by Shayla Black
Published by Shelley Bradley LLC on July 27, 2014
Sub-Genre/Theme: Contemporary, Erotic
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By night, he becomes a mysterious stranger devoted only to her pleasure…and discovers she’s hiding a naughty little secret.
After divorcing her never-home husband, Lauren Southall plucked up her courage, dusted off her power suits, and returned to corporate life. Two years later, there's just one six-foot three, testosterone-packed problem: her ex-husband's good friend and her current boss, Noah Reeves. Lauren aches for him. No other man will do. But she can’t possibly measure up to the silicone-packed professional cheerleaders he dates. So she hides her desire behind a professional persona and fantasizes.
For ten years, Noah Reeves has waited to make Lauren his. Once her divorce was final, he tracked down and hired the brilliant, dedicated woman. But when he's with her, it isn't spreadsheets and profit margins on his brain. Problem is, she's never seen him as anything but her ex-husband’s pal. Now that she's finally a free woman and with him 40+ hours a week, well... he'd love to persuade her to throw in her nights and weekends.
Noah decides to romance her by day. By night, he becomes a mysterious stranger devoted only to her pleasure…and discovers she’s hiding a naughty little secret of her own.
There’s something about Shayla Black’s writing that really appeals to me, even when the plot is over-the-top and kind of wild. Naughty Little Secret has that type of plot, but I just went along with it and ended up really enjoying the book.
Divorcee and single mom Lauren is crushing pretty hard on Noah, who happens to be her boss and her ex-husband’s friend. Lauren and her ex have been divorced for two years and her first priority is her two young daughters. Finding love again is definitely not in the forefront of her mind. Also, her ex neglected her quite a bit during their marriage, so Lauren is still trying to heal and isn’t ready to trust another man with her heart.
Meanwhile, Noah is completely in love with Lauren–and has been ever since he met her ten years earlier. But she was married to his buddy and he never wanted to jeopardize their marriage or his friendships with either of them. Even when Noah saw that their marriage was in trouble, he stood by Lauren as a friend–but never crossed the line. When she finally filed for divorce, Noah hoped it was just a matter of time until he could make her his.
At work and in his personal life, Noah is an assertive, take-charge kind of guy, so he concocts a plan to seduce Lauren. This is where the story went kind of sideways for me. Noah begins sneaking into Lauren’s home and seduces her–but he’s disguised, so she can’t see his face. Yep, like a burglar. At first, Lauren is (understandably!) freaked out, but not for long (naturally). Lauren begins looking forward to her nighttime visits from Mr. Mysterious; by day, Noah is working on building her trust in other ways.
So, the whole premise of their relationship is built on deception. When the big reveal happens later, Lauren is rightfully upset that Noah (aka Mr. Mysterious) has gone to such great lengths to seduce her. But at the same time, she’s been lying to him as well, in denying that she has deeper feelings for him that go beyond mere friendship.
I suppose I’m somewhat okay with the deception because it’s mutual, and because when they both stop lying and come clean about their feelings, that’s when the story really clicks into place. And although Noah kind of freaked me out at times–he pined for Lauren for TEN years! And bought a house with her and her kids in mind! And sneaks into her home, wearing a disguise!–he has moments that are quite sweet and tender, when he’s not a complete beast in the bedroom, that is.
For me, this book is a crazy mix of “omg he did WHAT” and “aww how sweet.” If you’re willing to suspend disbelief more than once and go along for the ride, you might like this one quite a bit, too. Shayla Black has a knack for hitting all the right emotional spots and that’s why I’ll continue reading her books in the future.
Rating: 4 stars