The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family’s business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil. Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Well, hello! Hard Rules is my first Lisa Renee Jones and I think I’m glad I finally joined the gang 🙂
Shane Brandon never wanted to come home to Colorado. In fact, he’s spent the bulk of his adult life working very, very hard to avoid having any and all contact with his family. And then his worthless father got into trouble . . . .
When Shane Brandon came home to keep his miserable father out of jail, he discovered just how dirty his family really is and just how much it’s going to take to get them back on the straight and narrow. As Shane begins to immerse himself in the family empire, he discovers, on a regular basis just how deep his brother and father have dragged them all into the abyss. With every new discovery, Shane has a new problem on his hands and though he is willing to walk near the line between right and wrong, he isn’t willing to cross that line. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Shane’s father in dying, his mother is scheming, and his brother is constantly threatening him. Without the help of a very few trusted individuals, Shane would be utterly lost.
Emily. There’s not a lot to say about Emily because there isn’t much offered about her throughout the entire read. What we do know is that Emily isn’t her real name, she’s up to her neck in something serious, her father is dead and it may not have been suicide, and she is utterly and completely loyal to Shane. From the moment she accidentally takes his coffee to the moment she is stealing files from his father and brother to help him push them out of the business, Emily belongs to Shane. She doesn’t want to drag him into her mess but resisting Shane, even when he tries to push her away, is not a realistic possibility. As the plot unfolds, Emily and Shane try to navigate not only the danger his family poses but the highs and lows of a new relationship that has a lot of secrets on both sides in play.
The Bottom Line: While I generally liked this read, I also got to the end feeling like there is a whole lot that was left unsaid. As I said, this is my first Lisa Renee Jones read so I don’t know if this whole lot that was left unsaid thing is normal or totally unique to this book. Normally, I would be completely upset with a book that ends in such a way but somehow, it sort of works with this particular read. You don’t really notice how little of Emily’s story you’re getting because there is just too much going on with Shane and his family. When Shane and Emily are together, there isn’t exactly a great deal of talking going on so, once again the author distracts you from realizing you aren’t getting a great deal of information. In all, I ended up being quite alright with this read and as I got to the last page, I (and every other reader!) could clearly see how much more there is to Emily and Shane’s story.
Excerpt from Hard Rules (Book #1: Dirty Money Series):
“Say it.” he demands.
“Were just fucking.”
He leans in closer, his breath a warm tickle on my neck, his voice a firm demand. “You do what I say. You trust me. Without question.” Trust. It is not something I give easily, and yet, I sense that this isn’t about just wanting my trust. It’s not even really about trust, but rather the control death steals from you.
“Emily—” he begins.
“Yes,” I say.
“You can have the control.”
“I asked for trust.”
“Same thing,” I say, and he must not disagree, as he unzips my skirt, letting it fall to the ground, and already he’s dragging my jacket down my shoulders, his fingers caressing my skin and leaving goose bumps in their wake. I shiver and oh so easily, I am lost, not in worries or fears, but in this man, a thunderstorm of emotions and sensations assaulting my senses. There is no time for anything else but him, no room, and already my shirt has fallen to the ground, my bra is unhooked. Another blink, and Shane is on one knee, his fingers twining in the lace strips at my hips, dragging my panties down to my ankles. I have an instant to realize just how naked I am, inside and out, before his teeth scrape my backside, and I moan with the tightening of my sex and nipples. I’ve barely recovered from a rush of pleasure, before he’s standing again, lifting me, and kicking aside my clothing, my shoes lost in the process.
And then he is turning me to face him, tearing away my bra, his hands bracketing my waist, eyes lowering to rake over my breasts, then lifting to my face. “Trust has to be earned. Control can be taken and if you think control and trust are the same thing, you’ve been with the wrong man. I’m not the wrong man. At least, not tonight.”
“No,” I agree.
“You are not the wrong man.”
“No, I am not, but right now, I just need to fuck. Hard and fast, and then we’ll do it right.”
“Hard and fast is right, if that’s what you need.”
“What do you need?”
“You,” I say, repeating what he’d said to me that first night we were together. “Just you.”
His eyes darken and he tugs his shirt off over his head. Before it even hits the ground, my hands are on his chest, fingers nestled in the springy hair there, heat seeping from his body, to mine. He cups my head and kisses me, and I sink into him, melting … Oh yes, I am melting into one big puddle of lust and desire, free in a way with this man that is indescribably different than with the men of my past. The way everything is indescribably different with Shane. And he is touching me, caressing me, pinching my nipples one moment, his fingers in the slick wet heat of my sex the next. We are wild. We are ready for more and more and more, but he pulls back, pressing his hands on the wall behind me. “Holy fuck. I don’t have a condom.”
“I’m on the pill,” I blurt out, and quickly add, “I don’t do unprotected sex. I just … I’m on the pill. I swear to you. The last thing I want is to get pregnant.”
He cups my face. “For who?”
“Who did you go on the pill for?”
“Me. I did it for me.”
“Are you running from a man who’s going to show back up?”
“No. God no, Shane. And if we’re just fucking why does it matter anyway?”
“Don’t talk,” he says, his voice low, gravelly, his mouth slanting over mine. And then he is kissing me, and there is more than guilt on his lips now. There is hunger, lust, demand. And I answer him, holding nothing back, wild, frenzied, and everything is a whirlwind of sensation that burns through me until there is nothing but my hands on him and his on me. Somehow, his clothes are fully gone, and I’m against the wall, or the front door I think, and he is inside me, cupping my backside and lifting me. I respond instantly, my legs automatically wrap around his waist and I don’t know how, or why, but we still, our bodies locked together, our breathing heavy whispers, coming together as one. We are one in this moment, two people lost and found in each other, both of us fighting a battle the other understands in ways no one else can.
Seconds tick by, and he whispers, “What the hell are you doing to me?” but I never get the chance to ask him the same. He lifts me off the wall, one hand pressing between my shoulder blades, molding me to him, the other cupping my backside as he pulls me down on the hard thick ridge of his erection, and thrusts into me again. I pant, curling forward and holding on to him, burying my face in his neck. And then we are moving, swaying, a grind to our hips, a raw urgency to every glide and pump, the sounds he is making, low, guttural, and oh so sexy, drive me to the edge. Tension builds between us, and in my sex, that sweet spot spiking my nerve endings, and pushing me to that place of no return. My sex clenches like a vise around his shaft, every muscle in my body tenses with it. He groans, his hands flexing into my back and bottom, and he starts to shake. I think I am shaking too, and everything fades into bliss. I don’t know how much time goes by until I come to the present. And he is back too. I feel it like I feel him.
About the author and where to find her:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland, Austin Powers, Must Love Dogs) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists. Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann. Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine. Lisa loves to hear from her readers.