Series: Sugar Bowl #1
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: May 24, 2016
Format: eARC, 220 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.
The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.
Despite being intrigued by this book when I first saw the cover and read the synopsis, I’ve been really nervous about going into it. I’ve heard it was a totally different kind of Sawyer Bennett story and that it was dark. It was both of these things for sure. But it was also really, really good. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to read it. Sela’s story gripped me and held on long after I finished reading. I’m already twitching at the thought of the next two books in the series. That’s because, yes, this is a traditional series. All three books follow Sela (and Beck, I hope!) and there is a slightly brutal cliffhanger at the end of this one. But it was so very worth it!
Sela’s out for revenge on the man who took her innocence – and a lot more – from her when she was a teenager. She’ll go to extreme lengths to get it, too. After identifying Jonathon Townsend on TV, she decides to become a “Sugar Baby,” a young, beautiful woman who contracts for companionship (and often more) with Townsend’s Sugar Bowl company. She hopes this’ll give her the opportunity to get close to him and allow her to carry out her ultimate plan – to kill him. (Which, let’s be honest… the man is a vile creature and I can’t fault her reasoning. He gave me the willies anytime he was on the page.) What she doesn’t expect is the connection she feels to Beckett North, Townsend’s business parter, when she first sees him.
I found myself liking Sela and Beck quite a bit, even though they were both had their flaws. I think maybe I liked them because of the flaws, even. I liked watching who they became when they were together and the other things faded into the background. I found myself so conflicted in this book though. I mean, I got Sela’s need for retribution, but I also kind of want her to not go down that path. There’s no doubt Jonathon is an evil man who probably doesn’t deserve to walk the earth, but I’m not entirely sure I want her to be the one responsible for taking him from it either. I think this is why I was happiest when the book focused on this thing growing between Sela and Beck, as inconvenient as it really was for both of them… even if for different reasons. They might’ve initially only shared passion, but it became so much more than that over the course of this book. Of course, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop once Beck found out the truth about why Sela had come into his life. Beck doesn’t deal well with liars, so I knew it could potentially get ugly. But, I’m not gonna talk any more about that now. You need to read it yourself. It’s the best way to experience the story.
So yes, this was something totally different from any other Sawyer Bennett book I’ve read. I wouldn’t necessarily call this dark romance, but there’s definitely a darker tinge to the overall story. Sela and Beck made it pretty easy for me to root for them. Again, they’re not without their flaws, but I like watching less-than-perfect characters grow during the course of a story. As you might imagine, the sexy times were off the chart hot. This book wasn’t big on what I would consider “swoony” moments, but there was some definite sweetness to this pair. As I said above, there’s also a pretty good cliffhanger at the end of this book and I’m already all twitchy while I wait to get my hands on Sugar Rush. I need that one like, right now.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I, Sela Halstead, am not as broken as I thought I was. While I thought Jonathon Townsend took everything away from me, I’ve realized now that he took nothing. He only warped my perception.
“I think you’re the best thing to ever happen to me, and when you’re given a gift like that, the prospect of losing it can be a little consuming.”
Do you like a good, dark(er) book every now and then?
Do you think you’ll read this one?