Con artist Austin Shaw's been in disguise so long he's not sure where his fake identities end and he begins. Now that he's been strong-armed into working for a specialized undercover unit working with the Chicago police—criminals with unique “skills”—the last thing he needs is to risk his iron control. Especially when it comes to a certain stunningly sexy hacker who tempts him with every look of disdain.
Polly Banks will never, ever trust a con man. On the trail of a ruthless crook who destroyed the only family she's ever known, Polly is unnerved by the shadow who follows her every move. The one who makes her pulse pound and breath short with lust. Austin. He's infuriating, enigmatic, and pure sex appeal, and she's determined to resist him.
But an untrustworthy man of disguise can become anyone he wants...including a man that Polly must trust if she's to escape their dangerous game alive.
Each book in the Crossing the Lines series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Prequel Novella: His Risk to Take
Book .5: Riskier Business
Book 1: Risking it All
Book 2: Up In Smoke
Book 3: Boiling Point
Book 4: Raw Redemption
About the Author
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Tessa Bailey lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and young daughter. When she isn't writing or reading romance, she enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes. Visit her at www.tessabailey.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Crossing the Line Novel
By Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Tessa Bailey
All rights reserved.
Austin Shaw hardened his jaw and slid onto one of the plush leather chairs lining the bar. With his left hand — the one sporting a Rolex he'd just nipped from a trusting pawn store owner — he reached under the opposite arm, removed the copy of Crain's Chicago, and tossed it onto the bar, nodding at the nearest group of businessmen as he did so. As expected, they nodded back, sitting a touch straighter in their seats, thus reminding Austin he was having a brilliant fucking hair day. What else was new?
In Austin's peripheral vision, he saw the red-vested bartender jolt from his post watching the Chicago Bulls game on an expensive flat-screen and stride toward him. Good man.
"Something to drink, sir?"
Austin cast a discriminating eye over Red Vest's shoulder toward the top shelf, rolling his tongue in his mouth, anticipating his employment of the New England accent he'd been practicing. "Johnnie Walker Blue." He laid his arm across the neighboring chair and watched the bartender's eyes light on the Rolex. "And a round for those hardworking gentlemen across the bar, too. Their boss is an asshole."
Red Vest quirked a blond eyebrow. "How'd you know?"
"You're looking at him." Austin tilted his head. "But let's keep that between us, eh? My office is on the top floor for a reason."
The bartender laughed and went to fulfill the order. Austin leaned back in his chair, his confidence solidifying now that he'd accomplished the two most important objectives when walking into an establishment. Thanks to the combination of his Rolex, the financial journal, and the easy lie he'd told, the bartender had now assigned him a worth. And that worth was high. If Austin needed information — and he did — valuable words would roll right off Red Vest's lips now, smooth as smoke.
Secondly, he'd made friends with everyone in the room without breaking a sweat. Pleasing others meant they'd do the same for him. Do it with a smile and the arrogance he'd been born with? He'd have those stiffs jumping through flaming hoops before they finished their drinks.
Right. Now that he was in charge of the landscape, the business at hand bled in, like an uncapped ink pen against white cotton.
Polly Banks. Hacker extraordinaire. Ex-convict. And the first woman who'd made his acquaintance without noticing or commenting on the silver flecks in his eyes. A ghastly oversight, really.
With a discreet check of his watch, Austin began a mental countdown until the untouchable Ms. Banks strolled through the establishment's doors. Tonight wasn't the first night he'd followed her to the upscale bar in Chicago's financial district. It was merely the first night he'd chosen to insert himself into the frame, rather than hang back and observe Polly's amateur operation from the darkened back corner booth. At least, he'd assumed the operation was amateurish. He hadn't quite figured out what angle she was working, which gave him a beastly case of nerves. On top of a festering volcano of irritation, wrought by her increasingly diminished attire.
Low-cut silk tops and flashes of garter belts that likely accounted for the unusually populated bar. Austin kept his expression mild even as his features ached to threaten each and every arsehole in the vicinity with a look. One that said, "Ah, gents. Put your wedding rings back on. The sleek beauty you've been ogling five nights straight is mine. She just hasn't come 'round to the idea yet."
Bit of an under-exaggeration, unfortunately. When Polly looked at him, Austin could feel her disdain like a blast from a fire hose. It was jarring, really. He'd encountered many reactions from the fairer sex. Astonishment, attraction, nervousness. What he wouldn't give to inspire nerves from Polly. He'd know just what to do with them, and his process involved a distinct lack of clothing. Possibly a piece of leather for her to bite down on when overcome by pleasure.
Austin took a sip of Johnnie Walker to stifle the groan building in his throat. He and Ms. Banks were nowhere near nudity and leather — yet — unfortunately. Instead, he was in disguise, watching her play a game in which he could easily assist her. If she didn't liken him to pond scum.
Really, he'd had no chance to make an alternate impression on the sassy bit of goods with a mind that rivaled even his own. Both of them had been brought to Chicago upon being issued ultimatums. Prison time ... or working undercover to put criminals — such as themselves, but with significantly fewer accolades — behind bars. He and Polly, along with four other victims, had been sent to purgatory. "Atoning for their sins," their leader, Captain Derek Tyler, had put it.
Austin disguised his snort with a cough. Sins were only sins if someone was watching. And he was usually long gone before his marks caught on.
Do unto others ... then disappear. A motto that had served him quite well.
Until recently, when the law had put a target on his back, making the world that was once his endless playground a damn sight smaller.
Sometimes he even let the cops think he hadn't orchestrated his own arrival in Chicago. That he hadn't been drawn here by news of a loose end, left undone during his last con. A living, breathing loose end named Gemma.
Austin showed zero reaction when the door at his back opened, allowing the bite of fall to swirl into the bar, cooling his neck. When Polly clicked past in high heels, however, reacting was a necessity. Any man who didn't show a reaction to a modern, sexualized version of Snow White ... well, that man would make the chess pieces in place around him suspicious. Suspicion was the enemy to cons everywhere. And being a formidable con of great reputation, Austin let the glass pause halfway to his mouth as he considered Polly's ass on her way to the opposite end of the bar. Even threw in a conspiratorial salute to the group of businessmen drinking the liquor he'd paid for as they did the same.
Goddammit, he'd never felt an ounce of possessiveness over another human being in his thirty-one years. But just then, he wanted more than anything to walk up behind Polly, wrap an arm around her hips, and drag her back against his lap. Look those tossers right in the eye as he licked up the side of her smooth neck. Mine, you pathetic drunks. You wouldn't last a minute up against the brilliance of how she thinks. How she reasons and makes decisions. Piss. Right. Off.
When the tumbler shook in Austin's hand, he quickly set it down and looked busy going through his cell phone. He put the device to his ear and turned sideways, away from Polly, but at an angle that allowed him to watch her through the bar's back mirror. He'd taken great pains applying the phony beard and gray wig so she wouldn't recognize him, but he wouldn't take any chances. If she made him, there wouldn't be a hope in hell of him discerning her game.
Anxious. The hacker who had once breached the White House's technological firewalls was actually anxious. Which made him ... jumpy. Fucking hell, he didn't do jumpy. Rule number one, however, was knowing the lay of the land before running an operation, and he had no clue what Polly's game was.
A gut feeling told Austin he'd find out tonight.
* * *
Here, kitty kitty.
Polly Banks ordered a dry white wine and crossed her legs in what probably looked like slow motion to the handful of douche bags behind her. The bartender had already started to pour her drink of choice prior to her placing the order, however, which was troubling. It told her she'd been here one too many nights, and tomorrow called for a venue change. Not good. She was running out of nighttime haunts to locate her mark. After this, she knew of a single nightclub where Charles Reitman was known to frequent when in Chicago. After that, it would be back to the drawing board. Or keyboard, as it were.
Her time in Chicago hadn't been designated simply to play house with the undercover squad. No, no. Each and every move Polly made was planned down to the tiniest degree and orchestrated with precise, thoughtful keystrokes. There was a debt that needed settling, and she'd come to Chicago to do just that. If her daylight hours were dedicated to aiding the same law enforcement machine that had ruined her fun and sent her to prison? Well. She'd be free of their confines soon enough. Free to navigate cyberspace at will, locating information and selling it the highest bidder.
Just as soon as she located Charles Reitman and got close enough to take back every penny he'd stolen from her fathers.
Yes, her vendetta against the man who'd swindled her fathers out of their life savings was pretty hypocritical. After all, her bread and butter happened to be blackmail. But Polly had a code that dictated whom she stole from and why. It was simple, really. If the fuckers deserved it, they were open season. Her fathers hadn't deserved it. They'd barely made it into the black with their clothing line before the financial security had been swept out from under them like a rug. By Charles Reitman. The man who'd posed as an investment banker and vamoosed with six hard-earned figures, sending Polly's family spiraling into bankruptcy.
Life had been hard after that. They'd lived in motel rooms, rationed food, and been turned down for assistance from people they'd considered friends. She'd watched the parents who loved her suffer, battle to keep her fed and clothed. Keeping her warm and safe when no one else would do the same for them.
And then it had gotten much, much worse.
Polly had grown up and learned how to get even. Now if only the topper to her revenge cake would come into the bar and proposition her for sex, she could move on with her plans of world domination, secure in the knowledge that justice had been served.
Polly accepted the glass of wine from the bartender with a half smile, curling a hand around the back of her neck in a flirtatious gesture. He coughed into his fist, mumbling that the group of gentlemen had bought her a drink. Polly turned and sent them a fluttery-fingered wave. Just one drink? How generous among the eight of you.
Although dressing the part had been necessary, Polly didn't like being ogled. She placated herself with the fact that she could hack into the bar's point-of-sale system and have each man's credit card information by morning.
Polly turned back to the bar and sipped her wine, feeling a kick of adrenaline when the door opened and a slim figure breezed in. His looks were entirely unremarkable, but there was a caginess to him. Slim's gaze swept the establishment's interior in a casual glance that felt ... practiced. Without looking at the bartender, he reached out and shook the younger man's hand, calling him by name. The bartender floundered a moment, as if surprised the newcomer knew his name, but recovered by offering to buy him his first drink.
"Beefeater, rocks. Thanks, man," Slim said, his attention landing on her. Staying there. "And whatever the lady is having."
That was when Polly recognized him. It wasn't whom she'd been expecting. Not Charles Reitman, but his face ... she explored the recesses of her mind trying to place it. For years, her free time had gone into researching Reitman, following his movements. Not an easy task when you're tracking a slippery con. A snake in the grass, just like all con men. There. Her photographic memory delivered the DMV record her memory bank had been seeking. This man — Slim — was an associate of Reitman's. Did that mean she'd been correct and Reitman was in Chicago? Yes. Polly's heart pumped double time. Finally.
She leaned back in her chair, allowing the white silk of her blouse to gape as she smiled at Slim. His name still eluded her, but he wouldn't. If she played the situation just right, this guy could lead her to Reitman.
When Slim correctly interpreted the invitation and sauntered forward to join Polly, she was distracted by a man in the corner of the bar. He stiffened in an almost imperceptible manner. Just a subtle tweak of his shoulders. Had he been there the last four nights? No, she didn't think so, but his face was obscured by the fall of gray hair, the collar of his jacket. Knowing all too well how cons often worked in teams, she decided to keep an eye on him while feeling out Slim.
Funny, Slim was busy feeling her out. Typical con. "I assumed you were waiting for someone," he said, sliding onto the chair beside her.
"Oh?" she purred, tucking her short black hair behind her ear. "Why is that?"
"You're the only woman in the room." He dipped his head and Polly could see he'd been good-looking once, probably before alcohol consumption had become his favorite pastime, an educated guess she made based on the tremor in his drinking hand. The raw red skin of his nose. "If you're not waiting for someone, you must like being the exception to the rule."
"The rule being what? Only men are allowed in this big bad boy's bar?"
He smiled into a long swig of gin. "I don't make the rules."
"Good." She gave a dainty shrug, going for a mischievous air. "I won't have to apologize when I break them."
He swirled the alcohol in his glass. "What are you looking for tonight?"
"Tonight?" She tugged the material of her skirt down, knowing it would only spring back up her thighs when she let it go. Which it did. Again, the figure huddled at the end of the bar demanded her attention, but she strove to focus on Slim, who'd finally let his gaze drop to her legs, an action she'd expected upon approach. This guy wasn't bush league, and she needed to remember that. Dividing her attention between him and the gray-haired mystery man would be a misstep she couldn't afford. "I'm just trying to stay warm," Polly continued. "It's a cold night out there, in case you didn't notice."
"I noticed," Slim murmured, scrutinizing her. "If you don't mind heading once more into the fray, I was planning on eating dinner down the street. Join me."
Polly perched her grinning lips on the rim of her wineglass, even as her insides recoiled at the command. She didn't like being told what to do. Not by anyone, but a con issuing demands took the ever-loving cake. And speaking of cake ... "Do I get dessert, too?"
"I've never been known to skip the best part." Slim tossed back the last of his drink, set the glass down on the bar and held out his hand. "I guess you were waiting for someone after all, huh?"
Maybe I'll kill him, too, for good measure. "You seem to be good at reading people," she said, allowing him to assist her off the chair.
His hand smoothed into the small of her back. "You have no idea."
Prick. Polly picked up her purse, comforted by the weight of her recently procured nine-millimeter. "Lead the way."
* * *
The best cons included more than just a mechanic, also known as the man performing the con. Austin himself had worked with a partner since he'd turned sixteen and watched his father get taken for five quid in a game of three-card monte during a family trip to Brighton. He'd seen it all take place, like a play unfolding on a stage. At the time, he hadn't known what the term "shill" meant. He'd only seen the silent communication pass between the mechanic — the card dealer — and the man who'd taken a turn before his father. They'd been in on it together. I won! The shill had said it loud enough to stop passersby in their tracks. This guy must be blind ... I've already won supper money for the week.
Austin had scoffed to himself, expecting his father to catch on. To see clear through the pair of wankers who'd pulled the wool over everyone else's eyes. Only his father hadn't copped on, and when it was his turn to guess which bent playing card hid the pebble, Austin's family had walked away minus a fiver. He could still remember the stifling disappointment he'd felt in his father — how it had kept him silent the whole ride back to London. The next day, he'd skipped school and hitched a ride back to Brighton to watch the monte sharks all day, learning their tricks. Before long, he'd set up his own operation on the opposite end of the beach, swindling unsuspecting tourists out of their holiday money.
Excerpted from Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2016 Tessa Bailey. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
## DEPLORABLE. That's how I would describe this hero. I never thought I'd say this, because I'm a huge, HUGE, Tessa Bailey fan, but I don't think I can finish this book. I'm over half way through and the male lead (because there is NO hero in this story) disgusts me. He's nothing short of a prostitute as he states himself in the story. But really, he's worse. When a person hires a prositute he or she knows the score. This guy bilks women out of their money, homes and security by sleeping with them in disguise. How can Polly be such a smart women but be so pathetic to fall for this guy's manipulation. Everything he does is a con. One of his cons even resulted in a daughter that he stalks on the side. I can't even believe Tessa wrote this. I own every one of her books and have read them all several times over. In fact, Derek's story is one of my all time favorite books by any author. What happened Tessa? Even the sex was ridiculous. The scars Austin has on his back from so many, many women's fingernails? Reprehensible for sure. And the stupid heroine adds to his fingernail scar collection. Wow. That must make her feel special. Sorry Tessa, but this one missed the mark. Big time! This book borderlines on disturbing!
Could not stop reading!! I loved Polly and Austin together! Tessa Bailey is definitely an auto buy for me!
Ive been reading several of her series and have enjoyed all if them, this one not so much- disappointed
Hard to enjoy.
4.5/5 Stars | White-Hot Steam From the very beginning of the Crossing the Line series, Polly and Austin’s crackling adversarial chemistry had my full attention. Every momentous scene they inhabited transfixed me and left me greedy for more. I adored Polly and her biting brilliance and lusted after Austin and his irresistible, cheeky charisma. They stood out, exuded personality, mystery and hilarious animosity, and I simply couldn’t wait for those enticing enemies to become torrid lovers. And now, in BOILING POINT, they finally get their story! When the astoundingly talented Ms. Tessa Bailey writes something, I read it. But this book…Oh, ladies and gents, this book…I didn’t just read it, I consumed it, relished it and now am one Lowe’s trip away from building a glorious shrine to it. I can’t get Polly and Austin’s soul-and-libido-shattering perfection out of my mind—nor do I ever want to! Their unforgettable, incendiary romance annihilated me with every single remarkable, captivating, volatile and white-hot word. Unquestionably my favorite of the series and one of Tessa Bailey’s finest novels to date, BOILING POINT obliterated all of my expectations and gifted me with a story so riveting, intense and feverishly addictive that I foresee a 10-step program in my future. “Just one more ‘hit’. I need it.” Normally I’d describe the characters in detail but won’t today because one of the most enlivening experiences in this novel—besides savoring all of the breathtaking sex—is discovering who Polly and Austin truly are. Those two brash and enterprising ex-ish criminals are so much more than their cunning exteriors. I was overwhelmed with compassion for both character’s unique vulnerabilities, heavy hearts and rallying senses of morality despite their shaky hopes of redemption. And, watching Polly and Austin’s tenuous relationship and mutual mistrust blossom into an unbreakable bond seared with passion, fire and rarefied devotion…well, swooning doesn’t even begin to cover my reaction. And did I mention the sex? Good golly, Mistress Polly! That brazen and commanding siren is a rule-breaking revelation. I was spellbound reading Austin coax, bait and and beg for her to daringly experiment and embrace her deepest and darkest desires with him and only him. Her pleasure is his pleasure. He requires it, lives for it and ardently returns the fantasy favors with frenzied focus and pounding precision. That man has moves the likes of which you’ve never seen before! Their erotic encounters are so deliciously vivid, wicked, raw and inconceivably inspired that you’ll emerge enlightened, glowing and positively green with envy. I’m still in awe over just how much I adored this amazing book and desperately miss Polly and Austin already. The only thing soothing my massive book hangover is the consoling promise of RAW REDEMPTION's exciting release this June! I can hardly wait to reunite with my favorite motley Chicago crew in Henrick and Ailish’s story! Bottom Line: Read this book! Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
I read the 8 reviews present before buying this book. They were evenly divided between loving and hating it. By the time I was to pg 100, I wasn't sure I wanted to finish. The first half of the book takes place very "in your head," much like the first books in this series. However, I kept going, and I'm glad I did. The storyline smoothed out, the action became less internal, and it ended really well. Tessa Bailey is a new author to me, and I'm really liking her writing. I'll be buying more of her books.
It was so strange to see the hero as a submissive. But it totally worked with this one. Austin is a con and Polly yearns for control. He saw that in her and was able to give up his own control to feed hers. They just fit together. The author did such a great job accomplishing this difficult situation. By giving up control to Austin you would think it was easy because he was a con and he could easily adapt to any role. But with Polly he let himself, the true Austin show. Of course she was no saint either. Hacking into peoples personal files. But together they made it work. I truly enjoyed this one as well as the others in this series. Each story is so different from the rest. How each couple fits together. And how they all create a special group. Yes they are all criminals on the outside, but each has a unique story that will keep you glued to the pages until the last word is read.
I'm not getting the one star reviews... It's not my favorite Tessa Bailey book but I didn't mind the risk she took with Polly and Austin's relationship. Enjoyable read.
3.5 stars-- BOILING POINT is the third installment in Tessa Bailey’s contemporary adult, CROSSING THE LINE erotic, romantic suspense series focusing on a group of con artists, former prisoners and cops, and people who cross the line for revenge and retribution-an undercover squad that plays outside of the law. This is Austin Shaw, and Polly Banks’s story line. Some of the previous story line couples and characters play secondary and supporting roles. BOILING POINT can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and history I recommend reading the series in order. NOTE: There is some mild bondage and discipline between our leading couple Told from dual third person perspectives (Polly and Austin) BOILING POINT focuses on revenge. Polly Banks wants revenge for the destruction of her family and her life. Austin is a man hoping to take down the man who mentored him on the big con but Austin never expected to discover that the woman he has fantasized about for the last six months is after the same man that Austin is hoping to destroy. What ensues is a building relationship between Polly and Austin, and the undercover squad’s plans to take down the man Polly and Austin have marked for the big con. Polly and Austin’s relationship is one of immediate attraction but neither one has admitted to their wants and needs. Austin is a man who plays both sides of the domination and submission field, but with Polly, Austin is a man who is willing to surrender everything that he is to give control to the woman with whom he is falling in love. The $ex scenes are provocative, erotic, and intense. Austin is a man whose submissive side comes through with Polly Banks. To address the submissive nature of the hero, Tessa Bailey treads lightly into the bondage and discipline territory, as well as the submission of Austin Shaw. For readers who dislike the possibility of a submissive male, again, the author barely breaks the surface of true domination and submission. Austin is an alpha male with over protective tendencies but with Polly Banks, he is willing to hand over all of his control. The world building continues to focus on betrayal and revenge. The undercover squad is an unlikely group of ex-cons and con artists, cops and thieves who are willing to take down the people destroying other people’s lives. There is plenty of introspective and retrospective from both Polly and Austin-we are in the mindset of our leading couple for most of the story line. I did have an issue with one particular aspect of the story line that speaks to Austin’s past. The introduction of a certain character(s) fell by the wayside, and with this character’s relationship to our leading hero there should have been some collateral information and plot development-but for all intents and purposes it screams ‘red herring’ or a distraction. There should have been a more in depth reveal or relationship struggle but nothing every came to fruition-it’s like they never were and just disappeared.
This was a great book, probably my favorite in the Crossing the Line series from Ms. Bailey. Austin - wow, he's a gorgeous man who definitely throws himself into his work. I loved the whole "he was a con man redeeming himself" (basically) idea. He's using his talents for disguises and doing good with it now. Polly - sweet, driven girl who's definitely broken some rules, but I get why she became the way she is, and I loved that she's a female hacker. I mean, c'mon. Ultimate geek (for me), if you put aside the whole "breaking the law" thing. The growing romance between the two of them went at a very nice pace. I liked how Polly was so drawn to Austin, even when she didn't recognize him through his disguises...and then once she knew he was likely to be following her in disguise, the ease of picking up on his current outfit was great. Favorite scene definitely came toward the end of the book when Polly goes home to visit one of her dads and Austin's dressed as a priest. The imagery of the women flocking around him was great, even though he was dressed as a man of the cloth. So - all in all, I liked the book and found it refreshing. It didn't drag and the bad guy got what he deserved (of course). So...check it out! Worth your time, definitely.
Boiling Point had a slow start--it took a while for me to really get into the book; I'm not exactly sure why--maybe because I haven't read the first two in the series? We were dropped right into the story where Austin's watching/stalking Polly, and it wasn't immediately clear if/how he knew her and I felt a bit lost. It all becomes a lot more clear a little bit in, but again, not having read the other books, I'm not sure if we realize his fixation on her in either of them if this book's the first indication we have. As a result I'm a little iffy about saying if this worked okay as a standalone--um, sure? While it's clear from the reading that the other two couples in the group have pasts, it doesn't appear that those pasts have much if any bearing on what happens in this one--but having a feel for the Austin/Polly dynamic going in might have been helpful. Unless there wasn't any indication of it in the first two...so, yeah, I'm back at not being sure. I did okay. I really like the idea of a group of (former? or are they really?) criminals banding together in a undercover police unit to right wrongs. That part of the plot--along with the main con operation that they have going on--feels very slick and well-orchestrated blockbuster-movie-like. That part alone was enough to add the first two books to my TBR; the epilogue and what we see of the new guy to the team, Henrik, added the next. (Will their fearless leader get a story too? I really hope so.) Once I got a feel for them, I did like Polly and Austin together--their scenes together were very hot, if a bit tricky to picture in my head. (I'm still not 100% how that one in the house they broke into actually works...) I liked how she made him become Austin again after all the roles he's played and how he describes what he's feeling and thinking when they're together. Plus, all the internal conversations he has about being her almost boyfriend/boyfriend...very sweet, and almost makes up for the fact that he doesn't say it out loud very much. (Though with that British accent, he really should say more out loud. In his own voice, that is...) I enjoyed their connection, and the bits with the tea bags were cute. I'm wavering between a 3 1/2 and 4 star rating--because the last third or so had me thoroughly gripped, I think I'll go with a 4. Rating: 4 stars / B+ I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Every.Single.Time. I haven't read a book of hers I didn't love!
This book reads like the deranged imagination of a developmentally arrested individual who has the sexual cognition of a seasoned professional. I give a BIG RASPBERRY to Tessa, one of my favorite authors, for this steaming pile.
Have to say that when I got this book for review I wasn't expecting the depth of character development this author gives you. I'm really loving the romance suspense genre and this book is a shining example why. This is the first novel that I have read by this particular author and it was so totally not what I expected but it was so totally awesome. The male lead is flipping hot and I was blown away by this naughty boy with his secret submissive side; his dominant, arrogant, domineering side, plus his filthy dirty mouth. He even has a bit of stalker tendencies about this woman. I fell in love with the whole package! Pun intended.... This book is loaded with hot innuendo, plenty of steam, hot scenes, and a great story to boot. This is totally an author that I am going to be stalking myself. Sometimes the story line was a little difficult to follow and understand what was going on, but the character development and connection these two had makes this book so totally worth the read.
This book had a very different feel to it than the other books I have read by Tessa Bailey. Austin was different than I had I imagined he would be from the previous stories. He was more intense maybe (I cannot find the right words). He did so much for Polly without her knowing. He was very selfless and yet selfish at the same time. He was controlling but would yield to her, only to take over again. I enjoyed their intensity and their chemistry when it was the two of them alone together. Oh the words spoken to each other, the images created by those words, their passion and longing for each other was very seductive. I have read a few of the other reviews where they mentioned Austin being a submissive to Polly. I see it more as him giving of himself for what she needs to have, but ultimately he set it up and then took over their once her initial control play was over. And his "if it pleases you",.oh wow, where is the fan?!?! I wish there would have been a little more storyline with his daughter, but I understand why there wasn't. The retribution storyline took a back seat to their getting together one. However I enjoyed the way it incorporated the whole team. I loved the glimpses of Bowen and Sera along with Erin and Connor. Definitely looking forward to Henrik's story, especially after the small glimpse we received of him. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
This third story in the Crossing the Line series sees con man Austin and hacker extraordinaire Polly finally dealing with the tension between them, set up in the previous books in this series about an eclectic group of shady characters who now work undercover for the Chicago Police Department. Up until now we've just seen glimpses of these two in action, but that all changes with their story, in which Polly finally has the chance to get back at a man who destroyed her life by bringing financial ruin to her fathers. Unbeknownst to Polly though, the man she's looking for (and finally found here in Chicago) is an ex-partner of Austin, who knows just how dangerous he can be. Austin's been attracted to Polly since they first met, but feeling unworthy of any attention from her, did nothing to provoke anything more than a sarcastic response - until now. Desparate to protect Polly, he'll do whatever she asks - even in the bedroom. Working together to catch a con man, will their feelings for each other survive when all the lies and deception are revealed? This story really worked for me. It's told from dual points of view, and I thought the author did a great job of making Austin's voice different than the other heros of her previous books. He's a British con man, saved from jail by a deal with the CPD and I appreciated that his 'voice' reflected his character so well. Similarly Polly, as a woman bent on revenge for years, comes across as a single minded, incredibly smart woman with a purpose. I loved seeing her skills at work in this story. But the heat between these two - whew! Austin makes it clear to Polly that he wants her any way he can get her, and if she needs to be in control in the bedroom he's willing to give it up in a heartbeat if it means he can be with her. I really like stories where an obviously alpha male can be submissive to a woman and still retain a strong masculinity, and that's the case here. But later in the story, Polly also makes it clear that she doesn't want to be in charge all the time (though she takes advantage of the opportunity to have Austin on his knees for her, so to speak), and Austin has no problem switching things up. Like most of this author's books, a dirty talking hero is expected and Austin comes through loud and clear in that regard, even as he defers to Polly's wishes. I really liked the character depth of both Polly and Austin as they struggle with their feelings for each other, in particular Austin's feelings of guilt over having worked con jobs with the man responsible for so much of Polly's heartache. There is a nice thread of suspense through the story as they close in on the guilty party, and everything fell into place quite handily. I loved seeing the characters of the previous stories (Bowen, Sera, Connor and Erin) as they work together, and there is an introduction to a new character, Henrik, destined to get a story as well. Kudos to the author for going out on a limb with this story and making a submissive male just as sexy as a dominant one. 4.5 stars.
Having loved the first book in the Crossing the Line series, I was eager to continue (even though I've gone a bit out of order). It took a bit for me to get into this one though. I also really struggled to connect with Austin and Polly. I think it was mainly because they are both so guarded. Austin is an ex-con and is known for being the less serious one of the squad. He can transform himself into a multitude of different personas, so Polly didn't trust him considering what happened to those dear to her involving a con in the past. Once Austin started to actually open up to Polly and be himself and she stopped resisting the inevitable, I found myself liking their interactions much better. I LOVED seeing the squad though. We don't get a ton of interactions, but the ones we do are just classic. Bowen is as gruff and grumpy as ever while being overprotective of Sera (which was sweet), Connor was stoic, Erin was quirky and fun, and we get a new addition to the team too! I am really looking forward to knowing more about Henrik, especially after that epilogue! Tessa Bailey definitely doesn't hold back with the sexy times, which I always enjoy, but I found myself wishing the romance revolved more around the storyline, instead of vice versa. I wasn't a big fan of the first sexy time mainly because I don't like deception or how Austin orchestrated the whole situation. It was interesting to see Austin take control when it came to Polly's protection, but when it came to their sexual relationship he was completely submissive to her. It hurt my heart to see why he let her have the control- he is afraid that he doesn't have anything else to offer her and he is afraid he'll lose her once he finally gets her. The book really picked up for me in the second half, and I definitely want to read Henrik's story and go back and read Connor and Erin's!
I want to thank Entangled Publishing for letting me get a review ebook copy of this from NetGalley. I agreed to write an honest review - but I always write honest reviews, dear readers. There are a lot of things I loved about Boiling Point and some things that irked me a little. Let's start with the love. I had never read a book about crime or con men or anything like that, so it was really fun to experience this type of ex-criminal squad - still tough, but working for the good guys. Austin, who I imagine has a sexy British accent, is lovable as a tough as nails, but sweet guy. Polly is a sweet woman who can outwit most people - plus, she sounds GORGEOUS. The more I read romance/erotica, the more I realize that I am a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope...which is what you get with Boiling Point. These two start off hating each other - or, seemingly so as we learn that the only thing Austin seems to hate about Polly is the fact that he can't have her. There's quite a bit of action - both in the bedroom and out. I was not disappointed in the slightest with those scenes. I really came to care about Austin and Polly as characters even though it felt like I read the book super fast. Now, the things that irk me. Keep in mind - these aspects may irk me, but they do not, in any way, take away from the core of the story. For one, I was really lost at the beginning. Like, super lost. This may have been because this is the 3rd book from the Crossing the Line series, but I feel like that could have been a way to bridge it for those readers who haven't read the first and second books. Also, Polly is a hacker, but rarely do we have any scenes where she hacks. I get that it's a solitary activity, but all I kept hearing was about what an awesome hacker she is. That may be so and it might have been described in the other two books, but I wish I could have read a bit more about it here. I love hacker girls - hacker girls are not only hot, but awesome. Also, there is a section at the end, in which, I'm pretty sure, the author wants to bridge this book with her next book and...it just kind bored me. I don't care enough about THAT character (I don't like spoilers readers, so just try to follow me) right now because I'm still with Polly and Austin. It didn't feel smooth enough for me. I was too impatient to keep reading about this lovely couple. All in all, I recommend this book wholeheartedly!
Scorching. Sexy as he**. Dirty....oh, so dirty. Arousing. Provocative. There aren't the right words to express how hot this book is. If you've read the author before, then be prepared for even more erotic intensity, more explicitly filthy moments, ...just MORE of everything you've read from her before. This is because Austin and Polly are easily the most well developed, complex characters she's yet written. I was given a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. This can be read as a standalone, although Austin appears in the previous book and we start to get to know him from other's eyes. From the outside he's an arrogant, self righteous jerk who is an expert con artist without any regrets about it. Yes, he's still that person but we learn who he is on the inside too...and that's an insecure man who hides behind whatever mask he's wearing. He's done it so long he's not even sure who the real Austin is anymore. Everyone thinks he's self centered, but he IS capable of loving someone and when he does he loves with his whole being. But the past he's tried so hard to get away from comes back to cause havoc in the new life he's trying to build. Polly has loads of issues due to her past, the biggest being that she can't stand to be physically touched. It literally feels like it's burning her and sends her into a severe state of panic. That may sound extreme, but when we find out why it becomes more understandable. She's been able to successfully live this way for years until Austin enters the picture. As soon as he walked in to the meeting where they met for the first time she was insanely attracted to him and knew she wanted him. He felt the same way, but her problem with being touched is a huge relationship barrier. Austin is patient and supportive, and eventually gains her unwavering trust. She opens herself up more to him that she ever has in her whole life. Until both of their secrets are revealed and then it seems like no matter what, someone is going to get hurt. Their faith in one another is tested and they're either going to be stronger after it's all done or they're going to be broken. The twists and turns in this story kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next. Austin continually shocked me with the lengths he went to in order to prove his feelings for Polly. This story has it all- suspense, action, romance...everything you want in a fantastic 5 star read!
This is the 3rd installment of the Crossing the Line series, and the best so far, in my humble opinion. Austin Shaw is a con man extraordinaire, cocky and sure of himself. But he has been in the game so long he doesn't know where the con man ends or where Austin begins. Polly Banks is a hacker, and hates con men, but something about Austin sets her on fire. Polly tries valiantly to not fall victim to Austin's charms, but when she gets a glimpse of the man behind the mask, she can't help but be intrigued. Both Polly and Austin have secrets, big secrets. And when Polly has to help Austin in the biggest con of his life, it might prove too much for their new found love. This story is fraught with sexual tension and angst, when people who hate each other give into their desire for each other, it's explosive! Polly and Austin are complicated people, both of them display a hard shell to the world, but together they discover each others softer side. The love scenes were something new from Mrs. Bailey, and I have to say I very much enjoyed Austin's submissive tendencies. This story packs some serious heat! A great supporting cast of familiar characters, and one new and intriguing character help to add humor and tons of witty banter. As always Tessa Bailey brings it, I love her tough on the outside, gooey on the inside characters and interesting and intriguing story lines.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey Book Three of the Crossing the Line series Publisher: Entangled: Select Publication Date: January 25, 2016 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): Falling for a con man is the most dangerous game of all… Con artist Austin Shaw’s been in disguise so long he’s not sure where his fake identities end and he begins. Now that he’s been strong-armed into working for a specialized undercover unit working with the Chicago police—criminals with unique “skills”—the last thing he needs is to risk his iron control. Especially when it comes to a certain stunningly sexy hacker who tempts him with every look of disdain. Polly Banks will never, ever trust a con man. On the trail of a ruthless crook who destroyed the only family she’s ever known, Polly is unnerved by the shadow who follows her every move. The one who makes her pulse pound and breath short with lust. Austin. He’s infuriating, enigmatic, and pure sex appeal, and she’s determined to resist him. But an untrustworthy man of disguise can become anyone he wants…including a man that Polly must trust if she’s to escape their dangerous game alive. What I Liked: I've had a lot of success with Bailey's books, and this one wasn't a disappointment, despite the three-star rating. There were little things that bothered me, and overall, the book felt like a three-star novel to me. I've not read any of the books in this series, but I think I would be interested in reading the next book (the male protagonist is newly introduced in this novel, and he is intriguing!). Austin Shaw is one of the best con artists in the business. He can slip from one identity to another, trying to forget who he is and where he came from. He's been working with a crew of fellow criminals, including Polly Banks, who has haunted his dreams and consciousness for six months. Polly has been attracted to Austin - and vice versa - since day one, but she knows better than to tangle with the likes of him. She has an ulterior motive, but Austin seems to figure out her plans faster than she can make them. One steamy encounter leads to more... but can she trust him to help her? I liked Polly, which surprised me just a bit because I've been struggling with female protagonists in romance novels recently - especially the ones who are trying to run from the male protagonist. Polly is tough as nails and somewhat commanding, but she's also a little uncertain and vulnerable. I like both of her sides, and I like seeing her expose her whole self to Austin. I liked Austin just as much or more than I liked Polly. He's a complicated man, and a clever, intelligent one, at that. He's more than an attractive, mysterious Brit - he's scarred where none can see, and he is very emotionally detached. He thinks Polly is too good for him and hates himself for wanting her so much, but he never stops wanting her. The chemistry between these two is off the charts. Bailey always writes REALLY hot books, but this one is probably one of her hotter ones. Austin gives all the reins to Polly, which is new for her. She's never been the "dominant" one before, but Austin gives her that control. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
This is the 3rd installment in the Crossing the Line Series by Tessa Bailey. Even if you have not read the prior two books in the series, this one can be read as a stand alone. Tessa does a great job of giving you the backstory that you need to catch up on. I have to admit, this one was a little different for me by Tessa Bailey. She added some smokin' hot scenes to this one that made it even that much more intriguing than just her ugly talking Alpha males. There was a little of a lull for me but once you got through it, the story picked back up and took off again. Austin is a con artist and has always done a great job at masking his true self while he is working. When we meet Austin and Polly, this is not their first encounter and it seems that there were some sparks flying before but they just ignored them because of their jobs. Polly is a hacker that is set in her ways with her job as well. She hides her true self while she is working too. Will these two be able to trust each other, with both of them having a background in the business that they do? They each have a protective shell that they are going to break through if they do want to make a go at it. When Austin and Polly start working together to get revenge on their target, they never thought that they would break through each others shells and that there would possible be something there between the two of them. As Austin continues to work with Polly, he lets his true self be seen several times and that is what intrigues Polly to find out more about the man that she is working with. Like I mentioned earlier, there are steamy romance scenes that will have you fanning yourself! Is Polly just using Austin for her own sexual pleasures? Will Austin be able to talk Polly into trusting him? You have to read this suspenseful romance to find out! Tessa Bailey has delivered another great one for us readers! I am ready to see what she has up her sleeve next for us!
Another great read in the Crossing the Line series. Austin and Polly, the con artist and the hacker, make a unique couple and have an even more unique story. Polly is determined to resist Austin but the attraction and chemistry is too much. And then there's the dirty talk....sigh, but trust him?? No way. That is until her life depends on it! Definitely a book I recommend.