At the tender age of sixteen, Lily Williams was brutally beaten and raped by her father. She's spent the last seven years trying to recover from both her physical and emotional injuries. Her difficulty trusting others and debilitating nightmares, as well as a physical disability, have kept her from leading the normal life of a young adult woman. Now that Lily's brother James is engaged to Samantha, the love of his life, Lily, as the maid of honor has been co-planning a combined bachelor/bachelorette party for them along with the best man, Blake. The party is set to coincide with his romance book convention in Las Vegas. Lily thinks she's finally ready to explore her sexuality, but she's not sure if she's ready to disclose her painful past to a prospective partner. Vegas seems like the perfect place to find a one-night stand, so when she gets stuck in an elevator with a hot guy, she makes him an offer he can't refuse.
Blake Hunter is a romance cover model and a hopeless romantic. He's ready to settle down and has been searching for The One, but she hasn't materialized for him yet. When he sees a beautiful red-head in the hotel parking lot, he's instantly in lust, but she disappears before he has an opportunity to talk with her. That's why, when she turns up again in a stalled elevator and propositions him for sex right then and there, he can't refuse and practically falls in love with her right on the spot. What he didn't know, though, is that she's his friend, James's sister. When he discovers her true identity and that they're booked into adjoining rooms in the hotel, Blake knows it's fate. But he's going to have a hard time convincing Lily that they have a future together, when he has no idea about her past or that she's just beginning to live her life.
Full disclosure here, I'm friends with JossiLynn, but it doesn't in any way affect how I felt about this book, nor did she give me a free copy. However, because of our friendship, I did read K Is for Kink, the first book of her Book Convention Romance series, as a beta reader, and I very much enjoyed it, even in its raw, unedited form. I loved Samantha and James and all their spicy sexual adventures at the romance book convention, but I was somewhat more taken by the secondary characters of Blake and Lily. Even without having talked with JossiLynn about which other characters she was writing stories for, I knew on instinct alone that their book would be next, so I was practically begging to read it ASAP. Unfortunately life got in the way and I never did get to do another beta read, but when the author released the entire series a few months ago, I picked up a copy of K Is for Kissed. I'm excited that I finally got around to reading it, and while not completely perfect, it was a very enjoyable read.
Lily is the sister of James (K Is for Kink) and as we learned about her in his book, she was brutally beaten and raped by her own father when she was only sixteen, and in that same book, her father tried to kill her. She's spent the last seven years trying to overcome the physical and emotional scars that were left by that horrific experience. This story picks up exactly one year after the events of the first book. As the maid of honor for James and Samantha's wedding, Lily is one of the co-organizers of their combined bachelor/bachelorette party that will be taking place at the romance book convention where they met. Believing it will be easier than having to reveal her entire history to someone in a relationship, Lily thinks that she might finally be ready to act like the twenty-three-year-old that she is and try a little fling. Since the convention is held in Las Vegas, she also thinks it could be the perfect place for a one-night stand. As luck would have it, she gets stuck in an elevator with a hot guy and throws caution to the wind, propositioning him to have sex with her right then and there, not knowing that he's Samantha's best friend and the best man. Lily is a sweet girl who hasn't really lived life much until this book begins. Instead she's been mostly isolated on her little Colorado ranch with only her horses and her gay roommate, Randy, for company. She tends to be pretty direct in expressing what she wants, and once her mind is set on a path, she doesn't deviate from it. A part of me was applauding her for being strong and taking charge of her life, particularly her sex life, but another part of me wanted to understand on a deeper level how the rape had affected her. She has nightmares and anxiety from it, but I kind of wanted to be inside her head a little more. Otherwise I really like Lily and think she found the perfect partner in Blake.
Blake is a romance novel cover model who is the CEO of his own book convention. Pretty much everyone loves him and he never lacks for female attention, but he's a hopeless romantic who's looking for The One. He thought he'd found his mythical unicorn when Samantha showed up at his convention in the last book, and while they shared a few sexy times, she ended up choosing to be with James. He's fine with that and they've since become great friends. That's why they asked him to be the best man at their upcoming nuptials. But their solid relationship leaves Blake pining for someone special of his own. As he's pulling into the parking lot of the hotel, he spots a gorgeous red-head, but she's gone before he's able to pick his tongue up off the floor. That's why when he chances to see her again in the elevator, he's happy to oblige her artless proposition when they get stuck there together. Of course he doesn't realize that she's James's sister until later, but once he knows who she is, he's more than ready to pursue her. Blake is a real sweetheart. I love that he was willing to take things at Lily's pace and do everything he could to make her comfortable with their relationship and where it was going. I also loved him for being willing to uproot his entire life to move to Colorado to be with her as soon as she gave him the go ahead. Blake was just an all-around great guy who would be impossible not to fall for.
Samantha and James still play a large role in K Is for Kissed, getting quite a number of their own POV scenes. At first, I was jealous of their page time that seemed to be almost equal with Blake and Lily's scenes. I couldn't help feeling like they were taking away precious moments that Blake and Lily could have been building their relationship. But after a while I got used to it. Although I don't recall them getting their own POVs, Blake and Lily had played significant roles in Samantha and James's story plus all the characters are very close, so I realized that it was pretty natural that the reverse would be true as well. When it came right down to it, I can't deny that I enjoyed Samantha and James too, as well as their wedding planning adventures and plenty of other events involving them.
There are a couple of things that made this a four-star read, the main one being that Blake and Lily's initial interactions didn't contain as much of an emotional connection as I would have liked. Lily goes into it, thinking that having sex with Blake is going to be a one-time thing and not even knowing his name, which in general isn't my favorite way to start a romance. It's also pretty much an insta-love story, which can go either way for me. In this case, Blake declares his love for Lily after only knowing her for a few days. I know he's a hopeless romantic and all, but I wanted to be a little more in his head to know exactly what about Lily had made him fall in love with her so quickly. Lily is a little slower to give in, but even she comes around in fairly short order in spite of having a lot of fears and misgivings. So again, being inside her head a little more to understand how she changed her mind wouldn't have gone amiss. However, after their first couple of sexy encounters that were a little shaky for me, I could feel the deep emotion between them during the love scenes, so that was a plus in helping me to feel that all-important connection and buying into them making a commitment to one another by the end even though they hadn't known each other all that long. The only other thing that bugged me a little was when Lily tells Samantha about what happened the night her father raped her. I reread the passage, so I don't think I was misunderstanding her, and at one point she pretty much says flat-out that she practically begged her father to f*ck her so that he would stop sodomizing her with a baseball bat. Now I could understand her wanting that stop, but what I couldn't quite make sense of is why she wouldn't just beg him to stop period rather than begging him to rape her in a different way. I can buy into a lot of unusual scenarios in fiction, but I think this one needed a little more explanation for me to fully understand it.
Otherwise, I very much enjoyed K Is for Kissed. The characters are likeable and pretty relatable for me and for the most part, the romance is sweet and heartfelt with lots of spicy encounters. There's definitely a decent plot here too and the writing itself is pretty solid, which is more than I've gotten with some erotic romances I've read. There's a nice touch of the supernatural when the ghost of Samantha's mother appears again, playing matchmaker and helping to protect someone from harm. We get to visit with several of the secondary characters from the previous book, some of whom will get their own stories in the series. Kade, Blake's friend and an FBI agent, is seen briefly. He becomes the hero of Book #4, K Is for Kismet. I've always liked Lily's quiet roommate, Randy. He gets paired with Oscar, another of Blake's model friends, in the next book K Is for Kindred. To the best of my recollection, I'd always gotten the impression that Oscar was straight. But I do like the idea of this pairing, so I'll definitely be looking forward to reading their book soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that maybe Blake and Lily will play as big a role in their book as James and Samantha did in this one. But either way, I've enjoyed reading the first two books in the series enough that I feel confident I'll like the next one too.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including a little spanking, use of sex toys, and anal sex, which some readers may find offensive. It also contains graphic descriptions of rape that could be disturbing to some readers.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook