I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by Cara McKenna
Released: September 1st 2015
Series: Sins in the City #1
Published by Signet
“This story is explosive”
~ Under the Covers
I’ve always been a big fan of Cara McKenna so I didn’t even read that this book was about before I accepted it. I was pleased to realized that this book is about a married couple. Samira and Mike are happily married, and I should stress again that they are madly in love with each other….it’s just that Mike has a particular kink that complicates their relationship a bit.
Mike is a cop, a person of authority in his day job but he has this deep interest in degradation and more specifically, feeling like the lesser man. So he and his wife have come up with this role-playing activity that involves her pretending to be with another man before she comes home to him. They act like it’s a real problem when it fact, it turns Mike’s crank up so high, he pretty much loses his mind. It’s not a kink that I’ve ever encountered before so kudos for McKenna for coming up with that. However, I will say that I didn’t find it 100% believable the entire time.
The story starts to get even hotter when Samira suggests they invite a real man into her bed, someone who can play the cocky bastard Sam is cheating on Mike with while he watches in the background. It’s an idea that makes Mike burn so Samira sets it up, sagging a man named Bern who seems like a real catch. McKenna takes her time making sure that all parties are on the same page. Communication and understanding that the other person wants is key to this novel so I liked that she took the time. But that being said, it can also dragged down the story a bit and remove some of the passion that was already there.
Nevertheless, this story is explosive. When all three get together, there’s a real power dynamic that occurs between all parties involved. There’s some light M/M action that I enjoyed too.
For me the issues really lay in the fact that you have three people here who want something out of this arrangement and while everyone does their best to try and give what the other two want, it’s obvious that conflict will arise when someone doesn’t get what they want or they feel left out. There’s no outright cheating in this book, but there’s one scenes where there’s a bond forms between Bern and Samira. They realize it and Sam tells Mike about it. All this kind of felt predictable to me. What I didn’t know was how McKenna was going to come back from it. The ending is a little too swift for my liking but I am curious enough to read more of this series.
CROSSTOWN CRUSH by Cara McKenna
She headed for the bustling bar, and oh fuck, there he was.
He’d told her what he’d be wearing, but it was his face she recognized. Funny how accurate her mental picture had been, based on only that one snapshot. She slowed to a halt, her stomach plummeting to her feet, the room feeling like an elevator with a snapped cable.
Be cool, kid. You’re a shameless slut tonight, and don’t you forget it.
She blew out a tense breath and kept on walking.
Bern’s picture had attracted her, but he was so much . . . more, in three dimensions. Even seated on a stool, she could tell he was big. Big and substantial, with long legs and a strong, handsome profile. His hair was as messy as in the photo, tucked behind his ears, black in the low light of the bar. That picture must have been taken at the height of summer, as his complexion was fairer than she’d expected. A modest beard covered his jaw, neither wild nor fussy. He looked rugged and capable, as though he’d just come from the woods, doing something obscenely manly. Or that was what Sam’s libido decided.
She swallowed, throat feeling thick. He was as sexy as any guy she’d covertly checked out during the girls-only cocktail dates, casting her fake flings. Sexier. A pang of pleasurable guilt warmed her skin.
Sexy and punctual.
Move aside, Nick.
Bern turned as she approached, and she thrilled at the recognition that flashed across his face. His smile was the perfect mix of mischief and shyness, so exactly what she felt, herself.
There were no free stools, giving Bern a chance to bank some chivalry points and kick off his role as smooth-talking, seductive stranger. He stood as she reached the bar. Sam kept her attention on the taps as though she were deliberating.
“Here,” he said, patting the stool.
“Are you sure?”
“Please.” He grabbed his half-drunk glass of beer and stepped back so she could have a seat. She sat with her back to the bar, crossing her legs. Just as her single self might’ve done if a handsome, actual stranger approached her, she kept her purse in her lap to camouflage any unflattering business her snug jeans might be doing to her belly. Huh. Twenty-five again, indeed. She hadn’t felt this self-conscious in years.
“Sure.” Oh, he was tall. Taller than her husband, perhaps six two to Mike’s five eleven, meeting one point of his criteria. As promised, he wore a plain gray T-shirt, and beneath it she could make out the contours of his chest and shoulders, trim and powerful as his bare arms. She liked the soft-looking hair there, the shapes of the fingers wrapped around his glass.
I could totally bang this guy if I wanted. Crazy. And did she want that? For herself, as much as for Mike . . . ?
“Can I buy you a drink?” he asked.
“Sure. Cabernet, please.”
He came close, leaning between her and the next seat to get the bartender’s attention. She studied the silver streaked at his temples and peppering his facial hair and nearly swooned right off her perch. His eyes were blue, but not bright like Mike’s. More a stormy sea than a summer sky. Breathing him in, she found no cologne, just the faint but distinct smell of a new man, a scent you couldn’t buy at Sephora. He ordered her wine and told the bartender to add it to his tab, his voice twice as rich and deep and thrilling as it had been on the phone.
For a split second Sam felt busted, realizing Mike was watching her checking Bern out. But busted was the name of the game.
Bern passed her a dangerously large glass of red and stepped back, tucking a thumb in his front pocket and sipping his beer. His thigh was only a couple inches from her crossed knees, and she wondered how warm he’d feel through their two pairs of jeans.
“On your own tonight?” he asked.
She nodded. “You, too?”
“Yeah. My name’s Bern.” He freed his hand to shake hers. And what a shake—firm and warm and solid. She wished Mike could have felt it, too. Meet the man I might just want to fuck while you watch.
“I’m Samira. Sam’s fine.” And she stalled.
Oh shit, what were they going to talk about? But wait, they had plenty to talk about. It wasn’t as though Mike could read lips. They were free to drop the act and he’d still get to pretend they were just meeting.
She offered Bern a familiar smile. “Are you nervous?”
His posture changed, visibly relaxing, and he smiled back. The gesture made him an entirely different kind of sexy. The warm and easy kind of man that you wanted sitting across from you at a diner, versus the wicked one you wanted to take you home from a bar. “A little nervous,” he admitted. “How about you?”
She nodded. “I was terrified, up until I saw you.”
“Worried that photo was from the seventies and I was really some retiree with no teeth and overgrown fingernails?”
“Well, no, but you know . . . Anyway. You’re a very pleasant surprise.” A very, very, very pleasant surprise.
“So are you. You’re even cuter when you’re not blurry.”
She laughed. “I hope you hadn’t worried I was trying to hide anything. I just didn’t want to use a photo that anyone could pick me out of a lineup from.”
He stepped closer so they could talk without being overheard in the din, and his leg brushed hers, sending a bolt of energy up her thigh to settle in her belly.
“I’m guessing you’re not from Pittsburgh any more than I am,” she said.
He laughed softly, a warm, airy chuckle that raised the bar’s temperature by five degrees. “Whatever gave me away? But you’re right—I’m from Kentucky. Raised in a tiny little farm town about halfway between Louisville and Nashville.”
“That must’ve been a culture shock, when you moved.”
“At first, but I love it here. I’ve always been a city boy at heart.”
“I bet I wouldn’t last an hour out in the country . . . Thanks for coming out of your way,” she added.
He waved the thought aside as he took a taste of his beer. “Drive took me ten minutes. And I’ll say this—you’re the most interesting date I’ve had in ages.”
“I’ll bet. Have you not met anyone for what you’d gone on that site for, originally?” she asked, meaning his exhibitionist streak.
“I quit looking, after you and I started talking. It was getting discouraging. There’s so few women on there, looking for that kind of thing. And I didn’t even really know how to roll it out without sounding like a perv. I think it’s sort of a lost cause. I got a hundred and one replies from so-called women, wanting to watch me . . . you know. On a webcam. But I wasn’t born yesterday.”
She frowned her sympathy. “You’d probably have better luck finding an open-minded steady girlfriend.”
“I know. But I ended a long-term thing this past winter. Not really ready for anything serious yet.”
Another point for Bern, that he’d had a grown-up, normal-person relationship. More proof that he was just as new to all this kinky stuff as they were.
Still, the topic wasn’t spurring their chemistry, and she knew there was a man sitting ten yards away, who was itching to see some physical boundaries bent. And they were hers to bend, as Bern couldn’t be expected to make the first move, not with somebody’s husband watching him.
So Sam uncrossed her legs, letting the instep of her high heel brush his calf.
He took the hint and stepped closer, his knees just breaching the V of her thighs.
Intruder, she beamed to Mike. Intruder between your wife’s legs. However barely.
Bern stooped a little to say, “I’m not nervous at all anymore.” His tone was dark, not particularly innocent. The shadow of a smile played just behind his lips, and Sam imagined kissing him. She could now, if she wanted to. He wanted it, she thought, and her body did as well. It was only her brain that needed a push. She took a deep swallow of her wine.
“I’m still a little nervous,” she admitted. “But it’s nice.”
Excerpt posted in coordination with Berkley/NAL
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