by Maya Banks, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-469-5
Poor Wes Hoffman. He vrooms up to the Zack's Bar and Grill one night hoping to drown his blues because all his male buddies are apparently now married and not so keen on all-boys nights anymore. Unfortunately, he finds a bachelorette party going on in full swing in that bar and even worse, the new hot woman from out of town is actually a local who had come back to town. She's Payton Ricci. She and Wes had an aborted one-time thing twelve years ago and it ended badly with her crying because it hurt and... well, Wes doesn't know how to react to this chirpy Payton so he flees the bar with his tail between his legs.
Undenied is related to the author's previous book Overheard, I understand, which featured Wes in a ménage à trois thing with the couple in that book, so readers who are unaware of this may lift a brow when they come across Wes' interactions in this book with those two people. The interactions are pretty platonic here though so there's nothing to shatter the illusion of monogamous twosome if you choose to harbor it.
Meanwhile, Payton is determined to get Wes out of her system and poor Wes, she is determined to be Undenied. Wes' virtue is going down.
This story is most amusing because it's one of those rare stories where the poor hero initially experiences an erectile dysfunction whenever he's with the heroine. Due to the embarrassing memories of that night twelve years ago, Wes can't get it up for Payton even if she's the complete package. It's even more amusing when Wes is so worked up over it while Payton is like, "Oh? That. Yeah, it wasn't the best I've ever had but... why are you so hung up on it anyway?" Of course, there's no stopping him once the going gets started.
Payton is one of those really rare heroines I don't come across often - this is one woman who is confident about her sexuality and she doesn't act as if the world will end if Wes seems not to want her. The first love scene sees her initiating the first move to seduce Wes out of his blues. She is not some demure damsel lying passively in bed while the hero does all the work - she tells him what she wants him to do to her as well as what she wants to do to him. She's also the one who whips out the condom for the hero - there is no passive letting-the-man-do-everything wimp here and I really like that. And, believe it or not, she also whips out the lubricant. This gal knows what she wants and isn't ashamed about it, bless that hussy.
“Payton…I’m not hurting you, am I?”
The concern in his voice made her smile. As she’d done so many times before, she placed a finger over his lips. “The question is, am I going to hurt you?” she teased.
His mouth quirked underneath her finger as he grinned. “Oh, I hope to hell so. I’m a big boy. Hurt me good.”
Most of this book revolves around the bedroom, and I hate to say this but I like Undenied best when it's just two hot people having so much fun in bed together. The chemistry between them sizzles. When Ms Banks tries to insert some story, it's a tired miscommunication issue complicated by Wes' stubbornness. That issue is dealt with pretty sensibly and it doesn't last long, but it's nonetheless a boring storyline that doesn't do much other than to indicate that Wes is most likely thick in the head as he is thick in the... uh, never mind. I'm also not sure what to think of the closeness displayed by Grace towards Wes. Grace is the Miss Threesome Sunshine from Overheard, now married to the other bloke. She has no personal boundary where she and Wes are concerned, wanting to know every detail about Wes' sex life with Payton. If I'm Payton, I'll probably be secretly adding rat poison into the bottles of alcohol that Grace no doubt hides in her bloom closet before the month is out.
Most books have too much sex and not enough story. Curiously enough, I think I'll be happier if Undenied has more sex and less story.
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