The Brutal Truth by Lee WinterThe Brutal Truth by Lee Winter is an age gap, workplace romance with an ice queen. How could I not enjoy it when it has some of my favourite themes, all rolled into one story?

Madeleine Grey is living everyone else’s dream in New York City, and she couldn’t be more miserable. While she’s thrilled to finally be a reporter, working the graveyard shift at a failing newspaper isn’t exactly helping her craving for home in Australia. Maddie’s life gets a little more interesting, though, when the paper is given six weeks to turn itself around and the big boss, Elena Bartell, starts working from the Hudson Metro News office.

Maddie finds herself drawn to Elena, even though everyone else is terrified of her, and—oh yeah—she’s straight and married to a man. When they find themselves in Sydney for work, everything changes when Elena and Maddie make a bet that should be easy and instead finds them telling each other nothing but the truth.

The Characters

Maddie is a smart, sweet, stubborn girl next door and it’s no wonder that Elena is intrigued by her. Maddie’s determined to be a reporter, and her drive means she won’t let anyone tell her she can’t do it, no matter who they are. I loved seeing how she interacted with Elena at every stage of the book, rarely letting herself be intimidated by the one person who leaves everyone else shaking in their boots.

Elena is a total ice queen, nicknamed Tiger Shark for her tendency to chew up and spit out any of the publications she acquires that don’t pass muster. It’s especially fun to watch her melt as she spends time with Maddie, and she’s truly a different person at the end of the book than who she was at the beginning (even if I still wouldn’t want to get caught in her crosshairs!).

The Writing Style

This is Lee Winter’s first contemporary romance and it’s a good one, with a slow-burning and delicious chemistry that’s constant between Elena and Maddie.

The Pros

There’s a lot I liked about this book, but I especially loved Maddie’s character. She’s someone I could totally see hanging out with on the weekends.

The Cons

This isn’t a con for me, but if you don’t like slow burn romances, you won’t be a fan of this book.

Jeannie's Favourite BooksThe Conclusion

If you like contemporary romances, especially with ice queens or age gaps, you should pick up this book. It’s not my favourite of Winter’s novels (my love for The Red Files and Requiem for Immortals having been well documented elsewhere), but I enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Excerpt from The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter

The hours bled together, and before she knew it, it was almost midnight. She glanced around to find the usual empty office. Sofía, the cleaner, was vacuuming somewhere, but Maddie couldn’t see her. The light was still on in Bartell’s office, although the woman wasn’t anywhere in sight. With a sigh and a grumble about environmentally unaware media executives contributing to greenhouse gasses, she pushed off from her chair and headed into the office. She stuck her head in, reached around the corner, and flicked the switch.

“Who did that?” an outraged voice said from somewhere in the darkened room.

Maddie started, snapped the light on again, and looked around.

A dark head bobbed up from floor level behind the desk, and Maddie stared into the furious glare of Elena Bartell. Craning her neck, she could see a yoga mat on the floor under Elena. Oops. Shit.

“I was stretching!”

“Sorry,” Maddie said. “Really. I thought you were gone. And—”

“And you thought you’d save a tree in the Amazon or something?”Bartell rose to full height, stretching her arms above her head and swaying, left and right. Her arms were toned and clearly used to exercise. Her new position had the effect of thrusting her chest forward, encased in a tight, white T-shirt.

Maddie’s cheeks heated up. “I…uh…”

Bartell swivelled her neck, as though shifting the kinks, not taking her eyes off Maddie. “Oh very enlightening. Thank goodness you’re a journalist where words are your skill.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9783955338992
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Lee Winter Online 

Note: I received a free review copy of The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

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About the author

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Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.