Hard to really appreciate a book when the characters irritate you, the plot is contrived and frankly, you don't give a damn.
Heroine... family doormat and borderline TSTL. She watched this guy pursue her beautiful model cousin, then when he gave up and went after *her*, instead of maybe being a lot hesitant at being the consolation prize, she...got engaged. A message at work said for her to check on her cousin, whereupon she finds the two of them going at it. She staggers back to work, gets plastered on coffee and brandy (coffee? In the UK?), and eventually passes out in the H's limo. She wakes in a night gown, and instead of wigging out, she presses him to pop her cherry (doesn't tell him that part - he finds it out) Over the next couple of months... she's pressed into marrying him (didn't resist v. hard), has to deal with his bipolar attitude toward her, has a meltdown and pretends to leave, meets the ex for a counseling session, deals with more of his douche-y behavior, meets yet another ex of his (yeah, she was practically tripping over them). And HEA supposedly...or until he has another temper tantrum.
Hero - stalker creepazoid who sicced a PI on her then-fiance in hopes of finding dirt on him - spent 2 months acting like a spoiled brat because the h actually objected to his manipulating her to get her in his clutches.
Cousin - spoiled heifer whose parents indulged her to make up for her being jealous of the h's friends (h was a nice doormat sort, of course she had friends)
Aunt/uncle - resented the cross they had to bear and also resented that said cross landed the douche...while their precious brat had to settle for the dumbass who'd wasted time pursuing her earlier.
Well, that went fast.
A friends to lovers plot, this one especially egregious in that the H has known the h since she was 14, has been besties with her all that time, neighbors, etc...and has suddenly noticed she has T&A. Oh, he's been celibate for a year due to a training accident. He's a Marine, in whatever their version of special forces is (military guys have to be special forces to qualify for heroes, don'tchaknow). His position is up in the air due to the extent of his injuries (and numbnuts' attempt to force healing by overdoing the therapy, resulting in a strained knee). He's home for...R&R. Heroine was asked by his dad to be his physical therapist.
Heroine has been secretly pining for him for years, particularly after a drunken kiss some 12 years ago - which he remembers everything but the identity of the girl. Ironic since he commented to her after a bit of action in a roach coach that he'd held every girl up to that girl's kiss for comparison and they'd all failed.
Somewhere along the line, she comments that the whole town has set her up to be the next resident spinster. Gauntlet dropped.
The initial "plan" was for him to give her ah...tips? during the 2 weeks in exchange for her physical therapy. The book took place over just a few days, during which...a former friend/rival/douchebag who'd had a thing for the h's sister and had attempted sexual assault on said sister(only to be interrupted by H) some years previous, attempted to get revenge on the H by attacking the h (who used to play softball and found a handy bit of pipe or something). This of course, forced the H to confront his feelings for the h.
So why 4 stars? Characters are actually likable. Story isn't unduly contrived. I mean; I suppose if you could ignore that he'd apparently failed to notice the h being female in 18 years - or at least, a female to bone... And maybe his being celibate for a year made him a little (or a lot) desperate whether he acknowledged it or not. And he gave thought to that - that his lack of action in the last year made him see his bestie in ways he hadn't before...or was it feel? After all, his first thought after she left following a welcoming hug and a chat was that she had tits. So I dunno. It was an easy read and I didn't put it down mentally rewriting it with myself as the h with the H writhing in pain at my feet and clutching his groin. :D
Brand smoothed a tendril of thick, light brown hair that had escaped her pins. “You okay?”
That got her stepping quickly away. “Yes, of course.”
She brushed her palms against the tight material of her skirt over her thighs. “It was only a kiss.”
For some reason, it annoyed him that she downplayed the impact. “A kiss that had you crawling all over me, and you damn near yanked out my hair.”
Her eyes widened even more…and then she laughed. “We did get a little carried away.”
“A little,” he agreed, still nettled. Could she really be less affected than he was? Or was she hiding behind her usual cool persona?
“I’m fine.” She reached up to remove his sunglasses, then stroked her fingers through his hair. “But did I hurt you?"
Her touch ignited him all over again. Dangerous. He’d known that about her within minutes of their first introduction. Catching her wrists, he lowered her hands—but then couldn’t let go.
And she didn’t pull away. After a long look, she said, “We could…discuss this more tonight.”
Hell of a suggestion, but he’d damn near lost it in her office with Enoch just outside the door. If he had her alone, no way in hell would he be able to keep his hands off her. So he shook his head and explained, “I’m meeting the guys at a bar tonight.”
One slender brow arched up. “My guys?”
Did she think she owned them? “If you mean Leese, Justice and Miles, yeah, they’ll be there, but arriving at different times. I think Leese is between assignments, right? And both Miles and Justice should finish up for the day in time to join us.”
“A halfdozen other fighters, some of their wives. You’ve met most of them.”
She nodded. “Will you be going to that quaint little hometown place, Rowdy’s?”
Damn it, did she plan to crash the party? Actually, how the hell did she know about Rowdy’s? He thought about asking her, but decided he’d be better off getting out of there. “That’s the plan, yeah.”
She waited, but when he said nothing more, she briefly looked wounded before giving him a cool smile. “Have fun then.” She went back behind her desk and turned on the monitor to her PC in clear dismissal. “Do let me know if you change your mind.”
“I won’t.” But he didn’t like being dismissed. “My sunglasses?”
As if she forgot she held them, she looked at her hand in surprise. “Oh sorry.”
Nonchalant, she leaned forward, offering them to him without getting up, her attention still on the monitor.
Proving he had a perverse streak a mile wide, Brand let his fingers slowly graze hers as he took the glasses.
Her startled gaze flew to his face, but she only grinned, once again in full control.
“Wicked, that’s what you are.” She fluttered her fingers at him. “Thanks for stopping by.”
And she went back to staring at the screen.
Left with nothing else to do, Brand walked out. That meeting hadn’t gone as planned, but then nothing with Sahara ever did.
He knew he’d done the right thing.
So then why did it feel like he’d been kicked in the chest?
Fast Burn by Lori Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is book #4, in the Body Armor series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this series in order.
Sahara wants to hire Brand. She has made no secret in her pursuit. What she may have forgotten to tell herself, however, was how attracted to him she was. She never actually gets involved with those she works with. So how to work this out?
Brand has turned Sahara down repeatedly. Now, he has a plan that he thinks will work to get them together. Only he forgot to factor in the Sahara brand of bossy. She is a take charge woman - even when you do not work for her.
This book was such a joy to read. You feel the heat rising right off the bat in the very first chapter. This book truly lives up to its name as the story - and the romance - heats up at a quickening pace. True to the series, there is a story that will keep your heart pounding, (mine did) and take you to the very end with every spark.
***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.
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About Lori Foster:
Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin, Silhouette, Samhain, and Berkley/Jove. She is currently published with HQN. Visit her online at LoriFoster.com.