LETTING GO by Megan Hart
Colleen goes to the same bar every night and orders the same drink: a whiskey, neat. She doesn’t drink it, though. Jesse the bartender notices the beautiful, sad woman who keeps to herself. Until one night when she lets go and lets him in. And after that, Jesse has only one mission–to show her one night is only the beginning.
Jesse has worked at the Fallen Angel bar for six months and like clockwork, every Thursday night he serves Colleen a whiskey neat that she doesn’t drink. For six long months Jesse has watched Colleen as she sits quietly and avoids all attempts at interaction with other patrons. She is polite, tips well, is never a bother and, is the one woman in the world Jesse wants to know better. How to crack that nut?
Colleen spent years married to a man who did his damnedest to break her spirit. Though the asshole never hit her, he verbally abused her, ridiculed her and, generally shook her confidence to the very core. Getting involved with another man is not something Colleen suspects is in her future but Jesse, the handsome and polite bartender from the Fallen Angel may just have what it takes to thaw her frozen heart. Every Thursday night Jesse prepares her drink, makes polite small talk and always seems to know when she needs to be alone with her thoughts.
Fate and the universe both have a funny way of knowing just when to intervene and thanks to a snowstorm, Jesse gets his wish to know Colleen better and Colleen finally, finally gets to explore a side to her personality she has spent years trying to deny. Colleen’s ex not only destroyed her confidence but made her question her sexual desires but Jesse seems to delight in Colleen’s desires and has an intense desire to please her. After a wonderful weekend full of passion and exploration, Jesse feels as if there could be something more, something real with Colleen. Colleen, however has other ideas, none of which are pleasing to Jesse.
The Bottom Line: Colleen is a broken woman whose ex-husband abused her for far, far too many years. When she finally breaks free and allows herself to pursue every aspect of what makes her happy, Colleen becomes a new woman, a woman determined to have the things she wants, the way she wants them. For me, Colleen is just an OK character but Jesse, well he is truly the delight of this read. He is a single, Disney-loving dad who clearly loves his daughter but also understands that his happiness is important. Jesse is a strong and confident man who is willing to cede control in the bedroom to the right woman. He doesn’t just enjoy Colleen’s particular brand of kink, he delights in it and takes just as much pleasure from their encounters as she does. He is patient and kind and once he convinces Colleen of her worth, her beauty and, that her desires are more than acceptable, he has a real chance at a future with her. While I generally enjoyed this read, I feel like the ending is rather abrupt and I wanted just a bit more information, a few more questions answered. I’m not suggesting this read needs to be a full-length novel but I would have very much liked to have known what happens to Colleen and Jesse in the future. In truth, this read would benefit greatly from the addition of an epilogue.
SEIZE THE NIGHT by Tiffany Reisz
Four years ago, a night of forbidden passion between Remi and Julien, the heirs of two powerful and competitive horse-racing families, led to a feud that is threatening to ruin both farms. Now Remi must find Julien again, but when she does, her need for Julien is just as strong and just as forbidden.
Remi Montgomery is horse racing royalty and as manager of Arden Farms, she has spent her life promoting clean racing and quality horses. With only one completely humiliating misstep in her background, Remi has managed to rise above all the drama and earn her reputation for excellence. By her side at all times and with a mouth to make a sailor blush is her assistant, Merrick. Merrick has no connections to the world of horse racing, a brilliant mind and, slightly devious (and perhaps lightly criminal?) streak that makes him the perfect assistant. With one of the biggest races of the year quickly approaching and her horse a favorite to win, Remi suspects foul play in her own back yard and needs to shut it down before all she has worked for comes crashing down around her.
Julien Brite is horse racing royalty yet wants nothing to do with his family’s drama nor the horse racing industry. After a devastating diagnosis at a very young age left him sick and vulnerable, Julien is finally back on his feet, healthy and, far, far away from his family. With Salena, his personal physician and long-time friend by his side, he moves to Paris in an effort to start his life over and on his own terms. There is one thing and one thing only that could tempt Julien back into the horse racing game and that is Remi Montgomery. When Remi and Merrick show up on Julien and Salena’s Parisian doorstep, Julien is instantly interested in what Remi has to say and in helping her in any way he can. Though Merrick certainly wants to help Remi, Salena is a wonderful distraction and so, while Remi and Julien discuss their issues, Merrick has naughty little conversation of his own with the quick-witted, sexy doctor.
The world thinks the Montgomery’s and the Brite’s are mortal enemies (they kind of are thanks to the aforementioned humiliating experience from Remi’s past) but when large amounts of money come into play, a devious plan to “earn” even more is conceived and, the risk of being caught is low, well, even mortal enemies can set aside their differences. At least in private, anyway. What neither of the greedy sets of parents count on is Remi, Julien, Merrick and Salena hatching their own devious plan to uncover and shut down the madness being perpetrated by the families. When the four come together and set their own plan in motion, it is at once sexy, devious, ingenious, well-planned and, perfectly orchestrated.
The Bottom Line: Tiffany Reisz totally appeals to me on so many levels but the primary level relates to her character development. Even in this relatively short read I was able to connect with and appreciate every personality. Remi is a strong woman who has worked hard to not only maintain her family’s reputation but improve it through quality work and a high level of personal integrity. Julien may be young but his life experience is well beyond that of his age. He is smart, handsome and, willing to help Remi in any way necessary. Merrick is FANTASTIC!! Hands down my favorite character in this read is Merrick with his dirty mind, foul mouth and, absolutely no internal edit button. Though he tries to come off as if he doesn’t care, he does, in fact care about Remi and the work she does. He is a willing accomplice at every turn and completely delightful. Perfectly partnered with Merrick is Salena, a woman who proves to be Merrick’s match on every level. Her smart mouth and quick wit are perfect for Merrick and these two are characters I would dearly love to know more about. In all, each of the major characters takes on a life of their own and really brings this story to life. Even though this is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I still feel like the characters were already in Reisz’s head and she was just waiting on a plot to drop them into. Complete character development, a bit of light mystery, the tiniest bit of drama, some naughty bits and, a really, really good read.