Saturday, April 16, 2016

review || DIRTIEST SECRET { review + excerpt tour } by J. Kenner

Bantam | April 19, 2016 | Romantic Suspense
S.I.N., book 1


From the New York Times bestselling author of such “racy, sizzling Stark novels” (RT Book Reviews) as Release Me and Say My Name comes the provocative first Stark International Novel—the beginning of the S.I.N. series.

It was wrong for us to be together, but it was even harder to be apart.

The memory of Dallas Sykes burns inside of me.

Everyone knows him as a notorious playboy, a man for whom women and money are no object. But to me, he’s still the one man I desperately crave—yet the one I can never have.

Dallas knows me better than anyone else. We bear the same scars, the same darkness in our past. I thought I could move on by staying away, but now that we’re drawn together once more, I can’t fight the force of our attraction or the temptation to make him mine.

We’ve tried to maintain control, not letting ourselves give in to desire. And for so long we’ve told ourselves no—but now it’s finally time to say yes.

Dirtiest Secret is intended for mature audiences.
amazon | bn | itunes

{ about j. kenner } .

J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and internationally bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and #1 internationally, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, "chicklit" suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a "flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations" and by RT Bookclub for having "cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swopn for him." A four time finalist for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy).

{ excerpt } .

Even by Southampton standards, the party at the nine-thousand-square-foot mansion on Meadow Lane reeked of extravagance.

Grammy Award–winning artists performed on an outdoor stage that had been set up on the lush lawn that flowed from the main house to the tennis courts. Celebrities hobnobbed with models who flirted with Wall Street tycoons who discussed stock prices with tech gurus and old-money academics, all while sampling fine scotch and the season’s chicest gin. Colored lights illuminated the grotto style pool, upon which nude models floated lazily on air mattresses, their bodies used by artisan sushi chefs as presentation platters for epicurean delights.

Each female guest received a Herm├Ęs Birkin bag and each male received a limited edition Hublot watch, and the exclamations of delight—from both the men and the women—rivaled the boom of the fireworks that exploded over Shinnecock Bay at precisely ten p.m., perfectly timed to distract the guests from the bustle of the staff switching out the dinner buffet for the spread of desserts, coffee, and liqueurs.

No expense had been spared, no desire or craving or indulgence overlooked. Nothing had been left to chance, and every person in attendance agreed that the party was the Must Attend event of the season, if not of the year. Hell, if not of the decade.

Everyone who was anyone was there, under the stars on the four acre lot on Billionaires’ Row.

Everyone, that is, except the billionaire who was actually hosting the party. And speculation as to where he was, what he was doing, and who he was doing it with ripped through the well-liquored and gossip-hungry crowd like wildfire in a windstorm.

“No idea where he could have disappeared off to, but I’d bet good money he’s not pining away in solitude,” said a reed-thin man with salt-and-pepper hair and an expression that suggested disapproval but was most likely envy.

“I swear I came five times,” a perky blonde announced to her best friend in the kind of stage whisper designed to attract attention. “The man’s a master in bed.”

“He’s got a shrewd head for business, that one,” said a Wall Street trader, “but no sense of propriety where his cock is concerned.”

“Oh, honey, no. He’s not relationship material.” A brunette celebrating a recently inked modeling contract shivered as if reliving a moment of ecstasy. “He’s like fine chocolate. Meant to be savored in very limited quantities. But so damn good when you have it.”

“More power to him if he can grab that much pussy.” A hipster with beard stubble and a man-bun wiped his wire-rimmed glasses clean with his shirttail. “But why the fuck does he have to be so blatant about it?”

“All of my friends have had him.” The petite redhead who pulled in a six figure wife bonus smiled slowly, and the flash of her green eyes suggested that she was the cat and he was the delicious cream. “But I’m the only one of us to enjoy a second helping.”

“All your friends?”

“How much pussy?”

“At least half the women here tonight. Maybe more.”

“Man, don’t even ask that. Just trust me. Dallas Sykes is the King of Fuck. You and me? Mere mortals like us can’t even compare.”

{ review } .

This was a true forbidden romance -- probably the best one I've read, in fact, in terms of the forbidden aspect. Over and over in the first three chapters we're told, "I can't be with her/him" and it isn't until the last line of that third chapter that we find out why. Then, we're given some back story, and then, we learn the key parts as to how they became as close as they were...

Dallas is an illusionist, but it's something that has gave him a large reputation -- a rep he's happy to hold so long as no one knows the absolute truth. The only person who knows most of the truth is Jane, and even then, she doesn't know the brunt of it all.

Jane and Dallas share a terrifying event in their lives, but Jane was released far sooner than Dallas -- and it is during those additional weeks that Dallas's world fully fell apart. Upon return, Dallas and Jane lived apart, avoiding one another during the simplest of functions. They're cordial, of course, but keep their taboo secrets so closely hidden, only a few people know their truth -- Liam and Quincy, who've been alongside them nearly as long as Dallas and Jane knew one another (literally for one, figuratively the other).

I absolutely loved the dark aspects of this book, but it was the underlying tension of should we or shouldn't we that truly drove the scenes for me. I was rooting incredibly hard for these two; for Jane's seemingly unrequited love and the unexpected jealousy she feels in response to Dallas's reputation (and the women he's managed to keep happy), and for Dallas's hidden battle scars and therefore, the underlying fears of inadequacy.

Dallas's determination to make right what was made wrong is a huge characteristic of him -- and with it, it's the flaw that can keep Jane at arm's length. Will he tell her his secrets? Will he tell her all of his secrets?

Definitely a great read -- I can't wait to get my hands on the next two! (As well as being curious if at least Quincy and Liam will find HEAs).

{ see the series... } .

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