ROMANCE

Beautiful Beloved

Pocket Star. (Beautiful). Feb. 2015. 80p. ebk. ISBN 9781476791654. 99¢. EROTICA
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This naughty novella picks up with Beautiful Stranger characters Max Stella and Sara Dillon, the hot power couple known for their raunchy sexual encounters, frequently conducted in front of an audience. But things have changed drastically since the birth of their daughter, Annabelle. Max is more cautious in the bedroom, his desire for his wife battling the guilt and vulnerability inspired by witnessing her challenging childbirth. Sara craves a return to their old ways but worries that her husband doesn't see her in the same light. Both miss the rough satisfaction that has always driven them wild, but can they reclaim the playful passion of their old lives now that they are new parents? An erotic story centered on parenting might sound incongruous, but Lauren (the combined pseudonym of authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) skillfully tackles this subject without losing sight of the series' roots. Familiar dilemmas of couples trying to rekindle their flame are explored with gentle humor, including a "Disaster Dinner" of spilled food, multiple wardrobe malfunctions, and a sick baby.
VERDICT Snappy dialog and a strong cast of secondary characters (business partners Will and Bennett, Sara's commanding yet caring friend Chloe, and snarky, reliable assistant George, among others) round out this sweet, sexy glimpse into Max and Sara's future. The appearance of Max's gorgeous younger brother Niall implies another promising installment on the horizon.

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