Coming On Strong by Faye Avalon

Coming On Strong by Faye Avalon
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (55 pages)
Other: M/F, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Lexi McKenna nursed a crush on James Mallory since forever, but he was the bad boy who never looked her way, except to protect her. Until the night she turned eighteen, and he noticed her. But just when things were getting interesting James called a halt, crushing her teenage heart. Seven years later she’s finally in a position to make him finish what he started. And this time she’s not taking no for an answer.

As a professional escort, James Mallory has learned to separate sex from emotion. He’s made himself into a sophisticated lover adept at pleasing his clients, but dark memories haunt him and bad blood still flows in his veins. So while Lexi seems determined to tempt him, there is absolutely no way he intends on dragging her down to his level.

But Lexi has other ideas, and faced with her considerable seduction skills, just how long can James hold out?

When Lexi worked a two-week stint, temping at the Talbot Escort Agency she discovered that her childhood crush, James actually worked there as an Escort. Lexi had wanted James practically forever, but he’d made it crystal clear that his best friend’s little sister was off limits and – even though he might be tempted – he wouldn’t go there. James finds himself somewhat trapped when Lexi hires his services. His reputation as an escort is flawless and he’s proud of it – for good reason. Sex is just his work. Clinical. Emotionless. How can he keep his pride, his career and his sanity when Lexi gives him an offer he simply can’t refuse?

This is an interesting short story. I was really pleased that the first part of the story was told from James’ perspective. While the perspective does change from James to Lexi back and forth through the story I was especially pleased to get this insight into James’ character.

I also found the whole story was actually quite emotional – and I found this was wonderful. James had been pretty harsh in his turning Lexi down seven years previously, and James got major brownie points to my mind by admitting he hadn’t thought through his rejection of Lexi and how it might effect the young woman. But when we as readers are shown that James had been at war previous to this rejection, had served his country and seen things that forever change a person, my heart totally went out to him. No one likes an unfeeling character – but I personally am willing to give an awful lot of lee-way to a hero who hasn’t fully recovered from his experiences out in the field. I felt it completely explained – and absolved – his actions and really set James up as an impressive character and hero in my eyes.

It took me a while longer to really enjoy Lexi’s character. While I felt for her and was impressed that she’d decided to take matters of setting herself up with James into her own hands and into her own control – I really feel like she overstepped a little. Her machinations felt a little too close (in my personal opinion) to emotional manipulation – Lexi stating pretty clearly that if James decided to not have sex with her at the end of their evening then Lexi would simply go out “trawl a bar or two” until she found a man who would be intimate with her. And throughout the start of their evening “date” she continually tried to twist his arm into giving her what she wanted, simply so she could dump him and “pay him back” for the previous hurt. It all just felt a little too harsh and mean to me. Additionally, regardless of whether someone has paid for sex, I feel pretty firmly that anyone (man or woman) saying “no” should be respected and adhered to. Sure, Lexi convinced James – but again, it was all just a little too close to emotional blackmail for me to really enjoy it and feel comfortable.

I think plenty of readers, however, won’t get the strength of this vibe from the story that I did. I have no doubt that a lot of readers will really enjoy this steamy story. It’s sexy and modern, and while I personally didn’t believe the chemistry between Lexi and James, I feel that readers who don’t get bogged down with the questionable antics of Lexi might be able to appreciate their attraction to each other. The sex is hot and plentiful and I thought it was really well written. Readers looking for an emotionally complicated, sizzling and sexy read might find this a quick and interesting story.

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