Publisher: Bantam

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Getting Rough by C. L. Parker

January 26, 2016 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Getting Rough by C. L. ParkerGetting Rough by C L Parker
Series: Monkey Business Trio #2
Published by Bantam on January 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Hotshot San Diego sports agent Shaw Matthews and his sexy professional adversary Cassidy Whalen have gone head-to-head in the boardroom—and the bedroom. Now Shaw has scored a big promotion—but only because Cassidy turned it down and ran off. There are many things he wants when it comes to Cassidy—just not her pity. So Shaw rushes to a small town in Maine to retrieve his dignity—and maybe the woman he’s hungry to claim once more.

Cassidy has pushed herself to the max to realize her career dreams—until a family crisis brings her home. But Shaw isn’t letting Cassidy go that easily. Neither is gorgeous heartthrob Casey Michaels, the childhood sweetheart she left behind—and who now wants to win her back. As the rivalry between the two alpha males intensifies, and Shaw’s seductive moves reach a whole new level of heat, Cassidy has to make a choice. And this time, it’s for the highest stakes of all.

GETTING ROUGH is the second in a series and it is highly recommended that first-time readers read PLAYING DIRTY (first in the series) before reading this novel.  This installment of the trilogy picks up right where the last book left off.  Shaw is about to enjoy his new promotion and Cassidy has run off to her hometown in Maine.  Despite their animosity-hiding-possible-love, Shaw makes the decision to follow Cassidy to Maine and when a hurricane comes hurtling through the sleeping lobster-catching village, Shaw and Cassidy are forced to confront whatever-it-is simmering underneath the surface of their fights.  Add to this volatile mix the presence of Cassidy’s childhood sweetheart also vying for Cassidy’s heart and readers are in for a steamy, passionate treat!

I enjoyed this new set of characters we meet in Maine as well as the new setting.  Cassidy and Shaw are very much city-folk, so to see them trying to figure out whatever-it-is between them in the sleepy Maine town was endearing.  I just hope they’ll be able to maintain it once they go back into the city.  Told from multiple points of view, readers get inside not only Cassidy and Shaw’s heads, but also that of the childhood sweetheart and a few others.  While this isn’t my favorite form of storytelling, it was helpful to get the plot moving along while providing some explanation as to why characters were acting in certain ways.

 

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Filthy Rich by Virna DePaul

October 27, 2015 Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Filthy Rich by Virna DePaulFilthy Rich by Virna DePaul
Published by Bantam on October 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 386
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Cara Michal has had to fight every step of the way to earn her place in the glittering seven-figure world of Wall Street. Years ago her hardworking father, a small-time investment adviser, was humiliated and wrongfully accused of fraud. Now Cara is at the top of her game, trying to support not only herself but her mother and brother. The occasional night out dancing soothes Cara’s soul, even as a bitter need for revenge against the man who destroyed her father makes inner peace elusive.

Then, in a moment of heat, Cara kisses a sexy stranger at a party—only later to discover that the man is Branden Duke, her new boss, an infamous operator with a wicked reputation in bed and on the Street. Branden is a man who seemingly has it all—except a woman who connects with him on a physical and emotional level. Now that he’s found Cara, he’s not sure he can let her go, even if he should.

In spite of herself, Cara is drawn to this charismatic guy. He is a challenge like none she has ever faced in her life. Their passion for each other is unquenchable, surprising them both with its ferocity. Even as Cara wonders if she can trust this man with her heart and soul, the ecstasy of their love cannot be denied. But when the past threatens the present, the two are faced with a truth from which they may never recover.

Cara Michal is one of the hardest working women on Wall Street.  She has to be.  Not only is she a female player in a male-dominated profession, but she must support her mother and brother as well.  And that doesn’t leave room for mistakes.  Then she meets a sexy stranger at a party that seems to pull the rug out from under her.  Especially when Mr. Sexy Stranger turns out to be her new boss.  Their chemistry is undeniable, but Cara simply can’t let anyone jeopardize her career.

I’ve never read anything by Virna DePaul, but I have a feeling this will not be the last book I read by her.  I definitely enjoyed the premise, even if I didn’t really understand a lot of the financial background of the main characters.  The middle…the middle left something to be desired though.  The characters seemed to wander a bit.  For example, Cara was constantly going back and forth with her “I want him, but I can’t have him.  Oh wait, yes I can.  No, I can’t.”  Some waffling is fine, expected even.  But this happened over and over again to the point where I wanted to skip through whole scenes because it was boring and repetitious.

The saving grace – and what makes me want to read more of Ms. DePaul’s books – was the complex characters with interesting backstories as well as the smoking hot sex scenes.  Branden was an atypical alpha – definitely dominant and alluring, but with a caring, sensitive side typically seen more in beta heroes than alphas.  Cara was powerful and independent in her own right.  Together, they make a striking power couple.

Drama, Intrigue, and a dash of suspense coupled with a great romantic plot – definitely check this out!

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Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’Keefe

October 13, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’KeefeEverything I Left Unsaid by Molly O'Keefe
Series: Everything I Left Unsaid #1
Published by Bantam on October 13, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.

Tired and worn from years of systematic abuse – first from her mother and later her husband – Annie McKay sneaks out at 3am with little more than the clothes on her back and $3000 cash in her pocket.  She soon finds herself in a middle-of-nowhere trailer park and sets herself up as Layla.  Her neighbors keep to themselves and that’s just how Annie likes it.  Until she answers a cell phone stuffed in the cushions of the couch.  That’s when she hears Dylan’s voice and suddenly she’s got herself a job keeping an eye on the owner of another trailer two spots over.  But reconnaissance turns into flirting and flirting turns to lust.  Dylan opens Annie up to all sorts of new experiences she just didn’t get to see on her isolated little farm back in Oklahoma.  All from the other side of a cell phone.  For now.

Annie is a complex character.  Her father wasn’t around when she was a child and her bitter, mentally ill mother was emotionally abusive.  Annie’s husband stepped in and began to physically assault Annie too.  Somehow, Annie manages to retain her shredded innocent outlook on life and genuinely wants to help those around her, especially the fellow abuse-victim mother of four and the old man living close by her new trailer home.  But Annie’s no slouch and has a work ethic that keeps her moving and motivated long after others would quit.  It’s this part of her nature that has Annie re-creating herself into Layla, a brave, will-try-anything-once persona that leads her to flirt with Dylan, play voyeur in a strip club, and make pasta sauce for the murderer next door.

Dylan is harder to pin down.  He’s still something of a mystery since readers don’t get much insight into his half of this story.  He’s isolated himself on a mountaintop, but retains the dominant, boundary-pushing persona of his racing days.  I look forward to learning more about Dylan (hopefully) in the next book.

This first novel in a two-part duet does end on a cliffhanger, so be prepared!

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Under My Skin by J Kenner

September 18, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Under My Skin by J KennerUnder My Skin by J Kenner
Series: Stark International Trilogy #3
Published by Bantam on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
He’s the only man I’ve ever loved, and the one man I can’t bear to lose.
 
Jackson Steele is my light in this world. Charismatic, bold, and always in control, he knows what he wants and how to get it—and absolutely nothing stands in his way. His hold on me is magnetic, his claim on me complete, his kiss my ultimate escape.

We both harbor dark secrets that could tear our lives apart. Though we’ve tried to bury our pasts, there are certain people who won’t let us forget. But the closer danger comes, the brighter the fire between us burns—our ecstasy consuming and soothing us both.

There’s no telling what lies ahead, but I know that Jackson never gives in without a fight. I’d do anything he wants to keep him safe, give him anything he needs. And now that we’re in deep, nothing can make me run.

Before we begin this review, I must state – You need to read this series in order!  Each book builds upon the plot and character development of the previous novel.  Before reading UNDER MY SKIN, please read SAY MY NAME and ON MY KNEES first.  As such, this review will make reference to – but not spoil – plot points covered in prior novels in the series.

After the bombshell dropped at the end of the last novel, Sylvia and Jackson are reeling.  Everything around them is falling apart – the Cortez resort, Reed, Ronnie.  Nothing is going right and the stress is beginning to put a strain on their relationship.

Sylvia must learn to face her long-held fears with Jackson rather than continually pushing him away.  Yet she must then turn around and also push Jackson to channel his own fears and frustrations into a healthier, more sensual outlet.  This constant push-pull which has plagued Sylvia and Jackson culminate in the final installment of the series.  Unfortunately, Sylvia spends a lot of this book internally whining to herself (and sometimes Cass) about whether or not Jackson really loves her and if she is “good enough” to be with him and Ronnie.  After three books of Jackson constantly showering her with love and affection, you’d think Sylvia would have realized this by now.  However, I had to keep reminding myself that Sylvia is the victim of decades long emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, which went a long way towards explaining her self-recrimination and doubt.

I loved the bonding between Damien and Jackson.  After being at odds for so long, it was heart-warming to see these two powerful men finally become brothers.  Ronnie is an adorable ball of sunshine and I would love see see future novellas featuring this precious child.  And, of course, I liked that we found out who the killer and saboteurs were and that Jackson and Sylvia finally got their HEA.

A little rushed towards the end, but overall a great finish to another fantastic trilogy by J Kenner!  I sincerely hope this is not the last we see of Sylvia, Jackson, Damien, and Nikki.  The characters are complex, the sex is scorching hot, and there are just so many possibilities to explore.  Loved it!

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On My Knees by J Kenner

June 23, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

On My Knees by J KennerOny My Knees by J Kenner
Series: Stark International Trilogy #2
Published by Bantam on June 23, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 305
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
I never thought I’d lose control, but his desire took me right to the edge.

Powerful, ambitious, and devastatingly sexy, Jackson Steele was unlike any other man I’d ever known. He went after what he wanted with his whole mind, body, and soul—and I was the woman in his sights. One touch and I surrendered, one night together and I was undone.

Jackson and I had secrets, dark pieces of our pasts that threatened to swallow us both. We couldn’t outrun our demons, or the people trying to tear us apart. But in our passion we found salvation, and in each other’s arms we found release.

I was scared to trust Jackson fully, to finally let go. Yet no matter the dangers that lay ahead, I knew I was his—and now that we’ve laid claim, there’s no more holding back.

J. Kenner is on my automatic-purchase list and with very good reason.  Her eloquence and command of the written word is truly stellar.  She crafts well-rounded, flawed characters with secrets and passions that make you just want to reach into the pages and give them a hug.  Or smack some sense into them, whichever is appropriate for the moment.  And, of course, she delivers scorching hot erotica that sizzles with both sensuality and a complex plot-line!  Porn WITH plot, if you will.  My favorite combination.

Since their whirlwind weekend of passion ended in heartbreak, Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks have lost five years to avoidance and building their own business platforms.  Jackson is a star architect, sought after by all the best in the business and hounded by Hollywood.  Sylvia is Damien Stark’s assistant who just landed herself a pet real estate project all her own building a island resort getaway for the rich and famous.  Picking up where the last book left off, the resort project is progressing but Hollywood is hounding Jackson to green-light the movie based on his infamous house and Sylvia’s dark modeling past is starting to catch up with her.  Jackson and Sylvia each have their own ways to dealing with pain and frustration, but they will need to learn how to work out their problems together if there is to be any hope of making their relationship last this time.

Wow, so much happened in this middle-novel that I do even know where to start!  Jackson and Sylvia finally opens up to each other about their past demons, but they have both been so used to dealing with those demons on their own that neither knows quite how to handle the information.  Sylvia needs time to process and Jackson just wants to fix everything.  Watching these two work out real-life relationship problems lead to some scorching hot sex scenes, but also a handful of heartbreaking ones too.  Some of the sex scenes in this novel actually made me blush – and that’s very hard to do!  Sylvia begins to rely on Jackson more than before and Jackson refuses to live without her.  Their romance is fierce and passionate, but also sweet in that I’ll-do-anything-for-you sort of way.

There is a lot to process in this second installment.  Many secrets are revealed (so many!), but sometimes this leads to even more questions.  And this *does* end on a cliffhanger, so be prepared.  But definitely pick up a copy of ON MY KNEES as soon as possible!

ON MY KNEES is written within the Stark trilogy universe (Damien & Nikki), but you do NOT have to have read the Stark trilogy to enjoy this novel.  However, I DO recommend reading the first novel in the Stark International trilogy (Jackson & Sylvia) – SAY MY NAME – before reading this second installment as the plot of ON MY KNEES builds heavily upon the plot of the first novel and there are major plot points that you will not understand without having read SAY MY NAME.

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Playing Dirty by C. L. Parker

May 19, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Playing Dirty by C. L. ParkerPlaying Dirty by C L Parker
Series: Monkey Business Trio #1
Published by Bantam on May 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
For fans of Bared to You and Beautiful Bastard comes the start of an irresistible new erotic romance series in which competition is the ultimate seduction.

Shaw Matthews plays to win, and he intends to snag a coveted partnership at San Diego's hottest sports agency by signing America's top athlete. Only one woman stands in his way: rival agent Cassidy Whalen. But eliminating the competition will be Shaw's pleasure when he concocts an ingenious plan to seduce Cassidy and show the beautiful ballbreaker who's the better man for the job. That is, until Cassidy turns the tables—and their steamy encounters start breaking all the rules.

Cassidy has worked hard to make it in a man's cutthroat arena, and she isn't going down without a fight, not even against the six-two alpha hunk whose rock-hard body awakens desires she's never known before. As Cassidy shares night after night of unending passion with Shaw, the game begins to change. Now Cassidy stands to lose everything—unless a fiery contest of wills can become a winning proposition for two people who keep raising the stakes.

PLAYING DIRTY pits two alpha-personalities against each other in an all-out, no-holds-barred competition to snag the coveted sports representation of superstar Denver “Rocketman” Rockford. Cassidy Walden and Shaw Matthews are the top recruiting agents for a major sports representation firm.  They bitten, clawed, and scraped their way to the top and are now poised to take over the single partnership opening – whoever lands Denver lands the job.

Like any alpha, Cassidy is a competitive, almost-arrogant perfectionist who stops at nothing to get what she wants.  Shaw is her complete male counterpart – equally arrogant, equally competitive, and just as willing to get his hands dirty getting what he wants.  In this respect, I thought these character were TOO alike.  There was little to no balance between them.  They didn’t bring out the other’s good qualities as much as I’ve come to expect from romance and erotica.  Instead, the fighting came across as mean and even childish.

That said, once these two pulled the walls down and let their mutual attraction flow – wow!  The passion, fire, and chemistry almost ignited my e-reader!  I believe the phrase I’m looking for here is “hate-f*ck” – when characters take all that hate and anger and channel it straight into lust. That’s exactly what happened in PLAYING DIRTY.  And over the course of their many love scenes, we learn a little bit about why Cassidy and Shaw act the way they do and get a hint of deeper feelings lingering below the surface.

Shaw and Cassidy’s story is not over!  This novel ended on a cliffhanger that will have you screaming and scrambling to push that “pre-order” button.

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Say My Name by J. Kenner

April 7, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Say My Name by J. KennerSay My Name by J Kenner
Series: Stark International Trilogy #1
Published by Bantam on April 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Goodreads
four-half-stars
I never let anyone get too close—but he’s the only man who’s ever made me feel alive.
 
Meeting Jackson Steele was a shock to my senses. Confident and commanding, he could take charge of any room . . . or any woman. And Jackson wanted me. The mere sight of him took my breath away, and his touch made me break all my rules.


Our bond was immediate, our passion untamed. I wanted to surrender completely to his kiss, but I couldn’t risk his knowing the truth about my past. Yet Jackson carried secrets too, and in our desire we found our escape, pushing our boundaries as far as they could go.

Learning to trust is never easy. In my mind, I knew I should run. But in my heart, I never felt a fire this strong—and it could either save me or scorch me forever.

J. Kenner is on my automatic-purchase list and with very good reason.  Her eloquence and command of the written word is truly stellar.  She crafts well-rounded, flawed characters with secrets and passions that make you just want to reach into the pages and give them a hug.  Or smack some sense into them, whichever is appropriate for the moment.  And, of course, she delivers scorching hot erotica that sizzles with both sensuality and a complex plot-line!  Porn WITH plot, if you will.  My favorite combination.

SAY MY NAME is written within the Stark trilogy universe, but you do NOT have to have read the Stark trilogy to enjoy this novel (the first in its own trilogy!)  Since their whirlwind weekend of passion ended in heartbreak, Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks have lost five years to avoidance and building their own business platforms.  Jackson is a star architect, sought after by all the best in the business and hounded by Hollywood.  Sylvia is Damien Stark’s assistant who just landed herself a pet real estate project all her own building a island resort getaway for the rich and famous.  But when the resort’s architect decides to suddenly retire, Sylvia has little choice but to approach Jackson for the job or else she will lose all the resort’s investors.  Now that Jackson and Sylvia are thrown back into each other’s presence, will passion rekindle itself or is revenge the only thing they care about?

Jackson and Sylvia are deeply flawed and carry significant emotional baggage.  Each battle their own demons and still have quite a lot to deal with in the next two installments.  (Don’t worry, there isn’t any major cliffhangers at the end, but you’ll definitely want to pre-order the next book as soon as you’re done with this one.)  But to watch these two emotionally-wrecked characters find love and passion with each other is a beautiful experience.  Jackson is a little cold-hearted through the first half of the novel, but with his background you have no problem understanding why he does and says the things he does.  Likewise, Sylvia is a bit of a loose-canon and you worry a bit about her mental safety, but thankfully there is an excellent cast of secondary characters to look after and support her through the turmoil.

The erotica portions of the novel are exceptionally written, as always.  Ms. Kenner’s ability to create scenes that carry both emotional character development and seductive intensity is astounding.  The scenes are numerous, but kept exciting and fresh.

I can’t wait to read what’s next in the Stark International Trilogy.  SAY MY NAME was a fantastic read and there are so many questions left to answer in the next two installments.  Highly recommended!

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Ignited by J Kenner

November 4, 2014 Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Ignited by J KennerIgnited by J Kenner
Series: Most Wanted #3
Published by Bantam on September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
four-stars
He promised to take me as far as I could go—and I wanted to go to the edge.
 
My whole life has been a cover, a con, a lie. I was born into the grift, raised on the thrill of playing someone I’m not. As a rule, I never let anyone get too close—until Cole August makes it impossible for me to stay away.

Cole is tough, sexy, and intensely loyal, yet his secrets are dark and his scars run deep. Not many women can handle his past, or the truth behind his fierce demands. But something about him beckons me—and our desire is a game I must play.

I know he’s dangerous, that even his touch is trouble, but what is passion without a little risk?

Cole August fits the “tortured artist” stereotype to a T – a self-made successful businessman with a dark past he refuses to discuss and a set of kinky needs in the bedroom he finds difficult to control.  He doesn’t find the thought of love or dating particularly appealing, mostly because he believes he cannot give a woman those things, much less the woman he has watched since he first met her: Katrina Laron.

Katrina Laron has her own version of a troubled past, one she’d happily leave behind and forget as quickly as possible.  She grew up “on the grift” learning tricks and cons from her father, but now she’s made a new life for herself in Chicago, a life she hopes will soon include more than a passing friendship with Cole August.

Kat’s father shows up on her doorstep and tells her that he is in deep with the Mafia.  Though she hates to ask, Kat enlists Cole’s help, which conveniently puts the two of them together and lets the sparks fly.  Kat and Cole challenge each other in and out of the bedroom and together they learn how to overcome their difficult pasts and to put their trust in another person.

I really like Kat and Cole.  They have wanted each other for so long that it was great to see all that devotion finally pay off.  Their sexuality and personalities fit very well once Cole realized that he could be both dominant and tender with Kat.  I did find Kat’s blind faith in Cole a little disconcerting (He’s known for having an explosive temper and it stands to reason that this would transfer into the bedroom too), but she’s known him for a long time so perhaps her faith comes from years and getting to know him.

The sex is quite hot, very sensual, and inventive.  I’ve read erotica for a while now and there were things in this novel that made me blush!  (In a good way, of course.)  Definitely darker than the other books in the Most Wanted series, but less suspenseful.  This book was more about exploring Kat and Cole’s pasts and their bedroom activities than catching a killer.  I thought it was a good way to end the series, though I would love to see a novella or something set about a year down the road giving the reader a peek into where these beloved characters are and what they are doing now.

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Wanted by J Kenner

October 10, 2014 Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★

Wanted by J KennerWanted by J Kenner
Series: Most Wanted #1
Published by Bantam on January 7, 2014
Genres: Erotica
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
three-stars
He is everything I crave, all I desperately want—and he is everything I can’t have.
 
Evan Black embodies my every fantasy. He is brilliant, fierce, and devastatingly handsome. But he is also headstrong, dangerous, and burdened with secrets.

My family warned me to stay away, that I could never handle Evan’s dark dealings or scarred past. Maybe I should have listened. Maybe I should have run. But our desire is undeniable, and some temptations you just can’t fight.

And from the moment we touch—the passion between us consuming us both—I know that I will never be the same.

Angelina Raine lost her sister when she was just a teenager.  Wracked with guilt and keeping a massive secret from the world around her, she retreated into herself and withdrew from social interaction.  But her Uncle Jahn, who shared her loved of art, managed to draw her out of that shell and allowed her to stay with him in Chicago whenever her schedule permitted.  There, she met three boys Jahn took under his wing – Evan Black, Tyler Sharp, and Cole August.  Tyler and Cole are like brothers to her, but Evan – Evan stirs in her a desperate passion that she has managed to keep hidden from everyone around her.  Or so she thought.  With her Uncle’s death, Angelina and Evan are drawn further together.  Angelina has always been convinced that Evan only sees her as a little sister, but she’s about to discover that she has been very, very wrong.

Angelina is an insecure young woman with a penchant towards kleptomania, a crime that fulfills some pent-up need to “be wild.”  I didn’t find her particularly likeable.  In fact, at times she came off as nothing more than selfish, spoiled, and rich brat acting out to get attention from her Senator father.  I understand that there must be a tremendous amount of guilt over the death of her sister, but most of her words and actions came across as stilted and awkward, mostly due to her indecisiveness and lack of confidence.

Evan is a secretive man, evasive but charming.  As a rich man, he is used to getting what he wants.  Except when it comes to Angelina.  He made a promise to leave her alone that stretches all the boundaries of his skewed, but firm code of ethics.  Unfortunately, this all falls apart in the space of a few days after Jahn’s death and Evan spends the first half of the book in a broody I-want-you-but-I-can’t-have-you attitude that came across as lame and boring for a character who is supposedly such a naughty badass.

Thankfully the story actually picks up in the second half with Angelina and Evan succumbing to their passion for one another and a fun, little mystery playing out to a delightfully intriguing end.  Other than that, this one fell a little flat for me.  The writing style is great, but the characters and plot development needed fleshing out.  I couldn’t connect with the characters and definitely didn’t sympathize with Angie’s need to steal things.  Some parts were enjoyable, particularly the second half as I’ve already mentioned, but mostly this book left me feeling a little bored.

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Heated by J Kenner

September 5, 2014 Erotica, Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Heated by J KennerHeated by J Kenner
Series: Most Wanted #2
Published by Bantam on June 3, 2014
Genres: Erotica
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
five-stars
I knew better than to risk my heart.
But fierce passion comes at a high price.

I grew up believing in right and wrong, good and evil, black and white. I knew better than to trust. And then I met Tyler Sharp.

Bold, charming, and dangerously sexy, Tyler always gets what he wants. But his smile can be deceiving, his dealings sordid, his ambitions ruthless. I thought I was the one woman strong enough to resist him, but our need for each other was too urgent to deny.

One look and I was in trouble. One touch and I was hooked. One night and I became his.

And now that I’ve fallen, there’s no going back.

Sloane Watson is a detective on forced medical leave after taking a bullet to the hip.  She’s going stir-crazy without anything to do, so when her confidential informant friend Candi tells her about a missing person, Sloane is up and off to Chicago to do a little off-the-books investigation.  There, she runs into Tyler Sharp, a powerful and shrewd business tycoon whose slightly shady business practices aren’t exactly on the up-and-up.  She tries to go undercover as an exotic dancer at Tyler’s club to learn more about the missing woman who once worked there, but ends up seducing Tyler instead – not exactly a hardship.  Sloane and Tyler become tangled up in one another, drawing Tyler into Sloane’s missing person search and Sloane into Tyler’s networking events and business practices.  But Sloane’s time in Chicago is quickly coming to an end and together Sloane and Tyler must make some big decisions about their personal life choices and their future together.

Sloane is a confident and determined detective, used to working hard and pursuing justice like a dog with a bone.  She has a strong ethics and lives by the code of the law, a trait that causes many problems in her arrangement with Tyler.  And honestly, made her a little uppity, self-righteous, and annoying for the first part of the book, especially considering the whopper of a secret she’s carrying around.  Thankfully, Sloane grew and became a character I could actually root for in the end.  She’s tough and independent, though rational thought seems to fly out of her head when she’s around Tyler.

Tyler is a self-made man.  Guarded against strangers and most of the world, he keeps his cards close to his chest, only discussing important things with his business partners and close friends.  Originally growing up on the streets, he met his business partners Cole and Evan there and together the three of them have become the richest, most powerful and influential businessmen in the Chicago area.  Unfortunately, they still struggle to cast off their criminal reputation, despite being (mostly) clean.  Tyler is the kind of guy that if something needs to be done, he’ll get it done however he can, not exactly breaking the law but maybe just bending it a little.  He’s the epitome of dominant and powerful Alpha male.  Tough and commanding, he makes a great compliment to Sloane’s personality and character.

This book is easily one of the best erotica novels I have read in a long time.  It has an actual romance plot –  not just the let’s-get-into-bed-now-for-no-real-reason plot of many erotica books, but an actual I’m-falling-in-love-with-you-and-here’s-all-the-believable-reasons-why plot typically seen in a traditional romance novel.  The romance was sweet and tender as they both learned to let the other into their insulated world, but with the tough edges and conflicts befitting Sloane and Tyler’s personalities and personal issues.  The book also has a good mystery sub-plot that is kept exciting and wrapped up without rushing forward like an afterthought.  And as for the actual sex scenes that make this an excellent erotica novel?  Holy Toledo, Batman!!  Excuse me while I go take a cold shower…outside….in Alaska.  This book is definitely a scorcher!!  The sex was alluring and sensual, expertly playing on a reader’s word-evoked sense of touch, smell, and hearing.  The sex was varied too.  Sometimes sweet, slow, and tender.  Other times rough, fast, and hard.   I’ve read a lot of romance and erotica over the years, but even this one had me blushing sometimes.  And that was definitely a good thing!

Perfectly paced and plotted.  After reading this one book, I am a J Kenner convert and am quite happily going to check out as many of her other books as soon as possible.

I highly recommend purchasing a copy of Heated by J Kenner.  May I suggest the audiobook version?  The narrator, Heather Smith, does a fantastic job bringing Sloane, Tyler, and all the other characters to life and I honestly believe that it was her reading of this book that made me love it that much more.  From a 4.5 to a perfect 5!

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