I have a confession to make: I suck at reviews and book commentary. I know if I like a book or not, but am no good at actually explaining why … which is probably a pretty bad problem for a woman who makes her living with words. And I read this book a month ago, about two seconds after I got it, so now the time has passed and I wonder even more if I can do it justice.
But when Jaci Burton said that she had an ARC available to anyone with a blog willing to review, I said to myself: Self, you have a blog, and Self, you really want that book. And then I thought: Self, you can totally write a review. And be articulate and stuff.
So, anyway, I really, really liked this book.
Well, that wasn’t so bad! Thanks for the ARC, Jaci!
Okay, so I still suck at writing up commentary, but I can totally be more specific than that. But not all of this will be safe for work! Because, dudes, this book is so freaking hot that I a) had to write that public service announcement, and b) my review is going to be hot just by talking about the stories. Do you see that little flame that has started burning in the corner of your screen? Do you? If not, then the hotness has already scorched your retinas and you should really see an eye doctor.
But on to the book! Here’s the obligatory back cover copy:
Three friends…three secret desires…three chances to make it all come true.
They’re inseparable best friends who delight in sharing their wildest secrets and dares. But their latest bet is the boldest one of all: each must sleep with whomever the other two have chosen for her. And come back with every juicy detail...
Abby married the town bad boy. And he lived up to his reputation, bedding any woman who let her guard down. She swore off men for good, but never counted on a pair of sexy veterinarians who are fulfilling a desire of their own.
Blaire is the town heartbreaker. Afraid to commit, she’s broken off three engagements. Yet there’s one man she never had the courage to bed. The one man she really loved. But now, the decision is out her hands.
Callie is the sensible one….but beneath it all she’s a true romantic, with the broken heart to prove it. Now her long-dormant fantasies may be getting a workout. A new man enters her life and everything about him is irresistible.
What the back cover copy doesn’t tell you:
This is Abby’s story … and though a phrase like “swore off men for good” usually means that she’s going to be all, “I don’t need anyone!” and prickly and unbearable, this isn’t the case at all — it isn’t necessarily that she’s sworn off men as much as she just doesn’t have time for one. (Who does, really?)
So when Mike and Seth — two vets with whom Abby has been working — approach her and ask her to make a decision between them, she realizes that she doesn’t have to make a decision, and can just have them both … which works out just fine because Abby? Desperately needs some sexxin’ and knows it. And although she’s a little clueless about their interest, she’s not clueless about what she wants … she just needs a little prodding from her friends to follow through on it.
It’s really easy to slip into Abby’s story, because her voice is so engaging. She’s funny, and out of her league with taking on both these guys at once, but totally willing to go for it. And though her dickhead of a husband did hurt her, he didn’t damage her — she’s determined not to let her experience with him turn her into something she’s not (a sexless weenie.)
And it’s refreshing that she knows how sexual she is — she just needs an opportunity to explore it. And boy, do these guys give it to her. But that’s not all that she’s looking for, and that’s where the real emotional heart of the story lies.
That’s also where the surprising part comes in — the sweet little romance that develops. And at first, it wasn’t easy to see which guy it would be (or if it would only be one) … Jaci gives each character POV time, and as the story progresses, the differences in the way they see Abby becomes more and more apparent (to Abby, too.)
And way hawt? That the guys acknowledge that they’re turned on by each other a bit, too — and that Abby is excited by that as well. Because this threesome is all about Abby, no doubt, but it’s not completely an “the alpha males avoid all eye contact and pretend their dicks are rubbing another guy’s” scenario.
My only complaint is in white text, so as not to be a spoiler. Where’s Mike’s story? And if her name isn’t Marian, I’m going to cry. Marian and a bunch of merry men.
Unlike Callie and Abby, Blair has a hard exterior that’s really reflected well in her voice (note and kudos to Jaci, who wrote a total of seven POVs in this anthology and managed to make them all distinct voices) She likes to have control, but she knows that if she gives it to Rand, she’ll have the best sex of her life…
Okay, whuh? we say. What’s the girl waiting for then?
Well, it actually makes sense. The first scene with Rand was actually a bit uncomfortable, even as it was hot … he’s an uber-Alpha dominant male, and it was easy to see why Blair was afraid that if she gave him control in the bedroom, she’d lose control everywhere. But the bet that Blair makes comes back to bite her on her ass when Callie and Abby tell her that she finally has to give in to Rand — and boy was she ever right. The sex knocks her off her feet (well, okay, actually she’s tied to a bed so that isn’t quite the best clichÃ© for me to use) but it’s the rest of it that surprises her (and me.)
Because Rand isn’t just a controlling-type asshole, but has a tender side, too. So I’m all prepared not to like him and to think that he’s a jerk, but the line between his dominance in the bed and the rest of their relationship is clearly drawn … which is not always the case with some other D/s stuff I’ve read (and is probably why it doesn’t work for me.) But this one? Did.
Also, as a total aside, there’s this funny little scene where Blair is imagining what to do to his house that completely reminded me of PILLOW TALK — that movie with Doris Day and Rock Hudson — that had me grinning like a dork. But Doris and Rock? Never this hot.
This is my favorite story of the bunch, simply because I love Callie. Maybe it’s because I got to know her a little more through the other stories? Or that I just am drawn to characters who are strong, but with a quiet strength? I’m not sure.
And it’s also odd, but this is the story I have the least to comment on. Everything works … the voyeuristic angle is smoking, Jack is to die for, the conflict between them builds up and works well with Callie’s insecurities from the opening of the story. And it’s also got the sweetest romance, which develops very naturally and quietly between them. They aren’t boring or anything like that … and it’s odd that I say “sweet” because it’s so freaking fan-yourself-sexy … but there it is.
One thing that I appreciate about all of these stories is that they’re exactly what I think erotic romance should be: you can’t take out the sex and still have a relationship developing between the characters. It’s through these scenes that the characters learn about each other, grow to trust each other, and find out a little about themselves along the way. And the sex isn’t all there is to the relationship, either — each woman has those moments out of the bedroom with their men, and we see that they’re compatible on many levels. Then there’s the relationship between the women, who support and tease and genuinely like each other … we see them take strength and comfort from their men, but also from their friends. It really brings them to life and grounds them in reality, so we know their world doesn’t revolve around the bed (or the front porch).
Anyway, Jaci — wonderful work.
And if you’re not Jaci, why haven’t you gotten this one yet? 😉