Jul 11 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Susan Andersen’s No Strings Attached (July 29, 2014)

No Strings Attached by Susan AndersenSusan Andersen
No Strings Attached
Harlequin HQN / July 29, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Some mistakes are worth repeating… 

Tasha Riordan's one night with Luc Bradshaw was the best of her life. The following two—when he left her to be thrown into a Bahamian jail on bogus charges—were her worst. Now, seven years later, the undercover DEA agent is back. Invading her town. Her restaurant. Her fantasies. She can't trust a man who lied to her. Yet neither can she trust herself—not when their chemistry burns even hotter than before. 

Learning he has two half-brothers shocks Luc. Discovering they live in the same town as Tasha—that's a different kind of thrill. Their mutual lust is still off the charts, but he can't get her to listen to his side of what happened on that long-ago night. Good thing he's got powers of persuasion that go deeper than words. Because nothing has ever felt this right….

When you open a Susan Andersen book you know the hero and heroine are in for a bumpy ride. First comes the animosity and the unwanted sexual attraction, then a brief sort of harmony that lulls the hero and heroine to act on their sexual attraction, then a misunderstanding and finally the happy ever after.

Except her books can’t be summarized in one paragraph. Of course there is the sizzle between the heroine and hero which is a big thing, but there is also warmth and caring—between lovers, friends, family—and those elements keep me returning to her books year after year, after year.

In No Strings Attached, you will find numerous relationships that celebrate everyday life.

Of course there is main relationship — the romance between Tasha Riordan and Luc Bradshaw. Tasha doesn’t think she has it in her to forgive Luc Bradshaw, the man who disappeared from her life after a night of unforgettable sex, leaving her to spend two night in a Bahamian jail:

Intellectually I appreciate your apology, because it sounds as if you didn’t have much more control over your destiny that night than I did.”

...“While my imprisonment is obviously all new to you, I’ve been doing my damnedest to shake my memories of it. That was hands down the worst forty-eight hours in my life. And it might not be fair, Luc, but I don’t want to be friends with you. You just too strongly linked to that night.”

But Luc is not to give up without a fight.

“Part of which was killer good.”

“Yeah.” A corner of those do-me-daddy lips quirked up. Then the tiny smile dropped away.

“Unfortunately, the arrest part overshadows it, and that was so horrendous I can barely remember what came before.”

Irritation that the memories he’d never quite been able to shake meant less than nothing to her made him crowd her and slide his palms around her cool nape. He tipped her head up. “Then let me remind you.”

And of course a girl has to have a best friend:

Harper gave Tasha a bright olive-green-eyed gaze, then turned in her seat to study Jenny. “I know you two have been friends for a long time. But I don’t believe I’ve ever heard exactly when or how you met.”

“It was my second day at Razor Bay High School when we were sixteen,” Jenny said with a fond smile at Tasha. “I was new in town, and Tash stepped in when some kids started giving me shit about my father’s well publicized incarceration for a Ponzi scheme…

“I just loved her from the start, because she had even less standing in that school than I did, yet instead of covering her ass and walking on by like any right-thinking individual would have done—“

Tash snorted and Jenny flashed her a grin.

—she just jumped right into the fray. We went from that to bonding over the pizzas she made in her mama’s single-wide and a mutual determination to move beyond our circumstances.

But what really touched me was Tasha’s random acts of kindness that made such an impact in other individual’s lives. Like Jeremy Newhall:

“I’d like to make you my new cook.”

He froze. “Huh?” His hand made a totally spastic movement, and he shoved his fingers into his back pocket to keep from looking like an oversized puppet being jerked around by a three-year old. “I mean, I heard you, I just…” He shook his head. “Why me?”

“Because you’re smart, you’re level headed and, as I said before, you pay attention to details. I have a feeling you’d be good at it. I admire the way you’re not easily shaken—admire more that even you are, you control your temper. That’s a rare quality in anyone of any age.

And Peyton Vanderkamp:

Auburn eyebrows quirked skyward. “You want to be my busboy?”

“Yes. Well, busgirl, I guess.” She squared her shoulders. Looked the other woman in the eye. “I’d like to be your busser, whatever title you give it.”

Tasha considered her for a nerve-racking moment, before she said with soft-voiced finality, “I try to hire kids who need the money.”

She almost walked away then. Almost. But the truth was…”I need the money.”

The warm relationships are not just between the heroine and the other characters. Luc discovers there are numerous reason to like Razor Bay, and it not just because Tasha is there. His developing relationship with his brothers fills a void—one he didn’t know he had:

“Your only real job is to show people you’re the best man for the job,” Luc said. “And since you are, tell them the same thing you’ve told us. Share all your ideas on how you’d improve the office and save the taxpayers money. That and your record as a — deputy in Razor Bay will sell you.”

Max gave him a pleased smile. “That makes sense. Thanks bro. That is exactly what I’ll concentrate on. . .

It felt good to have said the right thing to his brother, and he realized that was the way he was beginning to think of both Max and Jake, as his brothers—full stop, period, no half designation needed. He had dropped in on them out of the blue, yet from the beginning they had been nothing but great about including him in all their functions and get-togethers. And he appreciated it. Emotion abruptly swamped him, and he swallowed a lump in his throat. Really appreciated it. 

And I did mention the sizzle didn’t I?

She swallowed dryly at all that golden-brown skin stretched over beautifully formed muscle and sinew…

She sat up to reach for the metal button on the low slung waistband of his Levis.

Ms. Andersen’s fans will find plenty to enjoy in the latest addition to her Razor Bay/Bradshaw Brothers series.

Learn more about or order a copy of No Strings Attached by Susan Andersen, available July 29, 2014:

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Leigh Davis, blogger

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