There was one thing US Marine Rowdy Mackay could always count on when he returned home on leave, and that was that Kelly Salyers' arms would always be ready to welcome him home, her eyes would twinkle at him, and that flirtatious smile she reserved for him would always be there. Now he's out of the Marines, come home with the intent of finally claiming Kelly's love, but the girl he has known all of his life is virtually unrecognizable to him. More than skittish, she is now downright frightened, hiding herself away behind frumpy clothes that nowhere resemble the sexy little ensembles she used to tease him with. Something has happened, something to change her drastically, and Rowdy is going to find out what.
Kelly has always loved Rowdy, since she was a little girl he protected from bullies at the playground. She knew he ran from her because she was too young for him, but she also knew that one day he'd come back for her. She'd saved herself for him for years, but the serial rapist that attacked her last year and continues to stalk her changed everything. Now she's unsure of herself, everyone else, and even nervous around Rowdy, whom she has always trusted with her life.
But Rowdy and his cousins, known as The Nauti Boys, rally around Kelly, pooling their skills honed in the Marines to protect her from the stalker. Kelly doesn't know what frightens her more - the stalker's continued threats, or the knowledge of what Rowdy will do to him when he catches the rapist...
I first discovered author Lora Leigh's work in April of 2006, and hungrily consumed every one of her books I could purchase since then. Although Nauti Boy, the first book in her Nauti Boys series, was previously published as an ebook, it had been pulled by then to be reworked and expanded for a print publication with a new publisher, Berkley. I have to say, I was disappointed at the time, but only because the blurb and excerpt for this book had me seriously hankering for it. I kept telling myself it would be worth the wait for an expanded story, and while the wait seemed interminable, it was definitely worth it!
Rowdy is everything I hoped for and more, strong, fierce in his love for Kelly, implacable when it comes to her protection... He is all Alpha Male, in the very best way possible, but his dominate personality is tempered with his concern for Kelly and his sensitivity towards her needs and fears. He reigns himself in to a degree, allowing her time to find her footing once again, but he forces her to face and conquer her fears, while drawing her stalker out for a final confrontation. Teamed with the other Nauti Boys, his cousins Dawg and Natches, they make a formidable group.
Although Kelly appears as a frightened bird with a broken wing in the beginning of the story, the author allows us glimpses of Kelly's former strength and spirit, which have been squashed through her ordeal, but not completely destroyed. Watching her find herself once again, becoming the woman she was before the attack, is inspiring. The reader finds themself believing that overcoming such a brutal attack might be possible for anyone with the kind of support system Kelly has, especially the support of Rowdy. Because it is obvious, even with her mother, his father, and his cousins helping her, Kelly could not begin truly healing until Rowdy's return home, until he makes it clear in no small way that the attack could never change his feelings for her. Rowdy promises not just physical safety, but emotional as well, and this allows her soul to begin healing.
The suspense plot with the serial rapist/stalker is every present throughout the story, and pushes the scenes along at a frenetic pace, although the story never feels rushed at all. Instead, the pace serves to sweep the reader up in the action alongside Kelly and Rowdy, and guarantees you won't want to put Nauti Boy down until you've finished it!
Although Lora Leigh's work with other publishers has always been great, fans can't help but be excited by her releases with New York publishers, which have pushed her to new levels, increasing the action and suspense, while never diminishing the heated romances that Leigh is so well known for. It is easy to see why she made the NY Times Best Selling list with one of her recent releases, Dangerous Games, and I won't be at all surprised to see this book make it there as well!
Nauti Boy (The Nauti Trilogy, Book 1)
Nauti Nights (The Nauti Trilogy, Book 2)