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Beverley Kendall

REVIEW:  When in Paris by Beverley Kendall

REVIEW: When in Paris by Beverley Kendall

College freshman Olivia Montgomery is thrilled at the chance to start over, escape the rumors that plagued her in high school. And she can finally put her juvenile crush, Zachary Pearson, where he belongs–in her past. Then her unrequited love strolls into her French class, shattering Olivia’s newfound peace, and the feelings she’d thought buried for good come rushing back. Now she can’t shake her unwanted attraction to the one guy who can twist her stomach into knots with just a smile…but has never given her the time of day.

Zach’s good looks may have always gotten him his pick of girls, but it’s the star quarterback’s skill on the football field that gives him his pick of the Big Ten colleges. To escape the crushing demands of his win-at-all-costs father, Zach opts for a private university in upstate New York where…his present and past collide. And the one girl he’s always wanted but can’t have–and a class trip to Paris–turn out to be the ultimate game changer that has him breaking every one of his rules.

Dear Ms.Kendall:

For the past week, I’ve had seven New Adults staying in our house–my four, my eldest’s girlfriend, a good friend of his from college, and a visiting Australian. The New Adult world you write about in When in Paris not only has nothing to do with how New Adults actually behave, it’s also a whole lot duller than New Adult reality. (Although there does appear to be less arguing over whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.)

The heroine and hero of  When in Paris, Olivia Montgomery and Zach Pearson, went to high school together where they never spoke mostly because Zach ignored her with the single-mindedness of a Red Sox fan at a home game. Olivia has craved Zach forever.

It had all started on the first day of high school. I’d been fourteen—you know, the age when our bodies are a flux of surging hormones. The instant I laid eyes on him, I felt a physical attraction so powerful I swear it left me dazed. I think my heart had been in the smile I sent him, to which he’d responded by giving me the colder-than-arctic shoulder.

Olivia was baffled why Zach constantly gave her the Big Chill. After all, as she points out,

Beyond crushed is the only way to explain how I felt when he’d completely ignored me. At that point, disliking him had been a simple matter of self-preservation. Of course that’s not how I looked at it back then. No, back then I was just plain hurt, not to mention nursing a bruised pride. You see, by then I’d become accustomed not only to male attention, but their admiration. It hadn’t been anything I’d actively sought or was particularly proud of, it just was.

So gorgeous Olivia has always longed for but been ignored by gorgeous Zach. Yeah, he’s phenomenally hot too.

In high school, he’d been considered the ultimate catch with girls falling for and after him like a line of dominoes. And I swear from the way the eyes of every girl in class are currently fixed on him, he’s all set to retain that status.

At six-two, Zach’s the quintessential quarterback—all broad shoulders, narrow hips and lean, well-defined muscles. His hair is the closest shade to black without actually being black, close-cropped at the sides and back, and long enough on the top to give a hint of natural wave. He has a habit of running his hand through it and considering its slightly mussed appearance, he’d been recently doing just that.

When in Paris by Beverley KendallAt the start of When in Paris, Olivia is shocked, freaked, and–oh God look at his wickedly beautiful eyes–to realize that Zach is also a freshman at the small college she’s attending. The school is 300 miles away and in a different state than where they went to high school. She can’t understand what he’s doing there. He was the star of their high school football team, his older brother is the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, and Zach had been heavily recruited by many of college football’s most storied programs. The college Olivia–and apparently Zach–attends is Warwick University, a decent Division I school but nothing like the Big Ten schools where Olivia had thought he’d go. Poor Olivia, all she wanted to do was go to college and let boys admire her gorgeousness, do well in her classes, hang out with her supremely beautiful best friend April, and go to Paris over fall break with her French class. Now Zach and all his not-for-Olivia yumminess is here and it’s just awful. (Cue a heavy on the base song by Massive Attack.)

That’s Olivia’s view on her relationship with Zach. Zach’s is utterly different. We know this because each chapter changes point of view.

Zach has always jonesed for Olivia but he’s not allowed to like her because–and there’s a BIG mystery going on here kids–his family hates her mother. As Zach explains,

I don’t know Olivia that well and she may be hot as all hell, but she’s always come across as pretty reserved. Some of the kids at school accused her of being stuck up; the girls for obvious reasons—jealousy—and the guys’ probably bad-mouthed her because she shot them down.

In our junior year, things got worse when Olivia returned from summer break looking noticeably bigger. Rumor had it she’d gotten implants, so she’d been stuck-up and fake and shallow.

Publically, I chose to reserve judgment, but inside I’d latched on to the idea like a burr on a horse’s tail. Just as I’d thought, the apple really didn’t fall far from the tree. I decided she must be just like her mother, which supported the reasons I didn’t like her—couldn’t like her. There’d just been one problem, not only was she gorgeous but, real or bought and paid for, she’d had a first-class rack to boot. Truly a winning combination.

So, Olivia of the supermodel face and stunning boobs and Zach of the gorgeous face and rock hard abs must now face the horrible truth. Their high school peers and Zach’s inexplicably closed-minded parents aren’t here. Zach’s totally off her rocker high school girl friend Ashley isn’t here. Zach and Olivia have, gasp, a French class together. They have no choice but to end up in bed as soon as the plot can be forced to allow them to do so. (But only after Olivia has a “They’re real and they’re spectacular” show and tell moment with Zach.)

Zach, in order to escape fall break at home where his bullying dad will harangue him to switch to a better football program, decides to go to Paris with the French class. Olivia arranges to sit next to Zach on the flight and, by the time they’ve landed in the City of Love, Zach decides to seduce Olivia.

But now that we’re talking, I can’t help thinking more and more that we can do something more like a friends-with-benefits thing. I mean, I can’t see her as a one-night-stand. I like her. I can talk to her and she wants to learn more about my two favorite sports. But I’m not looking to get serious with anyone. Not now. Not so soon after Ashley.

“No problem,” I assure her. “I’ll teach you everything you need to know in Paris.”

Her eyes flit to mine and then she glances away. Only when a blush washes over her face do I realize what I just said and how it could be taken. But she’s right, I won’t mind teaching her a thing or two about that too.

Olivia does indeed let Zach teach her zee ways of love in Paris–which, as portrayed by Ms. Kendall, might as well have been anywhere. And before you know it, Olivia’s in love and Zach’s loving getting laid and getting his hands regularly on her (real) bountiful boobs. But, apparently what happens in Paris, has a different meaning out of Paris and all it takes, when Olivia and Zach return home, is for Olivia to use the B word (boyfriend) to make Zach abandon tail and run. (Poor baby, he’s still scarred by his crazy constantly texting him ex-girlfriend–her irresponsible parents have begged him not to set possibly suicidal Ashley off and Zach feels responsible for her sanity.)

There are tears, jealous fights, painful discovered truths about family, and more description than I ever want to read again about how hot, gorgeous, sexy, firm, built, and lickable these New Adults are. The angst in the book has the heft of a poorly written term paper and is equally as interesting. The plot is on the silly side and is in large part propelled by parents who really should know better.

The world faced by the 17 to 25 cohort is fascinating, challenging, and in constant flux.  I usually enjoy talking to the New Adults I know. Their efforts to define their lives and their realm is interesting. Gorgeous New Adults who don’t struggle with money, don’t worry about the future, and have the self-awareness of Gwyneth Paltrow aren’t interesting. I didn’t like either “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” Olivia or “all these chicks want me, what’s a stud to do” Zach. Yes, both have redemptive moments, but, overall, neither character is believable or engaging.  The world Ms. Kendall places them in–whether in Paris or in the USA–is presented with the depth of Matt Lauer interview.

Dear Author has reviewed several New Adult books positively in the past year. I had hoped my first venture in doing so would be enjoyable. No such luck for poor Old Adult me. If you are looking to read a great New Adult book, look away from When in Paris. I give it a C-.

I’m off to find a New Adult to unload the dishwasher,

Dabney

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REVIEW:  An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall

REVIEW: An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall

Dear Ms. Kendall,

It was a foregone conclusion I’d read An Heir of Deception, your latest entry into The Elusive Lords series. I’ve read the first two and novella and while neither the second book nor the novella rocked my socks like your debut novel A Taste of Desire, I’ve had fun reading them all. The heroes are gorgeous, dominant males with more self-confidence than Tony Stark, and are golden gods in bed. The women who love them are beautiful, smart mouthed, and able to orgasm on a single thrust. The course of their loves never runs smooth, the sex is always magnificent, and the happy endings plausible.  I liked An Heir of Deception—although the protagonists Charlotte and Alex aren’t quite as sizzling as Amelia and Thomas (the leads in A Taste of Desire—I needed a fan while I read that book!)—and found it a good addition to the series.

An Heir of Deception by Beverley KendallCharlotte Rutherford has loved Alex Hastings from the moment she first saw him, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-six. He resisted her charms for years until, finally, when she turned eighteen, he seduced her, and fell as deeply in love with her as she was with him.  The two were to be married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in a lavish ceremony but, as Alex arrived at the church, Charlotte was nowhere to be found. Her brother James, Alex’s best friend, told him Charlotte fled, leaving James a note:

“She wrote to beg my forgiveness for any scandal or shame her actions may bring upon the family but…says she can’t marry you.”

Alex is wrecked, ruined, destroyed, and hung up to dry when Charlotte leaves. He spends the next three years of his life a step away from total self-destruction. He knows, from a letter she sent him and from what he hears from her family, she’s settled in America. It’s only a near death experience—he fell into the Thames while soused and caught a near-killing fever—that knocks some sanity into him. He quits drinking, devotes himself to his estates, and vows to never let anyone near his heart again.

Then, at the beginning of An Heir of Deception, five years after she left him brideless at St. Paul’s, Charlotte returns… and she’s not alone. With her is her son, Nicholas, whom Alex takes one look at and knows without a doubt the child is his. (Nicholas apparently is the spitting image of Alex’s deceased older brother Charles.) Alex is consumed with rage. He can barely contain his anger at Charlotte—not only did she destroy his life, she stole his son’s early years from him. He vows to punish her and to claim Nicholas as his own.

Charlotte returned only because she was told, erroneously, her twin sister, Catherine, was on the brink of death. Charlotte is shocked to learn not only is Catherine in the pink, but Alex now lives in the manor next door and, the very day Charlotte arrives, is in the house picking up some papers for James. Charlotte can barely breathe when she sees Alex again.

Charlotte stood frozen, ensnared as deftly and completely as a rabbit in the presence of a rattler preparing to strike. She watched as he proceeded down the seemingly endless corridor toward her.

Senses starved for the flesh-and-blood man greedily tried to take him in all at once, hoarding away every minute detail to take back with her to feed the lonely nights when dreams and memories were all she’d have…and yet still not enough.

Save the measured fall of his footsteps, silence reigned with a parasitic presence that made speech a novelty and breathing a luxury. Charlotte could do nothing but wait in statue-like stillness while her heart picked up its pace. To even blink would have created too much noise.

Charlotte still pines for Alex like Buttercup pined for Wesley, but, when he actually appears, she’s completely unprepared for him to instantly see though her “it’s some other guy’s kid” tale. Realizing she has to come to some sort of terms with Alex over Nicholas, she seeks Alex out–he’s ignoring her–and tries to tell him why she abandoned him at the altar. Alex tells her he couldn’t give a damn about her or her reasons—he wants his kid and nothing more from her.

He’d let his heart and body rule him when he’d courted her, made love to her, gotten on his knee and asked her to marry him. He wouldn’t ever be that naïve again. In all his future dealings with Charlotte Rutherford, they would play by his rules and currently the only thing he wanted from her was his son.

However, given there’s no way Alex can suddenly have a four year old heir, he opts instead to backdate a fictitious marriage to Charlotte—it’s amazing what a man with money and powerful friends can do. Within days of Charlotte’s return, she and Nicholas have moved into Alex’s home, she’s his wife, and he’s working on winning over their son.

Initially, Alex treats Charlotte like the vile scum he’s determined to see her as. He knows she’s wildly warm for his form, but, he, determined to protect himself from being hurt by her again, torments her physically—an abrupt kiss here, a suddenly aborted lengthy make-out session there. There’s just one problem with his strategy: Alex is as blasted by lust as Charlotte. He wants her in his bed more than a tween wants an iPhone and, as each day she sleeps under his roof, in the very next room, he believes less and less in the efficacy of his “celibacy is swell” philosophy. His desire to remain non-conjugal is also constantly derailed by Charlotte who wants to be Alex’s wife in every way possible.

An Heir of Deception is hard to put down once begun. Not only is the sexual build-up beautifully done, the reasons Charlotte left are compelling. Those who’ve read the earlier books in the series know Charlotte and Catherine are by-blows of James’s father, an earl. It’s never been clear, however, who the girls’ mother was. Charlotte and Catherine found out this information a month before Charlotte was to marry Alex. Charlotte’s fear her unacceptable parentage might be made public is the reason she ran. The 19th century British peerage was an unforgiving lot; Charlotte trusts neither the ton nor, sadly, Alex, to not damn her and those close to her for her lineage. She left, in fact, because she received a letter stating if she married Alex, the letter-writer would expose the sisters’ damning pedigree to the press and would, by doing so, cause great harm to Alex, James, and the others Charlotte loves.

I liked both Charlotte and Alex, even when they were stubbornly idiotic. They are a captivating couple, full of passion, love, and will. They don’t find their way to trust with ease but that doesn’t keep them from making love, working to co-parent, and demanding from the other better behavior. The dialogue in this book flows smoothly and it’s effortless to follow the shifts in feeling the characters undergo.

“I’ll make it better for you next time,” he said, his heated breath next to her ear.

She laughed lightly and pushed the tangle of her hair from her eyes. “I don’t know I’d survive if you made it better.”

A low laugh rumbled from his throat as he ran his hand over her long, tousled locks. The years apart hadn’t changed this between them. In fact, their lovemaking had only gotten better, more intense.

“May I ask a question?” he asked after a minute of contented silence.

Angling her head around to regard him, she replied, “But of course.”

“What was Nicholas like as a baby?”

Charlotte shifted in his arms until she faced him. Clasping the narrow indent of her waist, he pulled her until their hips were flush, his member lying just above the nest of hair of her sex. He was already semi-erect.

“He was a good baby. At four months he was sleeping through the night. By seven months he was crawling and he took his first steps at eleven months.”

A faint smile curved his mouth; not in anger or sadness, it appeared to be more one of regret. Charlotte looked deeply into his gray eyes and her heart ached for him.

“And when did he begin to speak?”

Charlotte found herself laughing softly, remembering the sweet sounds of Nicholas’s baby babble. “The moment he came into the world it felt like. But if you’re speaking of words one could comprehend, I believe that occurred when he was nine months. It’s difficult to remember exactly when.”

“He’s a wonderful child,” Alex said after a pause.

Her heart swelled and then lodged itself in her throat. In terms of compliments, it was the greatest he’d ever given her. “Yes he is. And Alex, he thinks you are wonderful too.” Nicholas thought his father hung the sun, the moon and the stars. It did not hurt that Alex was making every attempt to win his son’s affections. Two days ago, he’d begun to teach him to fish.

Alex swallowed and inhaled a prolonged breath. “Tell me about your life in America.” He spoke quietly and watched her beneath a hooded gaze.

My big complaint with the novel is the identity of the blackmailer. I just couldn’t believe the person responsible would have done such a thing. Other readers will have to make their own judgments. Fortunately, the identity of the original-letter writer, when revealed, has little impact on the overall plot. I do think, however, that Charlotte’s parentage, were it made public, would be ruinous. In this book, the past stays in the past—it has to for Charlotte, Alex, and their family to retain their place in society.  The next book will be, I suspect, Catherine’s story and I’m interested to see if such a big secret is able to be kept one as time goes on.

I love your books in large part because they are wonderfully sexy. As I read An Heir of Deception, I gave less truck than I might usually to perfect prose and sense of place. I looked less at the philosophical issues upon which you built your plot that I might have in another novel. Don’t misunderstand me—An Heir of Deception is well-written and seems Regency real. But, that’s not what I took away from its pages. I just enjoyed the hell out of Alex, Charlotte, their lust, their love, and their battle to live happily ever after. This book is a happy B read for me. It was such fun to read, I’m now re-reading A Taste of Desire…fan in hand.

Dabney

 

 

 

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