Review: Off the Clock by Roni Loren
Pleasure Principle Series #1
Released: January 6,2015
Reviewed by Sheena
Marin Rush loves studying sex. Doing it? That’s another story. In the research lab, Marin’s lack of practical knowledge didn’t matter, but now that she’s landed a job at The Grove, a high-end, experimental sex therapy institute, she can’t ignore the fact that the person most in need of sexual healing may be her.
Dr. Donovan West, her new hotshot colleague, couldn’t agree more. Donovan knows that Marin’s clients are going to eat her alive unless she gets some hands-on experience. And if she fails at the job, he can say goodbye to a promotion, so he assigns her a list of R-rated tasks to prepare her for the wild clientele of The Grove’s X-wing.
But some of those tasks are built for two, and when he finds Marin searching for a candidate to help her check off her list, Donovan decides there’s only one man for the job—him. As long as they keep their erotic, off-the-clock activities strictly confidential and without strings, no one will get fired—or worse, get attached…
“What do you think?” he asked softly.
“I think your camera is kind.”
His lips curved as he set the camera aside and bent to brush his lips over hers. “I think it doesn’t capture even one percent of what I see.”
Fair warning. I am writing this review with fingers contorted to the brink of fracture, as I am a hairsbreadth away from spontaneous combustion, due to barely leashed excitement courses with the power of a hydrogen bomb, through. my. friggin. body! Readers, I really, enjoyed this novel. Smart, sexy, fast paced, funny, and it gives you the feels! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the- well you get it. Roni Loren is a hands down fav author of mine, though she can furrow my eyebrows and raise my ire, I’m looking at you Break Me Down! She is always such a good bet when it comes to crafting an amazingly erotic contemporary novel.
Off the Clock opens with college freshman, Marin, working in her professors sleep clinic. She spends long, boring nights practically alone in the lab, until one late night stroll through the deserted halls leads her to overhear some seriously dirrttty talk from the doorstep of none other than Donovan West. Grad student, researcher and her very handsome TA who she has a very huge crush on. Obviously to compound the OMG of her naughty discovery, he catches her and they embark on a sensually tense “friendlationship” where the final straw on their platonic-ish camaraderie is the sweet karma that occurs when Donovan becomes the voyeur whilst observing Marin in a compromising position of her own. Sparks ignite and before you know it, he tumbles her over his desk (a resourceful TA now isn’t he?) and they have a wicked burst passion. Then tragedy strikes and they are forced to prematurely fracture, however, fate intervenes and they are reunited several years later when Marin lands a job at the upscale treatment facility (think along the lines of the famed Promises in LA) where Donovan is her boss!
In the years they spent apart, Donovan was quite the playboy and achieved some fame and a reputation for his sexy, cutting edge sex therapy treatments. He is in the running for a coveted promotion that his boss (think Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly- the Therapy Czar edition!) has cleverly tied to Marin’s success as a new therapist. The rub- Marin is green as baby grass when it comes to practicing psychology- let alone sex therapy as the poor girl has a propensity to embarrass and blush more than is professionally appropriate. This is but a minor blip as Dr. Donovan West and his devil may care methods are just what Marin needs to overcome her discomfort. The stakes are high for both Donovan and Marin, so they agree to do a little moonlight “training” off the clock.
The sexual tension is beyond thick, and the connection between the two physicians is juicy! This is such a multi-dimensional, clever novel. It deals with mental illness, familial violence, forbidden lust, guilt and self-esteem, all without making the reader feel as if they are in a trick bag with a bunch of story angles elbowing them in the face. The plot was ever evolving and the character nuances kept me on the tippiest of my toes. Loren crafted this novel masterfully, and I dared not put it down for fear that I would be zapped away from this pleasurable world before I was ready.
“This is a journey not a destination.” “Thank you, Aerosmith,” she said, deadpan. Sarcasm would keep her safe. Sarcasm would make sure she didn’t focus too much on those hands or forearms or anything else on his body for that matter. “Any quick tips for the next one?”
He reached up and tapped her cheek, a featherlight touch that sent a shiver working through her. “Work on not wearing your feelings on your face or I’m going to start calling you Dr. Blush.”
“Shut the hell up,” she said, smiling despite herself. “It’s just embarrassing that the guy I’m now working with has seen me the way you have.”
“What? Masturbating at work and then bent over a desk for me?”
“There is a built in comfort level here.” He bent his knee, turning more toward her. “So you can practice with me.”
“Immunizing yourself to sex talk.
Supporting characters were so dynamic, I’d sign up for any of them to have their own story. From Marin’s bitchy rival, Dr. Elle McCray, for Donovan’s affections, Nate,the little brother whose side story stole my heart and nearly stole the spotlight, to Lane, the sex surrogate with the heart of gold. They were all magnetic – not to mention patients and therapy sessions that had me laughing like a classless hyena; The movie star philanderer who is most assuredly a sex addict, the mature virginal burn victim who has near debilitating anxiety when it comes to socially dating to one patient who is so darn zany I dare not spoil a fraction of his zany actions- all together these cast of characters breathe life into the novel and support the story in a way that made me respect the obvious work and research that clearly went into writing this novel.
Sexy, and funny with Loren’s trademark snitty- snarkyness, Off the Clock is still a very substantial book. There is a darker underlying theme that is fascinating to unravel. Donovan has been through some tough and rough stuff, is living with a very heavy burden on his heart and gives it the best he can. Marin has also been through her share of tragedy and is living with her own demons. What I loved about Marin is that she was not a woman to settle. For anything- ever. She was a hard worker and fought tooth and nail to provide a good life for her and her brother. So when Donovan is faced with giving up on himself, our girl fights for him to fight for himself, and even when all seems to be lost and they both stand to lose everything, they find a way to reach out to save one another.
And she made him laugh- something that felt rusty and foreign to him. He loved his job, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually had fun at work…This was good. He was telling himself it was good.
But it was keeping him awake at night. Stalking him…He wanted her so much it fucking hurt.
A rich and meaty erotic/contemporary novel. It stands heads and shoulders in its genre. There are no weak story lines linking overly wrought gratuitous sex scenes. Off the Clock is goooood fiction and I quite literally loved every moment. Marin was facing obstacles on all fronts, personally, emotionally, at home and at work and she just kept moving forward. Damned determined to prevent past traumas or potential future nightmares from taking root in her life. I loved her outlook and even when she felt beaten, she never truly was. Donovan was appropriately vulnerable, stubborn and self-less when it came to Marin and I loved him all the more for his paradox. I tried to find a flaw. I couldn’t. This book was pristine. It should probably be in the Smithsonian. Or the Library of Congress. The mishmash of authentic mental and physiological information and fictional sex-sational plot development is admirable. There is even a kick ass epilogue (I LIVE for epi’s!!) that blew me away. My first A+ read of 2016 and a lock for one of the best books of the year. (Yes. Yes it is that good folks).