What a scrumptious book this has been! I have to say that not many authors can make me step out of my comfort zone time and time again, even fewer can also make me question and often reshape my own perceptions of romance, love, or the very notion of a great happily-ever-after, but only one author I know continues to blow my ever-loving mind with the sheer gutsiness and uniqueness of her stories, her complex characters, and the intricate and strangely captivating relationships between them. Stylo Fantôme continues to write with such intelligence and verve—combining thought-provoking and entirely character-driven plotlines with intoxicatingly racy scenarios that never fail to take my breath away—and, once again, she delivers with a book that is hot sexy escapism at its finest.
“In a million years,” he sighed when he leaned in to kiss her neck. “I would never have imagined Katya Tocci giving me her panties.”
“Hey, I never said you could keep them.”
“Katya, the moment you showed up at the restaurant the other night, all your panties have belonged to me. You had better get used to that idea.”
Katya Tocci is the quintessential girl-next-door—meek, sweet, innocent—complete with a great career and loyal friends to boot, but no love life to speak of. So when her best friend artfully amends her online dating profile to reflect a much more adventurous young woman than the one she knows so well, Katya finds herself on a date with a random stranger that somehow ends with them having earth-shattering sex in his sex club, in every position imaginable. And the charismatic stranger—Liam Edenhoff—just happens to live in the building next door to hers.
“I wanted to be the kind of woman you’re attracted to. I wanted to be dangerous and sexy and fun, and I’m just not. I’m not that woman.”
Then the very next day, Katya is suddenly faced with a ghost from her past—Wulfric Stone—a childhood neighbour and her greatest teenage crush, and even though he shows no signs of recognising her at first, her day bizarrely ends with them sharing a toe-curling kiss after a date she didn’t even realise she was on.
The world had officially gone crazy. First she’s engaging in public displays of indecency, then she’s accidentally going on a date with the biggest asshole she’d ever met.
And with this begins the sexual awakening of young Katya Tocci, a woman no longer prisoner of her own inhibitions, who finds herself openly juggling two relationships at the same time, but also forming two very distinct bonds with two men who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Through some of the raunchiest and hottest sexual scenarios I’ve ever read, we watch Katya shed the shackles of her own mind and truly embrace the power of her own sexuality. But while one man gives her the courage to break free from her own reticence, the other gives her a reason to be this new sexually confident woman, her own heart drawing a line in the sand from the very beginning.
“You’re beautiful when you’re glaring at me or pretending to be perfect, but goddamn, Katya, you are breathtaking when you let go and just be yourself.”
In true Stylo Fantôme style, however, just when we think all the pieces of the story are slowly falling into place, the author hits us with a curveball like no other, decimating our poor hearts and making us re-evaluate our stance on every single aspect of the story. Our connection to the heroine, though, only grows in that moment, her remarkable self-awareness and strength of character making her a compelling role model of sorts. As we keenly watch Katya evolve into an intoxicating mixture of naiveté and bold sexuality—thus becoming the woman she was always meant to be—we cannot help but realise that her sexual emancipation would always be her truest happily-ever-after.
Now, I will mention that this story ends on a cliffhanger, a rather big one to be honest, but I believe that the story needs it. The characters need it. The reader needs it. What happens at the end of this book changes the reader’s perception of the story and its characters, and while it leaves us aching for more, it also gives us an opportunity to come to terms with all that has transpired. And I for one am happy to wait, confident that whichever direction the story takes us, when the big bad wolf comes huffing and puffing at the heroine’s door, there will be hell to pay. And it will be a devilish sight to behold.
Katya’s story concludes in The Neighborhood.
“I'm a very bad man, who does very bad things, and you're a very good girl. It can't end any other way.”