Mya Winters has overcome a tough childhood in foster care to create a wonderful life. Organizing the first annual Elite Events Charity Date Auction is a way to give back to her community. There’s one hitch—her sexy cohost, private investigator Malik Madden. She feels the heat beneath his quiet gaze, and he’s made it clear he’d revoke his “most eligible bachelor” status for her. For someone as relationship-shy as Mya, that’s a terrifying—and tempting—proposition.
Malik has the close, loving family that Mya always craved, but a recent breakup made him swear off romance. Beautiful, driven Mya is changing all that. If she’ll just confide in him, he can help piece together the truth about her past. But trust works both ways. And his only chance at a future with her is to share a secret that threatens their passionate connection…
Mya Winters is one of four partners in Elite Events, a wildly successful event planning company in Chicago. (The previous books in the series show the romances of the other partners, but you can easily jump in with this book, as I did.) Mya has a reputation for being smart and somewhat prickly, and she routinely chases off men who show an interest in her. One of the men she can’t quite chase off is Malik Madden, the brother of a previous hero. Malik has been attracted to Mya since the moment they met, but he bides his time, waiting for the right moment to make a move. When Mya needs Malik’s help to cohost a charity date auction, the two are forced to spend more time together. Mya begins to see that Malik is more complicated than she anticipated, and she sees that leaning on someone else once in a while can be a good thing.
This is a fairly short book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Mya and Malik are great characters. Mya does have a bit of a chip on her shoulder due to her upbringing, and she acts pretty obnoxious to Malik at the start. She thinks he’s geeky and too straight laced to ever understand or appreciate her, which seemed kind of unjustified. I liked that once she starts actually talking to Malik, though, she admits she was wrong. Malik is an interesting match for her, too. He seems pretty mild mannered at first, but it turns out he has a bit of a domineering side, particularly in the bedroom. He had the perfect mix of sensitivity and bossiness that was needed to show Mya she was safe but also that she couldn’t play games with him. There are some hot sexytimes in the book. I don’t know about the physical viability of some of their positions (ha!), but the sex was fun and interesting to read about.
I did think the ending was a little too tidy and cliche, though it’s pretty much on par with most other categories I suppose. I also thought some of the manipulations by Mya’s friends were silly and unnecessary. I know Mya was stubborn, but I’d rather have seen her come around more on her own. There’s also a subplot where Mya and Malik investigate her past, and I didn’t feel there was enough depth there. I would have liked to hear more about her history because the story seemed too big for such short treatment. There’s also a strange encounter with what basically amounts to a kindly old blind seer who reads Malik’s mind. Yeah, it’s kind of weird and doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the straightforward story, but it’s a minor blip in an otherwise good read.
While the voice and writing style are definitely different, in some ways the book reminded me a bit of Julie James’s FBI/US Attorney series. Like James, Green makes great use of the Chicago setting and captures the vibe of the city. Like James’s heroines, Mya is an intensely smart, driven, financially secure, and competent woman who is very good at what she does. (Malik too seems competent, though we don’t get to see him at work as much as we do Mya.) The dialogue is realistic and snappy, and nothing in the book is too angsty or melodramatic. I’m definitely going to backtrack to read the other books in this series.
Grade: 3.75 out of 5