REVIEW: Bad Things Feel Best by Ivy Smoak

Posted September 16th, 2023 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, Review, Romantic Suspense / 5 comments

In Bad Things Feel Best by Ivy Smoak, Aspiring writer Hazel Fox thought she had found the perfect job: becoming an assistant to Athena Quinn, a popular and quite reclusive romance author. But as soon as she arrives on the small South Carolina island and enters Quinn’s creepy mansion, Hazel knows something is…off. First there’s Mr. Remington. Handsome, yes, but vague and intimidating, even more so. He announces that he’s Miss Quinn’s assistant and that Hazel will be helping him–not directly reporting to the author as she had hoped. But it’s all of the strange events that happen as she settles in that leaves her spooked and wondering what the heck she’s gotten herself into.

‘Mr. Remington said he was good at keeping secrets. Which meant he had secrets to keep. And I was going to uncover every single one of them.’

Hazel performs menial tasks day after dreary day instead of getting to pick the brain of–and learn from–the talented Miss Quinn. It doesn’t help that the only two people she sees on a daily basis are the housekeeper who doesn’t speak a word, and Mr. Remington, who runs hot and cold for seemingly no reason. As Hazel tries to figure out why she can’t meet Miss Quinn and why there are so many strange things happening on their end of the island, it still isn’t clear if Mr. Remington is attempting to get her to quit, or if he’s being controlling. Either way, Hazel can’t deny her attraction to the Southern gentleman. Which might prove to be inconvenient if he’s the real reason her life is in utter turmoil.

He lifted my hand and put it to his chest. “You’re the only person who’s ever been able to see the hurt. The pain. And you didn’t run screaming. You ran toward me.”

Bad Things Feel Best was a moody, spooky thriller-slash-romance (with maybe a hint of the paranormal?) that had a Southern Gothic feel to it. Author Ivy Smoak created a storyline that had me flying through the pages to unearth the truth behind the secrets that at least one, if not more, of the characters were hiding purposefully.

“You’re not a monster, Mr. Remington.”
He smiled at me calling him Mr. Remington. “Well, I did warn you that it’s the things that are bad for us that feel the best, Miss Fox.”

I had no idea what to expect from Bad Things Feel Best. The synopsis sounded like a suspenseful thriller set on a small island off the coast of South Carolina that also had a thread of romance. But as I followed along when our heroine Hazel (this was told strictly from her POV) arrived at the historic-looking mansion and navigated her new job, it felt like there were paranormal elements as well. And I’ll be honest, we never really got everything clarified at the end of the novel as to whether there was something supernatural going on or if it was just that Mr. Remington and the other inhabitants of the island were on the secretive, creepy side. (lol)

Hazel and her reckless amateur sleuthing had me shaking my head (more than) a few times–sometimes with laughter and other times with exasperation. I think if the story would have leaned a bit more into the comical aspect of the fiascoes Hazel found herself in then I might not have felt as much frustration with her choices. But if nothing else, it was certainly entertaining. And admittedly I can see how as a wannabe author that Hazel would be a rather inquisitive person. She just didn’t need to put herself in harm’s way *quite* so much.

As for the romance? Hazel and Mr. Remington were a very, very slow burn couple. Where this book was on the shorter side, it felt like their relationship didn’t truly have time to grow and develop as much as it needed to. What we did see of them toward the end of the book proved that Mr. Remington and Hazel were a good match together, though. And while there weren’t a lot of love scenes given that they spent the majority of the time at odds, there was definitely sizzling attraction as well as a lot of passion between the pair.

QOTD: Do you mind when an author leaves a standalone story open ended with a question or two still unanswered?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: August 8th, 2023 | Montlake |

A young writer searching for inspiration instead finds danger, betrayal, and romance in a spellbinding novel by USA Today bestselling author Ivy Smoak.

It’s almost like he wants her to think he is a monster.

Hazel Fox arrives at her new job on a private island hoping to get inspiration from a renowned novelist, only to discover she won’t be working with the author after all. She won’t even get to meet her. Instead, she’ll be assisting the handsome―and infuriating―Mr. Remington. Mr. Remington unnerves Hazel from the moment they meet. Not only because he’s cold and strict and seems hell-bent on getting her to quit…but because his eyes are the same color of the ocean in their backyard. And his intense gaze always seems to be trained on her.

Mr. Remington refuses to share any personal information about himself―not even his first name. But if there’s one thing Hazel is certain of in this beautiful, isolated estate, it’s that Mr. Remington has secrets. And those secrets are dangerous. Something sinister is going on, and Hazel is determined to discover the truth…no matter how close she has to get to Mr. Remington. After all, it’s the things that are bad for us that feel best.



5 Responses to “REVIEW: Bad Things Feel Best by Ivy Smoak”

  1. Glenda M

    Sometimes? It really depends on the questions that are left unanswered. Thanks for the review!

    • Dianne Casey

      I like a book to be a stand-alone book. Not leave unanswered questions.

  2. Latesha B.

    I only like unanswered questions if there is going to be a sequel because I need to have my curiosity satisfied. Thank you for the review.

  3. Amy R

    Do you mind when an author leaves a standalone story open ended with a question or two still unanswered? It’s not a standalone if story isn’t completed.
    Thanks for the review.