Seven Sexy Sins by Serenity Woods

Why I read it:  I heard Twitter buzz and pre-ordered this one.  As is often the case, it took me a little while to get to it on Mt. TBR.
What it’s about:  (from Goodreads)  The road to passion is paved with guilty pleasures.

Faith Hillman is in a bit of a pickle. She’s been commissioned to write a series of magazine articles on spicing up your love life. She’s got the theme—the “Seven Sexy Sins”—but there’s one major problem. She hasn’t experienced any of them.

Ever since Faith’s older brother gave Rusty Thorne a black eye for kissing her on her eighteenth birthday, he’s kept his distance, waiting for the right time to make his move. This is it. She needs a research partner? He’s the man for the job.

When sex-on-legs Rusty offers his services, Faith is all over it—with one caveat. The notorious heartbreaker must sign a confidentiality contract. Just to keep him safe from her brother’s wrath, of course…and her heart off Rusty’s long list of conquests.

As they work their wicked way through the list, the implications of the contract hit Rusty as hard as the handcuffs binding his wrists to the bed. It isn’t just Faith’s touch that rocks his world. It’s the way his heart likes it that blows his defenses out of the water. And makes him wonder, when the contract ends, if he can bear to let her go.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): This book was so much fun!  Faith and Rusty are part of a wider group of friends (which includes her brother Dan) who have all hung out together for years and know each other very well.  Their camaraderie was obvious right from the beginning.  I like friends-to-lovers themed stories anyway, but where this one worked especially well for me was that time was taken throughout the story to show (as opposed to tell) that this couple were actually friends, with things in common.  Sure, they had a smoking chemistry together but there was a lot more to their relationship.  They talked about work and goals and dreams and I absolutely believed that they would be very happy together for the long term.

The set up calls for seven sexy encounters between the two but each one advances their emotional relationship as well.  Although their Gluttony escapade (sex with food) had me raising my eyebrows a little – Two words: Mars Bar.  Here’s another two words:  Yeast infection.  I also wondered if either would be able to walk for the week after Avarice (multiple orgasms) but possibly that’s just jealousy talking.

Faith is inexperienced, but she’s not naive

He pushed her against the wall, moving one hand up her thigh. His eyes met hers, and she felt her cheeks flush as he slipped his fingers inside the black lacy panties for the first time. She opened her legs for him, sighing.

“Am I wet enough?” she asked innocently.

He gave a deep, sexy laugh, sliding his fingers through her warm folds, and brought them up, slick and coated, to arouse her gently. “You’re kidding me, right?”

She let him stroke her for a while before adding breathlessly, “So we don’t need any lubrication then?”

“Ah…not so much.”

She moistened her lips with her tongue as he continued his skillful stroking. “So you’ll be able to slide in and out easily?”

His eyes were hot and exasperated. “That’s it. I can’t wait any longer.”

“Oh, thank goodness.”

and I really liked that she owned her sexuality.  Rusty erroneously thinks that he is her “teacher” rather than her “partner” in this experiment and she sets him straight in no uncertain terms

“I’m not your trainee, Rusty. And I’m not your protégée. I may be a step or two behind you, but that doesn’t make me your subordinate. Understand?”

Of course, as things heat up in the bedroom (and various other places too), the pair realise there’s much more than physical attraction between them.  Rusty however feels he’s a bad bet.  He comes from a long line of alcoholic abusers – his father, grandfather, even his brother were/are all alcoholics who got mean and violent when drunk – hitting wives and children.  Rusty hasn’t ever touched alcohol, afraid to unleash what he believes is a monster inside of him.  He’s also worried that, even if the monster gene has skipped a generation, if he ever fathered any children, he could sire someone like his own dad.  So he has flings and brief relationships but believes marriage and a family is not an option for him.  Even when he comes to the conclusion that he loves Faith, he cannot take the risk – the fact that he loves her makes hims even less desirous of potentially hurting her and that created the touch of bittersweet toward the end of the story.  Don’t worry, it has a happy ending but there is a bit of angst getting there.

He felt forlorn. Bereft. Like half a person, as if he’d gone into hospital to have a mole removed and they’d mistakenly amputated his left arm and leg. While he was dating her, he should have written “Not this one” on his heart in black pen. 

Dan of course, doesn’t know that Rusty and Faith are getting it on and when he finds out (of course he’s going to find out!) fists fly.  But in the end, it is Dan who helps Rusty see that he is not the monster he fears he is – and it is one of the funny but also kind of touching moments in the book which raised it above the average.  (Any book which has made up lyrics to Bryan Adams is a win in my opinion! :D)

I found Rusty’s fears believable for him.  On the one hand, his friends knew that he wasn’t what he feared but I knew that Rusty believed it was possible.  I could understand why he was frightened and the scene with his brother just brought it home to him again.  It could have been the sort of conflict I got a bit tired of (you know “oh, get over it already!”), but the way it was written, it worked for me (even if he was a bit of a dick to Faith and Dan in the process).  I can understand having a negative belief so deeply ingrained that common sense can’t root it out.  And that’s what Rusty was dealing with.

What else?  I read a review of this book on Dear Author where Dabney quoted one of the sex scenes.  The author used the unfortunate (IMO anyway) phrase “heart of her sensitivity” in it and it did put me off reading for a bit.  But, it’s only used the once and really the sex scenes are well done.  Really well done.

I also enjoyed the New Zealand setting – I honeymooned on the North Island of New Zealand and spent a few special days in Paihia in the Bay of Islands as it happens. 

I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

Grade:  B+

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