REVIEW: Fair Game by Jasmine Haynes
Dear Ms. Haynes:
I was very pleased to get a copy of your latest book for review. The women in your stories have all been different but strong in the sense that they either have or are attempting to capture the essence of themselves and that they are moving toward creating their own happiness which ultimately is enhanced by the addition of an equally strong and often provocative male. Fair Game is no different.
Josie Tybrook has family ties to Castle Heavy Mining, enough so that she isn’t given much credit for how competent she is working for Castle Mining. Josie is hungry to show what’s she made of and land a particularly plum account for her company. Kyle Perry is the man she has to sell.
The story opens with a chance encounter that involves very little touching but loads of sexual tension between two fully clothed individuals in an elevator. The strangers meet each other in the lobby of SMG and it is, of course, Josie and Kyle.
The elevator scene sets the stage for the entire story in so many ways. First, of course, is the sexuality. This is a Berkley Heat and labeled thusly, not only because of the content, but because of how the sexual nature of the two individuals propels the conflict and the plot. Second, because this story is a power struggle between Josie & Kyle played out between the metaphorical sheets and not in the boardroom. Their elevator play signals the complicated nature of their future relationship with a forbidden flavor coupled with the complications their business interactions provide.
Josie is on the verge of the career that she’s always wanted, a position of power within Caslte Mining company, earned on her own merit. Her boss, the head of Project Management of the FI&T department has developed cancer and the CEO, Conor Kingston (hero of The Fortune Hunter) is ready for Josie to move into this position. In the meantime, Conor offers the unfilled VP FI&T position to Kyle. Despite their instant and heated attraction toward each other, Josie views Kyle unfavorable as a bed partner. She’s learned the hard way how a powerful man can crush you, both personally and in the business arena.
Kyle and Josie embark on a series of sexual challenges or games which seem to test the limits of their fantasies. Everytime that Josie suffers a setback as a manager, she becomes increasingly concerned about her involvement with Kyle. It is worsened because Kyle intervenes from time to time, weakening Josie’s position. She has trouble believing she can balance it all. She pushes Kyle to see how far he will comply with her requests, waiting for him to take himself out of the game by refusing a sexual dare and ultimately ceding control to Josie. In some ways, I felt like she was constantly testing his very masculinity. Kyle fought back in his own way, modifying the demands so that it met his own needs while satisfying Josie’s.
Did I mention it was sexy? I laughed at this exchange because you have to love a man who knows what a double negative is. (Setup, Kyle gives Josie a vibrator).
"Because I want you to use it."
She shot out a shocked breath. "Here?"
All she did was laugh.
He turned his head long enough to capture her gaze. A split
second of mind- to- mind communication.
"Just because you’re driving and not touching me and it’s after five and we’re off the clock, that does not mean my masturbating for you with a vibrator isn’t mixing business with plea sure."
Damn. She had him pegged. "That’s convoluted plus a double negative."
Part of the problems I had with the story is that the power play went on so long that I wished for more denouement. The sex between Josie and Kyle was hot but often had an overlay of anger or at least a lot of regret afterward. There was very little that was gentle between Josie and Kyle and that kind of constant oneupmanship seemed exhausting by the end. I also thought that Kyle skirted the edge of being a real asshole. One action he took on Josie’s behalf bordered on cruel (not to Josie but someone else) and it bothered me but in the end he really makes sacrifices to be with Josie so it kind of evened out. Then again, part of Kyle’s attraction was his Neanderthal mentality that lurked under the surface. (putting example in spoiler format because it is a bit raw. sorry to those who read via RSS. just cover your eyes and scroll down)
waved his arms at the throng around him. "There aren’t enough women."
Then he lowered his voice. "And she’s so fucking hot. She loves
exposing it, man. Give her to me."
Kyle tensed against her back, but his touch never left her, his fi
ngers never stopped making her crazy, driving her higher, closer to
the edge. Then he plunged inside her with two fingers. "You want this
"God no." She closed her eyes, rode his hand, lost herself in his
touch, his scent, the gravelly pitch of his voice.
"Fuck off, man"-‘ violence shredded his voice-‘"before I break your
Part of what I love about your writing and this story is how authentic the business scenes are. The backdrop of Castle Mining, the product that Josie is selling, what FI&T does for Castle Mining are all explained in easy to understand detail. It’s contemporary worldbuilding and because it is so realistic, it’s easy to slip right into the world of Josie and Kyle. These are just two bay area people trying to navigate their way through life and love. B