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Overall rating – 5 silken sheets

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15846230 - coverFlower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction—complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos—ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she’s due just landed on her doorstep.

And the attraction’s definitely not one-sided.

Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa’s shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he’s not the building’s handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn’t a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother’s greed, and persuade her that he’s not the enemy…or risk losing the only woman who’s seen the real him.

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I bought this a while ago (months!) as part of a splurge when Entangled offered a promotional price on a whole bunch of their Brazen series. I really can’t understand why it took me so long to get to it, as once I’d read this, I went straight on to the first in the series and devoured that in rapid succession 🙂

20626398_sAlexa Conroy makes a sympathetic and believable heroine. Stubborn too, for she is absolutely determined to hang on to her business and make it a success. Selling her home was painful, and moving into a rundown apartment was uncomfortable, but she gritted her teeth and got on with it. Her hatred of the Value Hardware store, and everyone associated with it, felt in character. So she was slightly unhinged by her experiences with the opposition, but really, tangling with Cory Santangelo, would be enough to set anyone off balance.

Even his brother, Dillon, struggles to work with him, and prefers to spend his time renovating the apartments they own, instead of continuing to build up the family business. It’s while he’s on hands and knees, hard at work, that Alexa first sees him.

*

A man wearing tight jeans and a black T-shirt stretched tight over a taut back meant for fingernail marks knelt in the middle of an apartment with a floor plan just like hers, methodically ripping up strips of the laminate. He faced away from her, which gave her the perfect opportunity to study the bunch and flex of muscles in his sinewy forearms. He wore some sort of copper cuff around one wrist, and a tattoo flashed from under the sleeve on his other arm. She couldn’t make out what the tat was, but one thing she could discern with no trouble at all.

Beefcake boy had a hell of an ass.

*

It’s been a while since Alexa danced the horizontal tango and she decides that the handyman might be a delicious diversion.

*

“You know, I think we might just get along, Alexa Conroy.” She had only a moment to panic at his knowledge of her full name—first which apartment was hers, now her name, what was next?—before he flashed a dazzling grin that bumped up his looks from intriguing to holy hell, Batman, too bad these panties aren’t flame-retardant.

*

Dillon feels the pull from his newest tenant, and is initially delighted that she has no idea of his identity.

*

He wasn’t going to take advantage of her situation. Only a real creep would use her bad day as an opportunity to get laid. Or a guy who hasn’t had sex in months.

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11403136_sWhen Alexa retreats to the quiet of the roof garden and finds Dillon there, tending the plants, they can’t avoid the insistent  chemistry between them and they have fast, hot sex in the open night air. As far as Alexa is concerned, it’s a very pleasurable one-night stand, but Dillon has other ideas.

*

The next night when she returned home to the smell of fresh paint, she found another bunch of laurel, this time with a note.

 Sorry I didn’t ask before stopping in, but there are some things that need taking care of around here. If you want a rundown of what, or if you’d like to yell at me for invading your privacy—and insulting your sense of aesthetics with my pathetic flowers—my number is 201-8801.

D.

 The smile came before she could stop it. Holding the note to her chest, she followed the paint scent to the bathroom. He’d painted two walls a cheery lake blue. Patches of white decorated the third wall as if he’d done some prep work to finish tomorrow. She could smell him, a hint of his pine aftershave and soap. If she drew deeply, maybe the slight tang of his sweat, layering lightly over the rest. It had been a hot day, and the small window he’d forgotten to shut didn’t offer much breeze. The inadequate AC would suck this summer, though oddly enough it seemed to be working better now. Her smile widened.

*

I loved the snarky banter back and forth between them as they danced around each other. It was sexy and flirtatious, and I’d love someone like Dillon to flirt with. Despite her common sense, Alexa finds herself needing him more and more.

*

12866446_sHalfway through the nightly news, her cell buzzed in her lap. She’d just forgotten to put it back in her purse. It wasn’t as if she’d been waiting all night to hear the sound of Dillon’s voice.

“Alexa?” he murmured once she answered. “Are you okay?”

Oh God. That question, said in such a painfully understanding tone. The already weakening walls in her chest cracked open so fast she had no hope of shoring them up again before a sob escaped.

*

He becomes the first person she turns to, and he knows just how to lift her spirits.

*

Fair warning. I’m in a strange mood. As you heard on the phone.” She swallowed over the knot in her throat. “Sort of swinging from lust to despair and back again. I’m not really sure if I’m interested in talking or sex, or both.”

“But are you in the mood for Chinese?”

She returned his smile. If anything, it had widened.

*

It feels perfect, but Dillon can’t hide his identity forever.

*

How long until he ran into the wrong person at the wrong time and they blew his cover? He never should’ve lied. Even with the acrimony between her and Cory, he’d had a better chance of convincing her he wasn’t like his shark of a brother at the beginning than he did now. Now she’d believe he’d been scheming all along, likely for nefarious purposes. She’d probably think he was a spy for Value Hardware, intent on filling her head with business ideas he hoped were primed to fail.

*

He has to tell her, break the news to her, and hope she loves him enough to see the truth of things.

*

“Let me take you out on my bike.”

She blinked, obviously still unsure. Her bluebonnet eyes wove a spell around him, and damn if he ever wanted to see his way clear. “When?” His pulse bumped. Saturday was the night of the benefit. The days between now and then were growing shorter by the hour.

“How’s Friday?” He’d go all out to plan a romantic evening and he’d finally tell her truth.

*

4817839_sDillon made the perfect hero. Part growly alpha male, part sex god, part mixed-up guy, with a protective and loving streak a mile wide. Every time they bound themselves a little closer, he knew it would be harder to tell the truth. He’d seen her off-the-wall reaction to all things Value Hardware and knew it could not end prettily.

Alexa, of course, had no idea. I read the second half of this book with my heart in my mouth, wanting them to be able to get past this huge issue, and fearing they wouldn’t make it. Cari Quinn made them both work hard for their happiness, this was no quick fix, and I loved the tale she spun.

The relationship between Dillon and Cory was satisfying. They had their differences, arguments-a-plenty, but at the end of the day, they were family – another strike against Dillon.

It’s a romance, so you know it should have a happy ending, and Cari Quinn doesn’t disappoint in that regard. What makes this romance stand out from the others, is how you get there. Every painful argument, every flutter of the heart, you’re right there with them, feeling it alongside the characters. You want to fall in love with Dillon, and you desperately want Alexa to do so, and that’s where Cari Quinn weaves her magic.

*

He heaved out a breath. “When you get so close to me, it’s like all the wires cross in my head 

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You want a sexy, flirtatious love story? Look no further. Trust me, this is a writer worth looking out for, and I plan to be buying her books for a long time to come 🙂

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Overall rating – 5 silken sheets

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Sexy rating – 5 lips

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Plot – great

Characters – fabulous!

Warnings – keep the icecubes on standby, this book is HOT!! * fans myself *

Details: Genre: Contemporary erotic romance

Published:  August 2012; $2.99 (Amazon)

Publisher: Entangled (Brazen)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

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