I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by NAL on December 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, New Adult, Romance
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Former tennis player Easton Bradbury is trying to be the best teacher she can be, trying to reach her bored students and trying to forget her past. What brought her to this stage in her life isn’t important. She can’t let it be. But now one parent-teacher meeting may be her undoing…
Meeting Tyler Marek for the first time makes it easy for Easton to see why his son is having trouble in school. The man knows how to manage businesses and wealth, not a teenage boy. Or a young teacher, for that matter, though he tries to. And yet…there is something about him that draws Easton in—a hint of vulnerability, a flash of attraction, a spark that might burn.
Wanting him is taboo. Needing him is undeniable. And his long-awaited touch will weaken Easton’s resolve—and reveal what should stay hidden…
Teacher-student romances have been overly used these past couple of months, especially in the new adult genre. But a teacher and her student’s parent? That’s not common as of yet, unless I’m just out of the loop. Whether it features a new trope or something overly used, I would read any of Penelope Douglas’ books anyway, and Misconduct was no exception. I could say that I liked this new release as much as I did Bully—which first got me hooked on Penelope’s writing—if not more.
One of the reasons why I enjoyed Misconduct so much was because the characters were more mature. Yes, it still had the angst that Penelope’s known for, but both Tyler and Easton were rather self-aware. In Tyler’s case, it’s expected as he’s in his thirties and is a successful businessman/budding politician. Easton, on the other hand, has been forced by her experiences to become an independent, self-reliant young woman. There’s no doubt that they’ve got complex personalities and backgrounds. Tyler’s so caught up in his many pursuits, including his campaign and Easton, that he fails to prioritize the important things. Meanwhile, Easton’s been scarred by fear and loss that she keeps herself apart from others and tries to control every aspect of her life. Yet in each other, they find the exception to their rules (cue Paramore’s “The Only Exception”).
I’ve noticed that in many forbidden romances, the hero and heroine meet under normal circumstances. Most times, the attraction is instantaneous. Then they realize that a relationship is not in the cards for them, which only turns the heat up. They try to deny their feelings, but fate keeps bringing them together until they give in. And the real trouble starts.
While Misconduct follows this trope, it’s executed so well that it doesn’t feel cliche or formulaic. The transitions in Tyler and Easton’s relationship from their first meeting at the Mardi Gras to the reveal of Tyler’s identity as the parent of Easton’s problematic student to the culmination of their back-and-forth were fluidly intertwined with the plot development and their individual growth as well. I love how they were able to let down their guards with each other. They challenged each other and pushed each other to think beyond their personal norms, whether it was Tyler and his political strategy or Easton and her obsession with control. And the chemistry between them was burn-your-sheets hot. I recommend reading this in private.
Aside from the romance, the secondary themes weaved into the story made it all the richer and more engaging. There was Easton’s unconventional teaching methods involving social media, which is so relevant today. Tyler’s relationship with his son Christian. Easton’s relationship with Tyler. Tyler’s relationship with his dad, and Easton with her brother. Of course, there was also the mystery of Easton’s past catching up with her. There’s so much more to Misconduct than simply Tyler and Easton’s “forbidden” romance, and I enjoyed reading every bit of it.
Come to think of it, I think this may just be my favorite Penelope Douglas novel. For now, at least!
Feel Factor Rating
“Good morning. Tyler Marek’s office,” a woman’s pleasant voice chirped. “How can I help you?”
My heart pounded in my ears, and I could feel the pulse in my neck throb. I held back, almost wishing he wasn’t in his office after all.
I needed time to calm down.
But I swallowed and pushed forward anyway. “Yes, hello,” I rushed out.
“Easton, keep your cool,” I heard my brother warn from my side.
I bit my lip to keep the anger out of my voice. “I’m Easton Bradbury calling for Mr. Marek,” I told her. “I’m sure he’s not in today, but—”
“Just a moment, please,” she interrupted, and disappeared.
I sucked in a breath, realizing that he was in after all.
“Marek?” my brother asked. “Tyler Marek?”
I glanced at him, arching an eyebrow in annoyance.
“Easton, get off the call,” Jack ordered.
His arm shot out, trying to grab the phone, but I slapped his hand away.
“Watch the road!” I barked, pointing at the street ahead.
“Easton, I’m serious,” he growled. “Tyler Marek has a workforce of more than ten thousand people. He may be a senator, for crying out loud. It isn’t your place to argue with him.”
I shot him a look. My place?
My brother was worried about his career, but I didn’t care who Marek was. He was still a man.
Nothing but a man.
I turned my head away from my brother, suddenly hearing Marek’s voice in my ear.
Thick anticipation filled my chest, and I dropped my eyes, disappointed that I was actually excited.
“Mr. Marek,” I replied curtly, remembering why I had called. “I received your e-mail, and I’d love to . . .” I trailed off, wiping the sweat off my hairline. “I’d love to schedule a meeting to sit down and work out a plan for Christian.”
“We’ve already met,” he pointed out, his voice clipped. “And it was not a productive use of my time, Ms. Bradbury.”
I tried reasoning. “Mr. Marek, we both want what’s best for your son. If we work together—”
“Ms. Bradbury.” He cut me off, and I could hear people talking in the background. “Apparently I wasn’t clear enough in my e-mail, so let me save us both some time. My son has no problems with any other teacher, so it goes without saying that you’re the problem.” His stern voice cut me, and I felt like shrinking. “You suffer from an overindulged sense of entitlement, and you forget that your job is on a yearly contract.”
My eyes widened, taking in his threat that my job this year could belong to someone else next year. I fisted the hem of the skirt at my thigh.
“Now, I’m a busy man,” he continued, sounding condescending, “and I don’t have time for silly young women who don’t know their place.”
My skin stung from where my fingernail dug in. His son didn’t have problems with me. Perhaps I graded harder than other teachers, and I might have had unorthodox methods, but most of the students enjoyed my class, including Christian. When he participated. If he ever challenged me, it was because his father wouldn’t allow him the freedom to have the tools to participate like all the other students.
“Now, can I get on with my day and consider this issue settled?” he sniped.
Heat spread over my skin, and I bared my teeth. “You can go to hell,” I shot back, raging. “No wonder he can’t stand you.”
“Easton!” Jack burst out next me.
But it was too late. My eyes widened, and my hand tingled, nearly losing grip on the phone.
What the hell did I just say?