Reviewed by Mandi
Ryan Hamilton is a wealthy, Wall Street playboy who accidentally uncovers a big secret at his company – the owner, and by all accounts a big family guy, is the head of a Ponzi Scheme. Ripping off his investors, Ryan realizes he has two options – pretend he never saw the fake accounts, or go to the FBI. With the beginning of an ulcer, he tells the FBI everything he knows, but it’s not enough to bring down charges. The FBI asks that he wear a wire and try to get a confession of this Ponzi scheme straight from the head of the company. Ryan knows the only way this guy will talk, is if Ryan asks to be a part of the scheme himself. To do this, he must encourage his fast and high-class lifestyle. But then he meets Simone.
Simone has moved from France to New York City a year ago. Her family has owned a fashion house in France for generations – and while Simone is proud of this, she wants to try fashion on her own. She moves to NYC and opens a very high-end lingerie shop. She designs, creates, sells and lives all in one place. It is her pride and joy and it has been very well received. Ryan saunters in one day with a model – dressed in a suit with his low, rumbly voice, Simone against her better judgement, is totally turned on.
They made for an erotic tripych in the mirror: Simone in her black pencil skirt and black heels, a silk Pucci tank top in wild shades of red and blue and orange, with her red hair coiled to lay over one shoulder; Jade statuesque and nearly naked, her nipples peaking in the cool air; Ryan behind them, out of reach but in total control of the situation. The slow nod he gave Simone to indicate she should secure the corset around Jade’s torso once again reminded Simone of the absolute power possessed by men with money.
Simone had fitted clothes to hundreds and hundreds of women at fashion shows and private fittings, the design process by which a new colletion was created She was comfortable with bodies in all shapes, sizes, and colors. It simply wasn’t erotic. It was work.
And yet, with Ryan watching, it was unbelievably erotic.
Ryan is enthralled by Simone. Her red hair and accent – the way she handles herself with her customers. He wants her. Badly. The model on his arm is just for show. Simone guesses this. Ryan knows this. The problem is, with the whistleblowing going full steam ahead, he can’t bring Simone into his life right now. So he pushes her away. But he can’t stay away. Oh the drama.
The sexual tension in this book is handled so well. Ryan needs to show his boss he has a lavish lifestyle, so his boss believes he will be a good fit to be part of this Ponzi scheme. He brazenly brings in models and actresses into Simone’s studio, carelessly dropping a ton of money. This is “Wall Street Ryan.” But when he meets Simone on the stoop of her apartment with a beer, this is the real Ryan. And while Simone falls hard for the real Ryan, she knows he is keeping a secret, and refuses to go forward with a relationship unless he is 100% honest with her. Ryan absolutely can not tell anyone about the FBI deal until his boss has been charged. So instead, he sits on her stoop and tells her intimate stories about what he does with the women he brings into her shop. It turns them both on tremendously.
And I know you are thinking – why do I want to read about Ryan and a non-heroine having sex? It reminds me a bit of Broken by Megan Hart, where the hero would do something similar. The way it is written works in the context of the story. Ryan is telling Simone stories about sex, but it’s for Simoe’s enjoyment. Who knows if he is actually telling the truth or not – but who cares. Simone likes to hear these intimate, secret words.
Ryan ends up stealing private moments from Simone during this time, and as I mentioned – the tension is off the charts. They both want each other so badly. The Ponzi Scheme suspense is done well in this too. It never over takes the romance, but it’s in the story enough to add good air of suspense. I got nervous the closer Ryan got to getting a secret confession from his boss. The FBI agent in the book is the hero from the previous book. Ryan is extremely stressed out over his whistleblowing and the FBI agent is extremely serious and hard-core. I loved their scenes together.
I really enjoyed Ryan – he is a wealthy playboy, but a very likable one. We really get to know him deep down, and I became very invested in his romance. I loved Simone too – she is so independent and smart, and so sexy. I love that she refuses to back down to Ryan, even when he begs for her – because she knows he is holding back something important in his life.