ORDER A COPY: Lay It Down: A Desert Dogs Novel
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: August 5, 2014
Paperback: 336 pages
Rating: 4 stars
That’s a life well lived, according to the Desert Dogs-four friends who call Fortuity, Nevada, their badlands home.
Vince Grossier is the self-crowned outlaw king around here. But when Fortuity’s slick new mayor invites a casino development to town, greed isn’t far behind-and it claims Vince’s good friend as its first casualty. With the law turning a blind eye to the mysterious death, Vince must seek his own brand of justice. The pretty photographer hired by the developers might be the key to uncovering the truth. And she’s a temptation too good to pass up.
Finally free of a controlling ex, Kim Paget’s not looking to be taken for a ride-not on the back of some tattooed roughneck’s bike and definitely not in his bed. But when she uncovers evidence supporting Vince’s suspicions of murder, Kim must entrust her safety to a man whose body threatens danger of a whole different kind.
Vince Grossier’s friend Alex calls him late one night to meet up at the local bar. Alex saw something while patrolling at the construction site for the new casino which has him pretty spooked. Vince wasn’t happy when Alex never showed that night, but Alex couldn’t help it. Alex had died on the way to the bar. After their conversation on the phone, including Alex’s cryptic statement about “bones,” Vince isn’t ready to accept that Alex died while driving drunk in his police cruiser. Alex might have had a problem with alcohol, but he was always too smart to drive in that condition. Unfortunately, Vince can’t convince any of his friends that someone might have faked Alex’s death to cover up something that Alex saw that day.
Actually the only one who thinks there might credence to Vince’s insane idea is the photographer Sunnyside hired to take some publicity shots. Vince offers to take Kim to get some of the more dynamic shots of the area as only a local would know, if she promises to keep her eyes open while taking pictures around the construction site.
Surprisingly Kim stumbles on a conversation which might just give weight to Vince’s suspicions. Now the Vince is able to convince his friends that there might have been something more sinister behind Alex’s death, he has to worry that someone might be coming after Kim to make sure she doesn’t share whatever she might have heard.
I always love Cara McKenna’s characters. They are edgy and imperfect creatures. That’s what makes them so memorable. In Lay It Down, Kim pegs Vince as a selfish guy. She is right in her assumption but she is also very wrong. Unlike his brother, Vince has stayed in the rundown Town of Fortuity to take care of their mother who is showing increased dementia. He has been in prison, but he also tries to help the families of the guys who are still inside. Helping others makes Vince feel good about himself. So Vince might be a bit selfish, but he has many good qualities to him as well.
Although Kim was interested in a one night stand, I loved that when they got to her room she quizzed him first with a “You can come in if you can answer my question. What’s my name?” At this point, Vince was only looking to get laid and wasn’t concerned with anything more than getting sex. You could feel it. Since he didn’t even bothering to pay attention to such an unimportant fact as her name only proves her belief of him that he is selfish. Kim turning him away peeks his interest in her as more than just a way to get a quick release.
What I like most was that by the time we get Kim and Vince into bed, Vince acknowledges to himself that his normal m.o. is to get the most out of his own enjoyment and hit the bricks as soon as it’s over. By the time he gets there with Kim, he realizes he wants to give her more than he usually demands. So we get to watch a change that being with Kim is making in Vince’s life.
Again at his fly as she undid the button. He let her wrists go, and his breath slipped out in a silent moan as she slide his zipper down. Christ, this was his cue. A cue he’d taken too many times, to cup a woman’s head, lead her down to her knees. A selfish man’s most natural move, yet his hands lay limp at his sides, the whole of him mesmerized as she explored.
Their after sex doesn’t include cuddling, mostly because they are both unsure what their relationship is, are they a one-time thing? Are they having a romance? It takes them awhile to acknowledge to themselves and to each other that there is more they want than simply enjoying sex.
This is the first Cara McKenna book that I have read that is part of a series instead of a stand alone. She introduces some really great characters and some side characters who I think will play a more important part in upcoming books. The story plot also involves murder and cover up and how far up the chain does the conspiracy go. Because she was introducing several characters and building the ground work for future novels, this one was a bit of a slow read for me. It took me some time to get into the story. We do get some answers at the end, but many more questions are still open. It will be an interesting series. I just hope the rest of the books aren’t so draggy now that we’ve established the who’s who.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
She stared at him for a long moment, trying to figure out why she wasn’t unnerved by any of this. In fact, all she felt was intrigued. “You’re a very unusual man.”
“You’re a very attractive woman.”
She felt her cheeks heating at that, and promptly hid behind the camera once more. This massive, sketchy, shameless man wanted her. For a night, likely—nothing more. It wasn’t as if he knew her well enough to have an actual crush on her. A collision, that’s what he was after. A sex collision. She strained for reasons to run away…
She might be embarrassed, bumping into him afterward. Though that wasn’t such a high price to pay.
Or the sex might be awful and disappointing. Like that hasn’t been true with nice, normal guys? Maybe the sex would be just like Vince—brash and loud and exciting and fast, and larger than life itself.
You could just kiss him. More often than not, that told you everything you needed to know about how two people would fare in bed together.
When the last of the dawn’s colors bled to pale blue, and the hide of Lights Out looked common as terra-cotta, Kim dropped the camera to her lap and turned to her perplexing tour guide.
“Well, you win.”
A smirk. “Do I then? What’s my prize?”
“You were right,” she reiterated. “That’s got to be the best view in town. And I never would have found it myself. Thank you. Can I give you some gas money?”
“Nah. But I’ll take that breakfast you mentioned.” She nodded, eyes dropping to his stubble-dark chin, his mouth.
“What, what?” she bluffed, hauling her attention back to his eyes.
A smile—very faint, very approving. “You know what. So tell me, and then we’ll both know.”
Fine, busted. “I was…just wondering…if you were any good at kissing,” she finished in a mumble.
“Oh were you then?” he asked with over done surprise.
“Don’t act so satisfied.”
“Quit giving me reasons to.”
“Shut up and let’s kiss,” she decided. “Then at least we’ll know whether or not all this flirting is a waste of time.” It’d probably be too hard—his mouth mashed against hers, a crushing, toothy, awkward assault. Or too wet. Too much of something, with this too-much man.
But his approach was measured, nothing like the battering ram she’d forecasted. He leaned in slowly, lips parting as he drew close, the temperature only rising as he cast a shadow over her. His gloves were on, his palm clad in beat old leather, fingers bare and warm as they curved along her jaw. She shut her eyes and breathed him in—earth, coffee, sweat, skin. The very scent of anticipation. His other hand grazed her neck, making her shiver, then swept up to her cheek. She was dying for his lips, but it was a different, unexpected contact he offered. Gently, slowly, he slid her glasses from her face, something about the act so odd and intimate, she gasped as though he’d cupped her breast. Her eyes opened, finding those hazel ones so near.
He was unlike any man she’d ever been this close to, and somehow she knew, after this kiss, something inside her would never quite be the same. Like that electric color he’d shown her, whatever happened next was going to rewrite her perceptions, Expand her understanding of what kissing meant.
With neat, almost prim motions, Vince folded her glasses and hooked them to his own collar. Now those hands were free to hold her jaw, the contact crackling bright, stealing her breath. Shutting her eyes. His rough thumbs stroked her cheeks; then his lips glanced hers in a scalding whisper. Nothing like she’d imagined. Light and teasing. Then just a bit more, his lower lip brushing both of hers, urging them to part. Her fingers sought his jacket, curling around his lapels. Tugging. He took the hint, giving her a first taste of that kiss she’d been expecting. More of everything—more pressure, more intention. She drew his lip between hers, released it with a graze of teeth and earned herself the hottest little reaction—a flare of surprise in his exhalation. The unmistakable sound of a man rousing.
She felt possession in those hands, and tasted hunger on his lips. He angled her head and took the kiss deep—a bold sweep of his tongue, but so much more sensual than the intrusion she’d anticipated. He was dark and sweet from the coffee, same as her, perfect somehow. Wanting more of him, she found his jacket’s zipper and eased it down, letting her palms seek his chest through is tee. He was burning hot despite the cool bite of the morning, and she felt his heart beating behind smooth cotton. As his mouth explored hers, his hands roamed lower, until those big fingers were fanned across her waist, seeming to urge her in subtle pulls, mimicking the thrusts she’d guiltily let herself fantasize about, with this man. Now she imagined everything. Every inch of his bare body, braced above hers. Every noise. Every motion.
And this kiss told her every last thing she needed to know about how he’d be, in bed. And she couldn’t wait to find herself there with him.