Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ARC Review: Dirtiest Secret by J. Kenner

Dirtiest Secret 
by J. Kenner
Series:  S.I.N. #1
Pub. Date:  April 19, 2016
Publisher:  Bantam
Pages:  320
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

It was wrong for us to be together, but it was even harder to be apart. 

The memory of Dallas Sykes burns inside of me. 

Everyone knows him as a notorious playboy, a man for whom women and money are no object. But to me, he’s still the one man I desperately crave—yet the one I can never have. 

Dallas knows me better than anyone else. We bear the same scars, the same darkness in our past. I thought I could move on by staying away, but now that we’re drawn together once more, I can’t fight the force of our attraction or the temptation to make him mine. 

We’ve tried to maintain control, not letting ourselves give in to desire. And for so long we’ve told ourselves no—but now it’s finally time to say yes. 

Dirtiest Secret is intended for mature audiences. 

Oy. I don't know how to review this one. It's dark and twisty and not what I was expecting from J. Kenner. I can deal with the dark and twisty, but I think the taboo of this one threw me off a bit. Don't get me wrong, the writing was good and engaging... but the taboo had me questioning whether I liked the subject matter or lot.

Let me start with the hero, Dallas Sykes, billionaire playboy known far and wide (especially on the Twitter) as The King of F*ck. I really loved Dallas, and not just for his piles of money. He has carefully crafted his playboy reputation for a dual purpose... to hide his covert activities and what he views as being a broken man. Dallas' story had me in tears on more than one occasion as I was totally invested in his character. See, Dallas spent some time in captivity and the things he endured just hurt my heart. I was behind him 100% in his plan for vengeance and vigilante justice... but I loved that his covert activities were also altruistic in helping other kidnap victims.

Now, the heroine, Jane Martin, shares a very close past with Dallas. I don't want to say much about that because I think Kenner did a good job with the reveal. It unfolded at a nice pace with enough hints along the way to have you guessing. That being said, I could really take or leave Jane. She didn't make a huge impression on me, but I did like she was a more mature heroine at 32 y/o. I feel like I don't know much about her other than that though, so I think I would've liked more development for her character.

As mentioned above, this involves a somewhat taboo relationship. Jane and Dallas definitely have the starcrossed thing going on, and I'm still not sure how I feel about them together. In addition, there is a lot dialogue and monologue about Dallas' captivity and I had a hard time switching from heartwrenching sympathy to steamy lust. I liked that the story was emotionally evocative, but I did have a hard time switching gears. 

In addition to the angst-filled non-relationship between the H/h, there is a vengeance and suspense sub-plot that I enjoyed. Dallas is determined to solve his own kidnapping and impose justice, and he has created a sort of black ops operation to do so. I loved all the men that make up the team, particularly Liam. This group of guys definitely gives Kenner plenty of fodder for future spinoffs of this series. I think Liam at the very least will need his own trilogy (please please please!!!).

The writing was on par with Kenner's previous books, and I was engaged despite the iffy feelings I had for the relationship. I did predict who the culprit was before the halfway mark, but I didn't feel that detracted from the story in any way. I will definitely continue with the next book to see what happens. Warning - there is a semi-cliffy.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars / 4 flames. 

PS. I met J. Kenner last week at the RT Convention and she was super nice!

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