Nichole Chase     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: American Royalty
Book: 1

From the bestselling author of Suddenly Royal comes the first in a sparkling new series about America’s favorite royal—the First Daughter.

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.

Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.

When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.

The president’s daughter. The vice-president’s son. Surface animosity between them. Great hook, right? I thought so when I settled into my couch and opened up Nichole Chase’s Bedmates.  

Maddie McGuire is an old softie. Her biggest soft spot—besides the one she’s had for Jake Simmon for years—is for animals. Which is how she gets herself arrested at the beginning of the book. She and her friend, Phoebe were trying rescue animals who are set to be euthanized. For her good/bad deed, she escapes charges and is given community service helping with the RCVA (Returning Combat Veterans Affairs), a non-profit that helps build homes for returning vets.

RCVA also happens to be the organization Jake is intimately involved on his return from Afghanistan. A war in which he lost nearly his entire team and his leg. Needless to say, Jake returns a changed person. Maybe not to the casual observer because he’s definitely not a woe is me hero. But how could he not be? The truth is, he blames himself for the helicopter crash. If only he’d been a better pilot maybe they wouldn’t have been shot down. No, it’s not logical but that’s how Jake feels. And I felt for Jake. I truly did.

Bedmates surprised me. I didn’t expect it to have as much depth as it did. The romance between Maddie and Jake—the attractive left to simmer years before they actually did anything about it—is both sweet and hot. Sweet in the sense that they’re good, decent people. There are no elaborate games in how they get together. Their feelings are real and honest. I appreciated that there weren’t a bunch of aborted make-out sessions often meant to whet readers’ appetites for the main event but too frequently are just plain frustrating. Hot in the actually love scenes themselves. Wow, did they pack quite the punch. For some inexplicable reason, I wasn’t expecting all that heat. Very well done heat I might add. And the sexual tension that preceded it isn’t too bad either.  ;)

“Nothing wrong with sex.” His eyes twinkled and I realized his hand was still on my face when he lifted my chin up.

“I—I—know that.”

His thumb ran over my bottom lip. “Then why do you have such a hard time talking about it?

“I don’t!” My spine stiffened. “Sex doesn’t scare me.”

“Then it’s me.” He lowered his head close to mine and I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I make you nervous.”

Included in the turn their previously contentious relationship takes to physical intimacy is the whole aspect of Jake’s emotional wellbeing. Jake—like many men—isn’t keen on sharing what he’s going through due to the war. Maddie knows something is going on with him but her urging him to see a professional about his issues (PTSD) falls on deaf ears. At times, Jake even lulled me into a sense of complacency in regard to how he was dealing with the helicopter crash and deaths of most of his team members. He’s so likable and oh so very sexy. Yes, I got glimpses of the darkness he’s struggling with, but not all that often until problems with his remaining surviving team member Cyrus surface.

I really liked Maddie because she’s caring, vulnerable and strong.  She’s firm in her convictions. Her heart is probably the biggest organ in her body and she loves with all of it. Determined to stop laboratory testing on animals, she throws herself in trying to get a bill passed that would stop the practice. She’s equally determined to help Jake as hard as that can sometimes be.   

Who didn’t I like? Jake’s mother, the vice-president. What. A. Bitch. Her ambition and “rules” know no bounds. All I could think as I read the scenes with her in it was, Why does the woman politician have to be the bitch? Why? And no, she didn’t redeem herself to me at the end. I still don’t like her. But that’s okay, I didn’t need to to enjoy Jake and Maddie’s romance, which I did very much. And nothing makes a better punctuation mark at the end of a good romance than an epilogue.

I’m now looking forward to reading more by Ms. Chase. The scenes with Prince Alex d’Lynsal, his wife Samantha from Suddenly Royal has left me intrigued and eager to read about how they got together.

~ Beverley