I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. I mean, erotica, obviously, and from the back cover copy it seemed to actually have a real plot. But with erotica, you don't always know what you're going to get from an author you're unfamiliar with, whether it will be something really good – a love story, for instance, or something really crappy – a bunch of sex scenes cobbled together with a little narrative. So I was happy to discover a story about desperate love, denial of feelings, and determination to stay away from the other. .
The book opens with a lengthy, fairly hot, but slightly bizarre sex scene between Zach and Madi, which ends with them going their separate ways, neither really remembering that night and both thinking it was a drug (Zach) or alcohol (Madi) induced dream.
Three years prior, Zach and Madi had been in a hot and heavy relationship. Madi was young and very in love with Zach, wanting to settle down with him and start a family. But Zach had no desire to travel down that road, and when Madi walked in on him with another woman in his bed, she fled from him and her family and started life over in a new city. Now Madi's mother, who is also Zach's business partner, has conspired to bring her home and manipulated her into running the company's newest acquisition with Zach, a spa/sex club.
I'm pleased to tell you that Madi and Zach are two incredibly tortured souls, who we, the reader, get to know really well. Madi's whole family is dysfunctional, and her mother has never forgiven her for siding with her father in their divorce. The girls have grown up in the public eye. They're celebutantes, but not your typical spoiled little rich girls. When Madi and her sister find themselves having to buy groceries they don't even know where to start:
“Where do we begin, Madi?” Brianna's hesitant voice snapped her back to the present.
“I don't know. I-I think you go in alphabetical order.”
While this is Madi's story, her two sisters are important characters as well. The girls love each other, but they also fight and squabble amongst themselves. And since they have the Mother From Hell, it's no wonder they're all a little damaged. Karolyn's treatment of her daughters sometimes made me cringe, and I was glad when she left town and stayed away for awhile, though her influence was still strongly felt. .
Zach lost his mother as a teen, and his father crumpled under his grief and left his sons emotionally abandoned. Zach is a strong and charismatic man. He has a lot of failings, and he treated Madi pretty bad three years ago, but you can't help but be drawn to him. Sometimes I would think how in the world can Madi get past his actions. Then I would remind myself that drugs and alcohol affected his behavior, and he's trying to be a better man now. Yet despite that, at the core he hasn't changed, he still doesn't want that settle down and start a family life. It was a struggle to decide how I really felt about him. On one page I adored him, and then suddenly I wanted to smack him. We also meet his brother, Dakota, who's come back to town and is staying with Zach. Some of the scenes with the two brothers talking were my favorite, and it was very satisfying to see how their relationship slowly evolved.
I was once asked if I prefer novels that are plot driven or character driven. For me it's characters, first and foremost. A book can have absolutely no plot at all, but if the characters are well written it doesn’t matter. The characters in Wicked Allure fit that description. From the beginning, the authors put us inside both Madi's and Zach's heads, and by the end I was very emotionally invested in their story. Zach, particularly, burrowed into my heart as he grew and matured and redeemed himself and learned what's really important in life.
My only problem with the book was in the editing. There were a lot of small instances of the wrong spelling of a word being used, or a comma where I didn't think one was appropriate. Not anything major, but enough to be a little irritating.
While the back cover copy describes the book as multicultural, that essence of the story was matter of fact rather than drummed in, as it should be in real life.
To sum up, the authors have created a powerful story and vivid characters with an HEA that was a long time coming and extremely satisfying.
Oh, yeah, the sex – this is erotica after all! There's plenty of it, and it's good. But honestly, I don't think I would have really noticed if some or even most of it had been deleted. The rest of the book was that good.
(I received this book from the author through a giveaway on Reader Views.)