Quinn Valenzuela, heir to the Sparta Athletics empire, has spent most of his life, first at boarding school and then traveling the world, playing on the yachts of the rich and famous, drifting his life away, pretending this is all he wants from life.
Porter Davis, COO of the same company, hasn't had a chance to even enjoy the fruits of his labor, working his way up from athlete using the product to basically running the company for and with Quinn's grandfather and mother. He lives with his sister because it's easy, and pretends he's not lonely.
The book is a little heavy early on as the characters deal with the grief of losing the old man. Both men are adrift in different ways, neither quite sure how to move forward. Quinn decides he wants to learn how to run the company, but needs Porter's help to do so.
The relationship between the men progresses from reluctant acceptance to realizing that they work well together to developing a friendship to bedroom benefits, and the development felt natural and realistic within the confines of the plot. It was lovely to watch driven, workaholic Porter start to relax a little, and drifting, unsure Quinn find his footing and start to shine. Of course, it's not smooth sailing all the way, and the two men still have to figure out what they need long-term.
I liked the supporting characters as well - Quinn's mother and Porter's sister were two well-developed female characters who both supported and challenged our MCs as needed.
The requisite relationship hiccup was visible from a mile away, and I liked how the author handled Quinn's obliviousness and panic, but also how it wasn't dragged out for too long. I also think that this needed to happen for the relationship to actually grow beyond what it had become at that point, and for Quinn to think about what he really wants.
This is slow burn by design, though there's plenty of UST within. And tons of believable emotions, so that worked quite well for me.
It's a sweet romance and definitely worth your time.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A review was not promised in return. **
Call to Redemption Blurb:
The Poseidon team are hard-bodied, fiercely competitive Navy SEALs. But when a sensitive mission goes disastrously wrong, three of the team's finest will have to trust their hearts and instincts to uncover the truth…
No strings. No questions. Just pleasure. For a few blissful days, Lieutenant Commander Nic Savino is enjoying a wild fling with the sexiest stranger he's ever laid eyes—or any other body part—on. It's almost enough to make the stalwart SEAL let down his guard for once. Until he learns that assistant US attorney Darby Raye—his Darby—is heading an investigation designed to destroy him…and Poseidon.
The gorgeous eyes that Darby spent her nights gazing into are now glaring at her across a courtroom. This case could build her career, but if Nic's not a traitor, then he's being framed by forces powerful enough to eliminate every obstacle in their way. And the tentative trust she and Nic are rebuilding—as well as their very lives—could become collateral damage…
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CALL TO REDEMPTION Excerpt:
The woman simply stared, those anime eyes assessing for a long moment before she smiled.
“So, Dominic? What do you recommend?”
He started to correct her. He was only Dominic to a few stubborn holdouts in his family. Everyone else had called him Nic since he was ten. But there was something about the way she said his name, the syllables rolling off her tongue, that stayed his words.
“Are you a fan of fluffy drinks?” he asked instead.
“Only inasmuch as I can now say I’ve had one,” she responded with a laugh.
“Then I recommend we get to know each other better over a real drink.”
Nic’s smile widened. He leaned back in the chair and prepared to enjoy himself. As he did, he noted that the band was setting up. Within twenty minutes of tuning up, the lanai would be crowded with bodies boogying to the island beat.
“Real, as in not decorated with flowers. If you’re hungry, the food down here is good. Simple, upscale from the usual bar choices.” He tapped the menu she’d yet to check out. “I can recommend the taco platter. The chef has a way with pork and pineapple.”
“Mmm.” She drew one long finger over the menu but didn’t pull it closer or try to open it. “Any other recommendations?”
A few came to mind, but it seemed a little early in the evening to suggest naked dancing. Yeah. His gaze swept over her curves. He’d bet she’d look damn good at it.
But he had no clue if she could dance.
He should find that out, first.
That, and her name.
“The band is solid and you’ve got a good seat for the show. But if you were more interested in a quiet dinner watching the sun set over the ocean, you might want to try the third-floor restaurant.” He indicated the spiral staircase she’d descended earlier. “The view is worth the climb.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Yes, ma’am, it is. Call it my public service announcement for the evening.”
That teased a hint of a smile out of her. One she quickly hid by sipping her drink.
“Do you do that often? Serve the public and help them avoid overly loud dinners?”
“You could say I’ve made a career of it.”
“Do tell.” Her body language was subtly flirtatious, but even with those huge eyes locked on his face, he couldn’t read her well enough to know if that was a green light or a cautious yellow.
Nic didn’t brag about what he did, but he didn’t hide it, either. Simply put, there was nothing relaxing about talking about his work. Not right now. Not when just thinking about it felt like a blow to the chest, leaving him breathless and empty.
So he sidestepped.
“Let’s just say I’m gifted at seeing my way around any variety of obstacles while engineering the successful outcome that serves people of all walks of life.”
Check him, he thought, grinning. He could have a future in politics. Or with the Navy brass, which was sometimes the same thing.
“Well, that’s intriguingly vague,” she said with a laugh.
“Intriguing enough to tempt you to have dinner with me?”
Narrowing those eyes in a cautious way that made him want to know all of her secrets, she gave him a considering look before offering the smallest of shrugs.
“I’d hate to let your public service announcement go to waste. And this will give you time to tell me all about how you serve people with engineered outcomes.”
Instead of answering, he held out his hand to help her to her feet. As soon as her slender fingers were tucked in his, he changed the subject. Walking up the stairs to the restaurant, he shared the family story of how his uncle and father had collected every single shell that was embedded in the airy spiral staircase.
He wasn’t going to talk about his career.
He was on leave, and for the first time in his life, he was focusing on his wants. His needs. And right now, he needed to simply be a man.
One evening wouldn’t hurt, he told himself, ignoring the stabbing sense of disloyalty.
Not if that one evening brought him even an iota of solace against the pain.
I've spent the last 7 days staring at it balefully. The back cover reads interesting. But then you get to the set-up...and the end.
The h was kidnapped as a teen, along with her cousin. She escaped, her cousin...didn't. She sort of got over that, only to get kidnapped *again* while in college, by a couple of fellow students. So she's become agoraphobic - supposedly. Daddy Warbucks has surrounded his precious darling with ex agents and military types, under the guise of well, household employees. She lives "alone" and is clueless of this.
The H is one of these - her chauffeur. He finds the whole thing stupid - he wouldn't mind the elaborate security if it was a head of state, but some pampered princess? Yes, he does hold her in contempt. He's worked for her for a few months. She is attracted to him, and he's aware of it, also finds it amusing.
Her therapist suggests a kidnapping for hire adventure to help her with her phobia.
He listens in on her telling her friend about it, does research (which he apparently left lying around)
She meets her dad for dinner at a restaurant, which is cleared in advance of their arrival, sees pity in the H's eyes, and decides to go through with it.
H's brother is worthless pondscum that the H has been bailing out since they were kids. He finds the "research" and decides to fill in...or arrange a fill in - I quit at this point - because he owes some bookie a lot of money.
Since I read the last few chapters as well...the h apparently only found out that her staff were all security people after she more or less rescued herself, because her dad was incensed and blamed the H for everything. The H kept to his cover as hapless chauffeur the entire time he was in her presence, and didn't take the opportunity to take care of the bad guys when he had several chances. No - I didn't understand that. She was in her room, he could have taken them out one by one, and solved the whole problem. Granted, he likely wouldn't have killed his brother but still...
The part I didn't read - the middle - I can only guess that...the kidnapping happened, he allowed himself to be captured assuming it was just a game, slept with the h (that he considered useless and pitiable), figured out it wasn't a game, didn't do anything about it until AFTER they'd reached the Caymans and she'd been dragged off the boat (read *that* part), etc.
This book is pure fluff. Which, let's be honest, fits perfectly within the Dreamspun Desires titles. And the cheeky title - hahahaha!
Here we have Dale, a firefighter who recently moved into the little village of Calminster, still smarting from a bad break-up with his closeted, cheating ex, hoping to lick his wounds and put his hopes and dreams for that relationship behind him. Unwilling to be in the closet himself, he's open about his sexuality, but has no aspirations to find himself another boyfriend.
Called out for a fire on his first shift, he manages to rescue the homeowner, a sweet elderly woman, and draw the ire of his Lordship at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he backs the big fire engine into the maypole, which was originally erected by his Lordship's great-great-grandfather. So, having blown his opportunity for making a good first impression, Dale offers to fix the pole in hopes to calm down Ben, Lord Calminster, who is behaving like an ass both during the fire and after Dale's unfortunate mishap with the big fire truck and the maypole.
Don't expect any kind of realistic or believable relationship development - there's none.
Ben, the lord of the manor, has kept his own sexuality hidden to the point where he's got a girlfriend/beard. Of course, he takes one look at our hunky firefighter, feels the stirring in his loins and finds the backbone to break things off with the woman he's been dating.
Dale was a nice guy, and I liked him. Ben, once he removed the stick from his ass, was a nice guy too. I liked him fine as well.
It's just that nothing here between Ben and Dale felt anything close to realistic. Dale states that he's still hurting from the break-up and doesn't want to fall in bed with yet another closeted man, but then shortly thereafter dismisses that notion and jumps right in with Ben.
Ben apparently, after meeting and tongue-lashing Dale twice, is willing to risk a whole lot for the possibility of being with Dale. Perhaps exchanging angry words with the firefighter turns him on.
There's a bit of mystery here with someone unknown setting fires all over the village, a subplot that culminates in an edge of your seat sequence of events that not only casts Dale as a hero again but also firmly pulls Ben right out of that closet for good.
Since I usually suspend disbelief whenever I read one of the Dreamspun Desires titles and don't expect anything realistic, I didn't mind the rapid development of the romantic relationship. What I did mind however is that we're merely told these two men have the hots for each other - we're not actually shown that they do - so this book ended up in three star territory. Sure, there are sexy times within, but I didn't really feel their passion - I was only told about it.
Still an enjoyable read that fits perfectly within this harlequin-esque series.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **