Because let me tell you, the “Cosmo Red Hot Read” moniker is taken damn seriously in this particular novella! So warn your significant other that his or her shirt buttons will soon be on the floor (or wear your jammies and have a cold drink of water if you are currently without company), because Sarah Morgan’s spectacular Christmas story, Ripped, is going to strip your socks off faster than Auburn can make a final touchdown against Alabama.
I’ve always adored Sarah Morgan who is probably one of the top category romance writers who I will always, ALWAYS buy if the cover has her name on it. She particularly excels in those domineering uber-hot millionaires who have rough pasts but who melt for the right woman. (I mean, Doukakis’ Apprentice, anyone? Yowza.) Our hero in Ripped, the ultra-sexy Sicilian turned British lawyer, Nico Rossi, a man whose very looks and demeanor have women shifting uncomfortably because he sets their panties on fire by simply walking past them, fits the Morgan bill beautifully.
But here’s where I have a bone to pick with this talented author – WHEN THE HELL DID SHE GET SO DAMN FUNNY?!? I’ve been enjoying Sarah Morgan’s writing for years (along with the rest of the known romance reading world) and while I have definitely enjoyed her prose and smiled at a clever quip or situation in her books, I had no idea that she was able to make me laugh out loud or gasp in horror before dissolving into giggles at an embarrassing situation. To quote my mother-in-law, Sarah Morgan has been hiding her light under a bushel.
And what a light. From the first scene we are 100% in the moment, as engineer Hayley, sitting in the front row of a tedious church wedding ponders how her pride had her agreeing to be a bridesmaid for a woman who not only slept with her ex-boyfriend but was marrying him right in front of her. Hayley didn’t want anyone to think she was moping, but her former friend has clearly used the situation as revenge, stuffing the voluptuous Hayley into a too-small, anemically colored bridesmaid dress. The only thing making this worthwhile is getting to gaze on the perpetually angry but always hot Nico Rossi, a friend of her former boyfriend and the best man. Trying to maintain her dignity, it fully flies out the window when she takes a sigh of relief…and both sides of the dress rip at the seam, exposing her large breasts to all and sundry since she had to go braless under the tight monstrosity.
Nico comes to the rescue with a rapidly thrown Tom Ford jacket and whisks her off to a side room of the church to gather the shreds of her so-called garment but Haley is not about to stand for Nico’s frustrated berating – as if she planned this wardrobe malfunction! Their glaring quickly turns into an unbelievably hot make out session well on its way to sex against the wall, except for the timing of Nico and Haley’s respective sisters butting in. Back at her Notting Hill flat with her sister, Haley cannot get the cold and controlled Nico out of her head (okay, he wasn’t that cold OR controlled when he was kissing her, but still) but she’s content to have their usual Christmas lunch for all their friends as per usual. However, Haley’s sister has a Christmas surprise, namely one sexy Italian lawyer, who has decided that Haley is his holiday present and he plans on unwrapping her again and again. Can Haley’s New Year’s resolution to not mix sex and her heart stand firm against Nico?
Holy. Shit. I’m not sure I’ve ever given a novella five stars, but this one got it. Told solely from Haley’s perspective (and usually I do not enjoy the first person perspective, but it’s vital to the humor in this particular novella), this story is an evolution of perspective as Haley clearly has one image in her head of her dealings with Nico over the last few years, a perception which unravels as she realizes that Nico has actually been the only man in her life who has seen and appreciated her for who she is – an incredibly smart satellite engineer.
Can I mention the humor again? Not only is the opening scene laugh-out-loud hilarious, but the lines just keep coming. When Haley’s sister Rosie dumps the turkey on Haley as the doorbell rings with the instruction to pluck some of the lingering poultry feathers, Haley experiences a moment of incredible empathy with the bird:
I stared gloomily at the turkey. It had dark stubble on one leg. Clearly the person who had prepared this turkey for the oven had been anxious to leave work early. I looked at the stubby ends poking out of the plump pale skin and sympathized. It wasn’t easy keeping yourself smooth.
Morgan, Sarah (2013-12-01). Ripped (Kindle Locations 496-497). Harlequin. Kindle Edition.
How she decides to pluck the feathers still has me chortling, particularly when Nico and his sweet sister come upon her doing it. Her observations regarding Nico are equally as quote-worthy, whether it’s contemplating his sexual prowess when she ponders the question was “this was sex Italian-style, (if so, I was emigrating)” or reacting to his concern to bundle her in his bed lest she catch cold. “Cold? Was he kidding? I was so hot that if he’d put a slice of bread on me I could have turned it into toast.” Gracious, that makes two of us, Haley.
It’s astonishing that this novella is right around 100 pages – I guarantee you will feel more satisfied than you do after reading a significantly longer book. The close relationship and difficult past of Haley and her sister gives tremendous depth and dimension to these two characters (and since Ripped is labeled as Miller Sisters #1, chances are terrific that we will get Haley’s sister Rosie’s story soon).
At only $3, you would be doing yourself a huge disfavor to not run out and buy this novella right this minute. Sarah Morgan has managed to write a classic for all seasons and I know for a fact that I will be re-reading this one over and over in years to come. Many thanks to a wonderful writer showing us a new facet of her talent – you’re awesome, Sarah Morgan!
Happy reading and happy holidays!