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Bijou Hunter

REVIEW:  Damaged and the Bulldog by Bijou Hunter

REVIEW: Damaged and the Bulldog by Bijou Hunter

Damaged and the Bulldog (Damaged #6) by Bijou Hunter

Dear Ms. Hunter:

I’d classify you within the underrated self published authors although the books I’ve read are in need of a good copyeditor.

Most of the Damaged series follows the same trope. A young woman who was abused, physically and sexually,  finds love and acceptance with (generally) an equally screwed up young man.

The reason that most of the stories have worked for me is that the abuse isn’t merely a backstory trope to provide angst, but it’s treated as a real and tragic occurrence that has long lasting effects. The darkness of the storyline is offset by the often ribald humor of the women who provide a great deal of emotional support for each other.

Winona Todds was taken by a motorcycle gang when she was a girl and used in a horrific fashion. She is rescued by a local MC and fostered and then adopted by a local pastor. There are a few scenes that allude to what she suffered and for those that find these scenes triggering, I’d stay away. Even the brief descriptions were stomach churning. She was on the verge of taking a chance on Dylan Campbell when she was kidnapped by a gang. Even though she was rescued, in part by her foster sister and in part by Dylan Campbell, the event was enough to trigger a retreat.

Winona wants to love and she wants to have what she deems a normal relationship but what she wants doesn’t align with what she can handle. She goes to therapy regularly but as much as she wants to be with Dylan, the mere holding of his hand can be traumatic for her.

The story is told from Winona’s POV and Dylan’s. Winona is this sweetheart of a girl who dreams of simple things. To sleep through the night without a bad dream. To go through the day without too many bruises on her arms where she pinches herself whenever she is afraid or stressed. To be able to hug and kiss Dylan and be with him as a woman would be with a man.

For Dylan’s part, he wants Winona. His parents never loved him but Dylan’s motto is “can’t complain.” He wasn’t beaten. He had money, food, shelter, and access to things and when he compares his life to say, Winona, he can’t find any reason why he’s an asshole. (He says he’s an asshole but the reader only ever sees him being kind and patient so I just took his word for it). He believes that Winona is his slice of heaven and even when she’s faced with his worst traits, she loves him.

While Winnie’s growth in this book may come off as too fast paced, particularly in the bedroom, I found myself dreading another set back toward the end so perhaps it was just the right pace for the reader if it didn’t really mesh with reality. Although, I would guess that for all sufferers, the pace of recovery varies.

The storylines wouldn’t work for me if they weren’t liberally sprinkled with humor and the characters feel very genuine. There’s a lot of female camaraderie in the stories as well as between existing couples.

Raven and Vaughn turned around to show off the back of the shirts which read “Big V” and “Better V.”

“You two are such dorks that I am embarrassed to be friends with you,” Bailey said, settling back on Nick’s lap. “Hey, should we get dork shirts too, now that we’re in love and everything?”

Nick gave her a great smile. “Our love transcends stupid shirts.”

“Watch it, Dragon,” Vaughn said, walking towards the lanes. “I’ve kicked asses for dumber reasons than mocking my shirts.”

Winnie’s healing isn’t at the hands of Dylan but really in her own control. He’s there to help her and serve her in any way that he can. There’s a sweetness and tenderness to the romance that I love. Although I should mention that there is violence on page at the end of the story when Dylan is given the opportunity to be part of the local MC (the one that saved Winnie)

I get that these stories aren’t for everyone and I can’t read a steady diet of them, but the writing voice is appealing. B-

Best regards,


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REVIEW:  Damaged and the Beast by Bijou Hunter

REVIEW: Damaged and the Beast by Bijou Hunter

Dear Ms. Hunter:

I’ve spoken with a couple of readers of New Adult books and we three agreed that this book, despite its many flaws and its troubling presentation, is one that has stuck with us.  Farah Smith is a college freshman living her grifter/con mother in a rundown basement apartment paid for by Farah’s grandmother.  She doesn’t trust her mother, wants to break free from her con artist father, and needs to make some money so she can get her own apartment.

cover4Farah’s intentions are to save enough money so that she and her younger sister can live independent of either deadbeat parent.  Farah has saved three years of tip money, squirreled away and hidden from her father, that she’ll use to pay for books and other school expenses not covered by her grandmother’s financial gifts. She gets a job at Denny’s near school and starts classes. It’s not easy for her, not her classes or making friends.

Farah’s body and face generate responses from guys around her that make her uncomfortable but she zeroes in on a guy who she dubs Sweetie Pie.

Sweetie Pie would never gamble away our Christmas money. He would never forget my birthday, though he might need hinting to remember our anniversary. He was the kind of guy who wanted to buy himself lots of electronic toys, but wouldn’t if the kids might lose out on getting something great from Santa.

Sweetie Pie was boring to some, but he was the kind of guy who wouldn’t make me cry or fear his moods. He was the kind of guy I would enjoy in my life as a teacher, mom, and wife. I was a good person and deserved to have my simple dreams come true.

But Sweetie Pie aka Nick has competition from Hot Guy aka Cooper.  Cooper is taking law classes in hopes of becoming a lawyer and running his father’s crime area.  His “taking law classes” sounded like BS to me because there is no such thing as a bachelor in law or a law school undergraduate subject.  You are either in law school or you aren’t.

Some of the reviews call Farah weak and whiney but I didn’t find her so. She’s had a pretty crappy life and her ambitious are simple as she states in the previous book quote.  She misses her sister terribly and she doesn’t feel like she fits in with the college students.  She wants the safe guy but can’t stop thinking about the hot guy.  Her emotions were all over the board but it felt genuine.

Cooper is the largest problem in this book from his tendency to constantly refer to women as bitches to his scary stalker routine and worse of all his sense of entitlement.   The reason that Cooper depiction works for me is because the text acknowledges he is spoiled and difficult. So while he is the male protagonist which in a romance is called a hero, I think that there is a subtle nod that Cooper really isn’t really heroic.  Is Cooper called on his spoiled behavior  enough? No and I don’t think Farah is right for taking him back into her life when she feels threatened and scared by him but Cooper is a far cry better than she’s ever had.

But it really isn’t Cooper that is the reason I remember this book. Instead, it is the way in which Farah’s trauma is treated differently than in so many other books. Her feelings about herself, in general, and about sex, in particular, aren’t cured the first time she has sex with Cooper or even the tenth time. There is no magic peener in this book.  Instead the sex scenes are often uncomfortable but very authentic.

The first time the two have sex, they are both a little drunk and part of me is thinking they really need to stop now and in a book with a decent hero, maybe they would’ve stopped. But Cooper isn’t entirely decent, but I wondered if it would take someone with an utter belief in his own greatness not to be beaten down emotionally by the fact that Farah wasn’t going to be cured right away.

There were some writing tics that I could have lived without.  Cooper and Farah regularly trade insults, but the pattern of them actually made no sense as if they were just playing a game of word association. They were meant to be funny but came off lame and rather inconsistent.

“Perv.” (starting with her)

“Dork.” (him)



“Sexy bastard.” (her. Sexy bastard?)

“Hell yeah.”

I’m not sure what grade to give this book because I’ve read several books before and after that I didn’t think about as much.  I’m going to go with a B- because while there are problematic issues, particular with the hero, I felt that the characterizations were genuine and the emotional arc of the heroine different.  B-

Best regards,


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