Bantam /January 1, 2013 / $8.99 print / $7.99 digital
He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist.
Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me.
Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past—and risk breaking us apart.
But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him—and us—forever.
On the surface, recent Los Angeles transplant Nikki Fairchild has it all: beauty, ambition, brains, and a Texas oil money pedigree. But Nikki is a woman with secrets, and her move to the City of Angels is not purely for professional reasons—it’s her chance to leave her demons behind and start over.
When Nikki’s new boss takes her to an A-list party, he intends for her to be eye-candy bait for a billionaire investor named Damian Stark. What no one realizes is that it’s not the first time Nikki has encountered the tennis champion-turned-mogul, and the years have not dimmed this guy’s mega-wattage:
He is even more magnificent now than he was six years ago.
The brashness of youth has been replaced by a mature confidence.
He is Jason and Hercules and Perseus – a figure so strong and
beautiful and heroic that the blood of the gods must flow through
him, because how else could a being so fine exist in this world?
Author J. Kenner wastes no time igniting the heat between these two: Nikki isn’t even home from the party before a smoking hot, phone-sex-in-a-limo scene tells the reader this book is going to be one intense erotic ride:
“I want to be inside you,” he says, and before he gives me permission, I slide two fingers deep inside. My body immediately contracts, drawing me in further. I’m hot and slippery, and drunk with pleasure. The heel of my hand rubs against my clit, and I can’t help it – I moan. And now Stark knows my secret.”
Nikki soon learns Damian is a man with secrets of his own: his charmed life is tainted by the recent, mysterious death of his socialite girlfriend. Still, everyone wants a piece of him. And he just wants Nikki.
What ensues is a cat-and-mouse game of desire and resistance. All of their witty and playful banter aside, the intensity of the affair might be too much for a woman like Nikki; from the beginning, we know that she is a recovering cutter, that she lost her beloved sister to suicide, and that she spent her life struggling to get out from under the thumb of her cold, controlling mother. Now, her attraction to Damian makes her feel things that bring her to the emotional brink. And when he makes her an erotic offer that most women wouldn’t be able to refuse, she realizes that in order to fulfill his fantasy, she must reveal her deepest secrets.
J. Kenner, who also writes under the name J.K. Beck, is an award-winning and best-selling author, and her experience shows. While this novel follows some of the well-tread patterns of the ingénue/billionaire set-ups we’ve seen over this past year with the Fifty Shades and Bared to You novels, Release Me stands out with its skillful writing and a well-developed theme of appearances versus reality. The layered plot has a tension and emotional depth that reveals the hero and heroine to be kindred spirits: “We are so alike, he and I. Our childhoods ripped from us and driven by the whims of a parent.” Their story is an emotional puzzle that forms one piece at a time. Even as the romance between Nikki and Damian takes off, there is always a sense that the past is about to catch up with them. This lurking shadow, along with the imaginative and turbo-charged sex scenes, kept me turning the pages and wanting more.
Jamie Brenner is the author of erotic novels published under the pen name Logan Belle, including her latest Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian ( Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster) and the erotic trilogy Blue Angel(Kensington.) Her historical romance The Gin Lovers, will be out in paperback in February (St. Martin’s Press). For more please visit www.jamiebrenner.com or follow her @jamieLbrenner.