"Nauti Kisses", by Lora Leigh
New York Times Bestselling Author Lora Leigh indicates in the dedication of this novella that it is the finale of her "Nauti" series of stories. I'm late to the party. lol In fact, this is the first Lora Leigh book I've read despite the fact there are a number of her books languishing here in the stacks and on my e-reader. I will say, that even though I haven't read the series I think "Nauti Kisses" can be enjoyed as a standalone because I had no problem following the story.
John Calvin Walker Jr. is a member of an affluent Boston family and a successful lawyer in his father's law firm. John is engaged to Boston socialite Marlena, a gold digging bitch from hell who cheats on him with his soon to be ex best friend Gerard. While the passion in John and Marlena's relationship has been waning for some time he was unaware of her betrayal until it is revealed by Sierra Lucas a lovely fey like woman who he has known all his life. John has long suppressed a physical attraction for Sierra because his father is her godfather and he sees his feelings as highly inappropriate.
After a nasty confrontation with Marlena and Gerard, John retreats to his penthouse apartment where he proceeds to get thoroughly sloshed. Sierra turns up at his door to offer support and one thing leads to another. After a passionate encounter John passes out cold. Mortified and heartbroken Sierra exits the scene and refuses to return John's calls or see him following their tryst.
Fast forward a year and readers find John has returned to his family's roots in Kentucky and made his home on the "Nauti Wet Dreams" a two story houseboat that he moors on Lake Cumberland. John feels at peace for the most part, but Sierra and what he remembers of their night together (which isn't much) is never far from his thoughts. Then he gets a call from his father indicating that Sierra is in hospital recovering after a brutal and vicious attack, and she is asking for John. John Walker Sr. is convinced the attempt on Sierra's life was premeditated and her assailant will find her and finish what he started unless they are able to hide and protect her. It is under these unfortunate circumstances that John and Sierra are reunited.
"John couldn't handle the emotions rising inside him at the moment, the thought of the attempt that had been made to hurt her. To destroy her. The pure anger. The need to go to his knees before her and kiss every inch of bruised flesh, to beg for her forgiveness for not being there to protect her. The need to demand explanations, to beg that she stay, to simply hold her, was tearing him apart.
He'd never had so many emotions surging through him. For a man that prided himself on his control, he was growing close to losing it. Because despite the bruises, he wanted her.
Nauti & Wild © Lora Leigh"
I've read a lot of reviews of Ms. Leigh's books and from what I've gleaned she is known for penning exceptionally strong Alpha heroes and sensual, sexually explicit love scenes into her suspenseful stories. "Nauti Kisses", fits the bill. John Walker is one strong Alpha who feels an overwhelming need to protect 'his woman', he doesn't just make love to Sierra, he consumes her and she him. As in,'get out the ice water and fan' while reading this one if you intend to. Ms. Leigh also wrote plenty of conflict into Sierra and John's story which amplifies the sexual tension exponentially.
"Nauti Kisses", isn't just steamy sex. Sierra and John are drawn into an undercover investigation of one of the largest crime families in the nation. The story is suspenseful with an action packed conclusion that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I don't think followers of Ms. Leigh's "Nauti" series will be disappointed because the MacKay brothers make appearances and assist John to protect Sierra from a cunning and lethal adversary.
"Riding the Edge" by Jaci Burton
As any of you know who have visited here in the past, I'm a huge fan of National Best Selling Author Jaci Burton's work and especially her "Wild Riders" series which was my favorite romantic suspense series of 2009. I've been waiting impatiently for this novella and for "Riding the Night" which is to be published in September. I've always found that Ms. Burton does her homework when writing her books and she is especially knowledgeable about motorcycle enthusiasts because she and her husband own a Harley motorcycle and attend rallies etc.. She therefore understands the psyche of the men and women who enjoy motorcycles as a hobby or choose to join "the life". I've read all 3 of the Wild Riders stories and Ms. Burton writes a good foundation into the narrative of "Riding the Edge" so IMHO readers would have no difficulty enjoying this novella as a standalone.
The Wild Riders are a group of covert US government operatives recruited from the streets as young, in trouble youths by General Grange Lee. Members of the team work deep undercover on assignments suited to their history and ability to infiltrate many criminal elements with chameleon like efficiency. This is Rick Benetti's story and he is none too happy when given what he considers a babysitting assignment to find a Nevada Senator's daughter who is thought to have joined the Hellraisers biker gang. Rick had a history with the Hellraisers 10 years previously and would have gone to prison if not for Grange's intervention. Rick therefore reluctantly rides to Las Vegas where a bike rally is being held and his cousin Bo is leader of the gang. Rick has to insinuate himself back into his old life as a Hellraiser to find the senator's daughter. His assignment, however, turns into much more then babysitting. And, Ava Vargas, is the exact opposite of what he is expecting.
Ava is a graduate student who has just finished her Master's in Social Work, and is planning to her complete Doctoral thesis when she finds the right college and program. She is brilliant, kind, intuitive, and worried sick about her best friend Lacey who abandoned college and her graduate studies to be with Bo and the Hellraisers. Ava is determined to find out if Lacey is okay and try to persuade her to return to her studies. Lacey however has no intention of leaving Bo, in fact she appears to have undergone a complete personality change which further alarms Ava.
Rick quite easily gains Bo and the gang's trust again and Ava literally falls into his lap when she is paired with him to ride for the duration of the weekend rally. Ava is quite surprised by Rick when they are introduced.
"Hey, Ava." Rick held out his hand. Polite, too. She hadn't expected that. She slid her hand in his and felt the sizzle of . . . something electric and very warm.
"Nice to meet you, Rick."
"This is just perfect, isn't it?" Lacey said, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "I was hoping you would find someone to ride with. With Bo's cousin here, you have a seat now."
"Yes. Perfect." Ava couldn't help staring at Rick. She supposed she had these preconceived notions of bikers. Dirty, scruffy, mean, and scary looking. None of those characteristics fit Rick. Or, for that matter, Lacey's boyfriend, Bo, who was tall, lean, and very attractive. He resembled his cousin in many ways."
Nauti & Wild © Jaci Burton"
It doesn't take long for Rick to figure out that Ava is quite out of her element with the Hellraisers and he can't understand what she is doing there. As he is unsure of her involvement with the gang and must maintain his cover he has to be very careful how he elicits information regarding why she is hanging out with the Hellraisers. Try as he might, Rick can't stop himself from being attracted to Ava, and despite his covert status things heat up between them.
This is a story of opposites attract. Rick endured a horrific childhood, being bounced from foster home to foster home. He has no love of social workers and considers them `do gooders'. Rick is a very strong, independent guy. He lives at the Wild Riders compound enjoying his anonymity and a no strings attached life with respect to relationships. Ava is a serious, meticulous, hard working graduate student who is immersed in academia. IMHO Ms. Burton's characterization of these two people is perfect. The sexual tension just crackles and it is further amplified by the conflict related to their backgrounds and situation.
Ms. Burton is known for penning off the charts hot love scenes in her erotic romances and "Riding the Edge" is no exception. Rick, needless to say, is sexually experienced, he shows the somewhat inexperienced Ava new heights of pleasure. Sensuality permeates the love scenes of this story. There is a scene with exhibitionism, voyeurism and an orgy, however I have to say in keeping with Ms. Burton's style I did not find it offensive in the least and it was woven perfectly into the narrative.
Rick's assignment takes an unexpected turn when he discovers his cousin is importing and trafficking cocaine. Rick is then tasked with the dangerous and difficult mission of discovering who the supplier is and how Bo is moving the drugs into the country, in addition to keeping Ava safe. Ms. Burton pens a clever, suspenseful plot twist into conclusion of "Riding the Edge", and I was certainly kept on the 'edge' of my seat.
The question is can Rick give up his no strings attached lifestyle to be with Ava? Or will he let her go?
I found this anthology compulsively readable and am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Leigh and Ms. Burton's work.