When it comes to well-written, skin-tingling romances that make you addicted to their every page, Alessandra Torre is my go-to author. In her bold signature style, Torre pens a tender, erotic love story with incredibly dynamic protagonists and loads of sexual tension between them, gripping from the start and paced just right until the very end. A sexy, angsty tale of two best friends slowly falling in love with one another, this is a story that is both light-hearted and heart-wrenching at times, pulling me in with its finely nuanced characters and a subtly provocative scenario, and making me forget the world around me cover to cover.
According to industry rumors, he’s never been married, fucks like an animal, and has a mouth like my shower massager. It doesn’t matter. He needs a Creative Director, and I need a new job.
Marks Lingerie is struggling. With its sales quickly declining, and staff morale at an all-time low, one of the largest lingerie companies in the world is in dire need of a life raft. And not even its dashing founder and CEO, Trey Marks, can pull it out of its downward spiral. So when he takes a chance on a young, spunky Creative Director who promises to inject new life into his company, he is determined more than ever not to let his immediate attraction to her interfere with their working relationship, regardless of how much he wants her in his bed from the moment he lays eyes on her.
“I’m wagering everything on this. On you. I need you to understand how important it is for this to succeed.”
All that Kate Martin has ever wanted in her career is to be given an opportunity to showcase her talent and ideas. Stuck for the past decade in a dead-end job she’s grown to hate, Kate is desperate for a change, and while Marks Lingerie seems to be the answer to all her prayers, she knows from the start that the cocky CEO would become a temptation she did not need. We watch them work alongside one another day after day, pulling the company out of its financial tailspin, and rebuilding its future one step at a time, but in the midst of all their successes, we also watch them form the kind of close friendship that becomes an obstacle to every romantic relationship they enter. The easy familiarity between them only grows over time, their constant flirting further feeding the undercurrent of unresolved sexual tension that hums between them, and while they both gladly toy with one another, they remain mindful of how much is at stake, professionally and personally, for them both.
In some ways, our bond seems unflappable. In other ways, we seem as fragile as glass. No one else can hurt me like this. No one else’s opinion is as important. No one else can break my heart as easily as he could mend it.
But three years of pining over one another—told in alternating chapters that offer insight into the effects of the ever-growing desire and affection between them on both their characters and the relationships they forge with others—culminate when they both least expect it, forcing them to search their hearts and decide what loving the other truly means to them both.
Sometimes, I love her so much it hurts.
I simply couldn’t get enough of the will-they-won’t-they moments between Kate and Trey, every scene between them bursting with yearning and passion, but their fear of losing one another trumping it all. I loved the chemistry between them, the easy affection, the joviality of their every interaction, but I loved the simplest instances of them just being friends most of all, and only wished there had been even more moments like that, free from any sexual undertones, to truly watch their friendship grow stronger over time. I felt at times like time flew too quickly through the pages, never stopping long enough on the real building blocks of the emotional bond between them, and lingering too long on the sexual attraction between them. I felt drunk with excitement every time they showed how much their friendship meant to them both, both hating the time it took them to become ready for one another, and loving every single heart-clenching second of it.
I could tell her how I feel and plead for her heart. I could come inside of her, and have her for the rest of my fucking life. I could scare her away and lose her forever.
Alessandra Torre delivers another irresistible romance to sweep us right off our feet, filing its pages with the perfect blend of soul, heart, and steam. It’s not a simple romance, or an easy one from the start, but it is a hopeful one, and one that I loved with all my heart.
He has been the only man for me since the moment he uttered my name.
I don’t know if I can stop. Not when she sits on the edge of the stool, her skirt pushed up, knees spread, her legs limp and hanging open. I stand before her, one hand squeezing and caressing her thigh. My other hand is seriously fucking with my mind. It plays with her pussy, her sweet pussy, a thin bit of my lingerie the only thing between my skin and hers. I’m terrified to move those panties aside; I’m terrified, if I touch her bare heat, if I feel the smooth skin or silky hair, that I will lose all control. If I push one finger, or two, inside of her … god damn. How will I stop myself from yanking at my belt, my zipper? How will I stop myself from freeing my cock and thrusting it inside of her? I am just seconds away from being able to have her, from gripping her ass and pulling her onto me, from pushing deep inside and fully owning this incredible woman. I could fist her hair and kiss her mouth. I could taste her, have her, please her. I could spread her open on my counter and tease every part of her with my tongue, my fingers, my dick. I could tell her how I feel and plead for her heart. I could come inside of her, and have her for the rest of my fucking life.
I could scare her away and lose her forever.
Stop, she’d said. I pull my hand away and straighten, putting one foot, then two, between us. I have to stop. I have to. Against the zipper of my jeans, my cock hates me even more.
I turn away from her and take a breath, schooling my features, willing the raw need to leave my eyes. Had she seen it? How badly I want her? Of course she had. Touching her? What the fuck was I thinking?
It had been the news of her date that had broken my restraint, the way she had bounded inside, full of stories and smiles, as if this guy was a possibility, as if he could, in any way, make her happy. I had seen hope in her eyes, and a panic switch in my heart had tripped.
Stop, she’d said. I turn back to her and attempt the playful tone that has gotten me out of a hundred situations. “And you say I don’t follow directions.”
She faces the island, the contracts spread out before her, and I know what I will see when I step beside her—control. My beautiful girl loves it, the hiding of emotion, so many interactions a game where her words don’t match her features, and her meanings are never easily deciphered.
“Why did you care what I was wearing under my suit?” Her head doesn’t turn to me, it stays tilted down, over the contract, her fingers busy, pulling off and reaffixing SIGN HERE stickers that aren’t needed.
“I wanted to know if you were at least giving the guy some sort of effort.”
That causes her head to turn, and she looks at me as if I am mental. “It was our first date. A coffee date. He wasn’t going to see anything under my suit.”
“Because … you told him you were a serial killer?” I feign confusion, furrowing my brow and earning a smile from her.
“Because it was a FIRST DATE,” she intones. “We didn’t even kiss.” She taps the top of a page. “Come sign.”
“He didn’t kiss you?” This is alarming, and I sit, pulling the first page toward me and scrawling my signature across the bottom.
“No. Which kind of surprised me.” She tilts her head, watching me sign the second page, a slow smile spreading over her lips. “It was kind of nice, actually. He was such a gentleman about it.”
This I don’t need. Her gushing, her starry eyes, her fucking “gentleman.” What was the point of having IT hack into her eHarmony profile if it ended up matching her with comparable men? They were supposed to make her profile such a train wreck that she was only paired with losers. “What does he do? This gentleman of yours?”
“He’s a dentist,” she tosses out, pushing another page in my direction. “Or a tooth surgeon. Whatever that’s called.”
“An oral surgeon?” I ask, my hand tightening on my pen.
“Yes!” She snaps. “That’s it. Thanks.” Any effect that my hands had had on her has apparently disappeared. She now seems a hundred percent focused on this stupid contract and this dumb date of hers.
“Did you like him?” I ask the question as casually as I can, my pen biting into the soft paper, my scrawl rougher than usual.
“I think so. He’s a lot better than the other guys. And I’m pretty tired of looking.”
“That sounds like the recipe for success. A guy who’s better than a pile of idiots, and a woman tired of looking.” I shove the final page toward her and stand. “Does love have any piece of that equation?”
“It was our first date, Trey,” she calls out. “Give it a few more dates.”
The next question I shouldn’t ask; it’s not any of my business, not appropriate among coworkers, and not even among friends. I stalk my way to the fridge, fighting it. Still, right before I find and crack a beer open, it comes. “When are you planning on fucking him?”
She is standing, gathering the papers, a paperclip in hand, when the question hits. She doesn’t look at me. “That’s none of your business.”
“I just don’t want you to rush into it. It’s only been … what? Nine months since you and Craig—”
“Shut up.” She turns toward me, her hands reaching back to the counter and she hoists herself onto the marble as if she was fifteen. “If I wanted you to, you’d fuck me right now.” She pulls up her skirt, working it over her thighs, and spreads her knees far enough apart that I can see the pale pink of her panties, a match to the garter straps. A year ago, we’d argued over the name of its color. A year ago, I’d stared at a sample set and envisioned them on her. “So don’t lecture me about my virtue or if I’m ready. I think you just don’t want me to fuck anyone else.”
I try to keep my eyes on her face, but it is difficult when her legs are open, her words challenging me, and I am almost in reach of her. “Don’t tempt me, Kate.”
“Am I right, Trey?” She drags my name along her tongue and it has never sounded so sexy in its life.
“You’re my best friend. I’m trying to watch out for you.”
“So you don’t want to fuck me.” She lifts her chin, pulling self- consciously at her blouse, and her knees start to close.
“Stop.” I step forward, my hands settling on her knees and pushing them apart, her body opening like a flower for me, that fucking pink silk flashing at me from between her thighs. I pull my gaze from it and back to her face. “If you want me to fuck you, Kate, just say the word. Don’t ever be confused over whether I want that. There’s not anything on Earth I want as badly as you. I’d love to know if the chemistry that we have … if it could be how I imagine it.”
One of her hands moves, a tentative reach that runs along my right collarbone before settling on my chest. “And if it isn’t?” Her eyes dart to mine, and the fact that there’s insecurity in them breaks my heart.
“God, I hope it isn’t. I hope it’s terrible. It would make our lives so much easier.” I smile, and her eyes warm, and holy shit—this may actually happen. I wet my lips and say the one thing that may destroy it all.
“But I meant what I texted you, back in Vegas. It’s too risky.” I slide my hands off of her knees, my fingers memorizing the contours of her legs, the silky feel of the stockings. I step back and put my hands in my pockets before I make another mistake with them. “There’s too much—”
“At stake,” she finishes, her knees meeting, and she pushes off of the counter and down to the floor, gripping the edge for support. “Yeah, that sounds familiar.” She bends down and pulls on one heel, and then the other. “When do you leave for New York?”
“Tomorrow night.” I hesitate, second-guessing my next move. “Want to come?”
She shakes her head, reaching for her purse. This must be it, the end of her visit. I used to like the solace, the moment when I would step inside my home and hear NOTHING. Now, it only feels lonely.
She pauses next to me, on her way to the door. “We good?”
“Always.” I lean into her and she brushes her lips against my cheek. “Drive safe.”
“I will.” She squeezes my arm, and then, her heels clipping out of the kitchen, she is gone.
“We good?” If my answer had been lingerie, it’d have been a bustier. Deceptive as hell.