Bad Boys on Board
by Lori Foster, Donna Kauffman & Nancy Warren.
(Kensington Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN 0-7582-0428-0
***
Both Sam and Ariel go up in flames the first time they meet, but neither of them is willing to admit it. Ariel is dating Sam’s younger brother, and he’s 12 years older than she is. But their attraction can’t be denied, so Ariel breaks up with Paul, and goes after Sam. She gets involved in a sting operation he’s a part of, and when he’s injured as a result, offers to take him home and propositions him. Sam is stunned to realize that the petite blonde virgin is the wild and crazy sexual partner he’s always wanted, and Ariel falls even more in love with the handsome, hardbodied man she’s dreamed of for so long. But Sam’s family and his continuing undercover work add complications for this pair that aren’t as mismatched as they might seem to be at first glance.

This brief novella spotlights two attractive characters who can’t keep their hands and thoughts off each other, and the majority of the action takes place when one or both of them are naked. Sam’s edict, “My house, my rules,” seems unnecessarily chauvinistic, but Ariel is willing to do anything to get her man. “My House, My Rules” is one of Lori Foster’s slighter efforts, not equal to her other contributions to the Bad Boys series.

With a title like “Going Down,” Donna Kauffman’s contribution has to be yet another version of the old strangers-stuck-in-the-elevator-overnight story. This time it’s newly hired, loyal and insecure personal assistant Callie Montgomery who’s in the elevator with a gorgeous, sexy, powerful Brit, Dominic Colbourne, nicknamed The Panther. Callie stays late after Dominic’s meeting with her boss, so he can finish a call to Hong Kong. They’re about halfway down to the ground when the elevator stops and the lights go off. It’s easier to share intimacies in the dark, and Callie finds herself sharing her story of a cheating husband, a divorce, and as a result, a total lack of confidence in herself and her ability to please a man.

Dominic is an all work and no play kind of guy, but he finds himself strongly attracted to this woman who calls herself invisible, and when he challenges her to ask for what she wants from a man, from him, the darkness gets very hot indeed, because it turns out that Callie is more than up to the challenge. But hot elevator sex doesn’t last more than one night, and the next morning both Dominic and Callie have to face daylight, real life, and their questions about what their night together means for the future.

Dominic is the buttoned-down executive who shows his sexy side to Callie and encourages her to ask for what she wants, and they both get more than they expected. The sex is steamy hot, the situation is erotic and Kauffman’s writing makes you long for your own power failure at just the appropriate moment. But even better than the sex is the portrait of two people who decide to risk looking foolish to get a chance at happiness.

Gertie heaves the tree limb across the road just as soon as she hears the snarl of the motorcycle, then watches as the bike and its rider hurtle into the air, landing face first in her garden. Bikers are the bane of Gertie’s existence. Her niece Nell kneels over the handsome, longhaired gang member, afraid he’s dead. But as she starts CPR on him, the corpse suddenly sticks its tongue in her mouth, and a hand grabs the back of her head for a long, hot kiss. When she pulls free, the biker winks at her and passes out again.

When he wakes up again, the biker doesn’t remember a thing about his life before the crash, other than his hottie girlfriend, Nell. The doctor advises Nell to keep the charade going until his memory returns, and once she realizes that the stranger is her every sexual fantasy come true, Nell isn’t about to say anything to him except “Yes, Yes, YES!” And of course, the biker isn’t really a bad boy, but a good guy working undercover in the biker gang, although it’s the undercover work with Nell he really enjoys.

The plot is predictable from beginning to end, but the three central characters are engaging and their interactions amusing. But it’s the hot sexual connection between the good girl and the bad boy that makes “A Fast Ride,” by Nancy Warren worth reading, and maybe worth reading twice.

--Joni Richards Bodart


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