Ben Badwin loves women, but he's a confirmed bachelor who doesn't believe any one woman will be able to claim his heart. His theory is put to the test when sweet Sierra Murphy moves into the landscaping shop across the street from his motel and diner. She is the cute girl next door, which isn't typically Ben's type, but lately he's been bored with his love life. He has an over-abundance of women falling at his feet, but Sierra presents just the challenge he's been looking for.
After weathering through a difficult life, Sierra moved to town, needing a fresh start, but the last thing she wants is a relationship. At least thats what she thinks until she meets Ben. He tempts her at every turn with his gorgeous good looks and seductive pursuit. She has no idea why a guy like him would want an ordinary girl like her, but he treats her more sweetly than any man ever has before. Still, life has taught Sierra some very harsh lessons, and she can't quite bring herself to trust Ben with her heart. Not to mention, if she ever did, it might make him a sitting duck for her no-good ex's machinations. Sierra thinks that sleeping with Ben once will get him out of her system, but she soon discovers that once is definitely not enough.
I've previously read several of Lori Foster's novellas, but Never Too Much was only the second of her full-length novels I've read. It is also the second book in her Brava Brothers series, with the first, Too Much Temptation, being the first of her novels I read. Despite seeming to be a fan favorite, that story was just OK for me, so I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy Never Too Much quite a bit more. There were two main reasons for this. First, I felt that the characterizations were more even and consistent this time around. And second, the supporting characters were much more likable, so I didn't mind the few POV scenes that they were given. On the downside, much like the first book of the series, the relationship between the hero and heroine of Never Too Much developed a little too quickly to be entirely believable to me, and the plot was pretty light and breezy, not digging particularly deep into the characters and their backstories. Despite this though, it was still an enjoyable read.
Ben was the only character from Too Much Temptation that I fully liked all throughout the novel, so I was hoping for a decent story for him. I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. Ben quite simply loves and respects women. Maybe it's because he was raised by a single mom, but he can't get enough of them. He's a shameless flirt, who has had numerous affairs over the years, but even though the female employees at his motel and diner often come on to him very overtly, he draws the line at sleeping with any of them. Despite loving the ladies, Ben has never been in love, so no one is more surprised than he is when he starts having unfamiliar feelings for his new neighbor, Sierra. She's a cute, tom-boyish, girl-next-door which isn't usually his type either, but he just can't seem to get enough of her. Ben is ultra-confident and knows he's attractive, but he's bored by the ease with which he can have any woman he wants. He's ready to be challenged, and Sierra certainly does that with her mysterious past, her unwillingness to open up to him, and her seeming ability to resist him at first. In the beginning, Ben was a little too forward and sexually overt for my taste, but I couldn't deny that he had a certain charm about him. Ben may have the confidence of an alpha, but he's very sweet too. He's always willing to lend a helping hand, and he genuinely wants to protect Sierra and share her burdens. A couple of times, I thought he got a tad too pushy in trying to get her to open up, but most of the time, he was incredibly patient, gently coaxing her out. What I loved most about Ben though was his willingness and even eagerness to focus entirely on pleasuring Sierra, even denying himself, just to show her what a nice and sensitive guy he could be.
Sierra moved to Ben's hometown, looking for a new lease on life by starting her own landscaping business. She's a hard worker, who loves the outdoors, so it was a logical choice. Sierra has had a rough life, so when she finds out about Ben's brother, Noah's background, she can entirely relate. She has an independent spirit, but felt like all her choices were taken away, first by her controlling father, then an abusive husband. She finally feels like she's on solid footing when Ben comes into her life, trying to sweep her off her feet. A part of her enjoys the attention, but another part can't bring herself to trust him. However, she does trust her best friend, Kent, and while it was nice to know that she has someone looking out for her, it seemed a little unbalanced for her to rely on Kent but sometimes push Ben away. I felt like this lack of trust and her taking so long to open up to Ben put some emotional distance between them that made it a little harder to believe in their love. I understood the fear that kept her from revealing everything to Ben, and when she finally does, it was a touching scene. However, after that, I felt like things wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly to be compelling and fully satisfying, but it was still nice.
Never Too Much draws in several supporting characters, most of whom were introduced in Too Much Temptation. Noah and Grace, the hero and heroine of that book were there to support Ben and Sierra. There is also a secondary romance between Ben's mother, Brooke, and Sierra's best friend, Kent. I thought their relationship mirrored Ben and Sierra's in that Brooke was rather reluctant to get involved, while Kent is almost a carbon copy of Ben in his sweetly seductive, yet confident alpha ways. These two get a few of their own POV scenes to show the progression of their romance. I thought it was really cute the way Kent was all mooney-eyed over Brook in the final chapter. Kent's daughter, who was mentioned but not introduced, will be the heroine of the wrap-up novella for the series, The Christmas Present. Last but certainly not least was Ben's grandmother, Agatha. I really hadn't liked her much in Too Much Temptation, but it seems she has finally lightened up a little. She has definitely grown and changed since the last book, and I can honesty say I liked her in this one. It was really heart-warming how Ben's whole family came together in the end to protect Sierra and support her relationship with Ben.
I have to admit that I was somewhat conflicted on how to rate Never Too Much. There were parts of it that I enjoyed thoroughly, like Ben's flirtatiousness, seductiveness and unrelenting focus on Sierra's pleasure. On the other hand, there were things, most of which I've already mentioned, like Sierra's trust issues and the short time frame in which the story takes place that kept it from being a five-star book. Still, it almost would have received keeper status from me, except that at times, I found my mind wandering while reading, which tends to mean I'm not fully engaged. In the end, I settled on 4 stars, but I can say without reservation that it was a solid 4 stars, perhaps even a tiny bit higher. Anyone who is looking for a light, easy read that is also sweet and very sexy should enjoy it.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook