“One Night of Sin” by Elle Kennedy
This is the first novella in the After Hours series. Published by MacMillan’s Entangled Brazen imprint, it’s only available digitally right now.
I got it in late August, most likely because it was on sale and both Jane at Dear Author and Kaetrin of Kaetrin’s Musings had liked it, but I think I didn’t read it until late September or early October.
Before reading those reviews, all I knew about Ms Kennedy was that she was writing an erotic romance series with Vivian Arend, but I had not read anything by her. I have realized that, particularly when it comes to erotic romance, I like reading shorter stories by new to me authors before I commit to a full-length novel, so it all worked out perfectly for me.
As I mentioned back in October, I was very happy I did. I got the second installment, One Night of Scandal, pretty much upon finishing this novella, and now I’m looking forward to reading the third story, One Night of Trouble, which just came out this week.
Usual warning: this is an erotic romance novella. Ergo, there’s both graphic sex and graphic language.
Here’s the blurb:
When it comes to sex, good girl Skyler Thompson always plays it safe, choosing stable and sedate over wild and thrilling. She doesn’t do one-night-stands, but one look at sinfully sexy Gage Holt and she’s willing to reconsider. He makes her want to be bad for once in her life, and she’s prepared to take what she wants.
Danger follows former MMA fighter Gage Holt like a shadow. Despite his successes as part owner of Sin, an exclusive nightclub in Boston, Gage can’t risk getting involved with a woman, especially one as sweet as Skyler. Still, he can’t resist a taste—and it’s so damn good he has to see her again.
As addicted as he is to her, Gage knows there’s no future for him and Skyler—not with his past lurking in the dark corners of an MMA cage. But Skyler’s tougher than she looks, and she’s ready to fight for her man.
Before I start the review proper, please note:
I have mentioned here before that I often have issues with erotic romances, because most of them seem to either take place in an alternate universe where STD just don’t happen, or the characters are really too trusting to live.
(Hint: if you just met him/her, how can you trust his/her word that s/he’s clean and won’t pass on a gift that will keep on giving for the rest of your natural life? Let alone giving your address to a guy you’ve seen twice in your life, and putting not just yourself but your roommates at risk.)
In order to enjoy stories like this one, I have to pretend that I don’t care about the risky situations the characters put themselves into–such as oral sex, without a barrier, with a person you know nothing about–otherwise, each review would be nothing more than an endless rant, and while those can be entertaining on occasion, I don’t think that would be healthy as a steady diet, do you?
With that out of the way, on to the many things I enjoyed, unreservedly.
First, Skyler is a “good girl” because she’s responsible; she works, studies, pays her bills, and doesn’t drink in excess or does drugs. Her sexuality? Doesn’t factor into whether or not she’s a good person. At all.
There is no slut shaming. When her friends tell Skylar that she is not “cut out to have a fling,” it’s because of who she is, because of her personality. It is not because having flings or occasionally having sex with a friend is a bad thing in and of itself. Skylar herself doesn’t beat herself up for wanting to have sex with Gage. Yes, later she does want a relationship with him, but that is because she gets to know the person behind the mind-blowing sex.
I also like that one of the reasons Gage doesn’t want to have a fling with Skylar is because he recognizes that she’s someone who would prefer a relationship to a “just sex” arrangement, and he would rather not hurt someone because of his issues. What issues? Because of a rather difficult childhood, he’s a little too self-sufficient, keeping his partners at a distance, emotionally speaking. At his age *cough* Gage doesn’t think he can change.
Skylar has her own emotional hang ups, dealing with her own familial relationships, and I really like that she is aware of them. It would be absurd (not that I haven’t seen it) to have someone studying to be a psychologist and be utterly unaware of her own issues.
Growth is a wonderful thing, yes? Gage is thirty and Skylar is twenty four, and they act their ages. The novella covers a few weeks, and the change in the relationship and the characters in that period of time is believable, as is the happy-for-now (with potential for permanence) ending.
Also, it’s great to see secondary characters who are developed enough to stand on their own yet aren’t sequel bait. Lacey and May, Skyler’s best friends and roommates, have their own lives and interests, and at no point do they insinuate themselves into her relationship with Gage. Yay!
“One Night of Sin” gets 7.75 out of 10