I’m a sucker for books set in London. I’m also a sucker for romance novels. Oh and hot men. Throw all three together and you’ll understand why I jumped at the chance to read Naked and All In, the first two books in Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series. Also, did I mention that part of it takes place at the Olympics!? Was this book made for me or what?
Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…
Ethan Blackstone has a problem on his hands. He’s broken Brynne’s trust and she’s left him. He’s unwilling to live without her and isn’t giving up—he’s dead-set on getting his beautiful American girl back. The passion between them was explosive, but the secrets they hid from each other are dark and chilling and are powerful enough to destroy their shot at a life together. With political threats now directed at Brynne, Ethan is running out of time and he’ll need to gather all his strength and agility to protect her from the dangers that could take her away from him forever. Will Ethan be able to save Brynne from a past that keeps her locked in fear? Will he ever feel the warmth of her touch, the solidity of her trust again? This is a love-struck man who is willing to do whatever it takes to possess the heart of the woman he loves. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her. He’ll go all in. Here is the fiery story of what happens when two people surrender to a love so great it can heal the scars of the past and give way to a life of pure, rapturous ecstasy.
So when I started reading Naked my feelings were all over the damn place. I was first drawn to the premise of the novel, a man falling in love with a nude model simply because of the beauty of one of her portraits. Simple, yet intriguing. As I read more into Naked I began getting interested in the darkness that both Ethan and Brynne so obviously tried to hide from their pasts (I have a thing for characters with messed up pasts). There was definite pain and suffering for both, and the fact that Miller gets you invested in them prior to revealing the darkness of their past deserves kudos. You are introduced to these characters and asked to care about them without much more than surface knowledge. You wind up getting pulled deeper and deeper into the web of their secrets and become genuinely invested in the hope of a positive future for them. As I finished Naked and delved into All In, I became more and more interested in Ethan’s character and his feelings towards his relationship with Brynne. It’s rare (in my opinion) to find romance novels where a man of Ethan’s looks and wealth has to work as hard as he does to convince Brynne of his worthiness/love.
There were times, however, where I got lost in the depths of Ethan’s feelings. I don’t think the writing makes a clear distinction between love and lust, so at times Ethan “loving” Brynne felt more like an unquenchable lust. That I think was my biggest problem with the series. As much as I enjoyed the characters and their back stories, I didn’t feel their love, just their lust. I will admit that towards the end of All In I did finally begin to feel the change, and that’s the reason I’ll continue the series. Another interesting note about this series: the writing is HOT. Like constantly-fan-yourself hot. I’m interested in seeing where else Miller will take Brynne and Ethan and what new secrets will be revealed. I’ll definitely be checking out book three Eyes Wide Open when it’s released in May.
3 out 5 Stars
Naked by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 192 pages
All In by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 256 pages
Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copies via Netgalley!