Wed
Jul 24 2013 1:00pm

First Look: J. Kenner’s Complete Me (July 30, 2013)

Complete Me by J. KennerJ. Kenner
Complete Me
Bantam / July 30, 2013 / $10.98 print, $9.99 digital

Our desire runs deep. But our secrets cut close.

Beautiful, strong, and commanding, Damien Stark fills a void in me that no other man can touch. His fierce cravings push me beyond the brink of bliss—and unleash a wild passion that utterly consumes us both.

Yet beneath his need for dominance, he carries the wounds of a painful past. Haunted by a legacy of dark secrets and broken trust, he seeks release in our shared ecstasy, the  heat between us burning stronger each day.

Our attraction is undeniable, our obsession inevitable. Yet not even Damien can run from his ghosts, or shield us from the dangers yet to come.

Demons from the past cast a long shadow in Complete Me, the third installment of J. Kenner’s Stark trilogy. The secrets that once challenged the intimacy between Nikki Fairchild and Damien Stark now threatens their lives together, as Stark faces trial for murder.

Complete Me opens on the eve of the trial, with Nikki Fairchild, a former Southern beauty queen turned LA transplant, alone in their luxurious German hotel room. She is agonizing over the fact that even as Damian’s fate hangs in the balance, he stubbornly refuses to reveal his past. In refusing to tell the courts how his former coach abused him — by protecting his secrets — he is sacrificing their life together. But she realizes that his fierce protection of his dignity is part of who he is and why she loves him. He tells her: “You are my everything. But I can’t be true to you if I’m not true to myself.”

 While I understand the reason for his silence, I can’t quell the selfish spark of anger. Because at the core of it all, it’s not just himself that Damien is sacrificing. It’s me. Hell, it’s us.

She has no doubt that he loves her, but she feels him pushing her away. And yet, as the trial draws closer, their sex intensifies “it has been wilder, more potent, as if by controlling me Damien can control the outcome.”

Complete Me continues the series’ trademark luxe eroticism:  A five-star hotel, extravagant shopping sprees, a midnight ride in a red Lamborghini, and of course, Damian himself: “I have only to look at his midnight-colored hair to imagine the soft, thick locks between my fingers. There is nothing about him that is not intimately familiar to me, and yet every glance at him hits me like a shock, reverberating through me with enough power to knock me to my knees.”

Things take a dramatic turn when photographic evidence of Damien’s childhood abuse surfaces mysteriously, causes the charges against him to be dropped  (this is not a spoiler – really, it’s just the beginning!). Nikki has a fleeting moment of relief – until she quickly realizes that the true danger to her – and to the man she loves – has just begun.  Soon, frightening messages appear, warning Nikki that Damien’s past will always hurt her.

The question remains whether or not she will hurt herself. Although she resisted the urge to cut herself during the stress leading up to the trial, she knows that, “I am not “cured” — I know I never will be. I will always crave that pain to keep me centered. I will always be just a little astounded when I get through a crisis without putting a blade to my flesh. But I have Damien now, and it is him that I crave.”  But as their relationship comes under assault from enemies beyond her line of sight, beyond her understanding, the urge to cut herself becomes yet another adversary to fight.

All this stress only draws Nikki and Damien closer together – and makes their sex hotter than ever. There seems to be no place off-limits to their animal attraction, including the dressing room of an upscale lingerie store, a trendy Munich nightclub, the back of a limo (a welcome reminder of their very first encounter, after the party, in Release Me), and a luxury jet. Their sex is at its best in part because it is now based on trust and experience. Even the edgiest play excites her, “Because you know me. Because you know what I can take. You know what I want. You know my limits, Damien. And because you push them.” And to him, she is a touchstone: “You’re what gives me strength,” he tells her. “If I am what centers you, Nikki, then you are what anchors me. Every time I touch you, every time I bury myself deep inside you – Nikki, don’t you see? You are the talisman of my life, and if I lose my grip on you, then I have lost myself.”

But all of his love is not enough to protect her from coming face–to-face with her greatest fear: the one person who has the power to take it all away from her. Ultimately, Nikki finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Walk away from Damien forever, or stay and let him be destroyed.

The roller coaster events of Complete Me give this novel a page-turning quality. But it is at its most glorious in the sex scenes that build on the heat and depth of the first two books in the series. The high stakes in Complete Me dramatizes a universal truth about passionate love: the flip-side of passion is the fear of losing it. All three novels in this immensely satisfying series explore the idea that love is the game with the highest risks, but also the greatest rewards. And, as in any game, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of J. Kenner's Complete Me before its July 30 release:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound

 

 


Jamie Brenner is the author of the historical romance THE GIN LOVERS (St. Martin’s Press). Writing under the pen name Logan Belle, she is the author of the erotic novels  MISS CHATTERLEY,  THE LIBRARIAN (Pocket Star) and BLUE ANGEL (Kensington).  Her next novel, SWEET DESCENT, will publish with St. Martin’s Press late this year. For more, please visit www.jamiebrenner.com or follow her @jamieLbrenner.

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1 comment
Jean Brashear
1. Jean Brashear
And since I am a very fortunate early reader, I could not agree more!!! This intense and fascinating series is a tough one to wrap up, as the first two books are hard acts to follow--but J. Kenner does, in compelling and superb fashion. (Hmm...reflecting Damien himself.;)) A tour de force that will not be forgotten. I'm ready to read it all again!
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