Business As Usual (Off the Subject #3) by Denise Grover Swank


Business as Usual: Off the Subject #3

Synopsis:

Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancĂ©e Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago. 

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?

Review:

Business As Usual was a great read. I originally started reading it back when I read the other books in this series, but I just couldn't deal with it at the time. I wasn't in the right headspace to read it. I read the prologue and had to set it aside. The prologue was too realistic for me. It was too much like my own experiences and I just wasn't in a place where I could/wanted to read it. I finally went back to read Lexi's story and I'm glad I did. 

Business As Usual was such a great read. Ben and Lexi were perfect for each other. What they have both been through...it just works. I was waiting for Lexi to find out what happened to Ben and hoping it wouldn't be too bad when she did. They just are so cute together! Because of their past and what happened it makes it work even more. Lexi gets to know Ben before she knows what happened to him and it is just amazing.

Lexi was raped and since then she has a new identity at a new school where her overbearing brother keeps tabs on her. She cannot really just go out and do what she wants since her brother blames himself somewhat for not keeping her safe before. If you read have read Redesigned, the second book in the series, then you know the brother already and a bit of Lexi's story. He really is way too overprotective of her. She will never move on and learn to be strong and okay if he doesn't let her be herself.

Ben has a crazy ex who accused him of raping her when he didn't. Now that crazy ex? Oh did I hate her. I wish nothing but bad things on people like her. Argh! Because of her false claims Ben lost his scholarship and is working a ton to try and finish up his school year. He gets a job as a tutor with Lexi's brother as well as working at a bar and a few other things. He has a lot going on and doesn't need any distractions.

When Lexi puts on a play to help her school program she is working on she finds that dressing up with a wig and such makes her feel different. It makes her more confident and like she is not that broken girl anymore. It was so great watching Lexi really grow and learn to move on, to be strong and not let her rape rule her life anymore. She starts acting out with her brother, making him see that she is an adult and can do what she wants. He can't control her anymore. She doesn't always make the best decisions still, but luckily she has people who look out for her. She first meets Ben when they go to the bar after the play and she is in disguise. There is just something there between them that slowly grows to more. Neither of them think they want anything right now, but they just can't help but be together.

Ben is amazing with Lexi. He knows pretty quick who she is even though she doesn't think he does (since she is always in a disguise). She worries about telling him who she really is and about her overbearing brother, but he never pressures her to tell him. He likes her for who she is and he lets her move at her own pace. He was wonderful. He finds that obviously something bad happened to her, and once he finds out what it is his turn to worry what will happen when she finds out about his past. Oh, I just loved him. He was so sweet and kind and caring. He was amazing.

Throughout the story Lexi's brother is also acting stranger than normal. He is cranky and tired and lashes out and is just not himself. Lexi knows something is going on, but she doesn't know what. That is partly why she does some not so smart things. She wants to find out what is going on and help her brother like he has been helping her. It was intense at times, especially when Lexi has to deal with her past head on, but it just shows how strong she really is. There are some bumps in the road, she does take time to really be comfortable with everything, but I loved it. It was hard for me to read at times because of my own past, but it was a great read.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★1/2

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