Dear Ms. Rai:
This was a 33,000 word novella featuring two high school + college lovers who separated and then reignited their romance. Tatiana Belikov always tried to meet the expectations of her adopted parents except when it came to one thing, her boyfriend. Wyatt Caine was a bad boy with poor prospects who worked multiple jobs to get ahead. However, differences led to a break up and the two haven’t seen each other for several years. (The timeline was really fuzzy for me in this book).
Tatiana has broken away from her intended path, dropped out of college, and developed a strong following for her custom made jewelry. She is so successful, in fact, that she wants to bail out her biological brother with whom she has reconnected. She finds out that her brother embezzled quite a bit of money from his casino owning boss, one Wyatt Caine.
If she’s honest with herself, Tatiana seeks out Wyatt not just to save her brother but to see Wyatt again. Her feelings for him simmer hotly under a thinly covered surface. Wyatt is no different. In the years since they have been apart, Wyatt has become a wealthy owner of an exclusive casino. He offers to dispose of her brother’s debt in exchange for a sexual favor. Tatiana refuses (thank god, because that would have been so cliched). Instead, they agree that they will explore their mutual sexual attraction in a 24 hour period.
The story is an erotic romance but the eroticism was baked into the storyline. It’s their version of courtship. That said, the 33,000 words was a real limitation in developing the romance and exploring what went wrong in the past. I think I’m simply supposed to believe that because these two were older and wiser their relationship worked. But given that they had dated for so long previously (like some 7 years), I needed to know why they broke up, what happened and why it is different now. There is little emotional exploration other than what turns each other on. Their sexual attraction, however, had never been an issue before. It was the stuff outside the bedroom that was the problem. This novella appears to be the first in a series so perhaps other entries will explore the emotional component better.
That said, it is a steamy and fast read. B-