I’ve raved for over a year about my author crush on Tessa Bailey, whose Line of Duty series about dark, hot cops and the women who ensnare them is the BEST contemporary series on the market (and I do not make that claim lightly). While she first captivated me with her incredibly unique writer-voice, what won me over was a combination of the unbelievable characterization, her ability to write unique panty-melting sex scenes that bare the souls of her heroes and heroines, and finally in her un-freaking-believable dependability. Tessa Bailey never phones in a book – each one matches or tops the previous novel in its high quality. Considering how amazing her very first book was, this is nothing short of incredible and the reason she is on my auto-buy list as soon as she announces a new book. I don’t even have to read the description!
We actually met the taciturn NYPD sniper Matt Donovan in Bailey’s previous novel, Asking for Trouble, when he took time out from his usual observation mode to deliver some home truths to his best friend Brent Mason when his love life was going to hell in a handbasket. Brent and his fiancee Hayden are doing great now, but an obligation to Hayden prevents Brent from driving to Syracuse and picking up his sister Lucy and her grad school roommate to bring them to NYC for the week. Matt agrees reluctantly to help him out and get them, only to be confronted by a strawberry blonde petite siren who stirs all the dominant instincts he tries to keep tamped down tight. At least she’s not Brent’s sister, but this ray of sunshine roommate doesn’t seem capable of handling what Matt wants to dish out – until she shows that she’s 100% on board with it in a motel room after his car breaks down on the drive back to New York City.
The only problem? The roommate is actually Lucy Mason who was in the coffeeshop across the street from her building when the hottest man she’d ever seen walked in asking the drooling baristas for directions to find her. When she hears him call her a nuisance and realizes that this stern warrior would never cross the best-friend’s-sister line, she decides to impersonate her roommate Sasha who bailed to go be with her boyfriend at the last minute. Once she realizes that Brent is not only attracted to her but that his mouthy brand of dominance – clearly meant to drive her away – is only ratcheting up the heat between them, she’s determined to have him. And she does, but what Brent takes for her hesitance at what they did together is actually guilt that she forced him to say another woman’s name during their fantastic sex.
Of course they can’t help but see each other again at the engagement party for Brent and Hayden a few days later and naturally Lucy’s deception comes to light, awakening a tidal wave of anger in Matt. He’s been deceived before and gives no quarter for liars, even ones he’s overwhelmingly attracted to. That he’s battling his inner demons, the ones that tell him that Lucy’s brand of inner sunshine would only be tainted by the desires he has been taught by experience only repels women, complicates the situation. But it’s not long before he succumbs to his need for her, helped by her take-no-prisoners itinerary she left in his car that first day. But the road for these two is far from smooth as Matt’s inability to express his feelings leads Lucy to believe that his attraction to her is just physical, an impression which could lead to him losing her forever.
I defy you to not fall for these funny Masons! Brent had me laughing out loud in Asking for Trouble and Lucy had several similar moments, clearly showing that this Queens brand of humor is genetic. Matt’s experience with his former fiancee and deceased best friend was understandably scarring, leading him to believe that his need for dominance in the bedroom would send women fleeing. Not so for Lucy who, fresh out of her master’s program, has never been with a man with this predilection, one that she quickly realizes is exactly what she’s been wanting. Every sexy, hot thing Matt does – the spanking, the dominating, the possessive sex talk – pushes her buttons and she’s baffled as to why he keeps thinking it’s not what she wants when she’s shouting his name. Matt’s brand of dominance reminds me very much of Derek, the hero of Tessa Bailey’s first novel, Protecting What’s His.
Entangled recently announced several new features of their house (mostly awesome things to help their authors) but one of their changes that affect lucky readers is that they have decided to offer all new books at the $.99 cost for their initial debut. I think the offer only lasts a week or so, so hop on that amazing decision if the descriptions look good! For Staking His Claim, that price makes this book a tremendous bargain in my opinion, and you could certainly read it if you haven’t yet sampled any other book in the series.
While I’m a little worried that Bailey is finished with the Line of Duty novels since there are no more uncoupled characters or stray siblings, the fact is that my faith in her writing remains so firm that I know whatever her next project, I’m fully behind her. This writer is a sharpshooter among romance authors, and one who never misses her target.