Opposites Attract | Erotica Reviews

Odd Couples This month, we’re exploring the appeal of opposites and the enigmatic laws of attraction. Dominant spitfire Layla butts heads with cocky Scot Duff in Eden Bradley’s Dangerously Bad. In Kristen Ashley’s The Farthest Edge, seasoned Domme ­Evangeline meets her unlikely match in icy alpha-sub Branch. Lovers connect from both sides of the law in Sarah Castille’s Luca, while Tiffany Reisz’s The Red gallery owner enters into a lucrative—and erotic—arrangement with a stranger, and Meredith Wild and Chelle Bliss’s city slicker finds unexpected love and Misadventures with a handsome recluse.

Ashley, Kristen. The Farthest Edge. Griffin: St. Martin’s. (Honey, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 512p. ISBN 9781250121134. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250121141. EROTICA

Life and love continue at the Bee’s Honey BDSM club in Ashley’s newest title in her “Honey” series (The Deep End). After a disastrous scene with a violent partner that left her bruised and heartbroken, expert Domme Evangeline Brooks isolated herself from her friends and her role as a beloved club patron. She is drawn back to the fold by Branch Dillinger, a strong, silent alpha-sub looking to get off with no limits and no strings. Despite, or owing to, their constant battle of wills, the pair excel as Domme/sub; Evangeline sees the control that Branch is desperate to release, while he quickly realizes he underestimated the petite woman whose sexual prowess he challenged. But Branch’s unspeakable past promises nothing but harm to those he loves. VERDICT Though the meaty subplot involving rogue operatives and an insatiable need for vengeance can be confusing, this is a classic tale of wounded souls finding healing in each other, with a super kinky twist.

redstarBradley, Eden. Dangerously Bad. Berkley. (Dangerous Romance, Bk. 3). May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780425269985. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781101638200. EROTICA

In this latest installment in Bradley’s “Dangerous” series (after Dangerously Broken), raunchy Scotsman Duff Stewart finds himself intrigued by the equally dominant Layla Chouset. Layla, who has sworn off men and submission for more than a year, sticks to playing as a Domme with women at New Orleans’s hottest BDSM club The Bastille, yet Duff has other plans. The two enter an agreement to play, with Layla tapping into depths of safety and submission that she’d long hidden. As it becomes clear that their pact is more than simply kink, can each overcome their broken pasts to build a healthy future together? Mentions of key concepts such as Safe Sane Consensual and Risk Aware Consensual Kink alongside a wide range of steamy activities (flogging, spanking, electrostimulation) provide a refreshing depiction of safety protocol within the kink community. VERDICT Bradley’s sensuous prose skillfully captures the couple’s crackling energy while lending just as much erotic weight to Layla’s sculpting and the lush Big Easy landscape.

Castille, Sarah. Luca. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Ruin & Revenge, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9781250104052. pap. $7.99; bk. ISBN 9781250104069. erotica

Castille’s second “Ruin & Revenge” novel (following Nico) centers on hardened crime boss Luca Rizzoli. After taking a bullet to the chest, Luca finds himself rooming with beautiful police detective Gabrielle Fawkes at a Las Vegas hospital. Instantly drawn to each other’s stark differences, Luca and Gaby discover that they share equally painful histories. The playboy mobster is shocked by his own behavior around this woman who defies his usual “type” with her quiet beauty and independence, while Gaby is unseated by her heady attraction to this opulent alpha male. Their steamy tale of seduction is peppered with the dark twists and turns of a Mafia mystery, as Gaby strays onto the other side of the law with Luca’s help and learns her husband’s tragic death may not be a closed case after all. VERDICT An ­engrossing erotic crime drama that will leave readers wanting more.

redstarReisz, Tiffany. The Red: An Erotic Fantasy. 8th Circle. Jul. 2017. 248p. ISBN 9781537217765. pap. $14.99. erotica

In this titillating tale of art and the arcane, The Red Gallery owner Mona Lisa St. James enters a naughty bargain to save her mother’s dream and receives more than she ever could have imagined. Drowning in debt after her mother’s death, Mona sees no choice but to sell the gallery, until the appearance of a handsome man holds dangerous promise. Malcolm approaches her with a devilish proposition: “carte blanche” to ravage her as he pleases in exchange for saving The Red. Mona’s lust is taken to new heights as Malcolm uses classic art to inspire playful and often sinister sexual forays. When fantasy and reality become blurred, however, will Mona be able to survive their agreement with her heart unscathed? Reisz (The Mistress) paints a deliciously deviant picture as Mona becomes a piece of living artwork for a truly insatiable patron. VERDICT Recommended for fans of graceful prose and dark eroticism akin to Anne Rice’s “Beauty” series.

redstarWild, Meredith & Chelle Bliss. Misadventures of a City Girl. Waterhouse. (Misadventures, Bk. 1). Sept. 2017. 300p. ISBN 9781943893409. $19.99. erotica

After a crushing divorce, Madison Atwood hopes for some healing at the cushy mountain resort Avalon Springs. She’s surprisingly exposed to Luke Dawson, a former Navy SEAL, who craves nothing but open air and cabin solitude. A self-proclaimed recluse, he balks at urbanite Madison’s brashness and temper. Yet the gravitational pull between the two is unstoppable, and what begins as an unfettered quickie turns into an extended stay when a storm hits the mountains. They realize this unlikely partnership could be their happy ever after and struggle to “meet in the middle” between her city style and his rugged wilderness. Wild (Over the Edge) and Bliss (Worship Me) craft a scorching hot read that weaves raunchy sensual escapades with the emotionally resonant tropes of healing after heartbreak and how to compromise when opposites attract. VERDICT Playful writing, abundant sex, and a touch of melodrama mark the beginning of this promising new series.

Ashleigh Williams is a New York–based freelance writer

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