I was delighted to see Ms. Dane return readers to Petal, the setting for her very popular Chase Brothers series. Now I must preface this by saying dirty/bad/wrong is VERY loosely connected to that series in that Polly Chase and family are mentioned and are part of one scene in this story.
Ava Rand’s return to Petal is tinged with bittersweet as well as ugly memories. As a child raised in abject poverty by an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother whose relationship with the bottle resulted in neglect of her daughter Ava made it her mission to escape the town and the social stigma associated with her upbringing. In the 10 years since leaving Petal Ava rebuilt her self esteem, making a good life for herself, she is financially stable with a career she enjoys. Why return to Petal now? Her mother has passed away and Ava comes to see to her affairs and funeral. Prior leaving Petal, a young Ava was intimately involved with Luca Proffit and Angelo Bennett, two very appealing men who cared deeply for her and have carried a torch for her over the years.
I felt Ms. Dane’s characterization in this novella was excellent. Ava is a strong willed woman whose determination enabled her to rise above her unfortunate upbringing and become an independent successful woman. Luca was raised in a supportive family environment, is intelligent and articulate, and has built a successful architectural firm. Angelo, is a lawyer who like Ava came from impoverished beginnings but was an athlete and attended college on a football scholarship.
All three of these people have concerns about becoming intimately involved again for their own reasons, however the attraction that drew them together 10 years previously reignites and propels them to intimacy very quickly. Luca and Angelo have enjoyed a sporadic intimate relationship over the years but it is Ava who completes them. Ms. Dane pens significant conflict into the plot of this story and I really wondered how these three people were going to resolve their issues and quiet their fears.
I enjoyed dirty/bad/wrong story very much and was left wondering how the author was going to resolve their issues until the closing pages of the story.
Just for One Night
A high school reunion is the foundation of Megan Hart’s Just for One Night, and as always she managed to tug at my heartstrings along with impressing me with her ability to develop unique characters and deftly integrate them into a complex relationship.
Just for One Night is the story of a woman who continues to carry a torch for Brian, the guy who she wanted to be ‘her first’ in high school. Fast forward 15 years and Kerry is getting ready to attend her high school reunion with the sole purpose of seeing and seducing Brian and realizing her long unfulfilled sexual fantasy. The interesting aspect to this intention that she is being encouraged to pursue Brian by Jeremy, her live-in boyfriend of 18 months. I know... Wow, just wow.
As Brian sits in his car in the parking lot prior to the reunion he too is thinking about Kerry, reminiscing about his unrequited teenage lust and wondering what she is like now. Brian has made sure that she RSVP’d to attend the event. What happens in the next few hours not only shocks him but turns out to be better then any wet dream he has ever had concerning Kerry. However, when he awakens after a night of unparalleled passion with Kerry, she is gone, and he is left longing for her.
After two long, angst filled weeks Brian, at the urging of his closest friend calls Kerry who agrees to meet him for coffee. Kerry is an honest woman and does fess up telling Brian that she has a boyfriend, not only that but that Jeremy knows about what happened between them. At this point Brian walks away and I felt so sorry for this really awesome, sensitive guy.
I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who chooses to read it but what I will say is that Ms. Hart, IMHO crafted a love triangle involving, Kerry’s manipulative self absorbed boyfriend who becomes sexually aroused hearing about his lover’s sexual exploits with another man. Brian, unable to resist Kerry, becomes involved in a relationship that tears at his soul. As he states to his good friend, he feels like a “side piece”.
Ms. Hart had me on pins and needles wondering how she was going to resolve this relationship. I became totally invested in Just for One Night. I loved the storyline, I loved Brian, and I understood Kerry’s conflicted feelings. I really hoped she would make the right choices at the end of the day but wasn't sure she would. Every time I read a Megan Hart book I want to pull every one languishing in my TBR out to read. I think I must engage in a Megan Hart reading marathon soon. lol
Flipping For Chelsea
It is 1997 and 18 year old Seamus “Shay” Cudahy and 21 year old Liam O’Brien lived as brothers under the same roof since Shay was adopted into the family when orphaned as a child. They lament that their best friend Chelsea is leaving for Dartmouth the following day on a full scholarship. When Chelsea comes over to spend her last night home with the guys simmering sexual feelings come bubbling to the surface and what was a platonic relationship becomes much more involving the three of them. However, something that happens during this encounter sends Shay reeling, and he alienates himself from his brother and family for years to come.
Fast forward to present day and Liam and Chelsea have reunited over a common ground - business. Liam is a highly respected restoration contractor and Chelsea buys, restores and flips houses for a living, making a sizable profit. She has purchased a unique New York Brownstone that requires extensive restoration and she is hoping Liam will take the job. After assessing her purchase they return to Liam’s spectacular apartment in Midtown where banked fires are swiftly rekindled, and one thing leads to another. Liam wants to build a relationship with Chelsea, but she has never forgotten Shay and is honest that he shares a part of her heart too.
Then, unannounced Shay arrives, and I have to admit I felt this was a little too convenient given he had been virtually estranged from his adopted family since the age of 18. Further, I thought there would be considerable sorting out to be done between the two men not to mention Chelsea. However, without too much ado everyone gets very cozy and a round of very hot monkey sex ensues. Now don’t get me wrong Ms. Holly can sure write sexually explicit sensual love scenes and I really liked Liam. It was just something about Shay, I had trouble connecting with him and the way the whole scenario developed did bother me.
I did like this author’s descriptive prose regarding setting and the realism she penned in the first scene when Chelsea, Liam and Shay are together when much younger. In addition, the narrative was character driven, and centered on the three protagonists and their conflicted relationship which I like in a novella.
This is the first Emma Holly story I’ve read although I had heard her erotic romances are nuclear grade hot. IMHO Flipping For Chelsea, certainly is a hot ménage à trois involving three intriguing people.
On The Job
I’ve always liked Ms. Kane’s (Beth Kery’s) voice and in On The Job she crafts a hot erotic love story and spices it up with a suspense subplot which is one of my favorite genres.
After years of absence Walker Gray returns to Carnelian Bay, California as the head of security for Hallas Technologies, the largest computer security company in the country. Walker has been hired by his childhood friend Tony Hallas, a computer genius and the millionaire owner of the company. Walker has a background with the Secret Service and Tony rightly feels his old friend and his associates are the best people to secure his estate and most important protect his fiancee Madeline Sayer following an attempt on her life.
What Tony doesn’t know is that Walker has returned for Madeline, a woman who resents him because she feels he abandoned her years earlier when they were in a relationship. Walker needed to leave to make a career for himself and Madeline felt he put his ambitions ahead of her. Once reunited Walker uses sexual passion to inflame and entice Madeline and despite initial hostility she is unable to resist him. The intimate scenes are sexually explicit and nuclear grade hot. As for Tony? Well, there is more, or less, to his relationship with Madeline than meets the eye.
IMHO Ms. Kane has crafted a unique triangle between these three people and the plot thickens as Tony is being investigated for possible involvement in selling software secrets to the Russian Mob. I also liked the juxtaposition of Walker, tough, intelligent alpha male and Tony, eccentric genius with maturity issues. In addition, Ms. Kane pens an interesting twist involving deception into the plot of this story and I really wondered if Walker and Madeline’s relationship would survive.
On The Job was a tense hot erotic romance with an intriguing twist that kept me flipping the pages to discover how Madeline, Walker and Tony’s triangle would resolve.