This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Erotic Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 7, 2014
This was such a unique story when it came to the hero and heroine’s situations- a billionaire and a person who is homeless- that I just had to see where it went. I have never read anything by this author so I found that another good reason. Plus, I knew going in that this is part of trilogy that reads more like one book broke into three volumes- so lots of time to develop the characters, the relationship and the plot. And it did all that from right away.
Okay, elephant in the room stuff. I’ve seem this series compared to Fifty Shades of Gray. Yes, our hero is a conflicted, moody, sensual sexually dominant billionaire and yes, our heroine is a sexually submissive virgin with very little sexual knowledge and yes, there is a traitor friend and a sense that things are going to get real in book two, but I think leaving it at that is only a bit of the answer. It also has many points that make it quite a bit different from the other series. The personalities of the characters, the development of their relationship and the surrounding plot threads give it a whole different feel. From cover to cover, I totally forgot there ever was the FSoG series because this one captivated my attention in its own right.
Also, this book does end abruptly and on an ominous note, but there is no huge cliffhanger and the main part of the story concludes in a good place while still leaving me eager to dive into the next segment.
Alrighty, the story begins with a young woman, Evelyn ‘Scout’ Keats, a homeless gal with nothing, but strong ambitions to get out of her situation. She has finally caught a break. She has a cleaning job with a posh hotel and now she comes face to face with the owner when she accidentally knocks over the paper stack on his desk while cleaning his suite. She thinks the cold-eyed brooding man who watches her like she’s a thief will have her fired by morning. Instead, she gets a startling proposition from him. He outlines an emotionless liaison between them with expectations and rules because Scout catches his eye and intrigues him as different. There is nothing in Scout’s experiences of living on the streets to compare to what he is offering nor can she run this past her friend, the enigmatic Parker, because he doesn’t share her ambition to get off the streets and find something stable.
She is fearful, but Scout eventually agrees with strong reservations knowing that Lucian Patras will expect a whole lot more that goes beyond what she can fathom or understand. She’s never let anyone touch her and she knows Lucien will not wait long for that. It is everything else that is part of Lucien’s world that makes her feel so off-balance too. Lucien doesn’t help either the way he swings from friendly and gentle to distant and angry with her when she doesn’t even know what caused it. It shames her to see how others regard her when they see her with Lucien. Nobody thinks for a second that she is with Lucien because she wants to be with him as a man and not a man with money. They are so different and this causes her many times to pick up her backpack and get ready to leave, but finally enough is enough. He’s hurt her too badly this time and she’s done. Scout disappears back into the streets leaving Lucien sorrowing and then frantic to find her even as he learns that her homeless shelter has been closed down and she truly is on the streets in the middle of winter. He has learned through her absence what he couldn’t see before. He needs and wants her desperately- he has come to love Evelyn ‘Scout’ Keats.
Much of this story is a steady rise and fall of two broken people finding their way to be together and be what the other person needs. They come from vastly different circumstances in some ways, but in others they share a similar past that leads to an understanding that is the basis of their relationship.
I really appreciated the work the author did in detailing out the life of a homeless person so that there is a greater appreciation for just how hard it was integrating into the work as a domestic let alone into Lucien’s world. The portrayal is real, moving, and leaves the people of that class their dignity. Well done, Ms. Michaels from the heart of a former rescue mission worker! The juxtaposition of this against the glittering life of the penthouse of a five star hotel with a billionaire was fascinating and really had me admiring Scout.
That brings me to the heroine. Loved what I saw in this intrepid woman. The phrase ‘came from the gutter’ is literal in her case and she has risen so far above it just by staying clean from drugs and alcohol and sex with her hope and dreams intact. Even when others don’t believe in her, she believes in herself. She had pride and gumption to go along with her feelings of inferiority and fear that it would all go away leaving her with nothing. She is so open to Lucien and it was hard watching him crush her each time not even realizing how much damage he was doing because he never suspects her background and their almost foreign worlds that have collided.
[quote]As tempting as the offer of fine clothes and salon beauty treatments were, she was more concerned with proper-fitting shoes she could take with her when Mr. Patras no longer required her ‘company’. Her situation in life had never, not once, allowed for any sort of indulgence. Scout’s brain simply wasn’t wired in a way that permitted such fantasies. p.45 Scout, Falling In[/quote]
She might have been submissive in the sense that she wanted to please him particularly in the bedroom, but this did not translate to doormat. She made it clear that he could not treat her as an object to be picked up or sat down at will and he couldn’t play games with the rules or her feelings. She did the job and brought out the best in him.
Now Lucien, was a bit more of a mystery. He is filthy rich and has the attitude to match. He is ruthless and cold much of the time. He grew up as parent-less as Scout so they have that in common. Nobody except maybe his friend Jamie has a clue who the real Lucien is. Scout gets glimpses of lots of sides to him, but only she sees some of them.
[quote]Scout picked up the sponge and washed his arms and hands. Beautiful strong hands, so different than the hands she had washed that afternoon. “I don’t have many friends,” she said, not sure where the words came from.
He kissed the moist skin below her ear, “Me neither.”
“What an odd pair we are…”
“Not odd,” he said introspectively. “Just finding our way. It’ll be easier now that we have each other’s company.” p. 175 Scout and Lucien, Falling In[/quote]
His darker tastes in the bedroom both titillate and make her nervous. He might have set the rules, but she has her own set of rules too and now for the first time, Lucien wants to break the rules and put himself out there for a woman. Gaining Evelyn/Scout’s trust and her love along with possessing her completely is his goal. Scout might have transformed physically into Evelyn, but Lucien’s spiritual and emotional transformation was even bigger. There are flashes of his backstory with the two other men he associates with and a woman two of them shared that I hope with get teased out in the ongoing story.
Now the story wasn’t all Lucien and Scout’s growth and hot romance. There are some promises of trouble building particularly toward the end of the book. Lucien’s love for Scout is a first time for him and its a consuming thing that I suspect might cause some problems for the skittish Scout who is not as far along that path as Lucien. There is also a suspense element. There is a ticking time bomb to all Lucien’s plans because he has made two serious enemies and he owes one of them a favor that one of the enemies plan on collecting taking Lucien’s very source of happiness, Scout, away from him. I can’t wait to see where this part of the story goes and how Scout will react when she learns about this deal.
The erotic part of the book really doesn’t get going until the second half when the two make up for lost time. It builds from warm to scalding hot as Scout leaves her virgin status behind. Lucien is demanding, but he is also patient too. They work with a safe word and explanation when they get deeper into the physical relationship. I know it probably shadows toward BDSM, but it didn’t quite have all the earmarks of it just yet and felt more like two people getting their kink on in the bedroom. For those wondering, I’d put it in the mild category of BDSM as there was spanking, anal sex and one moment of mild voyeurism. There is a D/s tone to their sexual relationship that gets stronger toward the end.
I’ll be honest, the only part of this story that gave me a niggle was the physical relationship in the first half of the book. I was nervous when Scout said yes to his proposition, but lied by omission that she knew what she was doing and implied that she was sexually active when clearly she knew nothing and was not. She put him in a bad spot and made the guy feel like he ravished her in a bad way then didn’t seem to understand why he backed way off. I get why she felt she couldn’t come clean, but it bugged me until the truth was out so that Lucien knew what he was up against and could alter things accordingly.
So, in the end, this was a fabulous read for me that had me squirming from the heat and totally vested in Lucien and Scout’s story. This one is for those who enjoy slow to build, character driven, erotic romance.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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