Lately, Jane Denning's love life has been about as exciting as watching paint dry. She's had a string of boyfriends who probably couldn't find their way around a woman's body even if they had a road map to direct them, and hasn't had an orgasm that wasn't self-induced for months. Jane is a confident business woman, who always seems to be in charge of everything, but after some frank girl-talk with her best friend, Lacey, they decide that maybe what Jane needs is a man who isn't afraid to take command in the bedroom. They meet in the cafe of Jane's bookstore to hatch a plan to find a dom for Jane by going to a local nightclub later that evening. Little do they know that a guy sitting near them has caught wind of their conversation and is finding it very interesting.
Ian MacInnes is an ex-military guy who now owns a private security company. He stopped by the bookstore cafe for quiet lunch, and what he got was an earful from the two ladies at the nearby table. Ian had seen the pretty brunette the minute she walked in, and now he can hardly believe that he's hearing her admit to her friend that she'd like nothing more than for a man to tie her up and have his wicked way with her. Well, if that's what the lady wants, Ian is more than happy to oblige. He goes to the club where Jane and Lacey are meeting and gives Jane the steamiest dance of her life. They end up back at her place, where Ian does everything she's been wanting and more, all night long. The next morning, Ian decides that he wants more from Jane than just a one-night stand, so he proposes a thirty-day trial relationship. Jane didn't hook up with Ian looking for a forever kind of guy, so when Ian realizes that she's leery of commitment, he'll have to be very sneaky in order to win her heart while keeping her satisfied in the bedroom.
Funny title notwithstanding, Jane and the Sneaky Dom is, in all honesty, the best erotic romance I have read to date, and believe it or not, the title actually does suit the book quite well. Finally, an erotic author who knows how to write a plot that seamlessly pulls together all the luscious love scenes instead of just creating one that is nothing more than weak filler in between. Granted the plot revolves around sex and the heroine's quest to find a way to be more satisfied in the bedroom, but there are a lot of fun relationship building scenes too. As anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows, I'm not really a fan of what I call "instant meeting and mating." Even though this story begins that way, I wasn't particularly put off by it in this case, because the author took the time to backtrack and have some nice getting-to-know-you moments, making the story more believable. Readers may have to suspend disbelief a little in order to buy into the idea that Ian knows he has found the woman he wants to marry after spending just one weekend with her, but at least they aren't on their way to the altar after just a couple of days. Their time together is spread out over the course of a full month. I also loved the idea that Ian is a marriage kind of guy and took the time to court Jane in between giving her long sessions of mind-blowing sex. I also like that he based his ultimate goal of marriage on Jane's personality and not just the amazing sex, and that he was being so "sneaky" about winning her heart was cute and funny while also being romantic.
Sometimes I have a hard time reading erotic romances because the heroes in them often tend to be uber-alphas who could literally eat me for breakfast. Ian was not like that at all. He was definitely dominating but in a very nice way, making him a positively scrumptious hero. He isn't an intense dom who forces his will on the heroine and then punishes her if she even remotely disobeys. Instead he instills trust with gentleness and commands obedience with quiet confidence. I love that he always gives Jane the option to say "No" before they try anything new, and he always checks to see if she's doing OK after. In my opinion, this demonstrated how kind and caring he could be, and of course, he exhibits a masterful control over Jane's body that was simply yummy. Ian had the heart of a romantic and a great sense of humor. He was a character who showed that a hero can be an alpha dom without being a jerk. I can't imagine any woman not feeling loved, cherished, protected and thoroughly satisfied with a guy like Ian around to take care of her.
Jane was a likable character for me as well. I respected her drive and determination to build a business from the ground up, and having that business be an independent book store, made her all the more appealing. It was very obvious that Jane loved books, and apparently Ian did as well, to spend as much time in her store as he seemingly did. I could relate to Jane being pretty controlling in every area of her life, but feeling like it was time to give the reins over to someone else in the sexual department. I thought that Ms. Murray conveyed really well how scary it can be to relinquish control of something, but the sense of freedom that can also comes with giving it up. This is something that is true in all facets of life and not just sex. It's a wonderful feeling to just be able to let things go, and if someone else is there to pick up the slack and be a true partner, that makes it all the better. I thought it was a testament to the author's writing talent that she could make me take the time to think about something deeper in the midst of a fun, breezy, erotic romance.
While Ian and Jane carried most of the story on their own, their two best friends, Lacey and Devon helped to liven things up. Of the two, Lacey appeared the most, and I enjoyed the delightful girl-talk she shared with Jane. Lacey is a very sympathetic friend who understands Jane very well, and always has solid wisdom to impart. There was also a hint of some unexplored bit of Lacey's past which made me want to know more about her. Devon was only in a couple of scenes, but I liked the part of his personality that I saw in those moments. There was enough of an intro to these two characters to make me look forward to seeing more of them in the next book of the series.
There were many things that I liked about Jane and the Sneaky Dom outside of the entertaining story. I always get irritated when the characters in contemporary romance don't bother with protection during sex, much less talk about it, so I found it very refreshing to have Ian and Jane proactively discussing the issues of birth control and STDs like two mature adults instead of being careless or leaving things to chance. While having explicit language in an erotic romance is pretty par for the course, some authors seem to gratuitously use these words every other sentence which becomes just as annoying and boring to me as it would if they were repeatedly using any other word. I greatly appreciated that Ms. Murray seems to know exactly when to use the "naughty" words to best effect and doesn't overuse them, instead finding other creative ways to express herself. Another thing that is sometimes not to my liking in erotic romances is how coarse and raw the love scenes can become. In Jane and the Sneaky Dom, I thought the love scenes were tastefully written, deliciously sensual, and even embodied a bit of sweetness, along with plenty of variety. I think the author was able to accomplish this by maintaining a certain level of lightheartedness throughout the story even in the bedroom, showing that sex can be a little kinky but should still always be fun. In my opinion, there was virtually nothing to dislike about this book. Perhaps the characters could have been a little more developed, but I got to know them enough to like them. Also, the author did overuse eye-rolling and eyebrow raising a bit too much, but that's a very minor complaint in an otherwise great story. Anyone who is looking for a quick, romantic read with some erotic, red-hot lovin' that still maintains a gentle tone, a cast of likable characters, and a decent plot should look no further than Jane and the Sneaky Dom. Because of its lighter nature, this would also, in my opinion, be a great starter book for anyone who might be looking to dip a toe into the erotic romance pool but isn't quite sure whether they will like it or where to begin. This was my first book by Hannah Murray, but it has definitely earned a spot on my keeper shelf. I'm really looking forward to reading The Devil and Ms. Johnson, the next book in this untitled series duet.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations including some BDSM (biting, spanking, restraint, domination/submission) and anal sex, all of which some readers may find offensive.
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