Sarah Mayberry – “She’s Got It Bad”

22 May

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Blaze, 2009


WHY THIS NOVEL: positive comments about Sarah Mayberry’s novels

The back blurb:
“This has been a long time coming

Twelve years ago Zoe Ford let Liam Masters break her heart. But now? There’s not a chance. Zoe is as tough and wild as they come. So when Liam shows up at her tattoo parlor, she’s more than ready to take him on again. That’s not going to be a hardship, since he’s hotter than he ever was.

This time she’s staying in charge. And she’s not going to consider their score settled until he’s hot, bothered and begging for more! Then she’ll move on as callously as he left her. Unless all that deliciously bad sex is just too good to give up…”

This is the second novel I bought by Sarah Mayberry without having read a single one of her novels at the time of buying it. It’s the third novel I’ve read by her, the others being Cruise Control and Take On Me. Like the other novels, She’s Got It Bad basically features a conflict that’s based on characters being afraid to commit to a relationship for various reasons.

Zoe and Liam know each other since they were teenagers. Liam was the foster kid Zoe’s parents took in. Right away, they both felt strongly drawn to the other. But while Zoe was willing to go for it, Liam was afraid because of his past. He knew he just wasn’t good enough for Zoe and he didn’t want to disappoint the trust of Zoe’s parents by taking the virginity of their daughter. So when things came to a head one night with Zoe declaring her love for him and begging him to make love to her, he took his motorbike and left.

It’s twelve years later and Liam made something of himself. He’s owner of a successful business. Ever since he knew her, Liam had Zoe on a pedestal – the sweet innocent girl he so struggled to protect from his own badness. He imagines her married with kids now. So he’s in for a surprise when he discovers Zoe had posed in the nude for a painting. And after he tracks her down, the surprises just keep coming. Zoe works in a tattoo parlor and spends some of her evenings singing in a thrash band as the sexy Vixen. And most of all, she doesn’t want his help and she isn’t afraid to call him on his arrogance and high-handedness when he offers it:

He frowned. “I wanted to find out what had gone wrong.”
Her chin came up and her eyes narrowed. “Wrong?”
“That you needed to do something like that.”
She shook her head, truly staggered by his arrogance.
“wow. Haven’t you become the morals campaigner. Let me save you the bother of worrying about me. I’m fine. In fact, I’m better than fine. I’m exactly where I want to be.”
“I don’t believe that.”
She laughed again, a sound totally without humor. “I don’t give a damn what you believe or don’t believe. Who the hell do you think you are, walking into my life and telling me I’m wrong and looking at me as though I just offered you a blow job for a tenner?” (32)

Like Zoe’s family, he is disapproving of her life and because he soon thinks he’s in some way responsible for it, he tries to help while fighting his intense sexual attraction to her. Zoe on the other hand is again willing to go for it. This time without talk of love, of course, and despite not wanting Liam’s help in other areas of her life:

“I don’t need any help from you, Liam,” she said. “The only thing I need from any man is the one thing I don’t have myself. If you get my drift.” (46)

And so they battle it out.


  • the negative view every character seemed to have of Zoe’s work and singing. Is there something innately bad about working in a tattoo parlor and singing in a thrash band?
  • Zoe is actually more a fake bad girl than the real deal and I’m a little uncomfortable with what seems to have set her on her road to it.
  • I’m sick of female characters that are so beautiful and sexy that every living and breathing (heterosexual) male who catches a glimpse of her out of the corner of one eye is instantly in lust with her and hard.
  • The scene that really showed why Liam was so afraid to commit to a relationship came rather late in the story, making his “All I can give you is sex, and that I give only grudgingly because you deserve so much more” speech fairly annoying at times.
  • Especially since the no-commitment conflict seems to be a favorite in Sarah Mayberry’s novels. All three novels I read so far featured it. (This is no fault of the novel itself. I just read several novels in a row with that conflict and was a bit tired of it by then.)

I consider only the point about the scene that showed why Liam’s afraid a problem of the story. The other four are my preferences and opinions.

The good stuff

  • Oh, how I liked Zoe’s attitude and her calling Liam on his arrogance and high-handedness.
  • The characters talk. They may drag their feet and keep secrets but they come around without it getting (too) annoying.
  • good sense of structure, timing and closure of story lines
  • the intensity and rawness of the scenes, especially the sex scenes
  • good dialog

She’s Got It Bad is the well written story of two hurt people who manage to work through their own insecurities to get their HEA. Both characters were hurt in the past and have issues to work through, and I loved that both persisted on helping even when the other one said something else. It’s nice to see characters not run the other way when they realize what a mess someone is. And while Liam might seem a bit to martyr-like for his own good, I really appreciated that Zoe recognized that she isn’t the only own marked by the past at the end of the story and that she helped Liam deal with it as he has helped her before. It gave the novel a nice sense of closure.

Verdict: I went back and forth between 4/5 and 4,5/5. In the end, I settled for 4,5/5 because most of the problems I listed are rather subjective.


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