Book Review: The Fall of the Red Queen by Lexxi Callahan

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Title: The Fall of the Red Queen (Southern Style #3)
Author: Lexxi Callahan @CallahanLexxie
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 252 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars

Synopsis
Madlyn Robicheaux earned her reputation as the Red Queen. She crushes her opponents with a calculated ruthlessness that never loses. Jared Marshall is a distraction she doesn’t want or need. Even worse, he’s a threat. If she’s not careful, he could blow the lid off everything she’s spent ten years protecting, but crushing Jared is proving as impossible as resisting him.

Jared Marshall hates being a lawyer, he’d rather play with his band at Trick’s or make cheesecake at his bakery. His one shot at avoiding the family firm rests on convincing the Red Queen to join Marshall and Marshall. But when his legendary charm fails, he falls straight through the looking glass where nothing is as it seems. And the chemistry that blows up between them exposes a shocking vulnerability that questions everything he’s ever believed about her.

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The Fall of the Red Queen is Book 3 in the Southern Style Series. While it can stand alone, it’s highly recommended that you read Sweetened with a Kiss first. Not a serial. Each book in the Southern Style Series features a different couple with standalone HEA. It’s category style contemporary romance told in third person from the point of view of both hero and heroine. It has been professionally edited, copy-edited and proofed. Intended for mature audiences only.

Ivy

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I LOVE a good paradigm shift. That’s something that many authors attempt and not many succeed at, because let’s face it – that old saying about never getting a second chance to make a first impression? It’s the truth. For an author to take what they’ve essentially established about a character, made their audience loathe that character, then twist it on its head WITHOUT the ensuing cries of “that’s such a retcon cop-out!” is no mean feat. Ms. Callahan has pulled it off here, and done it in a way that I really enjoyed. When I start off thinking a character’s a right See You Next Tuesday and by the end, I’m feeling so badly that I want to hug it out with her, well, that’s a win in my book.

The Setup: When our story begins, Madlyn Robichaux is the undisputed Head Beeyotch of the Southern Style series. She’s earned her reputation and she wears it like bulletproof armor, warning everyone to stay away from her. Well, except for Jared Marshall – he knows the Red Queen is evil, but he never did like taking no for an answer. To please his family, he got his law degree, but to avoid being a full time attorney, he plans on bringing Maddie into the family law firm and letting her take on partnership responsibilities with his brother. It sounds like a good plan, right? The firm gets a real shark for a lawyer and Jared can go on his merry way. But then he gets to know the woman behind the Red Queen, and nothing is as it seems. As you may have guessed by now, yup…romance happens.

Hit the ground running: While I think you can read this without having read the first couple of books, it would lose a little bit of heat because they jump right into it – they were all on each other from the very beginning and that could be jarring if you weren’t familiar with their dynamic from the first book. It was a bit of whiplash and I had to re-familiarize myself with the ‘verse and remember the players. Even if you had, I don’t think you’d expect them to be physical with each other so quickly. That said, holy smokes….

Sex is on FIRE: Maybe too much – there seemed to be alot of fire and electricity references. But still – serious hotness that drew me into their romance and I thought their chemistry was strong. I’ll admit there’s several sexy, sexy moments, like the drawings on her skin, that made me want to fan myself. The story is as steamy as the locale, since they are in New Orleans, after all.

Solid relationships all around: I think the characters all interact in a believable manner and there’s plenty of enjoyable, humorous banter between them all. Seeing the heroes and heroines from the other books is great, because they enrich without overwhelming the current story. Better yet, I loved getting to know Jared’s family. Romances are so much richer and fun to read when they aren’t conducted in a vacuum, and the Southern Style series ‘verse has grown with every book.

Maddie, you won me over: I usually make notes when reviewing a book, because my mind? Like swiss cheese these days and remembering little points can drive me batty. Anyway, I bring this up because when the thought of Maddie being the heroine rolled around, I wondered. In fact, reading this I made this note – “I’m confused – her grandfather is [spoiler] but she won’t [spoiler]. It has to be huge to convince me why she won’t scheme to get him away from him.”  A couple lines down when the reveal happened – “Damn. Yep, that’s huge.” Maddie doesn’t turn into a soft, fluffy puppy and she retains some of her edges, but they are softened by her sacrifices and the reader getting a chance to know her so well.

Jared, you had me at hello, honey: Jared had no such hurdles to overcome, to be honest. He was a hottie from the moment I read about him in the first book, and *whispers* if he had won instead of Stefan in Sweetened with a Kiss, I’d have been ok with that. *looks around* Ahem. Anyway, but all things work out the way they should and I think Jared’s a good foil for Maddie. He’s kind of that gamma hero (an awesome blend of an alpha and a beta) that I favor. Maddie may like having her way, but when Jared gets all grr, I get all buttery. Speaking of buttery tasty things…

Hot men everywhere I see: This was just a few of my notes about them “Well hello Drew.” “Grant needs his own story.” “Rafe huh? Lexxi keeps introducing these potentially yummy men. I heartily approve.” Basically, there are hot Southern men coming out of the woodwork in this series and I’d love to see them all get their chance to find their women.

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Ms. Callahan has mightily surprised me with this book – she is starting to hit her stride with this series and I think this is the sexiest and most emotionally satisfying one so far. I love me a good paradigm shift and this certainly has it in spades. I definitely recommend giving this a read.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.

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Click on the images below to purchase the previous books in the series:

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