The tango is without question the sexiest dance and two of Entangled Publishing’s newest releases feature it. I agreed to review them both, the first title because I’ve loved all of Audra North‘s Stanton Family novellas and wanted to read about the youngest sibling, Julie in A Lesson in Temptation (Bruno and Lily’s story, One Night in Santiago is my favorite but Adam and Meredith’s book, Falling for the CEO, is a close second). The second book by new author Amanda K. Byrnes, One Night in Buenos Aires, was a must-read because I love friends to lovers novellas. Both were excellent, so I wanted to showcase them for you in case they fit your romance reading beach pile.
A Lesson in Temptation by Audra North
Julie Stanton is the baby of the family, but she’s no less talented or driven than her older siblings. Having had a rough high school experience, she promised herself that she was going to chose to be happy and have fun, even while she accomplished all the goals she set for herself academically. A stellar finance student, she’s graduated with honors and landed a prestigious job at a financial firm where she was just promoted to senior analyst. But she’s resolved to not let go of playing, hence her signing up for tango lessons. Just milling around with the other people before class is enjoyable but her heart stops when she spots the man she had a huge crush on during college – hunky teaching assistant Adam Harkness.
Newly minted Columbia professor Adam Harkness cannot believe that he let his friends rope him into taking this tango class. He’s under enormous pressure to publish or perish plus he’s still supporting his family and their struggling farm back in North Dakota. Adam hasn’t had “fun” of any type since he started working at age 12 and he doesn’t want to start now. Tempted to turn on his heel and head home, he stops cold upon spotting Julie Stanton, the gorgeous student he almost kissed during a study session when he was her TA a few years ago. She’s not his student now and her smile has him drifting over to talk to her. She’s just as full of life as he remembered, and when they are partnered for the duration of the course – and when Julie proposes a drink and something more after class – Adam wonders if he can loosen up enough to have a no strings fling each week with the woman he couldn’t forget.
Julie is a delightful heroine, someone who experienced the loss of a parent and an episode of horrible bullying and decided to commit herself to getting the most out of life as a result. Her gamut of emotions dealing with not only her attraction to Adam but his stubbornness in resisting anything more is honest and natural. Adam is a little uptight and dickish in his one-track mind, but you understand why even while not loving the result. It’s great to see him loosen up slowly (and realize that his work doesn’t suffer) and he ends up having quite the messy epiphany at the end of the book about how much he might lose if he can’t win Julie back. His attitude turnaround seemed quick to me, but his is a brilliant mind, so I think when he finally got it, he GOT it. I loved hearing tidbits about the other Stantons and just wish we could have seen a few of them in person. Love those Stantons!
One Night In Buenos Aires by Amanda K. Byrne
I make no bones about how I adore the friends to lovers trope in romance fiction. Two people, already acquainted with the best and worst of each other who have enough in common to be friends, giving into a suppressed lust for one another is a recipe for heat in my book. Add to it a gorgeous foreign location, and I’m there.
That’s exactly what debut author Amanda K. Byrne gives us in her first book, One Night in Buenos Aires. Drea and Joe have been friends for years, working at the same firm and hanging out outside of the office, both with their significant others and with each other. Having landed a hotel chain client, they are given an all expenses paid trip to Argentina to check things out in person, but the trip goes awry when after an interminable series of flights, they arrive at the hotel to find that they have only one room, not the two bedroom suite they were promised. Dropping into the same bed from exhaustion, they awake to hot kisses and hotter caresses, before they both come to their senses. But the cat is out of the bag now, and there is no ignoring the lust between them.
Byrnes does a couple fascinating things with this story. Most friends to lovers have one or both parties as a playboy/playgirl type who don’t get involved in relationships, but Joe and Drea have had successful long-term relationships (which break up for various reasons) and more importantly they’ve seen each other in them. Drea is so hesitant about engaging in an affair with her best friend that she blows hot and cold, allowing her lust for Joe to take over one minute and then having her heart and head – which both know that sex means something to her and she doesn’t just want to be a hook-up – assert their good sense. Joe is a complex character who sometimes felt too much like a pitch-perfect guy to me (he isn’t a strong communicator and he said a few jackass things which he actually forgot until Drea brought them up again). Yet both characters are incredibly real amidst all their flaws and the emotion and heat they feel for one another is palpable. I loved that Byrnes brought this relationship back to their hometown and even gave us an outstandingly touching epilogue, all challenging to do within the page confines of a novella. She’s an author to watch, for sure!
It’s always great when an established author gives you yet another great book AND you get to discover a new author worth reading, but when both their novellas are priced at $.99 and there is a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 gift card, well, that’s pretty damn awesome. These are two novellas which provide a fun, quick read for your summer romance pile. 🙂