That First Kiss
by J.C. Valentine Night Calls #2
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Mercurial and charming, Tate Larson is a rising author and playboy who has a different woman on his arm every night of the week. Focused on his work, Tate has no plans to settle down any time soon. That is until he meets his pretty new assistant, Piper Donovan. Desperate to escape the promise of backwater living, Piper ditched her Alabama hometown and never looked back. That was almost two years ago. Now that she is out of a job and her bank account is running on fumes, she’s desperate to find a job, fast. She finds the break she is searching for when she lands a position at Bookish Temptations. A little dancing and a lot of drinks with the girls seem the perfect way to celebrate. After a brief but explosive encounter with a man she was never supposed to see again turns out to be the same man she will be bending over backwards to please, her every instinct tells her to run. But when running means leaving the life she has struggled so hard to create, Piper decides her only option is to continue working for the devastatingly sexy Tate Larson…even if it kills her. Unable to deny their growing attraction, they struggle to keep their distance in a relationship that requires anything but.
My ReviewPiper Donovan is thrilled to land a job that will keep her living in the city she loves and prevent her from having to go back to a life she doesn't want in rural Alabama. While out celebrating her new job with friends she has a very intense encounter with a man she meets at the club. She starts her new job only to realize that the incredibly challenging frustrating man she is now the assistant to is the same man she hooked up with at the club.
Tate is an author who is very demanding and has caused a number of assistants to quit rather than work for someone like him. Piper is able to stand up to him and deal with his moods and demands- but both of them find it difficult to deal with the serious sexual chemistry between them. Both have been hurt in the past, and both struggle to decide how to handle their feelings about one another, which are growing ever more complicated.
Based on the author's description of the book, I expected to like it- but I didn't expect it to hook me so quickly or to like it as much as I did. There are elements of the story line that are familiar to this genre, but the characters felt fresh and there were many elements of the relationships that were unique. I really liked Piper and her girlfriends right from the start. They seem like a lot of fun and obviously create a good support system for each other. Tate was frustrating and screwed up a lot, but it didn't take long for him to hook me too. Piper and Tate had a lot of challenges to face- both personal and professional. Even with the serious chemistry they shared, it wasn't clear how or whether they were going to be able to sort everything out. This was a book that I had a hard time putting down. I found myself thinking about the characters and their situation when I was away from the book. Also- it is funny in a great way. A lot of books I've read lately have seemed a little too aware of how funny they are, and sometimes it seems that the author is trying to hard to be constantly hilarious and it ends up feeling a little fake. The great thing about this book was that a lot of the funny stuff caught me off guard. I would just be reading along, and then all of a sudden one of the characters would totally crack me up. It felt great to experience. If there is anything to be critical about, I'd say that like many other books in this genre, once characters decide to be honest about their feelings for one another they get a bit hyperbolic.
This book is the second in a series, but I have not yet read the first. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone. The writing was good, and I will definitely be reading more from this author.
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
EXCERPT- THAT FIRST KISSWhere was his goddamn assistant? For the hundredth time, Tate Larson glanced to the door watching another suit enter and approach the counter to place his order. Checking his watch again, Tate gritted his teeth and dropped his eyes back to the screen before him. So help him God. Felix promised he had found a good one this time. He swore this was the one. Foolishly, Tate had believed the man, though why he did was beyond him. The last dozen or so certainly hadn’t worked out, so why should this one? Was it too much to ask for a person to be on time these days? Well, Felix was going to be pissed to hear that he fired this one on the spot. He didn’t tolerate incompetence well. The bell over the door chimed again, announcing another arrival. Pausing mid-sentence, his fingers hovering over the keys, Tate lifted his eyes to the door once more, pausing on the pretty little thing that stepped inside. Dressed as a professional in a nice buttercream blouse and fitted pencil skirt, he was unable to keep his eyes from wandering over her luscious curves. She wasn’t as tall or slim as the women he normally chose, but there was just something about her that drew the eye. Maybe it had something to do with the woman he had hooked up with at the club over the weekend—lush lips, curvy body and bedroom eyes. Exactly the type of woman he went for and actively avoided. He was still reliving that moment nightly, hell, daily. He never should have kissed her. It went against his personal code of never kissing a one-night stand. But kiss her he had and now he was suffering the memory of that kiss and the way the woman tasted endlessly. Glancing around, he noticed that half the men in the shop had paused what they were doing to take notice of the woman, too. He watched curiously, studying her form, the way the morning sunlight created a total body halo making her look positively heavenly, the way her eyes darted around the room nervously, landing on each man only long enough to disregard them and move on. Hmm, why only the men, he wondered as those innocent brown eyes snagged on him. Oh, hell no. Tate straightened from his slouched position and dropped his feet from the chair in front of him to the floor with a dull thud. It couldn’t be. This had to be some kind of trick. Some sick twist of fate. Two things occurred to him at once: He was looking at the object of his current fantasies—the woman he had screwed in a women’s bathroom and hadn’t been able to shake from his memory since—and he was pretty damn sure she was his new assistant. He knew she recognized him by the way her mouth dropped open in a small O and her brown eyes widened. She started toward him, her steps faltering only slightly before she visibly pulled herself together. His eyes narrowed as the woman stopped in front of his table and peered down at him. “Hey, fancy meeting you again.” She smiled, showing off pretty white teeth that weren’t exactly perfect but still managed to set off her smile. His gaze lingered on her full, pouty bottom lip, remembering how it had tasted against his tongue. “Yes, fancy that,” Tate replied tightly. “Piper was it?” Dressed the way she was, looking the way she did, he never would have figured her for the business type. Judging from their first encounter, he pegged her as easy, just some bimbo, good for taking to bed and not much more. Okay, that wasn’t entirely true. She seemed different from the women he normally screwed. Compelling him to kiss her was proof enough of that. Not that he would have minded taking this woman to bed, though. Hell, he already had her once bent over a bathroom sink, but he needed an assistant just now. What he didn’t need was the aggravation of working with a woman who he’d already slept with. Sitting back, he folded his arms over his chest and propped his foot up on the chair across from him. “Ah, you remembered.” “What can I say? I’m good with names, and I never forget a pretty face,” he replied smoothly. She blushed, which oddly pleased him. Too bad he was going to have to wipe that pretty look off her face. “So, what are you doing here?” “I’m supposed to be meeting my new assistant,” he said, looking up at her meaningfully, “but they’re late.” Brows pinching, Piper frowned at him. He knew the exact moment that she put two and two together. “You’re Tate Larson?” she screeched. He pursed his lips. “I am. Are you the assistant?” She swallowed, her hands twisting nervously in front of her. “Yes, that’s me.” “Good. You’re fired.”
DON'T MISS STRANDED, THE FIRST BOOK IN THE NIGHT CALLS SERIES, #FREE ON ALL PLATFORMS!Synopsis: Burned, Felix Sinclair has all but vowed never to get seriously involved with another woman as long as he lives. After a long day's work, Felix Sinclair is looking forward to getting back to his luxury apartment in the city. When he detours onto a road less traveled in order to shave off some travel time, the last thing he expects is to wind up stranded in a roadside ditch in the middle of a downpour--or to fall into the arms of a beautiful woman. Recently divorced, jobless, friendless and utterly alone, Poppy Montgomery is struggling to convince herself that single life is what she wants--needs. Then a handsome stranger staggers into her life and sparks fly. Riding out the storm together is bound to stir up heat, but once it passes, will they be able to walk away?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: STRANDED is the first in an interconnected series of erotic romance. Each book can be read as a stand alone, but you will find that each new character has been previously introduced in some way. As an introduction to the series, STRANDED is a novella, but rest assured each new addition will be a full length novel worth sinking your teeth into.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I started reading this series backwards. I read the second in the series and liked it so much that I wanted to go back and read the first in the series. Stranded was a lot shorter and less developed than That First Kiss (Night Calls #2). If I didn't already know Felix and Poppy, I'm not sure that this book would have engaged me enough to continue with their story. I never would have guessed that this was their back story based on my understanding of them after reading That First Kiss.
Basically, I just wanted a lot more. I also didn't feel like this book helped me to understand Felix and Poppy even as much as I came to understand them when they were peripheral characters in another book. I like this author and like this series, and will be continuing on with it. I almost want to recommend that people read book #2 first since I feel that is a stronger book and will lay a foundation that will help this story along a bit.
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review