A GAME OF CAT AND MOUSE FILLED WITH DARK DESIRES AND DANGEROUS SECRETS…
Emily Wayborn has made a decision.
She might not fully trust handsome and deadly Reeve Sallis, but he is the one person that gives her what she needs. With Reeve she can finally be herself. Submitting to him is the only thing keeping her grounded as the rest of her life falls apart. But the hotelier is a master at keeping secrets and as she continues her quest for answers someone is making sure she doesn’t find them.
Time is running out and she is questioning everything she thought she knew about friendship and love. She must now make an impossible choice that will determine if she will survive with her heart...or her life.
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By Laurelin Paige
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Laurelin Paige
All rights reserved.
My feet moved automatically, pulled by a force that couldn't be simplified with a label of compassion or curiosity or obligation. I crouched in front of Reeve and took Amber's limp wrist into my hands. My body was present, going through the motions of a concerned friend, but my head was in a fog. The smell of sex still lingered in my nose, the orgasms Reeve had given me still rang through me, low and wide, like the faintest waves sounding off a tuning fork.
Then there had been Reeve's declaration. He'd hinted both that he loved me and that he knew who I was, knew that I'd been Amber's friend. That had sent me into shock long before I'd been confronted with her ghost in the flesh.
She was supposed to be dead.
I was confused. I was relieved. I was more than a little scared.
Around me there was a buzz of voices, discussing Amber, but nothing they said made sense. All I heard was a steady drone and her whimpers softer than when I'd first seen her and barely audible. She didn't seem to be conscious, whatever pain she carried was so great that it slipped out in her sleep.
Reeve tried to get her eyes to open, slapping gently at her face with the same hand that had caressed me earlier in the evening, had been inside my mouth and cunt. The concern etched on his face and the tight emotion in his tone as he coaxed her were mirrors of the way he'd spoken to me in our most intimate moments.
"Emily. It's you," Amber whispered.
My focus snapped to her. I was aware now — of her, of her injured state, of the frenzy occurring on her behalf. Aware that Reeve now knew conclusively that his Amber was also my Amber.
"Yes, it's me." I stroked the length of her arm, forcing my gaze not to zoom in on her black eyes, her bruised nose, the sallow color of her skin. She'd been beaten badly. Her body was stick thin, her wrist fragile under my hands. I wrapped my fingers around it and registered a pulse, stronger than I'd expected from the near skeletal figure before me. This couldn't be the confident, vibrant woman that I'd known, and yet she couldn't be anyone else. My shoulders threatened to sag with guilt and grief, and my throat felt coarse like I'd swallowed sand.
But she needed strength, and I was a good actress. So I held my head high and made my voice a balm. "I'm here."
Her lip was too fat and bloodied to smile, but the corners of her mouth turned up slightly. "It is you." Her words were labored, her breath short. "Joe said you'd sent him. To save me. I —"
I glanced back at Joe as she broke into a coughing fit that tried to curl her torso in, but she couldn't manage to lift her head, the exertion too much for her.
"Save your energy. We're going to get you to a bed, Angel." Reeve nodded at his men.
Angel. Was that what he called her or simply an endearment he was using now? Either way it felt private. Like I'd walked into the middle of another couple's love scene.
"I need a few things from my office," Jeb said to one of the security guards. "An IV kit, my bag. There are painkillers in the safe."
He continued to issue orders, and I stood to get out of the way as Reeve gathered Amber in his arms. I turned to Brent, the ranch manager. "Shouldn't we call a doctor?" I was sure Jeb was good at what he did, but he was a veterinarian.
Brent shook his head. "Jeb's got all the training we need and we don't want to raise any unwanted attention."
I started to protest, but Amber called out, drawing my attention back to her.
Reeve was standing now, Amber in his arms, headed for the stairs, but he paused and spun so that she could see me easily.
"I'll be right there, Amber," I promised. "I'm just going to talk to Joe for one minute while they're making you comfortable."
She nodded, her lids closing as though they were too heavy to keep open.
I turned to the man who held her. Who moments ago was my man — now I wasn't so sure. His expression was hard and unreadable. But when his gaze caught mine, the room tilted. His eyes held a dark brew of emotion, so murky and filled that I couldn't determine what he was feeling, only that he was feeling. And that he wanted to share it with me. Even though it was obvious now just how much I hadn't shared with him.
My chest tightened, and I looked away, breaking the intense connection. It was all too much. I pivoted toward Joe, aware of Reeve behind me as he held his position a second longer before taking Amber upstairs.
I forced my full attention on Joe. I'd seen him as I'd come into the room, before I'd noticed the battered girl in Reeve's arms, but I hadn't gotten a chance to study him. Now I scanned him for similar injuries, for any sign that her rescue had caused him harm. When I saw nothing, I asked, "Are you okay?"
"Besides being exhausted, yeah. I'm fine."
I let out a shaky breath of relief. "I told you she was alive."
Joe chuckled. "You did."
In the beginning, I did, I'd insisted on it until he'd shown me the autopsy report of a Jane Doe that had matched Amber's description, a woman who bore the same V tattoo that Amber had on her shoulder. I'd found the same report in an e-mail to Reeve when I'd been snooping on his computer, which had further ended any hope that she was still alive.
"How did this —?" I wasn't sure how to ask the question. "How is she not dead?"
He ran a hand through his hair. "I don't know. I think we were deliberately thrown off." His expression told me exactly who he'd thought had done the throwing — Reeve Sallis. Joe had never trusted him, and with good reason. Reeve's reputation was shady at best. Five years before, his girlfriend, Missy, had mysteriously died while with him on his island in the Pacific. He'd been cleared from any blame in the crime, but my friend Chris Blakely, who had been close to Missy, had painted her relationship with Reeve as volatile. Chris was convinced that Reeve had killed her and had even gone so far as to hint as much on a recent talk show.
I wasn't sure which side of the fence I sat on. Reeve had assured me he'd had nothing to do with her death, and while I didn't know if I believed him, I'd decided the answer didn't matter. Now that Amber had returned, I had less reason to doubt him.
Joe, it seemed, was still skeptical. After months of investigating, he'd only found more incriminating evidence. Evidence that tied Reeve to the Greek mafia and a sex slave ring that Joe had been certain Amber had wandered into.
I thought of her bruises and shuddered. Joe was probably right.
"What happened?" I asked him, not wanting to know but needing to all the same. "Where did you find her?"
Michelis Vilanakis, the mob boss who I had pinned as a lowlife villain. It was the name I'd expected. Amber was last seen with him. Reeve was also connected to him — I'd seen pictures of the two at various events, as well as a few e-mails to Reeve from him.
"You just swooped in and rescued her from his house in Chicago? Or ..." I left the question open-ended, not able to imagine what the scenario had been.
"I got lucky actually." He shook his head, demonstrating his incredulity. "Really lucky. I'd been tailing Michelis for three days before I saw her. I didn't even realize who she was at first. But while I was in my car watching, she ran out of his house, upset about something. He followed after her, Emily. He grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back so hard I swore he was going to break her neck. Then he went off on her. Fucking pounded her face in while she struggled and cried. I don't know how her screams didn't draw a crowd."
I felt sick. "Maybe his neighbors are scared shitless of him. They ignore what goes on." Where I grew up everyone turned a blind eye. No one mentioned the drug dealer that lived next door. No one bothered looking in on me when my mother was passed out drunk in the front yard. No one intervened when Amber and I would arrive home with newly purchased designer clothes and unexplainable cash in our pockets.
"Probably so. He left her like that in his driveway. Whether he was leaving her for dead or planned to come back and get her later, I don't know. I grabbed her and took off."
"Why didn't you go to a hospital? Or the police?" I understood why Reeve's men would be wary, but Joe had more faith in the legal system.
"She refused to go anywhere but here. She was insistent and scared. She'd been to the doctor before, remember? With other bruises, and somehow she ended up back with her abuser. I didn't know who to trust. So I brought her here."
He tilted his head and studied me. "Didn't figure I'd see you here when I arrived."
"Yeah, well." I'd hired Joe to investigate Amber's disappearance, but I hadn't always been forthcoming with him about my own snooping. At the moment, I didn't want to think about the circumstances of my presence at Reeve's Wyoming ranch let alone talk about it. "How did you know to look for her there? How did you realize she was still alive?"
"I didn't. She's not why I was following him."
I wrinkled my forehead. "Then why ...?"
He gave me an incredulous glance, one that said he couldn't believe I had to ask. But I did have to. I needed him to say it.
And he did. "I was looking for you."
There was affection in the way he held my gaze, his expression so much easier to read than Reeve's had been, but equally hard for me to bear, for such different reasons.
I lowered my eyes to the floor. "Thank you, Joe. For finding her. For bringing her here." I couldn't manage to thank him for what he'd done for me. He'd gone willingly into danger, after I'd eluded him and been uncooperative. When I'd put myself in the damn situation after his countless warnings. I didn't deserve his concern. I couldn't condone it with gratitude.
He took a step toward me. "Emily, there's something else you should know." He waited until I looked up before he went on. "The tattoos. I found out what they mean."
"The V tattoos?" Besides Amber and the Jane Doe from the autopsy, I'd also seen one on an employee of Reeve's in Los Angeles. "Doesn't it just stand for Vilanakis? I figured it was some show of mob support. Like a gang tattoo."
"It does stand for Vilanakis. But the tattoos aren't inked voluntarily. They're like a brand. Anyone wearing the mark belongs to Michelis." In case I didn't get the picture, he clarified. "As in indentured servant."
"That's not even legal." Which was a ridiculous thing to say since I knew the mob didn't care much about the law. My throat grew thick. "What does that mean anyway? She got away. She's safe now. Right?"
"My impression is that Michelis brands people when their debt to him is too great to pay back in a lifetime. Which, if that's true, if Amber owes him that big, then he's —" He broke off at the sound of footsteps.
I wanted to know more, but when I turned I found Reeve approaching. I forgot about branding and servitude, and got swept up in the confusing mix of emotions that rose at the sight of him. There was so much unsettled between us — and that was without anyone else involved. Amber and Joe only complicated things that much more.
"She's asking for you, Emily," Reeve said, his eyes pinned on Joe. "She's in the suite next to yours." It was a dismissal that left little room for refute.
Besides, I really did want to be with Amber, so I nodded and headed upstairs, despite knowing that Joe could very well reveal all my secrets. Maybe it was time for those secrets to come out anyway.
* * *
If she really had been asking for me, she wasn't by the time I arrived upstairs. Now the only thing on her mind was getting something for the pain. Her shirt was off, and there were several bruises down her chest and arms, some yellowed and fading, others were much newer. Several near-black angry splotches lined one side of her torso. Jeb was pressing on them when I walked in, and though his touch seemed tender, the examination had her in tears.
I ran to hold her hand and stroke her hair, but she was in such agony, I wasn't sure how much my presence helped. Jeb finished tracing the lines of her ribs before looking up at me. "Emily, would you mind going down to the kitchen and making some ice packs? If there's some frozen peas or something, that would work just as well."
"Sure. Broken?" I'd had broken ribs before. I knew that pain.
"Just fractured, I think. But her breathing's not great. I'd like to get her on some oxygen so that she doesn't develop pneumonia."
"We have some for emergencies in the main office," Brent piped in. "I'll call down and have it brought up. And, Emily, there's ice compresses in the small freezer in the pantry."
I bent to kiss Amber's forehead. "Hang in there. We'll get you feeling better soon." She squeezed my hand so I knew she'd heard me, although I'm sure it was hard to believe in her current state of discomfort.
The men Jeb had sent for supplies were coming in as I left the room and by the time I returned with ice packs, Amber had been hooked up to an IV and fluid was dripping down the line into the vein at her wrist. Her eyes were closed. She was either asleep or almost there so I didn't disturb her. Instead, I handed Jeb the compresses, then sat on the love seat near the bed and watched, helpless.
I was actually grateful for that helplessness. Of the myriad complex emotions that were weighing on me at the moment, helplessness was the easiest to carry. It was the one I knew.
Brent returned with the oxygen tank as well as a heart rate monitor. Reeve came along with him, taking a perch on the opposite arm. Together we watched as Jeb and Brent hooked Amber up to the machines. We didn't speak or look at each other. Tension buzzed between us like a fly caught in a closed room. I was desperate to know what he was thinking and feeling. Was he as focused on her as he appeared to be? Or was his mind as caught up in us as mine was?
The longer I sat without his acknowledgment, the more my anxiety grew.
It was just after three when Jeb gestured for us to follow him out to the hallway for a powwow.
"Well?" Reeve asked, impatience in his voice.
Although he'd shut the door behind him, Jeb kept his voice low. "She's bruised up mostly. Her ribs are tender, but they seem to be just fractures. Her wrist is sprained and she has a concussion, all of which can be healed with time."
Reeve rubbed at the back of his neck, nodding, taking it in.
"When she wakes up," Brent said, "she might be wanting some kind of upper, if you know what I mean. She was pretty fond of the white stuff when she was here last."
Reeve shook his head. "Joe — the guy who brought her here — said he thinks she's not into that right now. He's pretty sure she's moved onto opiates."
So that's what he'd talked to Joe about. He was looking out for Amber, and I was grateful. And I was also selfish because it was disappointing to realize he hadn't been asking about me.
Jeb considered, raising a brow. "Heroin?"
Reeve shook his head again. "Codeine. Oxy maybe. She got beat up pretty bad, but he said she's been begging for a pill every two hours."
"Do you know if he gave her anything?" Jeb asked.
"Some Vicodin. He said he gave it as directed to help with her pain. The last was about four hours ago."
Jeb seemed to do a mental calculation. Satisfied with his result, he said, "I just put some morphine in her IV as well as something to help her sleep. We'll have to watch the clock carefully and only give her what she needs rather than what she asks for. In the morning I'll see if I can get my hands on some methadone."
Brent clapped a hand on Reeve's back. "I'm going to go check on security, make sure we're covered in case —"
Reeve cut him off. "He won't come here looking for her."
"With all the other activity lately, are you sure?"
Reeve hesitated, then said again, "He won't come here. But extra security is a good idea."
A chill ran through me as I thought about what Joe had said about Amber's tattoo. But I trusted Reeve's perception of danger. If he said he didn't think Vilanakis would come around, I believed him. The additional security was likely just a measure of precaution.
As soon as Brent left, Reeve addressed Jeb again. "What do we need to do for her tonight?"
I nodded, wishing I'd asked first.
"There's nothing you can do at this point." Jeb looked at his watch. "She's probably going to be out for a while. I'd take this opportunity to get some sleep. I'll stay with her until the morning in case she wakes up."
"I could take the first shift." Again Reeve spoke before I could. His offer rubbed me in places that I didn't know were raw. I told myself it was simply because I wanted to be the one by her side.
Well, if he was going to stay, so was I.
But then Jeb said, "I'd rather it be me. I want to be there in case she has any strange reaction to the medicines or in case she takes a turn."
Reeve hesitated before conceding. "Come and find me if there's any change."
"Will do, boss."
"Then I'll see you in a few hours." Without even a glance at me, he turned on his heels and headed for his bedroom.
Jeb gave me a tight smile then opened the door to Amber's room, leaving me in the hallway, alone.
Excerpted from Last Kiss by Laurelin Paige. Copyright © 2016 Laurelin Paige. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
This book is filled with suspense and romance . An edgy page turner ! Highly recommended .
It was so suspenseful and a page Turner.
Rich elitist with money can take advantage in any society or country. Be they socialist, progressives, liberals or communists. This author seemed to feel it was necessary to only mention it was capitalist who took advantage of their wealth. Capitalism has brought more people statistically from poverty into economic freedom than any other economic philosophy in history. Also she felt it was necessary to just state that old, wrinkly republican men sat in bars and picked up young girls to have sex. I'm pretty sure that old wrinkly liberal, progressive, socialist and communist men pick up woman in bars to have sex. Not only that but I'm sure they are abusive too. It would be nice if authors would just keep their political views out of their books. We don't have to buy books that are condescending. We can save our money. This author should have just added an extra 100 pages to the first book in this series and not ripped us off by making us buy the second book to read the conclusion. All in all I'd say both these books in this series weren't worth it. Her stereotypical beliefs aside, if she had just written the first book and not strung us along it would have been OK.
Loved this series! I am a busy lady who had a difficult time finding time to read but I made time for this series. I could not put this book down. Great sexy mystery!
Read this at night and couldn't stop thinking about it during the day. Could not wait to get back to this book!!
It was so beautiful and the most twisted way. I loved it so much. I barely slept because i had to finish.
Loved it!! Has everything. Heat, love, and twists.
It was a great read. It had great characters and a interesting storynline full of surprise twist that will keep you reading
Dark subjects but one of my favorites
Wow, these 2 books kept you in the edge the whole way through! There were definetly times I wanted to strangle Emily. Very powerful book though!
This series was very stressful. Had me on the edge through both books. I would have loved to have an epilogue of her thinking back to their wedding while she was holding their first baby. But a really great series !
Brilliant Read Last Kiss starts right where First Touch finishes so you do need to read that book first. I was so excited for this book the ending of book 1 had me on tender hooks and I have to say this book did not disappoint. It's hard to do a review without giving too much away but I will say this book is full of twists and turns, will she won't she and will Emily make the right decision and trust her feelings for Reeve. This book is thrilling, dark, intense, seriously hot and it blew me away. I never thought Last Kiss was going to be as good as First Touch, how wrong was I. I was given this book by NetGalley for an honest review
Last Kiss was exciting and emotional, Love love Reeve and Emily, Amber was horrible to Emily then to send a message like that..Reeve and Emily deserved to be together in the end,awesome book
Long, boring, and drawn out. I have really like this author's other books. I loved the fixed series. This book was just not good. Very drawn out and could've been wrapped up in about 100 pages.
When I finished First Touch the first book in this series I sat there thinking no this can not be how it ends! I was aware that the author had posted an "I'm sorry" because she knew that we would have to wait for this book to come out! Well this book picked up right where First Touch left off...Emily and Reeve's story continues it is gritty, sexy, raw, intense and sometimes disturbing! This book drew me in just as the first one did! We know from the first book that Amber and Emily are friends, Amber loved Reeve...her friendship with Emily which brought Emily to Reeve in search of her friend..(if you haven't read the first book you must before reading this one)...Emily finds what she wants in Reeve...love he gives her what she wants and needs! Reeve is so very different with Emily he is gentle, he admits he cares so much more and that she has gotten to him, he is still very much a dominant and will do what ever it takes to protect those he loves. Emily's love for Reeve scares her therefore the emotional roller coaster! This book is not just a dark love story but it it a psychological, suspenseful thriller with a hint of the Greek Mob! This series did not disappoint and I am so very glad that I decided to take a shot and read it!
Just when Emily Wayborn was finally ready to let go of all of her reservations about sexy billionaire Reeve Sallis and let him take control, things took a complicated turn, one that ultimately had her wanting to walk away. Full well knowing leaving him behind would damn near kill her, but she just couldn't break a promise she'd made long ago. But just as she was ready to say goodbye danger struck and she was forced to stay, and faced with a hard decision... let him go and keep her promise in tact, or fight for him and lose a friend. The minute Emily Wayborn walked into Reeve Sallis's life he knew she was going to be trouble, but the best kind of trouble... the kind that was worth fighting and keeping around. But after things take an unexpected turn for them, she is beginning to have her doubts about him and their relationship and he starts to feel her slip away... and it's killing him. He lost love once, and he has no plans of letting it happen to him again... he just has to find a way to convince her he's worthy of her affections, and that they belong together before danger strikes and takes her away. This sexy little conclusion picks right up where First Touch left off, and the minute I started it I was pulled right back into Emily and Reeve's world, and completely transfixed with them all over again. While First Touch was a little rough and wickedly passionate this one took on a softer side, but have no fear it was just as hot and sexy!! This story captivated my attention and had me on the edge of my seat and questioning the motives of everyone involved from start to finish... it was one hell of a literary ride, and I am thankful to have had a front row seat for all of it!! Ms. Paige has created something truly special here, and I HIGHLY recommend you make a point to meet these characters, their story it is one of those stories that will invade your thoughts, steal the breath from your lungs, move you to tears, and linger with you long after the last page has been turned! ARC requested through NetGalley, and kindly provided by St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
This book, this book, this book. I think that's it. That's my review. No, in all seriousness this book means business. I can't quite explain it without giving a lot of pertinent information, but think dark, gut-wrenching, and outside of the box. Ms. Paige has given her readers a book that delivers that and so much more. Last Kiss will be that book that leaves you just gaping like a guppy fish. There was a lot of "Oh, s**t", "Son of a --!", "MOTHER TRUCKER!!" and "Well, f*-k". I mean quite literally, I don't think I've ever been so vocal about my reactions to a book before. I will admit, I kind of saw the ending coming from book one (FIRST TOUCH), but experiencing getting to that ending packed on a huge wallop. I finished this book a few weeks ago and I STILL feel a little bruised up from it. I'll warn readers again, like I did in my review of book one, this is not your mother's, or even sister's romance. It's a rough one. It's twisted, and it gets even more twisted in this book. You never really know if you want to judge or empathize with Reeve and Emily. I think by the end I was definitely doing a mixture of both. But what I love about this book is that is IS so different from all of the other books on the market right now, the writing was incredibly, the concept is ASTOUNDING, and the delivery left me gasping. It's not all sunshine and roses, but it's intense, dark and gritty. The kind of book you revel in for an escape. Be warned, it's not a true romance, but an interpretation of one. Reeve and Emily are anything but conventional. Truth be told they're a little screwed up, but it works for them, and THAT'S what I like reading about. Two souls who have gone through unimaginable times that find a safe space in one another, find a home for their hearts. And that's exactly what Laurelin Paige achieved. A story that despite its extremities, and at times, crudeness, makes sense. I might not be able to relate to the relationship of Reeve and Emily, but I sure as hell enjoyed reading their journey to solace. *Note: my omission of any mention of Amber in this review was intentional. I could go off on a tangent about her involvement in the story, but all I can say is to get an appropriate understanding of how she fits in is to read it. Nothing I could write would do justice for the wicked web Ms. Paige wrote surrounding Amber. Happy Reading! *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
If you thought the first book about Emily and Reeve was great, just until you read this one! I couldn't stand to put it down, both books were that good. I loved and disliked the other characters in this book andvyou know it's a great story when you get that involved.
Laurelin Paige has RUINED me. She has taken all the words. First of all, how do I sum up all that is this series without giving away it's secrets? Second, the story, the characters and the plot are all so beautifully and masterfully intertwined with words to create an eloquent, beautiful and shocking masterpiece. Any words I try to use to do it justice will just look amateur. Last Kiss picks up right were First Touch left off. At the mind blowing cliffhanger that left me with heart palipatations. The characters and the story continued to keep me in their clutches right until the very end. Even when it was over, I still didn't want to let go. I still wanted more! Someone please explain to me why there are only 5 Stars. This is so beyond that rating. The feels, the suspense and the chemistry are off the charts! LOVED IT isn't enough.
Brilliantly written...seductively draws you in and plays with your assumptions and your emotions!! Last Kiss was one HELL of a good ride, one that I will not forget. Geez, what a book hangover I have, but oh so worth it. Laurelin's writing is always on point, but this one....oh, this one is over the top AMAZING!!! Last Kiss has everything in it from an extremely HOT alpha male, mafia and that oh so hot dirty talking bad boy!!! OMG! I am totally head over heels in love with First Touch and Last Kiss. Amazing just Amazing!!! That ending though...all I can say that I still need more of Reeve and Emily's story...I am highly addicted to these two. Don't know if I can get enough... First Touch was my favorite read of 2015 and Last Kiss is my favorite so far of 2016! These two books should be on everyone's must read list! Happy Reading Everyone!!
I was clambering for this 2nd half, having been left clinging onto the side of that large cliff after First Touch. Emily Wayborn was left in downright confusion, given her perception of where she stood with Reeve Sallis, and the unexpected turn of events. She thought she saw through the veil of viciousness, but someone turns up to throw a curved ball. I loved the intensity between the main characters. Reeve was my favourite H; self-assured, dominant and devoted. I hung on as the story gathered pace. We learn a lot about where Reeve resides in relation to his notorious family, and as each of the layers are peeled, we are led on a unique journey. I adore Laurelin’s writing, and this series has been a new, yet utterly successful road for her. ARC received from St Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Last Kiss, Laurelin Paige Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: Romance, I struggled with parts of the first book, wasn’t sure of either Emily or Reeve, but they grew on me slowly and I began to understand them. In book two though there’s still that dichotomy for me of how they both enjoy sex. I know there are people for whom sex like this is what they both want – I just find it hard to understand why? And it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable that there’s such a thin line between giving and taking,.doing what each wants or becoming a manipulative bully. Its something that demands so much trust, and yet these two don’t trust each other. Even now after so much has happened between them there’s still a myriad of secrets and both are still uncertain of each other – and yet I can feel that they’ve both fallen in love. There’s a complication now though – Amber. Its safe to say I really didn’t like her, saw her as someone who used Emily to back up her own demands and lifestyle. I’m not really sure why I felt that way – there’s no real evidence, but then that's true for so much of this story, lots of inferences, hints, trails leading to another secret, bits of stories revealed that turn out to be misleading – a lot of the time I’m lost, trying to understand the hidden messages, read between the lines, understand the subtext underlying what’s actually being said. It seems every conversation between Emily, Reeve and Amber has at least two meanings, and often more and I struggled to work out the truth. That's clever writing at its best ;-) I did get the ending right, did guess some of what was happening, but not because the plot let the story out, just wishful thinking and a need for a HEA on my part, which led me to look for the parts that would back up my supposition. Lucky guess really!! Its a drama filled read, full of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Its a story that kept me reading, desperate to keep Reeve and Emily together even while I felt so uncomfortable about what they were doing sexually that spilled over into areas outside the bedroom. I guess unless you’ve those tastes sexually it is hard to understand, and its not the first book which has left me wondering why on earth someone finds being treated so harshly, with words and actions is such a turn on – each to their own though and if it works for them that's fine. I’d be gutted, devastated at some of the things Reeve says and yet he knows its what Emily wants to hear, what turns her on, and she in turn wants to please him. The biggest issue I have with stories like this – and I’ve another very similar storyline part two read on review at the moment which gives me the same issue – is that the impetus that built up in first part has dissipated now, and its quite hard to pick up the story and feel the same as if I’d read it all as one book. Its been months and a few hundred books since I read First Touch, and all the drama and excitement I felt then has gone. *sigh* I really, really wish these stories were just one read. I know that I’ll get so much more from it if I could read it in one go, now its finding time to do that when I’ve so many others waiting :-( Great read, full of twists and turns, drama and danger, spicy, scorching sex and wonderful HEA. Stars: Five, just need the time to read both parts in one go now. ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
4.5 stars-- LAST KISS is the second and final installment in Laurelin Paige’s contemporary, adult FIRST AND LAST erotic, romantic suspense duology focusing on billionaire hotelier businessman Reeve Sallis, and actress Emily Wayborn. Their continuing story focuses on the search for Emily’s best friend Amber, Reeve’s dark and dangerous past, and his connections to underground crime. SOME BACKGROUND: Emily Wayborn searches for the truth. Months earlier, our heroine, hears a phone message from her best friend whom she hasn’t seen for close to seven years-a phone message using a safe word the friends had promised to use if ever they were in trouble. What ensues, is Emily’s hunt for the truth-a hunt that begins with the last person known to have seen Amber alive-billionaire hotelier Reeve Sallis. Emily will begin to seduce her way into Reeve’s life and his heart ensuring she has a front row seat when the truth is finally revealed. Told from first person point of view (Emily) LAST KISS continues immediately upon the events of book one –FIRST TOUCH-wherein our heroine has seduced her way into Reeve Sallis’s life- a life marred by dark demons, murder and missing women all with a connection to our story line hero. While Emily searchers for the truth about her missing friend, our heroine has hired her own investigator who is determined to prove that Reeve Sallis is guilty on all counts. What ensues is an intricate, emotional and revealing story about obsession, addiction, revelation and love. LAST KISS is not as dark or merciless as FIRST TOUCH. With Emily’s past previously revealed, the author focuses on the search for the truth, and Emily and Reeve’s building love. But relationships are doomed to fail when a ghost from the past returns demanding to pick up where everything was left off. Laurelin Paige’s FIRST AND LAST is a passionate series with dynamic, decadent and memorable characters, and an intensely sexual love. LAST KISS takes the reader on a seductive journey into one woman’s life of hope and loss; love and rejection; heartbreak and renewal. Reeve is an enigma- a man trying to protect the woman with whom he is falling in love from a past mired in death and destruction but in doing so fails to acknowledge the truth. LAST KISS is an emotional journey with powerful and startling revelations where uncovering the truth may cause more heartbreak for everyone involved. The premise is intriguing and intense; the characters are vibrant and electrifying; the romance is sensational and fated.
This book picks up right where First Kiss ended. Emily is finally happy and has decided she wants to have a life with Reeve, even if she doesn't fully trust him. But that happiness doesn't last long as Amber's back and she's alive....barely. Joe, Emily's PI, found her and brought her to Reeve's where Amber was asking go. Now Emily is conflicted between her feeling for Reeve and her feeling for Amber. When it appears that Michelis Vilanakis, Reeve's uncle may the cause of all the problems, Reeve goes into protective mode to secure Emily and Amber, whisking them away to his private island in the Pacific! It was heartbreaking watching Emily fight her feelings for Reeve, knowing that Amber was back and that she'd promised her friend years ago that she would never get in between her and a man. It was also interesting understanding Amber's side of their past histories and getting a better feel for the whole picture. It was a very difficult path for Emily to navigate to get to her happy ending but it was well worth it. I loved how Emily finally came to the realization of certain things in her life. This story ran me through the emotions...happiness, sadness, anger and swooning. Great ending to such an emotional tale. Great job!