I’ve read and really enjoyed some of your work, so when Jane featured One Night of Scandal as a Daily Deal, it was a no brainer for me to pick it up.
Reed Miller is in a quandary. He’s been attracted to his best friend, AJ’s girlfriend since they started dating. Darcy is everything he wants. She’s gorgeous and smart and passionate about her work as a teacher. She’s the kind of woman you settle down with. Despite Reed’s reputation as a lady’s man, he’s starting to feel like it’s time to calm down his wild social life and begin to build a future with a woman. He’d love for that woman to be Darcy, but of course, she’s AJ’s girl, and there’s no chance there. He’s got a great life as a former MMA fighter. He owns a successful night club with his two best friends, but they’ve just uncovered a problem with a drug dealer that seems to be selling Ecstasy from their club. Reed decides to track down the dealer.
One night while casing the competition, looking for possible links to the mysterious dealer, Reed spies Darcy in a way too short to be legal dress. She seems to be trolling for guys. Incensed, Reed marches over to haul Darcy away from the action. He’s shocked when Darcy tells him that she and AJ have broken up and she’s looking to move on with her life. Reed can’t believe it. This should be his chance, but Darcy is AJ’s ex, and as a former girlfriend of a good friend, she’s completely off limits. Reed insists on taking Darcy home. Of course, he ends up landing the hottest kiss either of them have ever experienced on her, but they agree that neither can betray AJ and that despite their attraction, things can go no further.
Reed resolves to confess what happened with Darcy to AJ immediately, but the opportunity passes and somehow he doesn’t tell him. And when AJ asks Reed to stand in at a self-defense class that AJ was supposed to teach, but now feels it would be awkward to do it with Darcy, Reed can’t say no. Of course, being in such close proximity to Darcy means fighting their incendiary attraction even harder. Soon Reed and Darcy are making love.
For Reed, despite his guilt over AJ, it’s everything he dreamed of. He knows Darcy is The One. Darcy knows Reed’s history and has no interest in having her heart broken. She tells Reed that their hook up is just that, a hook up. There will be no flowers and candy — strictly sex. Reed is unhappy, but of course, won’t stop seeing Darcy in the hopes that it will grow to something more. But will Darcy begin to think of Reed as more than a secret hook up? What will AJ say when he finds out?
I’m sorry to say that this book didn’t work all that well for me. There seemed to be a lot of short hand and cliche being employed to try to raise the emotional stakes in the story. There’s the drug dealer storyline, which allows Reed and Darcy to be thrown together for a moment. There’s the AJ storyline, which ended up mostly being a tempest in a teapot. There’s the Reed teaching self-defense storyline that employed plot moppets. There’s the final Big Misunderstanding which seemed too silly to even be serious, and then there was the hero acting like a giant jackass to scare off the heroine gambit.
I almost felt like there was a big bowl of romance tropes that you were drawing out of a bowl and throwing into the story. While I have no particular objection to any of the above referenced storylines, none were fully fleshed out, so in combination, they felt like a hodge-podge of tropes without a truly cohesive, fully realized story. I’m disappointed, because I generally find you to be a really reliable author whose work I consistently enjoy. But this one was a miss for me. Final grade: C.