Lauren DaneLush (Delicious #3)Berkley Trade | April 2, 2013 | 304 pages
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USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane delivers a second serving of sexy in her new Delicious novel, in which taste and temptation make up a sweet recipe…
Mary Whaley has her hands full running a successful catering company and overseeing her supper club. She has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought. When she meets ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star Damien Hurley at her friend’s engagement party, the attraction she feels is overpowering—and she isn’t about to deny herself.
Damien is used to a hard and fast life. He and two of his brothers started a band when they were fresh out of high school—then they hit the big time and stayed there. He’s also a legendary madman on the stage and in the bedroom. But when he meets Mary, something clicks, and the bad boy starts thinking he may have finally found something good.
What begins as a series of fleeting trysts soon gets much more complicated. Damien can’t figure out why Mary doesn’t want more from him. And before long, it’s Damien who wants more from Mary. But it turns out Mary is no stranger to celebrity news, and he’s got a very big job ahead of him: proving that he’s worth more than a one-night stand…
Genre & Keywords: M/F Romance, Contemporary, Rock star, Drummer, Food, Friends, Family, Business, Long Distance, Music, Fame
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
I don’t read M/F romance novels very often, and I review them even more seldom. And when I do, I’m usually not very adventurous and tend to stick to the authors I know and love (like for example Lorelei James). But sometimes I like to ask my friends for a recommendation for a new author, especially when I got into a reading rut and want to read something different. So, a few months ago I finally tried one of Lauren Dane’s stories and another one followed. Those were the first two titles of her Delicious series, of which Lush is the third book. I really enjoyed them.
What drew me to this series is the strong connection and friendship between the heroines, Daisy (from Sway, story #1), Juliet (from Tart, book #2), Mary (who stars in this third installment) and their friend Gillian, the main character of Never Enough, one of the titles from another one of Dane’s series: The Brown Siblings, of which this is a spinoff series. Those four friends and their significant others are such a wonderful group of people with authentic friendships; it’s hard not to get addicted to them.
From the three Delicious books I liked Lush the best. The first story is short and although I loved Daisy and Levi’s romance it’s not as rounded as the two novels. The second book is Juliet’s story and is an M/M/F romance, which was deliciously hot. However, I didn’t feel much connection with Juliet, who I found a bit self-centered and too insecure, while I also had some trouble with the head hopping that was going on between the three MCs in more than a few scenes.
Now, Lush however is the kind of M/F romance I really love to read. The heroine is a self-assured woman who knows what she wants in life. She’s a hardworking business owner, and she is as smart as she’s kind. She also knows what she wants from a man, in and out of bed. And she can have sex with one without wanting promises of eternal love and fidelity in return. Her independence is worth a lot to her. In short, she’s a woman who would make every feminist proud.
A woman like that deserves a special man, and Dane pairs her with bad boy rock star Damien, who turns out to be the perfect match for Mary. He is not only hot as sin, but also a passionate and caring man, who interacts lovingly with his family and friends. At some point in the story, his band ends their tour and he and his brothers (who are also his band mates) head home to their parents’ farm. Here we witness a different side than the famous pop star image to Damien’s character. Dane portrayed him well, as a rounded multi-layered character, with very plausible motives to want a committed relationship with Mary.
I truly liked the way the author handled the relationship development. The gradually growing feelings, Damien being ready for a more serious relationship sooner than Mary, the two of them eventually working out their busy schedules, the ability of both to make the jump. It all worked for me and I thought the pacing of the romantic arc was just perfect. For me personally the little fall-out in the end, right before the solid HEA, was a bit too much though: it felt forced, since I hadn’t pegged Mary for the overreacting and insecure type. Nevertheless, I think Dane handled the subsequent making up part again really well. Bringing in both their mothers was comical and worked out fabulously. Damien’s sincerity when it comes to family and commitment rang true thanks to this trust in his mother and love for his family in general.
Like I said, what made me want to read more books in this series after reading the first story, was the connection between the friends in Mary’s life. One of Dane’s strongest qualities is her talent for creating a complete and authentic background story and life for her characters. For both the heroine and hero that is. Mary’s friends already found the love of their lives but after finishing Lush I also felt enough invested in Damien’s brothers to want to see them getting their own romances as well. It’s because the way the author brings them to life with just a few strokes of her pen. Thanks to that same skill the lives of Dane’s MCs feel so real, with not only plenty of relationships but also a real job and other affairs and activities, it makes you want to jump in and become a part of it.
Dane’s writing is almost exotic and definitely evocative. An example of this is how she writes about food. With Mary being a very good caterer, she doesn’t leave it at just saying she is, no, Dane practically seduces her readers with her vivid descriptions of all the delicious food. It’s almost as erotic as the sexy scenes are. Speaking of which… Mary and Damien are so incredibly compatible and hot together. Their chemistry is sizzling, full of steam and intenseness, while at times it’s also mixed with lightness, wit and tenderness. Damien’s focus on Mary’s pleasure and Mary’s freeing openness about sex, made for a great combination and felt like a fresh breeze on my M/F romance shelves.
Apart from the mentioned over the top climatic fall-out, which is basically about misplaced distrust, I absolutely enjoyed this story. It is an excellent read with good tension and pace, wonderful characterization, a nice backdrop and a memorable pairing. I’m just a little sad to see this series come to an end with this third book, but I have high hopes for perhaps another spinoff, involving Damien’s brothers. For me, there’s also this author’s huge backlist, which has plenty of series on it, to fall back on!