Risky Play

Skyscape: Amazon. (Red Card, Bk. 1).Mar. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781542043724. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 9781542043717. EROTICA
OrangeReviewStarWhen Mackenzie DuPont is jilted at the altar by childhood best friend and romantic "foregone conclusion" Alton, she's convinced she's lost the only person who really understood her. Feeling adrift, she embarks on their honeymoon trip to Puerto Vallarta alone. Destiny seats her next to Slade Rodriguez, who is traveling solo for similarly grim reasons. He's running from his troubles, including an unfaithful partner, and leaving his cushy spot on the Chelsea football team in the UK for Seattle. An emergency landing brings the pair closer, physically and figuratively. Neither tells the whole truth about their identities, as they're too willing to let the thrill of this anonymous one-night stand take the helm. But tragedy strikes and separates the two, souring their tryst and rendering their reunion as boss and assistant entirely unwelcome on both sides. Eventually, Slade comes to terms with his destructive grief and unfounded blame, and Mackenzie learns to let in the best (and briefest) thing she's ever had. Van Dyken's (The Matchmaker's Playbook) prose is absorbing, and readers will find themselves rooting for Mackenzie and Slade individually and together. Side plots of Slade's community service with kids and his rivalry-turned-begrudging friendship with a teammate bring levity to realistic depictions of dealing with intense loss.
VERDICT An enjoyable romp that blends sex with soul-searching, as Mackenzie's and Slade's attempts to outrun their problems send them crashing into each other. Recommended for collections seeking erotica with a significant emotional arc.
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