This book included a few of my favorite things; it's based in San Francisco, Joy's best friend Erica goes to the culinary academy (the same one I went to in 2005) and Ash is a former military man.
I'm a fan of erotica (surprise to the people who know me in real life!), in fact I've been reading the same erotica website since 1999. But I've never read a novel like this before.
Joy works in an art gallery selling art, she's a mess. She's always late, her house looks like a tornado hit, she misplaces everything, she's a bit irresponsible and she picks the wrong men. All the time. She's also insecure about body and her looks, she was raised by her grandmother who thinks Joy is always doing something wrong (especially since she majored in art and didn't end up being a doctor or a lawyer like her brothers, who don't seem to have time for her or her family). Her boss assigns her to get Ash Hunter to agree to a showing at their gallery and if she comes back with the wrong answer... she'll lose her job.
Ash Hunter is a former Navy SEAL, he was discharged and turned to art. His specialty? Bondage photos. And bondage marble sculptures. However, he's decided to give that up and focus on his obsession with security and taking care of his mother and sister. Ash has a hard time letting people in, trusting people and being seriously attracted to people.
The chemistry between Ash and Joy is exciting, electrifying and has you craving to see them again. Their relationship begins with sex, Joy is surprised at how much she can let go around Ash, how he doesn't make her feel as self conscious when she's stuck in the moment. As they continue to see each other more and more, you can see their relationship build which, in my opinion is rare in the books I've read. Like really build. You witness the change in both Joy and Ash. I loved how bit by bit Joy was starting to realize she was pretty, and that she did have a nice body despite what her grandmother always told her. And I loved how much Ash cared about Joy. How he had this bad boy vibe about him but he really cared about Joy and was protective over her. I loved how he never stopped trying to get her to see herself how he saw her. It was sweet. Oh and of course, the steamy sex scenes. Though there were plenty of them, they fit into the story perfect. However, joy is hiding a secret from Ash, a secret she's tried to tell him about and every time has been... distracted. When the secret is revealed in possibly the most horrible day of her life, how will Ash react? Will he forgive her? Or will he move on and leave everything behind like he knew he had to?
I enjoyed reading this book. I read through it a little faster than I thought I would. I enjoyed it because it made you feel like you were right there with them, like you were the silent friend in the corner witnessing the relationship between Ash and Joy and you wanted to urge them to just fess up and tell each other how they really feel about each other because its just so obvious! You feel for Joy and her insecurities, her life. You feel for Ash and his desire to always escape. You feel for Erica and her tough shell. Couldn't really say I felt for Blaine since he didn't have much of a back story. This was a wonderful and unexpected read!