“…I can only hope that when I hit the ground, I won’t shatter into a million pieces. And that maybe – just maybe – he’ll be there to catch me.”
I had the distinct pleasure of reading J. Kenner for the first time a couple of months ago, when she introduced me to the sexy and tantalising Stark World in Wicked Grind. After thoroughly enjoying my first taste, I couldn’t wait to see what journey J. Kenner will take us on next in her second instalment of the Stark World series, Wicked Dirty.
Sugar Laine, or just Laine as she prefers to be called, has been through her fair share of tragedy in the last few years and as a result, has found herself drowning in debt. She needs to make some serious cash and she needs to make it now, and if she doesn’t, she’s at risk of losing her family’s home and all the memories they once shared together.
“Sex is a tool, and it can either build or destroy. My first time, it was a wrecking ball that broke me into a million pieces.
But this time…
This time sex is a lever.
This time, it’s going to save me.”
Unfortunately Laine’s job as a waitress isn’t going to get her the substantial money she needs, and certainly not when she needs it by. Her best friend comes up with the perfect solution; the perfect way to make the money she requires. The job involves working for an escort agency and getting paid to have sex. Laine however is not sure this is the right way to make money, but she is running out of options and the opportunity is too tempting to pass up…..so she agrees.
Lyle Tarpin is a Hollywood rising star and heartthrob. On the outside he has the world at his feet; he is rich, talented and could have any girl in the world he wanted, couldn’t he? Behind the public image and million dollar smile, Lyle harbours a deep pain and personal demons, which has ultimately caused him to avoid any relationships at all costs and to find comfort in a string of one night stands with call girls. He never sees the same girl twice and even though they may know who he is, he doesn’t introduce himself to them, there’s no point right? With these girls, he is able to forget his pain and escape reality, even if it is for a short time.
From Lyle and Laine’s first encounter there is an instant attraction that neither of them can ignore, but Laine sees the pain in Lyle’s eyes, not just the pain, but regrets as well and there is so much of it. She understands that he uses the call girls as an escape and a way to forget his guilt. Lyle knows he should walk away from Laine because she just may be the one to break the walls that he has encased around his heart.
“I see so much damn pain that I have to fight the urge to cup my palm against his cheek and tell him that whatever it is, it’s going to be ok.”
When photographs of the two surface, Lyle has no other option but to claim the photos were taken with his Fiancée. For me, this is when things started to get really interesting. I’m a massive sucker for the fake relationship trope. I love the anticipation of when fake feelings turn into the real deal. Wicked Dirty was no exception and I could feel the chemistry with every word I read. The more time they spent together, the harder it was for them to deny their true feelings. I loved how these two characters and their relationship grew; the slow build up and them bam, fireworks.
I devoured this story and became fully immersed in Lyle and Laine’s world from start to finish. If you love well written intriguing stories with characters you absolutely adore from the get go, then definitely delve into Wicked Dirty. Wicked Dirty is book two in the Stark World series but can be read as a standalone. I am eagerly anticipating book three, Wicked Torture as I am sure I will enjoy it as much as I have the first two.
My blood pounds through my body, my heart beating so hard that I can feel the pressure not only against my ribs, but against the wall behind me. My lips are parted, my breath coming in shaky gasps.
He’s only inches away, so close I could reach out and touch that famous, gorgeous face. His eyes, as deep and blue as the summer sky, roam over me. He eases closer, moving slowly, his face reflecting a hunger that sends shivers through me.
Once again, my mind conjures the image of a hungry wolf. Only now I’m thinking that maybe getting eaten wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Besides, I’m here. Might as well enjoy it.
Then, of course, I remember exactly what it is.
His fingertip brushes my forehead, and I almost jump out of my skin. I meet his eyes, see something that looks like irritation, and want to kick myself. I need to focus, dammit.
“You were somewhere else.” He speaks flatly, as if he’s working to keep all emotion out.
I shake my head, conjuring a lie. “I’m right here.” And then, because I’ve seen movies with call girls, I put my hand flat on his chest, trying to seem seductive. He’s wearing a gray T-shirt, and I can feel his heart beating beneath the planes of his muscled chest.
I read somewhere that he was getting in shape to play a superhero in an upcoming movie. And kudos to whoever’s orchestrating that transformation, because this guy is rock solid.
He’s still looking at me, and I fist my hand in the material of his shirt, needing an anchor against the storm of emotion I see playing out on his face. Desire. Hunger. Longing. Regret.
And pain. I see so much damn pain that I have to fight the urge to cup my palm against his cheek and tell him that whatever it is, it’s going to be okay.
Instead, I simply whisper, “Lyle?”
I’m not sure if it was the wrong thing or the right thing to say, but I know that it was unexpected. And before I can apologize or cover or say anything else at all, he is on me. One hand at my throat, the other hard on my breast. I’m pinned against the wall, helpless, as he claims my mouth again. Wildly. Brutally.
I try to think what I’m supposed to do—try to respond. But I’m trapped. I’m not Sugar. I’m not Laine. I’m not anyone. This isn’t about sex. It’s about pain and need and that storm of horrors I saw on his face. I might as well not even be here. And as his hand squeezes tight on my breast—as his mouth clashes so hard against mine that he draws blood—my only thought is that I shouldn’t have come at all. That this was stupid. Foolish. And that this night is going to leave me scarred.
I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to be what he wants. A warm body. An anonymous female.
But I can’t do it. I can’t do it at all.
All I can be is me. A woman desperate enough to have sex for money. A girl trying anything and everything to save her house. To protect her family’s memory.
I can be that girl.
But I can’t be nothing. I can’t be no one.
And as his hand tightens in my hair—as he kisses me violently—as his body presses hard against mine and I feel the steel of his erection—I know that I’ve made a terrible, horrible, awful mistake.
About the Author:
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.