#Review: Lay It Down by Cara McKenna #AmazingRead

#Review: Lay It Down by Cara McKenna #AmazingReadLay It Down by Cara McKenna

Series: #1 Desert Dogs
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Signet on August 5, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-stars  

After trying my first book by this author just a short time ago and loving some unique aspects to her storytelling, I was eager to take this one up to see if there would be more of the same.  Okay, not to put down the other book, but I loved this one immensely more.  Fortuity, Nevada puts the small in small town and the tone of the story, setting and the town’s characters was gritty and a little dark, but from cover to cover I enjoyed my short visit and want to go back again.

The story opens with a bit of a set up scene that powers the rest of the book.  Vince Grossier isn’t a saint by anyone’s stretch of imagination, but one of his oldest and best friends has died under a dark cloud that he was driving drunk.  This doesn’t fly with Vince particularly when Alex hasn’t driven drunk in his life and more importantly because Alex called Vince to talk over something about some bones that he saw out at the casino work site that has him spooked.  Unfortunately, none of their other friends thinks there is anything hinky about Alex’s death, but this doesn’t stop Vince.  He sends for his prodigal brother to help him get down to the bottom of Alex’s bone sighting and he approaches the sheriff about investigating further.

Kim arrives in the dusty, dirty desert town to do a photography job for the casino’s developing and marketing department and her first night she runs into the brash, crass, but very interested Vince.  After just breaking up with her ex of two years, she’s leery, but also interested.  She’s convinced that this local bad boy plans to bully her and take what he can get until he surprises her by backing off like she requested and accidentally dragging her into the craziness of his life that may involve a cover-up and a murder.  Still, dealing with macho Vince and helping investigate a possible murder are much more compelling to returning home to deal with a recent break-up and her smothering, cautious life.

Vince doesn’t do relationships and he’s pretty sure no woman like Kim would want a guy like him to do more than scratch her itch anyway, but time in Kim’s company decidedly leaves him wanting more.  No woman in her right mind would attach to an ex-con parolee caretaking for the next few decades a mother with the crazies with no intentions of leaving the dead end town on the desert.  But for once, he does wish that things were different and he steels himself for the time Kim’s assignment and their investigation into Alex’s death is over and Kim goes home.  It’s not long before the danger escalates and he wants her to go home to keep her safe, but Kim’s done with safe and wants to see it through even if it means confronting a murderer face to face.

Amazing!  That is how I feel about the tone of this story.  Normally, I don’t say much about the feels of a story, but the author did a good job making me really feel the emotionally background of this book.  Fortuity and the events and people are real and raw and I was right there experiencing it from the beginning.

The plot was a lovely twisting intrigue sort that did not finish in this book.  There is the sensation of knowing that this book merely unwrapped the first layer and there is more to come to the cover-up and murders that this book opened with.  Alongside the intrigue, there was also some scorching hot romance between the main characters, Vince and Kim, but also hints of it for the other Desert Dogs, Raina, Miah, and Casey.

The romance is rather visceral reflecting the nature of first Vince and then Kim as she loosens up.  The sexual tension was strung out so tight and paced just right.  It was palpable and was sharp at first with an actual relationship only growing later and taking them by surprise when they didn’t see it coming.  It’s fast developing in terms of time, but the author doesn’t try to push it deeper than believable in the end.  She leaves it at a happy for now.

The characters were also a strong component of this story/series.  Vince is a powerful presence and he takes over this book (no complaints here about that).  He has all the trappings of bad boy from his tats, his rep, his bike and his larger than life personality.  He is rough, sexual, honest in his wants and to those he likes, skitters on the line between law and lawless, responsible and a natural born leader though he wouldn’t see himself that way.  He really cares deeply and has learned to tuck away his feelings of abandonment as one after another of his loved ones leaves him.  The guy sees himself very differently from the picture the reader forms of him and this is true of the heroine, Kim too.

Kim was Vince’s opposite in every way.  She’s new to town with a boatload of fast impressions, determination for things to change after feeling stifled by first her dad and then her boyfriend and no idea what her future will bring.  It was interesting to see how much she changed from her opening scene to the end.  I have to say that I was on the fence about Kim a few times in this story starting with my beginning impression.  Her thing with her boyfriend breakup and her reasons left me understanding where she was coming from, but not sympathetic because of the way she handled it.  She stayed with the guy for two years- voluntarily- and then let him down over the phone and got angry because he was ‘telling her how she felt’ and when he just needed more than a quick ‘we’re done’.  From my perspective, he was just trying to get a handle on what was going on in her head since there was no evidence that she ever verbalized how she felt about the stuff he did that bugged her or tried to tell him that she had stopped feeling the relationship and wanted it over.  I almost wish the recently ex-boyfriend stuff had been left out of the story because I didn’t think opening with that showed her to her advantage as a person.  Then throughout the book she kept saying Vince was the bossy one when she pretty much called the shots in the relationship from the moment she denied him the first night.  Now, this wasn’t a complaint so much as an amusing observation about her.  For much of the time, I had a good impression of her.  And hey, the fact that she could see through the tough exterior and give a guy like Vince a chance makes her gold in my eyes.

All in all, this was a great start to a new series.  It set things up nicely and I can’t wait for where it’s going.  Those shocking loose ends in the end and then the brewing thing with Raina are sure to prove exciting.  I would recommend this one for those who enjoy spicy and gritty contemporary romance and even those who enjoy that style of romantic suspense.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

It was fascinating to be reading this book while vacationing because one of our day trips took us right out into the desert of Northern Nevada and through a few small towns like the one in the story.  This made the book more memorable and told me the author was spot on in her descriptions.  The skies at dawn and sunset on the desert are gorgeous and I wish I was good with a camera so I could show everyone.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Looks like the beginning of a great series, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I think its a good start too, Iza! I can’t wait to see where the author is going with this one.

  • Is this the one with magic realism or am I confusing this with another book? Also is this an MC series coz of the cover art? If so I’m surprised that there seems to be RESPECT here which is surprising if this is indeed a Sons of Anarchy kind of story.

    • No magic realism, Braine! It’s more a romantic suspense if its anything. Its not an MC series. They do ride bikes and hang out at the local bar, but really are just a rough group of everyday joes. Their name the Desert Dogs is from their childhood since this group grew up together.

  • Yay Sophia I am so glad you loved this one too! I thought she did a bang up job starting the series off and can’t wait for the next one. She really has a wonderful way of making characters feel real 🙂

    • Yes, I loved that about her characters too, Anna! They aren’t polished, but real. I look forward to more of this series.

      • This’ll be my first series I’ve read of hers though I know she does another one. I’ve read a couple of her stand alones and enjoyed them. If you get the chance After Hours was fantastic. That’s the one set on the psych ward. Then Willing Victim is a dirty fighting one. So good.

        • Hmm, yes…they both sound delish. I will definitely put these on the list especially the psych ward one since she is so awesome at characterization. Thank you, Anna.