humiliates Reese, Reese decides she has had enough of the bad boy bachelor. She is stubborn and unforgiving, and the temporary truce turns into a cold and emotionless work relationship.
As the months pass, Nick begins make some changes in his life. Ward marries Paige, and Nick wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to living the dream himself. In a way, he is growing up. Nick slowly begins to consider putting toxic relationships and his drinking days behind, but he remains fatalistic. The problem is that he still cannot escape his past. Between Carmen and Osprey, he knows there will be more scandal in his future, more headlines to hurt the family, the business, and his personal reputation. There is no statute of limitations on airing his mistakes, and no woman would voluntarily be put through the grinder of the harsh public spotlight that he has dealt with his entire life. Things between him and Reese have stagnated, but when Reese is suddenly faced with a personal crisis, Nick won’t stand by idly.
The story turns much more serious about twenty percent in. Nick steps in to help Reese when she takes over Maddie’s care in the wake of Abby’s arrest. Reese is fiercely independent and tries adamantly to shew him away, but Nick finds a patient strength within, determined to do the right thing even though he knows a relationship with Reese isn’t in the cards for him. Even though a life with her is exactly the kind of life he now wants. But the couple faces considerable challenges. Reese must adjust to taking in her four year old niece and all the strains of essentially being a single parent. Her sister, meanwhile, won’t work with her attorney. The idea of a speedy release seems dim, and in fact Abby’s incarceration could be considerable unless she stands up for herself. Nick faces an imminent PR crisis thanks to Carmen, who is a loose cannon. And Osprey just won’t give it up. Things only get more complicated from there. The couple eventually earns a happy ending.
Nick and Reese’s story begins as an enemies to lovers romance, but that is very short-lived. Abby’s arrest brings them together after months of drifting apart. It turns out there is a Prince Charming side to Reese’s perfect grump bossman. He can relate a little to some of what she has been through. Nick might be a billionaire, but he knows a little something about losing parents. His parents abandoned him and Ward by choice; Reece’s parents had died in an accident. Nick learned to appreciate the family he had left – his grandparents and Ward. Reece has only Abby and Maddie, and they are the center of her world. Ward and Nick may have been lucky they had their grandparents, but being famous brought its own problems. Nick learned that he couldn’t trust people. He didn’t put up walls in the same way Ward did; Nick’s walls are more subtle. He indulges in fun in order to escape his troubles, to rewrite his own story. It just doesn’t work out very well for him. Reece has constructed walls to keep people out, and she stubbornly enforces those barriers. She wants to keep her relationship with Nick strictly professional. Both are afraid of being vulnerable. Reese knows that her humble background doesn’t measure up. Nick’s world is way out of her league. But Nick feels tarnished by his past, no good for someone like Reese. He would only bring her down with him. Both want to avoid heartbreak, and therefore they hold back instead of taking a chance on love.
Nick is a complex character. He and Ward were essentially raised by their grandparents, which certainly had an impact on them. He is driven by the Brandt curse, but he has given up on the idea of escaping it himself. It worked for Ward, but Ward hadn’t made all the mistakes Nick had. Nick, his family, and Brandt Ideas/Brandt Designs add depth and detail to the story. They make it feel real and tangible. Beatrice is brilliant and sweet, much like a grandmother might be. Reese’s situation with her single mom sister is more relatable perhaps for the ordinary person. Worries about the legal system, custody, and the day to day concerns of a single parent help to balance out the billionaire aspect of the story, making it feel more real.
Don’t forget to download the free Flash Forward via the link at the back of the book! Nick and Reese get their own story in this slow burn. It is an enemies-to-lovers story about a grouchy bad boy Chicago billionaire trying to escape his troubled past. Nick can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to Reese, who stubbornly challenges him to up his game. The story is unrushed, and the end feels complete. It takes a while to get through. It is well-written. My ARC copy had just a few typos, but I anticipate they were caught in the final draft (they usually are). The plot is somewhat simple. The characters are thoughtfully developed. They are three dimensional. The story is written in first person. The POV alternates between Nick and Reece. I rate this book 4.5 stars.
I received an advance copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.