Book Review: Hot Holiday Nights by Jaci Burton

Hot Holiday Nights by Jaci BurtonHot Holiday Nights by Jaci Burton
Rating: 4stars
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Hot Holiday Nights is book #10.5 in Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series. It’s a novella (hence the .5) and although it’s part of the series, it can be read out of order and as a standalone. This is also the first ménage story in the series, which I didn’t realize until after I had read a few chapters. As always, Burton’s writing is consistently good and I enjoyed this latest Play-by-Play book.

Victoria Baldwin is a sports agent who has appeared throughout Play-by-Play as a supporting character. She’s on Christmas vacation in Hawaii when she meets Alex, a professional surfer. It’s insta-lust and they hook up pretty quickly.

Alex is traveling with his best friend/manager, Ben, whom Victoria meets and also feels an instant attraction to, despite having an interest in Alex. Victoria is not the type of woman to freak out or run off when confronting her emotions. In fact, although she has just met both men, she admits her attraction to both of them.

She felt safe with them, which made her want to explore and see just what would happen with them.

Even though she’s never done something like this before, Victoria has been curious about ménage in the past. When she shares her desires with Alex and Ben, they’re all for it. They’ve actually shared women previously, which is convenient for Victoria (and much easier in the long run for everyone involved).

The sex is mind-blowing and everyone is happy. Initially, Victoria is looking at the physical relationship as a holiday fling and nothing more. Additionally, she’s based in New York, while Alex and Ben travel extensively for their jobs. So that makes it easier for her to see them as just a fling.

But the more that Victoria spends time with Alex and Ben, the more emotionally attached she becomes to both of them. Pretty soon, it becomes clear that the feeling is mutual. The three then have to decide if they can make their relationship work.

She did not get emotionally attached to men. She never had. Before now.

I think that the book could have worked well as a full-length novel, with room to develop the characters more deeply, but I still enjoyed the story. It’s also nice to venture away from the standard football or baseball players that are typically featured in the series. The plot is a bit rushed due to the shorter length of the novella, but Burton makes up for this with likable characters and super hot scenes.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.

Book Review: Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe

Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O'Keefe

Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe
Rating: 5stars
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Everything I Left Unsaid is an intense and emotionally raw book. This story sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.

Fair warning: this book contains a cliffhanger ending. Thankfully, the next book (The Truth About Him) releases next month, so that’s not too long to wait.

I’ve read Molly O’Keefe’s contemporary romances before and enjoyed them. Her latest book, written under the name M. O’Keefe, feels like quite a departure from her usual books. It’s an erotic romance with elements of suspense. And I can’t emphasize enough just how intense the story is. There are dysfunctional relationships, family problems, phone sex, angst galore, more phone sex, heartache, actual in-person sex, but it all works within the context of the main characters, Annie and Dylan.

No one had worried about me. Not in a very long time.

When we first meet Annie, she’s on the run. She has fled her abusive husband and traveled across the country to North Carolina, where she’s now living in a trailer park. When she first moves into her trailer, she finds a ringing cellphone and answers it. The person on the other end of the line is Dylan, who is mysterious and cryptic, but to whom Annie feels inexplicably drawn.

I went into this story without many details, so I’m doing my best to avoid mentioning any spoilers here. Suffice it to say that the first phone call between Annie and Dylan has enormous consequences that alter the course of their lives. It’s strange how something as seemingly trivial as a phone call can have such far-reaching repercussions, but that’s the case here.

Just the thought of his name electrified part of me, like a filament in a lightbulb starting to glow.
Don’t. Don’t think about him.

At times, the book feels like an emotional roller coaster. As Annie and Dylan’s relationship becomes more overtly sexual over the phone, the more apparent it is that they don’t really know each other. Annie’s curiosity leads her to discover part of Dylan’s back story, but there’s a whole world that she’s unaware of. Likewise, Annie works hard to hide her past from Dylan. So much of their relationship is built upon lies; or at least, sins of omission. Eventually, the truth will have to come out.

I was caught in that wide chasm between what I’d had and what I could have. What my life had been and what I wanted it to be, and every step, every huge step I’d taken away from what I knew and into the unknown, felt terrifying.

This is probably one of the vaguest reviews I’ve ever written, but for me, a large part of my enjoyment of the book came from discovering Dylan’s secrets alongside Annie. He’s such a mystery to her. Even though what they have seems temporary and destined to fail–how can they have a future when they’ve never even met in person?–the longer their relationship continues, the deeper they fall for each other.

“When you’re in danger,” he said, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep you safe.”

Additionally, I grew to like Annie more as she evolved over the course of the story. She’s fearful and unsure in the beginning, but the more she explores her independence, the stronger her spirit becomes.

I really dislike cliffhanger endings, but I’m super excited to read the conclusion to this story. O’Keefe has created characters who have so much to hide and so much to lose. I’m looking forward to learning more about Annie and Dylan, in addition to seeing how their story is resolved.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.

Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O'Keefe