Unravel Me by Tori St. Claire
Letting go might be the key that unlocks her pleasure…
Attorney Cassie Blaire has spent most of her life living by rules. Rules that keep her life sensible, and on the right path. But five years after losing her husband, Cassie is saying sayonara to "sensible." And it starts now—with indulging a need she's long denied.
When he arrives in Colorado, all Brad Steele wants is a scotch before he has to play nice in the first face-to-face meeting with his co-counsel in an ugly divorce case. But instead, he finds her—a lush, inviting stranger whose dark eyes invite him to sin...and thirst turns into a raw, undeniable hunger.
Now Cassie is initiated into a world that has nothing to do with being sensible, and everything to do with sensuality. Under Brad's guiding touch, she's receiving an education in desire—one that breaks all of the old rules, and explores tantalizing new ones. And once she learns that her naughty one-nighter is her arrogant co-counsel, all of her objections will be sustained...
About the Author
National Bestselling author Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.
While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.
Read an Excerpt
By Tori St. Claire, Liz Pelletier, Kaleen Harding
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Valerie Hatfield
All rights reserved.
One drink. Just one drink.
Then Cassandra Blaire could return home and cozy up with case files, like she really needed to be doing tonight. Instead, she'd let her secretary, Stephanie, talk her into a blind date with some friend of her current go-to guy. A pity date, probably, given that she'd spent the two years since her husband's death focusing on work and not her social life.
Sure, she went out now and then ... Okay more "then" than "now." But she'd done the settling down, meeting someone else's needs, for five years. It was time to see to her own desires, and really the only desire she had currently was to successfully negotiate this Cooper collaborative divorce case so she could alter the criminal practice her husband had built into a family law practice. And that meant preparing to meet the renowned New York attorney she was collaborating with, not drinking it up with a stranger.
But she'd committed, and she couldn't back out now. Stephanie would never let her hear the end of it.
Cassie glanced up at the twinkling lights strewn across the popular restaurant's front entrance. One glass of wine. It was Sunday night; she could logically excuse herself after. Besides, the little bit of alcohol might unwind some of the nerves that kinked the closer her meeting with her co-counselor grew. He'd been doing family law a long time and she'd gotten the impression he considered her somehow beneath him. Even if they were working together, the last thing she wanted was to reveal her inexperience.
She shoved open the car door to a blast of cold winter air, set a black heel on the parking lot's asphalt, and climbed out. After shutting the door, she smoothed the short length of her black skirt over her rear and approached the entry. Loud laughter filled the air as she stepped inside.
"Good evening, ma'am," the hostess greeted her warmly. "Did you have a reservation?"
Cassie forced a wide smile. "Jefferson. For two?"
The woman ran a manicured nail down her guest book. A crinkle appeared in her brow as she turned the page. "Jefferson, you said?"
"Um ... yes. Eight o'clock."
The hostess shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I don't see anything listed."
Cassie blinked. "Are you certain? I'm sure it was here at eight."
With a sympathetic smile, the young woman nodded. "I'm sure. And I don't have any available tables, either, to fit you in."
Well, didn't that just beat everything. She'd been stood up. After supposedly hounding Stephanie for the setup, the jerk didn't even have the courtesy to cancel. It really shouldn't have bothered her—after all, she didn't know the guy—but the rejection still stung. That kind of crap hadn't happened since college.
She let out a heavy sigh and scanned the bar area. Logic said she ought to go home, but she was here now, and her bruised ego definitely could use that glass of wine.
"I'm really sorry," the hostess said again.
Cassie shook her head. "That's okay. I'll have a glass of wine at the bar." She shrugged out of her coat, looped it over her arm, and struck off toward the crowded alcove, avoiding looking at the dining room full of couples and the rose-topped tables bathed in candlelight. So much for kindling up a new romance. Not that she'd really been hoping.
While the crowded dining room wasn't a surprise, the bar's elbow-to-elbow crowd was thicker than she remembered in years past. Maybe it was the significant January snow that had descended on the mountains. For the past month, it seemed like every place in Vail, Colorado, brought more tourists than usual. More single male tourists, to be specific.
Then again, maybe she'd just been paying more attention. Her house no longer screamed Chris's absence every time she turned out a light. And her big four-poster bed had stopped feeling so damned empty. All it did was remind her she hadn't ever wanted the monstrous thing anyway. Though admittedly, she'd made peace with the objections now that she could sleep flat out in the middle of the huge mattress.
Oddly enough, she'd realized a lot of those sorts of things—she'd done an awfully good job at letting Chris Blaire walk all over her. His sudden death had shattered her. But rebuilding awakened parts of her she hadn't realized she'd let go of.
Cassie strode to the bar and shouldered between two men in business suits.
"Can I help you, miss?" the bartender asked as he plucked a glass off the shelf and set it under the beer tap.
"Ah, yes, I'll take a—"
The feel of warm fingers brushing across her ankle brought her up short. She stumbled a step and looked down. Two heavenly blue eyes locked with hers. Blond hair tumbled loosely over his forehead, and as he grinned, an impertinent dimple broke free. She barely registered the square of plastic beneath her toe that he pointed at with his free hand before his fingers slid a fraction higher, and electricity shot through her system. Gasping, Cassie grabbed for his shoulders to keep from toppling over backward.
* * *
Brad Steele sucked in a sharp breath as the leggy brunette braced her weight on his shoulders. The sensual fragrance of exotic flowers and citrus assaulted him far more dangerously than the slender knee that bent just beneath his chin. A few inches more, and he'd be nursing a cracked jaw. What in the hell had possessed him to grab her ankle, as opposed to merely tapping her on the shoulder?
Her damned legs. He'd taken one look at those long, toned limbs and lost his ability to think. One need dominated—to touch. The credit card he'd dropped seconds before she appeared at the bar posed the perfect opportunity.
But the blanket of slender curves now draped around him brought his nose a breath away from her thigh, and her perfume was playing wicked games with his mind. He cocked his head before sheer instinct could override common sense and attempted to disentangle himself enough to look her in the eye. "Sorry. You're standing on my credit card."
She regained her balance, pulled that delectable ankle from his fingers, and set her black stiletto back onto the floor. A soft laugh tumbled off full lips. "Gives a whole new meaning to 'shoestring budget,' doesn't it?"
His grin deepened as he picked up his credit card and straightened. Luminous tawny eyes met his, their sparkle full of laughter. Her jest, however, held him transfixed. Humor was the last reaction he'd expected, given his rather inappropriate spontaneity. Most of the women he knew in Manhattan would have thrown him a scathing look, accompanied by "Get lost, jerk."
Before he could recover enough to respond, she waved her hand dismissively. "I apologize. Bad pun. It's been a long day." A slight infusion of pink filled her cheeks.
Brad's breath caught. What a fascinating contradiction—one moment a confident quip, the next demure softness. The sudden desire to unwrap whatever layers she possessed struck fiercely. He eased back into his seat, determined not to let her slip away just yet.
"I understand long day. Can I get you a drink?"
Her gaze tripped down his body, roving over his dress slacks and shirt, which was rumpled from several hours on a plane. The slow perusal, followed by the keen interest in her eyes when she met his gaze again, only served to ramp up his rather neglected libido. He hadn't expected that either, certainly not in this tourist trap. Snow and a warm hot female would make a week of negotiating with the uptight attorney on the Cooper divorce case infinitely more enjoyable. Vail, Colorado, might just prove interesting. At least for the short week he'd be here.
"You're not from around here, are you?" she asked, her confidence returning with her smile.
"Is it the suit?" As the man beside him vacated the bar, Brad leaned an elbow on the polished wood. He crossed an ankle over his knee, acutely aware she hadn't answered his question. "Or is it the accent?"
Rich and husky, her laughter caressed him like fine velvet. "Definitely the accent. I deal with suits every day. New York?" She moved into the space in front of him.
At the same time, the man behind her took a backward step, forcing her to twist sideways. The thin fabric of her black dress brushed Brad's knuckles. Again, her perfume tickled his nose. He breathed it in, sifting through the fragrances he knew. Jasmine. He couldn't define the other aromas, but jasmine brought him to his knees every time.
"Yeah. Manhattan," he answered, hoarsely. He cleared his throat, nodded at the bartender, and asked again, "What are you drinking?"
"A glass of moscato. So what brings you to town?" Mirroring his position, she set her coat on the bar and leaned on it. Her thigh came shockingly close to fitting between his knees.
Brad checked himself, torn between scooting back and moving closer. He didn't really want to confess that work brought him halfway across the country. This would be his first night of downtime in weeks before he was back to working his rear off for his upcoming promotion to partner. Though he wasn't keen on lies, he didn't want to be an attorney tonight, dissecting every word and nuance. "Just checkin' out the slopes."
A faint frown touched her brow, then quickly cleared. "Oh? How long are you staying?"
This time, when her gaze roamed over his body, the flicker of attraction became unmistakable. And the interest in her question was impossible to miss. In a heartbeat, he recognized a game of seduction he knew all too well, and he fell easily into the cadence. He shifted so when he brought his arm up to gesture at the bartender, his fingertips grazed her elbow.
The way she drew her lower lip between her teeth and indecision puckered her brow, however, set his system on red alert. If he barreled forward, she'd run. But the flash of her softer side was such a sharp contrast to her otherwise confident demeanor it only made him more determined not to let her bolt. He backed off and gave her a casual grin. "I'll be here for about a week. Then it's back to the big city."
The bartender moseyed to their position, and Brad ordered another martini along with her wine. He turned back to his stunning companion, picked up her delicate hand, and ran his thumb over her ring finger. "What brings you out tonight?"
A tremor ran through her palm but she didn't miss a beat. "Better than sitting at home, right?"
Hell yes. If she'd stayed at home, he wouldn't be staring into the most compelling light-brown eyes he'd ever seen. For a moment, the uniqueness of that chestnut color held him spellbound. He stared, soaking in the warmth of her hand against his, feeling his breath harden with each passing second. Her lips parted. Alongside the elegant column of her neck, her pulse beat strong and quick. Momentary nervousness, however, made her smile waver, and she once again drew her full lower lip between her teeth.
A vision of that softness beneath his mouth wound Brad's entire body into a frustrated knot. Good Lord. He was no stranger to women, but the tightness in his gut and the sudden strain behind his fly couldn't be ignored. She had him captivated, and he was aching to discover all he could.
"Cash or plastic?"
The bartender's voice jerked Brad out of the fantasy, and he released her. With his opposite hand, he passed the man his credit card. "Keep it open." Turning back to her, he gestured at an open bar table in the corner. "Join me?"
The hesitation that passed across her face made something foreign inside him twist sharply. Surely he hadn't read her wrong. Don't let her refuse.
With a slight dip of her chin, she let out a breathy, "Yes."CHAPTER 2
Cassie slid into the seat, scarcely able to believe she'd accepted the handsome blond's invitation. She couldn't really be entertaining the idea of a one-night stand with a stranger, could she? This wasn't the sort of thing a mature, professional, widowed woman would do. Particularly not with a huge meeting tomorrow. This kind of spontaneity could only lead to trouble.
But damned if the idea of one wicked night, no holds barred, held excitement. He was hot—no other description fit. His broad shoulders hinted at college football days and filled out an expensive suit that had to have been custom-tailored. He exuded an air of assertive confidence. Yet at the same time, the day-old stubble on his face and the impishness of his dimpled grin spoke of a devil-may-care attitude. No doubt he knew exactly what he wanted ... and exactly how to get it.
Moreover, the way his hungry gaze ate her up sparked primal urges of her own. She'd been craving that kind of passion for entirely too long. What could it hurt to indulge?
It could hurt a lot of things.
As he moved to stand at her shoulder, he rested one hand casually on the back of her chair. His gaze skipped down the deep vee of her neckline. Cassie ordered her conscience to hush. She was twenty-eight and had needs that could be fulfilled with a stranger who'd leave town in a few days. A man who couldn't threaten her freedom. No commitments, no entanglements, just ... fun. Two years had passed, void of fun.
She leaned forward a smidgeon, knowing the loose fabric would gap and give him a flash of bare skin beneath.
"So ..." Her companion cleared his throat. With effort, he pulled his gaze back to her eyes. "What do you do?" he asked.
Cassie shook her head. "Let's not go there, shall we?" Even as the cool words slipped free, she surprised herself with the answer. Lifting her eyebrows, she sucked up her courage and smiled over the rim of her wineglass. "That's professional. This ..." She took a long, slow sip, then finished, "... isn't."
As a slow burn infused her bloodstream, Cassie slid her gaze to her sexy companion. He regarded her noncommittally, but the flare in his vibrant blue eyes made her throat turn dry. The wry crook of one corner of his mouth left no doubt in her mind he'd let her glimpse that spark of desire intentionally. That he was completely aware of how he affected her.
"As you wish."
He winked, and she experienced a moment's hesitation. Could she really do this?
His dimpled grin was nearly her undoing. Her heart tripped erratically. At once, the room was too crowded and much too hot. When she had to sit down with counsel for the entire afternoon tomorrow, too sleepy to keep her eyes open, she was going to hate herself for following through on this. But that darned dimple sealed the deal—no way was she going home alone tonight.
A thrill raced down Cassie's spine.
Yes. I'm doing this.
* * *
Brad shifted position in the chair he'd requisitioned when they claimed the table a half hour or so ago. But it was useless—he was so aroused he couldn't create enough room behind his fly to be remotely comfortable. The woman was fascinating. Their conversation illustrated she was clearly well educated. Assertive. Yet there was a shyness about her that sucked him in each time it peeked through.
No. Not shyness, he countered as she lowered her lashes. Submissiveness. Like there was some part of her that naturally deferred to him ... and he could tell she wasn't quite sure she wanted it to.
He wasn't quite sure he wanted it to either. That could be dangerous. The kind of dangerous that would make her unforgettable. And he had no intentions of getting sidelined by a woman he couldn't tuck neatly away into the corner of his mind where pleasant, but altogether uninspiring, memories resided. Anything more was a recipe for disaster. He was too much like his old man, who was on affair number five. Brad didn't want to learn the hard way that they shared the gene of unfaithfulness. It was better for everyone if he took pleasure as it was offered and kept things uncomplicated.
He picked up the bottle of wine and topped his companion's glass off with the last of it. When it was empty, he fully intended to escalate this little tango to the next level. He leaned in close, tucked his fingers into her free hand. "You know, you haven't told me your name yet."
She shook her head, sending her long, silken hair spilling over one shoulder. The curled ends cupped her left breast. Bare breast, he amended. She'd bent forward often enough he'd realized there wasn't a trace of satin or lace beneath the dress.
Excerpted from Unravel Me by Tori St. Claire, Liz Pelletier, Kaleen Harding. Copyright © 2014 Valerie Hatfield. 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
## I did not enjoy this book. The only reason I upgraded it to 2 stars was because the beginning of the story was so fun. SPOILER ALERT: Once the hero and heroine found out who the other was....well, things went down hill from there. I couldn't seem to muster up much fondness for the hero. He was a liar, manipulator and a little cruel. And for at least half the book I considered the heroine a doormat. But she redeemed herself when she said: " Don't touch me" after he punished her for not "obeying" him. Damn straight! He deserved that and more. I'm all for an alpha male taking contol in the bedroom, but leaving her tied up overnight after getting her all worked up, denying climax for two nights? I would've grabbed my car keys and on my way out calmly exclaimed: " If you won't give me what I want, I'll find someone who will. " But that's just me. Won't be reading again.
So good. Loved it.
This one had it all, well written story, well developed characters that you get invested in & lots of good steam!! Please give us more!
This was definitely an enjoyable read. When i read the blurb i was a little worried that the story line would seem a bit forced but it wasn't at all. The story flowed well and it was a great mix of sexy with a perfect amount of emotional tension. I will definitely been reading more of this authors books. Overall i give this 4.5 out of 5
Reviewed by Gemini for Read Your Writes Book Reviews Unravel Me is very hot and steamy, but it also has an interesting emotional layer to it that I didn’t expect. Unravel Me is the story of an unexpected relationship between two people who just so happen to meet under the guise of a one-night stand. The morning after proves to be much more than either of them is prepared for. Cassandra “Cassie” Blaire is an independent attorney in Vail, Colorado. On the night before she is supposed to meet with a high-powered attorney from New York to collaborate on a divorce, she heads to a restaurant for a blind date. The blind date stands her up. Instead of going home, she goes to the bar for a drink. Although her husband died a couple of years ago, she really hasn’t done much dating. At the bar, she meets a handsome stranger that she believes is only in town for a week. They decide to pursue a night of wild sex without any strings attached or names exchanged. When Cassie goes into her office the next morning, she is shocked to find out that Brad Steele, the high powered attorney that she is meeting with, is the sexy stranger that she allowed to dominate her in the bedroom the night before. Once they get past their embarrassment, they attempt to put the past behind them and focus on the divorce case. Of course, the sexual tension between them is just too strong so they decide to continue with their fling especially since they are not opposing counsel and they aren’t violating any ethics rules. Things get complicated as they both start to have more intense feelings for each other. Brad has to get past his issues concerning his unfaithful father while Cassie has to figure out how to not to lose too much herself. This was a good book and I would recommend it for a simple and somewhat predictable read. Source: Publisher Rating: 3.5 Stars
Cassie is a widow, not looking for a night of fun, who meets Brad and decides to throw caution to the wind and have a hot one night stand. They don't exchange name or contact information, and imagine their surprise when they meet each other as opposing council in an amicable divorce. They try to resist their chemistry, but almost immediately succumb to their attraction to each other. Their relationship has a mild domination theme, which leads the Cassie to dump the Brad. Don't worry, they eventually find their happy ending. I enjoyed the realistic torment that Brad feels after he realizes his a typical bachelor, and Cassie's stand for her dreams. Overall this was a savory, entertaining romance. I received an ARC copy for a honest review.
Letting go might be the key that unlocks her pleasure… Attorney Cassie Blaire has spent most of her life living by rules. Rules that keep her life sensible, and on the right path. But five years after losing her husband, Cassie is saying sayonara to “sensible.” And it starts now—with indulging a need she’s long denied. When he arrives in Colorado, all Brad Steele wants is a scotch before he has to play nice in the first face-to-face meeting with his co-counsel in an ugly divorce case. But instead, he finds her—a lush, inviting stranger whose dark eyes invite him to sin...and thirst turns into a raw, undeniable hunger. Now Cassie is initiated into a world that has nothing to do with being sensible, and everything to do with sensuality. Under Brad’s guiding touch, she’s receiving an education in desire—one that breaks all of the old rules, and explores tantalizing new ones. And once she learns that her naughty one-nighter is her arrogant co-counsel, all of her objections will be sustained... Review: Another enjoyable read by Tori St. Claire! Two strangers meet in a bar and after a night mild submission, they find out that they are co-counsel for a divorce case. Cassie and Brad are our main characters. Cassie has been widowed for two years and she is standing up for herself after being stifled by her dead husband. I liked that Cassie put herself out there even at the risk of being hurt and finally standing up for what she wanted and needed. Brad is a New York, playboy, lawyer who is influenced by his fathers philandering ways. Brad is such a great guy, even though they never exchange names that first night, he goes out of his way to give Cassie what she needs and take care of her. Both of these people have lots of emotional baggage to overcome to get their HEA. It was enjoyable to read their struggles and their love story unfold. I have been engrossed in Ms. St. Claire's other works and I enjoy her writing style. This story even at 250+ pages was a quick pleasurable read. Now, this is mild submission in this book, nothing heavy. Some of the language used seems a little cliche or old fashioned, at least in the intimate scenes, but for me it does not detract from the story Cassie and Brad. And I will continue to seek out more stories from Tori St. Claire! 4 Stars I received a copy of this book from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I found Unravel Me an enjoyable read. Having read some pretty dark heavy reads I needed hot romantic escapism to relax with and that it was. It has elements (very loosely) of BDSM, but in fairness I wouldn’t categorize it as such; Brad and Cassie do have a D/s relationship in the bedroom but it’s one that many vanilla relationships would have in that one party is simply taking the lead. I liked them both. Both are intelligent career driven individuals who have their own reasons for being single. In a bar, a guy meets a girl, no names are exchanged and a one night stand occurs. Only the following morning, their paths cross again on a professional level… In fairness it wasn’t what I was expecting. Having read the synopsis I expected a lot more fight between them, when actually, they are pretty much on a similar page for a large part of the book. Out of the bedroom Brad was quite the sweetie but the way he treated Cassie at one point made me want to throttle him (I think a safe-word would have been an apt addition). Overall though he is sexy but not in a knock-you-off-your-feet type of way. Which is no bad thing! If a hot sexy fairly easy read is what you're after, I’d recommend. I received a copy of this as an ARC courtesy of Entangled Publishing for an honest and unbiased opinion
3.5 Stars! I found Unravel Me by Tori St. Claire to be an interesting erotic romance. I liked the main characters, private practice attorney Cassie Blaire and corporate lawyer Brad Steele as individuals, but not so much as a couple. Both are independent, career driven people with some baggage that ends up being the catalyst to their future together. Cassie is a widow and has not been in a relationship since her controlling husband passed away. She never wants to experience that type of togetherness ever again, where her dreams and ideas are prohibited. Although she is a fair and sometimes ruthless lawyer, she has a submissive side in the bedroom that has never been explored. Brad is a step away from making partner in his New York City law firm and as a result, he works constantly. Due to his father's philandering, he has a warped sense of relationships and love. He dates, but no woman has ever rocked his boat, that is until he meets Cassie in a bar in Vail, Colorado. At this point, Cassie and Brad have no idea that they will be working together on an uncontested divorce. Cassie and Brad hook up and experience the best sex of their lives, unmasked. No names or identifiers, just pure dream fulfilling lust. I found Cassie and Brad's time together a little disturbing because Cassie lets Brad take control of her pleasure, without even getting to know him. Although Brad is a dom-wannabe, he has his act together and knows what he is doing instinctively. However, as time goes on, his emotions play havoc in his mind and he goes a little to far. Brad's alpha side is extremely hot and sexy. Ms. St. Claire can really create steamy scenes and leave the reader panting. I am a true believer in love at first sight, however, Cassie and Brad's relationship evolved a little too quickly, to the point where I thought it became almost unbelievable. The book is well-written and I would have enjoyed a little more story in lieu of sex. Overall, a solid read and I look forward to reading more from Ms. St. Claire. ARC provided by Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I was rooting for Brad and Cassie from page one. Their chemistry simmered off the pages. Let me also say, I’m not usually into Dom/Sub books. For me, the women are often portrayed as either too weak in everyday life or for some reason they “need” to be tamed. Or worse, the set up is so ludicrous that I find it hard to relate. Usually not my cup of tea. It was so refreshing to finally meet a couple where the woman was strong outside of the bedroom and someone I would actually be friends with. And the hero was not a total macho, alpha jerk. It was well done in a genre that is difficult to do right. Imaging a night of hot anonymous sex. What happens when that person is not so anonymous? As not quite opposing counsel, Cassie and Brad represent a divorcing couple in an almost amicable settlement proceeding. With of them battling their histories, the conflict is a good believable one. The book was hot, relatable and fun. I received a coy in exchange for an honest review.