What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Sometimes it’s good to be bad…
When it comes to sex, good girl Skyler Thompson always plays it safe, choosing stable and sedate over wild and thrilling. She doesn’t do one-night-stands, but one look at sinfully sexy Gage Holt and she’s willing to reconsider. He makes her want to be bad for once in her life, and she’s prepared to take what she wants.
Danger follows former MMA fighter Gage Holt like a shadow. Despite his successes as part owner of Sin, an exclusive nightclub in Boston, Gage can’t risk getting involved with a woman, especially one as sweet as Skyler. Still, he can’t resist a taste—and it’s so damn good he has to see her again.
As addicted as he is to her, Gage knows there’s no future for him and Skyler—not with his past lurking in the dark corners of an MMA cage. But Skylar’s tougher than she looks, and she’s ready to fight for her man.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I liked the hell out of Elle Kennedy’s Out of Uniform series (especially Feeling Hot) so when I saw this one was available for pre-order for 99c I snapped it up. I really enjoy her contemporary voice. I think she writes great sex and authentic guys.
This is only a novella so it doesn’t go into depth in terms of backstory or character, but what was there was solid enough. Gage is a former MMA fighter who is fairly emotionally shut down. He is attracted to a girl who is a patron at a bar (Sin) he co-owns with two buddies from the MMA circuit. Gage is retired but in order to pay off a debt owed to a wannabe fight entrepreneur-come-mob-boss, he agrees to fight for a further limited time. Gage thinks he’s basically bad news and that Skyler is too good for him. It doesn’t hold up if you think about it too much because clearly Gage things highly of his buddies Reed and AJ and he trusts them enough to be in business with them. I think for a full length novella the conflict would have been insufficient but because this is a novella and the story didn’t dwell on it, it worked well enough.
Skyler is finishing up her Master’s degree in psychology and working part time as a waitress to pay for school. Not having much time for a social life, she accepts a date with a guy whose main attraction was that he asked her. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a jerk, but the evening isn’t a total bust because she sets her gaze on Gage and. He’s not at all her usual type but she decides to go for it anyway.
The sex between Gage and Skyler is scorching and inventive and I really liked how Skyler found with Gage a sense of sexual adventure and a boldness to ask for what she wanted without apology. I also really liked that Gage clearly thought this was something to be celebrated. Gradually, Sky and Gage fall into an actual relationship but when Gage’s family dramas come back to haunt him, he shuts down.
I liked how Sky valued herself throughout the book – like The Gambler, she knew when to hold ’em and when to walk away. Gage, is not just sexy; he can grovel with the best of them and it didn’t take him too long to clue in.
There were a few things which were felt underdeveloped – for instance, the relationship between Skyler and her stepfather. A lot more could have been done with that and I don’t think the short wordcount is an excuse. I did like that it wasn’t merely magical thinking that was a fix for the relationship and Skyler’s feelings were always regarded as valid.
Still, I did enjoy the relationship between Gage and Skyler and it was a very enjoyable evening’s read and great value at its price point.