In brief: Three spicy stories of young women who know what they want and are prepared to work hard to get it.
The good: As the stories are shorter, you can read them more quickly. They also don’t waste any time in getting down to business!
The not-so-good: I found one of the heroes more difficult to relate to than the other two.
Publisher: Harlequin Cosmo Red-Hot Reads
Setting: USA and Europe
My rating: 8 out of 10 (overall)
My Cosmo reading years sadly didn’t include an imprint of steamy romance stories, only sealed sections and the odd tampon freebie. (If they did, I would have been all over it). Even though I’m no longer an avid Cosmo reader, I thought I’d still try the books published by Harlequin. I was intrigued by this book as it featured an author who does plot and steamy equally as brilliantly, Megan Hart. (And OK, I like the cocktail cover, having mastered making candied orange peel). This book contains three stories of roughly 100 pages each (one extra, Lauren Dane’s Cake than the rest of the world – bonus for Australia), all featuring strong female leads who are prepared to say what they want and work hard to obtain it. In these cases, what they want is a particular man and they’ll reveal their feelings and fight to make him see it’s love. I think these heroines are very positive for the Cosmo age group (late teens, early twenties) – these women take control of their lives in work, study and in their love life. Note that the sex scenes are quite steamy though!
I loved Megan Hart’s story, Crossing the Line, the most. This is the story of Cait, who is a genius with social media, knowing how to work it to her clients’ advantage. She’s had a secret crush on her boss Jamison for some time and when they work more closely together, sparks fly. Cait’s in complete control of the relationship, something Jamison’s not used to – but he’s thinking that he could, given Cait and some time… I liked how the balance of power outside of work tipped in Cait’s favour. Even though it’s a short novella, both characters are well developed, there’s an opportunity for a love triangle and the focus isn’t solely on sex. Cait’s thinking about where she wants to be work-wise, there’s a subplot about her other boss and the rowdy reality stars the firm has taken on. It’s all deftly packaged and was a great read.
Sarah Morgan’s Burned took the reader to London, where we met Rosie, champion at martial arts and unlucky in love. She only dates boring men who want her to bake cakes and join book clubs, but Rosie’s so much more feisty. Are men hung up on the fact that she can defend herself? When her first love Hunter returns, Rosie’s sister advises her to get him out of her system and move on. But after spectacular flirting, Rosie can’t do that. Will Hunter destroy her love life again? There’s crackling tension in this book as Hunter and Rosie try to decide what they want from each other (then automatically assume the other wants something else – d’oh!). It’s hot, but with a sweet tinge. I liked also learning about Rosie’s sister, Hayley (she’s the star of Morgan’s novella, Ripped) – she’s smart (an engineer by trade), cool and got the man. Hunter’s also a hot hero who combines hurt, strength and sensitivity. It would have been nice to learn more of his backstory (perhaps another time).
The final novella was Lauren Dane’s Cake. For me, this was the weakest story – the heroine was younger (in art school – perhaps I’m too old to relate now I’m postgrad?) and Grigori, the hero wasn’t my type. He’s a Mohawked, tattooed, pierced artist from Russia and I didn’t really see what Wren (the heroine) saw in him. He was meant to be a tough-talking, love ’em and leave ’em artist, but with Wren we mainly saw his sensitive side (his mum bakes and brings him macarons – which are not cookies, Wren!). He’s driven and has an annoying ex-wife, but she didn’t make much impact on the story. Wren is strong and knows that she’ll need to show Grigori he’s capable of making the right decisions in love. I did like the way she chased him down – it was inventive and funny (not to mention showing the utter reliance of people on their iPhone). I felt this book was sweeter and more new adult than the other two.
This set of stories is a great book to pick up and put down over a busy week, or devour over a weekend. If you like your romance hot and heavy with strong heroines, you’ll enjoy this.