Belle is forced to mourn in secret after her lover, U.S. Attorney Sean Ryan, is murdered in a terrorist plot. When she has an irrational, intense sexual response to the mysterious stranger Jack Caldwell, Belle wonders if it’s due to delayed grief for Sean. Sean was the only man she’d ever responded to so completely, after all.
When she finds herself submitting wholly to Jack’s dominant, demanding manner in bed Belle begins to live on the sharp edge of doubt and uncertainty, even to the point of questioning her own sanity. Because Belle can’t let go of the crazy, impossible idea that Sean Ryan and Jack Caldwell are one and the same man.
So I never read the original – apparently it was published in 2007 … and I’m kind of happy about that, because everything – the edits etc, were new to me. I love Beth Kery’s writing. I think she’s one of the best authors of erotic romance out there. Even if (and when – because usually it does happen) the characters do something way out there to/for me … it’s still sexy because it works for them. The hero and heroine are always so in tune, and Ms. Kery’s writing has such depth and layers to it. It’s not just the sex – it’s the emotion, the cerebral connection – the full package. The “prompt” of the month’s TBR challenge is PNR or RS … and I’d say this is … peripheral RS? I kept thinking “this is the aftermath – the ‘everything else’ that happens around and after a RS.” It’s the thinking part of it, which makes sense because Ms. Kery (also) has a background in psychology. It’s suspense in and of the mind, not so much in action – as there is a lot of that … but it takes place “off page, off screen.” Can we call this an erotic low key psychological thriller? Because that’s what I’m doing.
Belle March is wonderfully steady. She’s 26 when the book begins … 27 when most of the book takes place. I liked that she has her own career, but even more, that it’s actually central to the story – but in a very low key way. She’s a psychologist, and that’s key because of what she and Jack have to overcome. I liked that she doesn’t take shit from guys – not from Sean, not from Clay, not from Jack. Belle is a bit isolated though – and I think it’s explained by her childhood (the stutter, the blushing) – how people perceived her. I do take slight exception to how obsessed/down on her breasts she is. Her, and Clay. I mean … come on. Who doesn’t like big boobs. >.> At least when we’re talking C or D cups. [It’s a thing in the book.]
It’s really hard to write this without spoilers … so I’m just … not going to address them unless someone a) definitely wants to know or b) discusses in the comments – because I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone else. I do have to say though, even near the end, at maybe 80% I was still so sure yet at the same time absolutely unsure. I even tweeted this:
😅 I was up past 4 AM reading this book by Beth Kery https://t.co/2H3iEP5fkS – I’m still certain there’s going to be a twist yet almost as certain I’m wrong 😜
— Limecello (@Limecello) October 17, 2018
And … yeah after I read the key part I was screaming “I WAS RIGHT!!! I KNEW IT!” Literally screaming.
Ok. Sean Ryan – I don’t know that it’s really shown how it’s more than immediate physical attraction – although their first dinner (which is also pretty damn intense and hot) – he’s taken by how intelligent Belle is, and what a great listener she is – which again, part of her career in psychology. She’s excellent at it. We readers don’t really get to know Sean, however, because – well, you know. Murderized.
Jack Caldwell. My god. The man is driven, and he’s obsessed with Belle. In a good way, bordering on too much, but it works for them – it’s what Belle wants, and if or when he crosses any lines Belle lets him know. There’s so many layers to all this – and then when Belle thinks she’s going crazy. And even better calls Jack on it for throwing that in her face. No gaslighting allowed here!
I generally try to give at least a semblance of character analysis and such – but like I said, this is a low key RS and I can’t because it’d all be spoilers! Everything is so intertwined and perfect and desperate and hot.
It’s been a while since I’ve read an erotic romance – I’ve been on such a high fantasy romance kick, and because so little of it is adult, most of it is YA (or … *sigh* NA) and chaste, or closed door. The sex is insane. Off the charts hot pour some ice over it these two are combustible. They also do some … seriously kinky stuff – and hey – whatever works for them. I… it’s … you’ll just have to read it and see if you think it’s hot or not. (Or if it’s hot for them.) A little bit I noticed some things were hit on the “must haves of erotic romance” unofficial checklist of the 00s … which makes sense as that is when the book was first published, but I think the editing smooths it out, and more importantly, everything the characters do fits them and their romance – it’s not shoe horned in.
I’m so glad Ms. Kery has edited and re-released some of her previous erotic romances, and I’m ready to glom more. If you like contemporary romances, especially erotic romance, I definitely think you should give Exorcising Sean’s Ghost a try.