Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex…Her articles in Stiletto magazine are consistently the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But Riley has a secret…all that sexy talk? Not an ounce of it comes from personal experience. Her own bedroom escapades are more limited than even her best friends know. When her editor requests that all columnists write something more personal for Stiletto’s anniversary issue, Riley turns to the one man she’s always been able to count on and calls in the favor of a lifetime.
Sam Compton would do anything for Riley McKenna. Anything except be her experimental sex toy. He refuses her request. At least until she tells him that it’ll either be him or she’ll go to someone else. And that, Sam can’t accept. Reluctantly he agrees to her terms—one night of completely meaningless sex in the name of research. Riley thinks she’s prepared for what awaits her in Sam’s bed. After ten years of writing about sex, actually doing it shouldn’t be that different, right? So wrong. What starts as “one time only” becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn first-hand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.
Riley McKenna is a sex columnist who titillates New York with her racy column for Stiletto Magazine. What no one knows, though, is that she herself has only had one lousy sexual encounter, and that was back in college! Her editor wants everyone to write a personal experience piece for their anniversary issue, and Riley realizes she needs to get some experience pronto. She’s been secretly, madly in love with her brother’s best friend Sam Compton since she was a teenager, and she decides that Sam would be the perfect person to approach about beefing up her resume (har har). Sam too is totally in love with her, but he’s always stayed hands off out of respect for her family. The two have to work out not only their own fears and insecurities but also negotiate how far they want to take their relationship, which quickly moves from just one sexy night to an ongoing thing.
I’m a big sucker for love stories where the main characters have known each other forever, especially when this involves the “little sister” trope. Riley and Sam definitely struggle with the fear that they might ruin their safe relationship (and Sam’s closeness to the whole McKenna family), though the reader can see they clearly have no other choice. They bicker like crazy, their love for the other twisted into constant insults and antagonism. They’re really becoming corrosive to the other–their secret love keeps them both from having healthy relationships with anyone else. It’s obvious that giving a relationship with each other a shot would be better than their current state, but neither one seems to realize that. Fortunately, Riley’s work assignment spurs her to make a move with Sam and push them out of their stasis.
I appreciated that Riley takes a lot of the initiative in this book. It may have taken her a while to get there, but once she decides to go for a night of hot sex with Sam, she goes all in. I was less enamored with her manipulations. She concocts these plans to get Sam to do what she wants, whether that involves bringing around a guy that will make him jealous, pretending to give up on her plans so Sam wants her even more, or even just tailoring her outfits to elicit a certain response from him. I didn’t like that Riley had to play all these games just to get Sam to do what she wants. It almost felt like there were two different Rileys in the story. Sam is just as much a part of the problem, though. He is incredibly insecure and out of touch with his own feelings, and he doesn’t always listen to Riley when she’s trying to honestly communicate, which is one reason she resorts to all these tricks and plans. When Riley and Sam were communicating and enjoying each other, I loved them. When they devolved into manipulating and emotional retreat, respectively, I got a bit frustrated with the story.
This book is number 3 in the Sex, Love & Stiletto series, which focuses on the women’s magazine Stiletto and the women who work there. I haven’t read the other books in the series so I didn’t know the back story of the other 2 couples portrayed, but that didn’t really detract from Riley and Sam’s story. Overall, despite some of the problems, this was a fun, light little contemporary romance.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5