Berkley Trade / April 2, 2013 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital
Mary Whaley has her hands full running a successful catering company and overseeing her supper club. She has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought. When she meets ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star Damien Hurley at her friend’s engagement party, the attraction she feels is overpowering—and she isn’t about to deny herself.
Damien is used to a hard and fast life. He and two of his brothers started a band when they were fresh out of high school—then they hit the big time and stayed there. He’s also a legendary madman on the stage and in the bedroom. But when he meets Mary, something clicks, and the bad boy starts thinking he may have finally found something good.
What begins as a series of fleeting trysts soon gets much more complicated. Damien can’t figure out why Mary doesn’t want more from him. And before long, it’s Damien who wants more from Mary. But it turns out Mary is no stranger to celebrity news, and he’s got a very big job ahead of him: proving that he’s worth more than a one-night stand…
Not only did I love Lush by Lauren Dane, I expect it will make my “top ten” list of 2013. Already. There's nothing to dislike here: A wonderful group of characters, well-developed relationships, a real romance, and a romance novel in every sense of the word.
Ms. Dane's writing has only gotten better, which is of course a bonus.
What I want to talk about here, however, because we all know to expect a sexy raucous good time with Lauren Dane's contemporaries, is the characters. Mary and Damien are so grounded. Mary knows who she is, and what she wants. I loved how realistic everything was—if, you know, hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with billboard topping rock stars is normal. But even that is handled sensibly. The characters know it's not status quo, but that's their life.
It's not the glitz and the glamor, but the emotional connection.
These people have friends and family who have their back. But not blindly. In fact, when Mary's friends think she's making a mistake, they tell her. People often say they read romances for the fantasy (which actually is kinda a pet peeve of mine) but here, I'm with them. I want this—it's my fantasy. Not so much a rockstar drummer who will come and sweep me off my feet. (Although I wouldn't turn that down), but a good life, and an even better set of core friends. People who love you enough and trust you enough to be honest. Aside from fame and fortune (or even comfortable living), that's really what every person wants. Or should strive to achieve.
It's lovely to read such an adult romance, and I'm not talking about the sex. (Although that's there and it is hot and dirty and good.) I also liked that Damien was the one who started wanting more and pushing for a relationship. He has to work to convince her they can be a couple. And I loved that! It does take work for a relationship, and it's rare for people to fall instantly in love. It was also nice that there's a give and take. They communicate, and Mary doesn't take any of Damien's crap. In fact she'll call him on it and throw it in his face to deal with, because she's a big girl.
There are no games and huge misunderstandings for the purpose of prolonging the agony or forcing a plot point. It flows nicely, and it's how you want everything to be. The book is by no means predictable, but it doesn't have extra bells and whistles. Because Lush doesn't need them; the secondary characters are there not just as support, but as integral parts of the story.
I wish every romance was written like this. There was no need to throw in strange kink just to be edgy; if there had been, though, it's because it would have been who Damien and Mary are, and it would work for them. Everything fits in the best possible way.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Lauren Dane's Lush before its April 2 release:
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