Whew! Finished the series and I just want to go back and dive in again. I read the first book in the series when it first came out almost two years ago and loved it and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. Unfortunately, I had to cool my heels for a while, waiting for the second and third books of the series and the author decided to sneak in of the novella about Brad in the meantime.
This is not a stand-alone book and you really have to read from the beginning to appreciate it.
In the first book, Blindfolded Innocence you meet Julia Campbell and Brad De Luca and you get a sense for these characters as to what makes them tick. I liked that Julia was not a doormat, but was obviously curious about Brad and I enjoyed the story as she becomes slowly sucked into his world, which is really outside of anything she is used to. He is a divorce attorney with a very well deserved sex-god ‘love em, but don’t become attached to em’ reputation and everyone surrounding Julia is doing their level best to keep her away from him as they don’t want any more problems from the interns of this high powered law firm and this man. These two are like magnets that are compelled to attract and they begin a very unconventional clandestine relationship. Julia is not wearing rose colored glasses with Brad and she is very upfront about his behavior and past and this kind of honesty seems to be a sort of an aphrodisiac for Brad as he chases her and lures her into his lifestyle and way of thinking. He does not lie and he is very direct and upfront – shockingly so. Although he doesn’t lie, he doesn’t volunteer information and there is a good deal that he omits from their interaction.
In the novella Diary of Brad De Luca, you meet Brad ‘pre-Julia’ and I have to say – at this stage of the game he was not book boyfriend material and I just simply did not like him. It is funny though, you have to read a story like this to understand how much he changes in an effort to make his unconventional relationship with Julia work. You do not have to read the novella to understand the books, however I think you have a better appreciation for his character by reading it.
Masked Innocence takes the reader in a direction I did not expect. Yes, it had even more heat and steam than the first book, however the plot line was so captivating that I (believe it or not) could have had the steamy hot scenes do a ‘fade out’ and the book would have stood well on its own – and this is when erotica is at its best. I love it when all the steam and heat enhance a book into a captivating story that is hard to put down, rather than the whole book being dependent on sex. There was so much development as to their relationship and I was riveted as I found out more about Brads background and more was discovered as to Julia’s boss and all the crazy hours he had her working and the insanity that develops over one overheard phone call.
End of the Innocence takes place over a year period, from the point that Julia accepts Brad’s impulsive proposal at the end of book two. End of the Innocence is the innocence that one has towards their life and the belief in other people. Brad has a family that is for the most part, repugnant and he is actually the ‘good guy’ of the group. In much of this book, he is out to protect Julia as well as grow in a relationship where he has no previous foundation to base it on. Julia is testing Brad over this year to see if he can be faithful and stick to what he originally proposed with their relationship, or if he would ‘fall off the wagon’ due to temptation and demons from his past. I did not think that it was possible for the heat level to be elevated from the first book, but it was and did not have a contrived or forced feel to it. Once again I had the feeling that the uber hot scenes could have done a fade out and the story would have stood on its own. The finale was as emotional as it was captivating and I am going to probably go back in and read again at a later date.
This was a great progression of the series where I slowly fell in love with Julia and Brad and Martha, Martha, Martha…she was just a wonderful character!
On the Goodreads scale. I would rate this as a 4 for ‘really liked it’ and the Amazon/B&N scale of 5 for ‘I loved it’ – overall scoring of 4.5
I did receive an ARC for an honest review from the author and the publisher.
I felt Brad’s hand move, tugging on my chair and pulling me close to him. He captured my face in his hands, his eyes examining my features. “I love you so much,” he murmured, his eyes moving over and focusing on my lips before he tugged me to him, taking ownership of my mouth with a few soft swipes of his tongue. I opened my lips further, deepening the contact, my hands stealing into his hair. I broke the kiss, pushing my chair back and standing, moving closer to him and spreading his knees with my legs. He slid deeper in the chair, reclining back against the soft leather, gazing up at me with a latent dominance of the nothing-but-trouble variety. I grinned playfully down at him, and slid one strap, then the other, of my dress down, dragging the fabric until my bare breasts were exposed, lit softly by the blue-gray lights of the room.
He groaned softly, a guttural sound, and stared into my eyes, tightening his knees against my legs. “Come here.”
I shook my head and knelt, running my hands softly up his dress pants, past his muscular thighs, until I reached his belt. He watched me, his eyes darkening and he leaned forward suddenly, snagging my chin and pulling it up, his eyes grabbing me possessively before kissing me hard, a deep kiss that reclaimed his power before he released me, leaning back and watching me.
“Do you always have to be in control, Mr. De Luca?” I purred the words, unbuckling his belt with one motion, then rubbed my hand over the zipper line, feeling the outline of his cock underneath the fabric, the shape of him hardening under my fingers. He didn’t answer, his eyes locked on mine, dark orbs of sexuality. I suddenly needed to see him, needed to have his bare skin in my hand, to feel the throb of what was mine. I looked away from his eyes, focusing, and unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. Then, he was in my hand, an impossibly thick, hard shaft, the skin hot beneath my palm. I stroked it, the firm grip eliciting an intake of Brad’s breath.
“Put it in your mouth.” The order came through in a drugged tone, desire glowing at me from under heavy eyelids.
I shook my head, increasing the speed of my stroke as I watched him. He frowned slightly, lifting his hips a bit, bringing the nine inches of insanity closer to my face. I spoke, my tone a mixture of dominance and bite. “What is your plan with the girl?”
He sat up slightly, his eyes opening more, and watching me carefully. “What girl?”
“The stripper. The one you fucked last time you were here.”
“I thought that didn’t bother you.”
I hissed. “It didn’t bother me last time. Things are different now. Are you going to talk to her?”
“I feel like this is a test of some sort …” he mumbled. His breath hitched a bit as I squeezed his cock, loving the feel of complete stiffness in my hands. “What is you want, Julia?”
I ran my tongue lightly, teasingly, over the top of his head, taking it into my mouth for one brief moment before I pulled off, my hands never pausing in their movement, a quick pace that traveled his entire length with every stroke. “I want you to handle it,” I said firmly. “I want her to understand that you will never have sex with her again.”
“Never?” I released him, the sudden departure causing his eyes to open and a frown to settle over his features. “I’m joking. Don’t stop.”
I resumed my movement, my free hand gathering his heavy balls in my hand, squeezing him softly as I stroked his length with a firm hand.
“Come here,” he said, sitting up and pulling on my arms.
“No.” I fixed him with my sternest look, my hand increasing in speed.
“Julia, come here. I want to talk to you about this without being tongue-tied by your hands on my cock.” He pulled harder, his strong arms lifting me easily onto his lap, despite my best attempt at resistance.
Sitting on his lap created a new set of problems. Mainly him, standing at attention against my thighs. I sat sideways on his lap and spread my knees slightly, my hand stealing in between my legs to grab him.