Notorious (IOU Book 5) by Leslie McAdam

Notorious is Book 5 in the IOU series, featuring a cowboy porn star and the ambitious senatorial candidate who saves him on the darkest night in his life.  Ending up married after a night in Vegas definitely wasn't in the plans for either of them, but it's somehow meant to be. 

From the blurb:

Picking up your favorite adult film star at a bar in Vegas is a bad idea—especially when you wake up the next morning married to him. Ask me how I know.   

Before I met Velvet the Cowboy, the public knew me as an innocuous guy who was running for office.

Now I’ve gone from boring to notorious in twenty-four hours.

The hot stranger’s ring on my finger puts a damper on my political ambitions, since his day job isn’t voter-friendly. An annulment is a no-go, and a quickie divorce would make me look unreliable.

In any case, when I find out Velvet’s dark plans, I know I can’t let him out of my sight. Which means I’m taking a gorgeous, 6’6”, slow-talking cowboy home with me to protect him from himself.

Being with him might light my career on fire. I’m just not expecting it to do the same to my heart.

Notorious is a stand-alone contemporary romance about Johnny Haskell, a cowboy turned adult star who stops to pet every good dog (and they’re all good dogs), and Kurt Delmont, a senatorial candidate who wants to save the world. It features recovery from a mental health crisis, healing from old wounds, and love that takes these two by surprise. This book contains sensitive themes; a detailed description of the contents is in the author’s note in the book preview. Happily ever after guaranteed.

SNik's Review:

Fifth in series (IOU), but can be read as a standalone. Wake up married. Hurt/comfort. Found family. Dual POV. Heed content warnings.

A lifetime achievement award for his porn career won’t stop Johnny from having a plan to end his life, but when he meets political hopeful Kurt in a bar he certainly doesn’t expect the handsome man to derail his plan. Kurt feels compelled to help Johnny, he’s lost someone before and he’s willing to sacrifice his possible political career to help, even though they just met.

It definitely feels like there is an immediate connection between Johnny and Kurt, and their attraction slowly builds to include comfort, caring and support to affection. There is a lot going on in the story, but it mainly focuses on Johnny’s mental health journey (informed from the author’s experiences), and I truly enjoyed the honest communication Johnny and Kurt establish throughout their growing relationship. Sometimes finding someone at the right time builds a strong bond, and Johnny and Kurt definitely find something special together.

Rogue's Review:

 - ex-porn star
 - mental health rep
 - waking up married 

First thing, heed the content warnings and the author's note at the start of this book, as there are some very sensitive and dark themes in this book.  Even though this is part of a series, I read it as a standalone and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I get there were cameos from other couples (and I really, really want to know more about Rowan in particular!) but I loved it as a standalone. 

If there's such a thing as fate (and I'd like to believe there is), then Kurt truly was fated to meet Johnny that night in his darkest hour.  These two had such an instant bond and Kurt truly is a good soul, only wanting to help Johnny even when it probably wasn't the easiest thing he could have done.  These two together, though were just meant to be.  They fitted together so well, right from the start.  Their journey is not easy, at all.  While the story is about their relationship, there's a focus on Johnny's mental health journey too and it's so raw and emotional at times, it is hard to read.  BUT there's always light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to see it, and Kurt helps Johnny with that.  

This is a thought provoking read, dealing not only with mental health issues, but also with the adult film industry and how its' workers are treated.  There's a lot to digest here but the core is Kurt and Johnny and that is hot, sweet, and ultimately warm and romantic too.  Everything you could want, really.  

Heather's Review:

Darker than many of the previous IOU books, this book takes on so many difficult topics - mental health, suicidal ideations, previous trauma and more - so if you feel like you need to know more before reading I would definitely consult the trigger warning the author offers... that being said, I was totally sucked into Kurt and Johnny's world from their drunken night to waking up married to the caring way Kurt jumps in with both feet to help Johnny get to a place where he can battle some of his demons.

I love that this book scaffolds on previous stories and we get so many cameos - Sam & Jules, Roman, Danny... it was great to see them interwoven into the fabric of this story and how they help both Johnny and Kurt reconcile the past and look toward the future.

Leslie McAdam has a way of peeling back the layers of each character, feeding us small bites as we learn about the characters along with their love interest and it hooked me from start to finish.

While you can read this book standalone, I think it's honestly best read in order.

Notorious is currently available as an e-book and paperback and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription