Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Kenzie propositions a sexy stranger in a coffee shop to prove to herself she’s capable of taking a risk. She doesn’t expect him to be sitting across from her the following Monday as her newest client. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about what might have happened between them on a personal level if it weren’t for their professional relationship. He knows how to push her buttons, and she doesn’t want him to stop.
Scott has built his software company from the ground up to escape things like stuffy old men telling him how to behave, so he loathes his board of directors ordering him to make the public forget he doesn’t have a verbal filter. When his new publicity manager is the almost-fling he never expected to see again, he seizes the opportunity to have fun and still pretend he’s complying with the board’s edict.
Giving in to desire could mean both their jobs, but each “one last time” always leads to another. Now they have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to indulge this conflict of interest.
His smile looked painted on. “It may have escaped your attention, but your contract cost us a lot of money. I’m trying to get some use out of it. Isn’t this what you wanted?”
I have a weakness for corporate-romances. Maybe it stems from years of working in nosy offices where the grapevine reports news faster than the management, and everyone knows at least one person that’s doing the dirty on the side. It’s an environment where illicit romances thrive faster than you can say “Toner Running Low”. The little accidental touches by the water cooler, and the steamy looks in the kitchen that are nothing to do with the leftovers-for-lunch bubbling away in the microwave.
And what could be more illicit than the PR girl hired to clean up the image of the loud-mouthed executive? She’s being paid to make him publicly acceptable to his board of directors, not to sleep with him. If her boss finds out she’s mixing business with pleasure, she’ll be fired. If his board finds out, they’ll assume he’s thumbing his nose at them – again.
This is the delightful premise of Allyson Lindt’s Conflict of Interest, the first in her new series Bits & Bytes.
To make it even more tantalising, Kenzie has already met Scott in their local coffee shop, where they had an almost-thing one rainy day.
She approached the empty spot before she could talk herself out of it and forced confidence into her voice. “Excuse me.”
“Hmmm?” He barely moved his head, immersed in something on his phone.
“Is this seat taken?”
He pulled his attention away from the screen long enough to let his gaze rake over her. A flicker of a smile tugged up the corner of his mouth before he turned back to the phone. “It is now, help yourself.”
He offers her a ride home since it’s raining heavily.
How had she ended up in this man’s car in the pouring rain, toeing the line of indecent conversation and fantasizing about stripping off his wet clothes?
They get interrupted before they get too far and go their separate ways. Phew. I was fanning myself at their close encounter, and that was before the story really got started. I adored Scott straight away. He’s noisy and confident, says what he’s thinking (usually without filtering it) and the kind of sexy geek that really has no idea how gorgeous he is. His social skills need a little polishing, but since he works as a game designer, he spends most of his time with other geeks anyway.
Disbelief mingled with laughter. “Are you always so forward?”
Frequently, to the dismay of his board of directors. A shadow passed through the shop as clouds covered the sun outside. “Only until it gets me slapped. You?”
I dived into this book expecting a light and frothy read, but then Allyson Lindt side-swiped me. I didn’t even see it coming. One minute they’re flirting in the office and then, boom! I caught a glimpse of the real Scott lurking underneath his scruffy t-shirted exterior. A flash of vulnerability.
For a moment – as he frequently did during these meetings – Scott wished he still drank. He focused on his water and hoped he could be polite when appropriate.
And just as quickly, it was gone and Mr Cocky was back in his place. I was officially hooked.
“As you’re so fond of pointing out, I approached you.”
He stared back in disbelief, his familiar crooked smile in place. “And you’ve also confessed it was completely out of character for you.”
“Does it matter if I’d ever done it before?”
“It does to me.” He picked at his vegetables. “I like thinking I was your first for something. It’s good for a guy’s ego, right?”
The romance leaps forward, staggers back a pace or two and then marches on again, but always with the realisation that Kenzie is in big trouble if their relationship comes to light. I really felt for Scott. He thought he was making headway with her, only to be shoved back in his place, time and again. Kenzie is hard work, and every time Scott asked himself if she was worth the angst, I felt his pain.
“Of course.” He traced a finger up the back of her bare neck. “Appearances are important.” His voice was low and smooth. “So help me out because I think I’m still missing something.” His fingertips glided along her collarbone. “I’m not allowed to flirt where someone might see.” He trailed up her jaw. “But behind closed doors you can do whatever you want.” His breath brushed the outside of her ear. “And then you throw a fit when I finally act the way you tell me to.”
She wanted to be bold, aggressive, in control. But she wanted him more. “Yes.”
He let go and stepped away until the door stopped him. He clasped his hands behind his back, gaze never leaving her. “So you can keep your job and still get what you want? So you don’t have to tell anyone the scruffy-looking nerfherder with the massive ego made you scream in pleasure just by talking to you?”
At somewhere around 80% (I can’t be sure, I was devouring the pages too quickly), things between Scott and Kenzie go from not-too-good, to what-the-fuck-just-happened, and I couldn’t put my Kindle down.
“I told you when you hired me it had to be clear you had done so because of my professional skills. Now I have to reassure my employer that I’m actually doing my job instead of playing some executive’s afternoon distraction.”
Allyson Lindt drew the characters very well. Yes, there were misunderstandings, but they didn’t feel forced or contrived. Scott had his secrets and his reasons for keeping them, while Kenzie was a much more open character. The sex was hot! This is a fantastic steamy debut, so get your hands on a copy now, before the author gets famous and her books shoot up in price :-)
I can reveal there is a sequel on the way, featuring Kenzie’s nothing-like-her twin sister, Riley. I will be watching out for that as soon as it’s available
Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Sexy rating – 5 lips
Plot – great
Characters – great
Warnings – geeks will suddenly look much more attractive
Genre: Contemporary romance
Published: April 2013; $4.99 (Amazon)
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Author website: Allyson Lindt