Hotel heiress, Ashley St. Claire is tired of being the consummate good girl and trying to live up to her parent's and high society's expectations. For once, she wants to be "Just Ashley." After a bad experience with an old boyfriend who only wanted her for her money and blackmailed her family with racy photos, she's had a hard time trusting her own judgment when it comes to men. She hasn't had a real relationship since, and after a long sexual drought, she decides to treat herself to a one-night stand with a hot stud for her thirtieth birthday. She goes to a bar on the other side of town, and there, she finds not only a man for the night, but one who stirs her in ways no man ever has before. But Ashley has her immediate future all mapped out. She's moving to San Francisco soon to escape all those stifling expectations and start fresh, and a long-term romance simply isn't in the cards for her - or so she thinks.
Construction company owner, Scott Wilde is out having fun with his brothers for the evening, when a hot blonde walks into the bar. He watches her shoot down one guy after another, until his brothers make a bet that he can't get her attention. Eager to show them up, he approaches her and is surprised by what he finds. Normally, he's not a one-night stand kind of guy, but he can't resist giving Ashley her birthday wish. He feels a connection with her like he's never felt with anyone else, but her mysteriousness about her identity makes him anxious. His last girlfriend turned out to be a married woman, and he doesn't want a repeat of that debacle. After a few passionate, stolen moments together, Scott makes it clear that he wants far more than sex from her, but when he finds out that she's the daughter of the man he's doing hotel renovations for, it could compromise his contract if their relationship became public. Not to mention, Ashley has made it equally clear that it can only be a temporary affair because she's moving soon. Not to be deterred, though, Scott pulls out all the stops seducing Ashley in the hope that she'll finally accept that they're perfect for each other.
The Wilde Side is the fifth story and the second full-length novel in Janelle Denison's Wilde series that follows two sets of siblings in the Wilde family who are also cousins. The three brothers on one side of the family have already found their HEAs in the previous stories, so this book is the first to feature the other group of Wilde siblings, three brothers and a younger sister. We begin with Scott, who I believe is the oldest, paired with hotel heiress, Ashley St. Claire who was briefly introduced in the novella, All She Wants for Christmas. Things get started between them with a steamy one-night stand, but Scott quickly realizes he wants much more from Ashley who is a bit gun-shy after a relationship gone bad. He then spends the rest of the book trying to convince her they're perfect for each other. Overall, it was a fun, sexy romp that I enjoyed reading.
Scott and his brother, Alex, took over their father's construction business when he retired, but Scott appears to be the one who does most of the executive type work. He's not afraid to get out there and work with his crew, though, when they need an extra pair of hands. He pushes himself hard, trying to make up for a huge mistake in the past that nearly left the company bankrupt, so he's excited to get a contract to do restoration work for the St. Claire hotel chain. Scott meets a mysterious woman at his favorite bar who tempts him beyond belief, and not knowing that she's a St. Claire, he agrees to a one-night stand with her. Almost immediately he recognizes that she's someone he could see himself with long-term, but she didn't even give him her last name, so he has no way to contact her again. One thing leads to another, and they do end up crossing paths a few more times, but Scott really has his work cut out for him convincing her they belong together. I had liked what I saw of Scott when he was a secondary character in the previous stories, and he didn't disappoint here. He's an alpha to be sure, but more the kind of alpha who is confident and oozes sex appeal without being aggressive like some of his cousins are. I liked that he's more into relationships and isn't really a one-night stand kind of guy. He only makes an exception for Ashley because she's totally irresistible to him. When she keeps being mysterious and giving him the brush-off, though, he can't help wondering if he's fallen into the same trap as he did with his last girlfriend, who turned out to be a married woman. This leads him to perform a background check on her with his cousin's help, which I had mixed feelings about, but since he might not have seen her again otherwise, drew the line at digging too deep into her personal life, and it had a favorable outcome, I was able to let it slide. What I really liked about Scott is that he's more than ready for marriage and kids, providing he can find the right woman, and once he's convinced that's Ashley, he takes a step back from all the hot sex and pulls out all the stops to woo her. He's also a very generous and swoon-worthy lover.
Ashley has made mistakes of her own she's running from. Two years earlier, she got involved with the wrong man, someone who only wanted her for her money and ended up blackmailing her and her family with lewd photos. Since then she hasn't had any truly serious relationships and doesn't really trust her own judgment when it comes to men. She's tired of being the good girl and trying to live up to her family's social standing. For once in her life, she just wants to let herself go and be a little bit bad. After a long sexual drought, Ashley decides to give herself a birthday present - a one-night stand with a sexy stranger with no expectations attached, and where she can be as naughty as she wants to be without any consequences. She finds all that and more with Scott but didn't expect to develop feelings for him. She can't resist going back to him two more times, but when Scott makes it clear that he wants something deeper with her or he'll no longer be her booty call, she gets scared. Ashley has her life all mapped out and it includes a move to San Francisco to start over away from the influence of her family. Scott shouldn't factor into it, but she can't get him off her mind. I liked that Ashley was a confident woman who wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted, and although she was resisting the idea of commitment, like all of Janelle Denison's other heroines I've read to date, she wasn't being too hard-core about it. She gradually warms up to Scott's seduction, and I enjoyed watching her grow and learn and figure things out so that she could embrace their relationship in the end.
Overall, The Wilde Side was an enjoyable read. I liked Scott and Ashley really well, and their story was well-written. Even though one-night stands aren't usually my favorite way to begin a romance, I can buy into it if the author does a good job of developing the relationship, and in this case, she did. I especially liked how she took a break from the sex and allowed them to build a friendship before hitting the sheets again. The love scene are super steamy and just this side of erotic, which was a plus. I also liked the supporting cast. We get to see past heroes and heroine have a wedding and grow their families, plus future heroes and heroines as well. There's a good look at Scott's sister, Mia, and her love interest, Cameron, who will appear in the next full-length novel, Too Wilde to Tame. Mia is quite the handful, so I'm not sure how I feel about her yet. Then there's Scott's brother, Alex, and his girlfriend, Dana, who are seen a couple of times. They'll be featured in the next novella, One Wilde Weekend. The only reason I marked the book down to four stars is that, for some reason, I just never quite got super-excited about it. The only possible flaw I saw was that it tends to be a bit narrative heavy, when I wanted a little more action and dialogue, but otherwise, I don't really have any complaints. It was a fun, steamy read, so I'll definitely continue with the series.
Note: While perhaps not quite what I would term erotic, this book contains some very steamy content including phone sex, light bondage, and the creative use of a bottle of champagne. IMHO, everything was tastefully done, but it could make some readers uncomfortable.
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