Natalie Hall is an extremely intelligent, well educated, beautiful woman with a family and personal history that didn’t just tug, it yanked and tore at my heartstrings. Natalie is Asian, she doesn’t know her exact heritage because she was ‘found’ and adopted into a wealthy upper class American family. Natalie’s father, Brian is a politician, a US senator to be exact and her evil adoptive mother, Louise, a social climber. Then there is Natalie’s sister Belle, and well, don’t get me started. Somehow Natalie has survived the hornet’s nest that is her family as well as a series of failed relationships and risen above it all to become a strong, resilient, ethical, experienced businesswoman.
Natalie arrives to work at Damon Defense Engineering to find that two of the company’s directors have been fired and the Big Boss is waiting to see her. Alex Damon, is the CEO of Global Strategies Corporation, the holding company for Damon Defense Engineering. Alex is a calculating and ruthless self made billionaire; a global player in business. He is handsome, has an innate sexual aura that leaps from the pages, and there is an electric sensual tension that zings between Alex and Natalie from their first meeting. I couldn't help but be reminded of of Edward Lewis, from the movie Pretty Woman, only Alex is tall, dark and handsome, and even more charismatic. ;)
Alex surprises Natalie by promoting her to Senior Financial Analyst and wastes no time in inviting her to dinner under the guise of a business meeting. When they do meet outside of the office, he proceeds to hit on her, big time. Natalie has no intention of getting involved with the boss and declines Alex’s advances. Then he makes an indecent proposal. The thing is, Natalie is drawn to Alex but suffered heartache when previously involved with a colleague. Once burned, twice shy.
When he sat across from her, barely enough personal space remained to be polite. She could feel a delicious heat coming off his body, smell a whiff of spicy cologne. Something stirred in her, sexual and dangerous. She stomped on it. This wasn't the time, this wasn't the place, and he definitely wasn't the right man to be attracted to. Business and pleasure never mixed well.
Carnal Secrets © Nadia Lee
Ms. Lee writes with a lovely, articulate, sensual prose, and the graphic imagery in this story can only be described as stellar. She drew me into each scene that advanced a plot involving a passionate tempestuous romance, manipulation, treachery, corporate espionage, and, carnal secrets. Alex is a man out for vengeance against a woman he believes destroyed his father, his hatred is palpable and unfortunately the object of his contempt is Natalie's godmother and close family friend. He has been scheming to destroy this woman for a good part of his life and plans to use Natalie and if necessary bring down her family as well.
Natalie eventually gives in to their boiling sexual attraction and spends time with Alex. Their relationship progresses to intimacy and passion, and they become emotionally involved fairly quickly. In the background of their fiery affair, Natalie is number one on the list of Alex's suspects as to who is leaking corporate secrets from his company. When the mounting evidence overwhelmingly points to her, a heartbreaking confrontation results.
I became completely invested in Carnal Secrets and it’s characters. There was many a time that I wanted Natalie to leave, just escape Alex and her wretched family, and return to her former job and best friend Kerri in Hong Kong. As Natalie rightly laments later in the story, “Life kept chopping at her". Further I, like Natalie, wasn’t sure I could forgive Alex for his betrayal and vicious treatment of her. However, at the end of the day, I did.
Carnal Secrets has rocketed to the top of my list of favorite reads so far this year. I’ve enjoyed it more than once and will read it again. A keeper for sure. I’ve downloaded Destiny Entwined, Ms. Lee’s paranormal romance and am so looking forward to reading more of this talented writer’s work.