I have to confess to being super impressed with Harlequin’s roster of authors for their Cosmo Red-Hot Reads partnership. I mean, Tawny Weber and now Lauren Dane? I’ve made no bones about how amazing I find Dane’s many series (the Brown Siblings series and its spin off series, Delicious, immediately come to mind as some of the best erotic romance on the market) so I was thrilled at the announcement that she was having a novella-length short published under this imprint’s umbrella.
There is no way any fan of Dane could possibly be disappointed by this wonderful story. We have all the elements of her typical romance, yet with Dane’s usual twist of piecing them together in a way that seems utterly fresh with each new partnership. (How does she do that??) A confident woman, a man with a bit of an edge, and strong friendships give not only plenty of heat in the sexy times department but an emotional layer that have you heaving a sigh at the final page.
Wren Davis is a part-time bike messenger who is blazing her own path in art school where she is studying animation and illustration while creating wonderfully crafted graphic novels. With her best friend Kelsey working as the personal assistant for famous artist Gregori Ivanov, Wren has discovered someone whose mind fascinates her as much as his body. Over the last year, Wren and Gregori have developed a kind of flirty friendship. She realizes that he comes off brusque and intimidating with his dyed mohawk and tattoos – to say nothing of his demanding tone and that killer Russian accent – but to her he’s a great artist and someone she really respects. She also sees the people fawning all over him (women included) and wants to make sure that whatever is between them is with the understanding that she doesn’t want anything from him, just whatever he can give her.
This is not to say that she doesn’t want more. The man is sex on a stick and she has caught him giving her the once over, even when he keeps their relationship to tea and the speciality cookies and cakes he gets shipped from Paris to satisfy his sweet tooth. In Gregori’s mind, Wren is much more than the women he casually sleeps with and discards and certainly more than his emotional vampire of an ex-wife. When Wren turns up dressed to kill at one of his shows, Gregori can’t help but take a kiss…and immediately wishes he hadn’t. She’s even more delicious than he imagined and soon Wren’s persistence wears down his barriers and they fall into an unbelievably hot relationship. You have to love it when Wren, draped on his lap, challenges the worried Gregori:
Question is, Gregori, do you enjoy me as much as you enjoy cake? And how can you know unless you take a taste?
And taste he does! If the relationship part doesn’t make him break out in hives, the tenderness between them is bound to since – if there’s one thing Gregori believes – it’s that he is horrible at relationships and great at casual. Yet with Wren he’s happy and productive, and totally terrified, which naturally leads to some typically y-chromosome stupid decisions. Wren’s patience and persistence are probably what make her such a talented artist and I adored seeing her understand Gregori so much that she would work past her hurt and do what she knew was right for both of them.
Remember that Dane is unique in her voice – she’s gritty and erotic (plenty of piercings and f-bombs in her writing) yet so phenomenally emotional that she writes the appearance of love in thoughts and actions better than any author I know on the market. At approximately $3.00 for this novella, you’re getting a story just as delicious as the best cake. Do yourself a favor and savor it.