Last September I was thrilled to get my own sizzling copy of Bona Fide Liar, the fifth release by Red Garnier in a very prolific debut year. Today's Thursday Thirteen is a review of Ms. Garnier's second Torrid Tarot book, just in time for her fantastic news that she sold to Penguin/NAL!
1 - I discovered Red Garnier as a fellow blogger. I'm not really sure how I got to her blog - but I stumbled upon a post where she shared one of her passions, for contemporary art. She had pictures of the Sotheby's art auction and even had a favorite auctioneer. This is a woman after my own heart, thought the ballet freak. And not only that - she had multiple Oscar Wilde quotes in her sidebar (on her previous blog layout.)
2 - When I first got to know Red, she hadn't sold anything - yet. A few short months after I'd got to know her as a blog buddy, she sold her first ebook to Ellora's Cave. Since then she's published eleven books, seven with Ellora's Cave, two with Liquid Silver, two with Loose Id, and one coming in June with Samhain.
Red also has her own blog, and is one of the Sexies at Six Degrees of Sexy, along with Christine d'Abo and Renee Field.
3 - Let's have a look at Red's fifth novel, Bona Fide Liar. This is part of the Ellora's Cave Torrid Tarot category, which offers romances inspired by the aspects of cards in a tarot deck. In this contemporary story, the heroine is a creative thinker for an internet giant. The hero is her competition from the same office.
4 - We meet Carly Sanders, who works at Yoodle, North America's leading internet search engine. She can't let anyone know she's wrung out of ideas. More specifically, her nemesis Callahan must never suspect she's come up high and dry.
5 - Alexander Callahan is the most original mind at Yoodle. He's the two-time winner of the Creative Award. Unfortunately, his physical reaction to Carly never seems reciprocated by her. He's forced to pretend he feels nothing for the stunning beauty on his creative team.
6 - Is it wrong for Carly to plot devious payback when she overhears outright lies from Callahan to their co-workers? Sure, they're competitive, but aren't they on the same corporate team?
7 - I really, really love the S-ensuous aspects of this story. "S-ensuous love scenes are explicit and leave nothing to the imagination," advises Ellora's Cave. Now that women no longer have to blush and swoon at the mention of super-charged encounters, Red makes her readers blush and swoon for all the right reasons. This is where the contemporary aspect actually works for me!
8 - The sexual tension between Carly and Alexander is cloaked at first by their competitive animosity. Sure, she thinks he's attractive in a neck-throttling sort of way. Alexander might fantasize about her but Carly is strictly hands-off. Until he discovers her pink fur-lined handcuffs.
9 - Carly and Alexander have given their best to their careers, even thriving as competitors. What Red does so well is to fill their night of sexual discovery with emotional realization. Will Carly and Alexander acknowledge their own roles as liars, or keep finger-pointing in the opposite direction?
10 - Red really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:
"As she took the elevator upstairs, Carly suddenly realized she hated herself just as much or even more than she hated him. For she had been the fool who’d allowed this disaster to happen. The fool who’d believed she could make these wretched, painful, alien feelings go away. Perhaps it was past time Carly recognized there was a bigger liar in Yoodle, bigger even than Alex Callahan.
Her name was Carly Sanders.
She could always continue to pretend she hated him. She could always continue to pretend she didn’t want him more than anything, and still, for all her pretending, for all her lying and her feigned contempt, she just couldn’t make it true.
11 - Red's writing style is filled with ironic humor that carries a thread of longing throughout. Carly's work woes are so easy for readers to share, and her determined trip to the sex shop for Operation Alexander ammunition is both funny and poignant. Of course, Red's steamy scenes need special mention. If you're willing to throw off your inhibitions, Red is willing to take you where you've always longed to go.
12 - Red has mentioned her love of the alpha male, and Alexander is a prime example of that breed. When we're in his POV, his reasons for doing things that make Carly crazy suddenly all make sense. When he makes bedroom moves that shock and delight Carly, they flow from Alexander's character. He's a bold top performer for a cutting edge company - and these instincts serve him well when Carly finally invites him to see her as a woman.
13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!
" 'Do I have to repeat myself every time to you, Alex?' she asked, jerking away from him and stalking toward the bathroom to clean up.
Minutes later, she came out tying a bathrobe around her waist, pursing her lips in irritation when she found him still on the bed.
He was sitting with a pillow propped up behind him, and looking as confused and baffled as ever. At least Carly hadn’t been the only one who lost her wits tonight.
'Can you explain to me what’s going on, Carly?' Alex asked calmly, a sleek eyebrow rising in question.
'Don’t tell me this is a surprise, Alex,' she said stiffly.
An overwhelming amount of anger was building up inside her and it was mostly directed at herself. For not following The Plan. For submitting to her nemesis.
For joining the Alexander Callahan Whimpering Groupies Club.
Alex straightened, raking a hand through his rumpled blond hair. 'I’m sorry, but I don’t understand.'
'Really? It’s very simple. I want you to leave, and I want you to leave now,' she said tersely.
He leaned back on the pillow, crossing his arms across his chest, his jaw set. 'Did I do something wrong?'
She wanted to scream at him, scream it all, the whole damned list. He’d done everything wrong. He’d touched her so right, kissed her so right, made up lies about her that turned out to be so right that it was just wrong. Maybe to top off her evening, he should pull out a wad of bills and go ahead and pay her.
Instead she simply said, 'Yes.'
'And just what in the hell does that mean?'
Her fists shook at her sides. 'Just leave, damn it!'
'Why are you doing this?'
'Because I’d like to get some sleep and because I don’t want to see you again. I want you to leave and I want you to forget about this.'
That crushing sound—was that something inside her? It hurt.
'So you expect me,' he breathed in a deadly voice as he slowly rose from the bed, six feet of sinewy muscles rippling at the move, 'to conveniently forget the way you tasted in my mouth, the way you said my name and the way your voice shook?'
He reached her in less than a second, his fingers coiling around her arms like whips, squeezing so hard he almost cut off her blood supply. 'You are so wrong, Carly.'
'Just leave!' Her voice cracked, the pitiful sound tearing through his building fury and succeeding in what her anger had not, sending him stalking out into the living room to fetch his clothes.
She winced when she heard the front door slam shut and suddenly felt a strange urge to cry."
- Red Garnier, 2007
Next week I'll have the final installment of my review series of T13's, when I showcase Lillian Feisty's Dance of the Plain Jane from Seasons of Seduction I.