Double Down by Katie Porter
Contemporary romance released by Samhain Publishing on July 31, 2012
Vegas Top Guns, Book 1
Desire as reckless as a fighter jet in freefall…and just as dangerous.
As part of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, Major Ryan “Fang” Haverty flies like the enemy to teach Allied pilots how not to die. The glittering excess of the Strip can’t compare to the glowing jet engines of his F-16. But a sexy, redheaded waitress in seamed stockings? Now she gets his blood pumping.
Cassandra Whitman’s good-girl ways haven’t earned any slack from her manager ex-boyfriend, or prevented a bad case of frazzle from holding down two and a half jobs. She sure wouldn’t mind letting the handsome Southern charmer shake up her routine.
Their wild weekend lives up to Sin City’s reputation. Especially when they discover a matched passion for role-playing. For Cass, it’s an exciting departure from her normal, shy persona. But for Ryan, it triggers memories of a time when his fetish drove away the woman he loved–leaving him reluctant to risk a repeat performance.
Except Cass refuses to settle for ordinary ever again. She’s about to show the man with hair-trigger hands that she’s got a few surprise moves of her own.
Warning: This book contains dirty-hot role-playing, featuring an all-alpha fighter pilot and an ambitious waitress with a fabulous imagination. Also: dressing-room sex, a plaid schoolgirl skirt, and a sprinkling of spankings.
I’m not even really sure where to start talking about this book. It’s just an incredible story on so many levels that putting one first seems almost impossible. Katie Porter, I’ve come to learn, is the name of the writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown. I haven’t read anything by either author prior to this collaboration, so I had no expectations going into the story except to – hopefully – enjoy myself and I really, really did. I haven’t read many role-playing books before this one, usually finding the odd “dress like a cheerleader” request in the romance novels I normally choose, so picking this one that has role-playing as a central theme was new for me. When I think of role-playing I automatically think about the French Maid costume, but Katie opened up my eyes with this story, weaving a tantalizing tale about a man who isn’t sure he should like the things he does, and a woman who really would do anything for the right man.
As a girl who enjoys a man in uniform (my hubby was in the navy), Major Ryan Haverty already had brownie points with me in the hotness category. His odd fascination with waitress Cass’ seamed stockings as she took his order at the restaurant where she worked started the first of many quirks that came to define him as a character. Ryan, known to his fellow soldiers as Fang, is a dual personality – one part of him is what he perceives as normal and the other part kinky, specifically into role-playing. In Ryan’s case, he’s desperate to keep the kinky part of himself well hidden, so deeply buried that it won’t ever come out. The problem with secrets, as we all know, is that eventually they come out and Ryan was ill prepared for the fall-out. Ryan’s reasoning for squashing his kinky fantasies is two-fold. One, he’s an officer in Air Force, stationed at a nearby base, so indulging in role-playing in public could cause problems with his job. And the other is that he once got his heartbroken by a woman that he revealed his kinkiest needs to and swore to not do that again. What I really found fascinating about Ryan’s development in the story is that just one taste of fantasy for him and he slowly unraveled into a downward spiral of self-loathing and recrimination. As the reader, we’re treated to his POV, and the disgust he feels for his suddenly increasing fantasies involving Cass roll off the page. You can feel how much he hates himself, how much he wishes he didn’t like to role-play, how frightened he is when it clearly overwhelms him and pushes at the careful boundaries of his ordered life. On the outside, Ryan is a hero and a leader, a man with loyal friends who has seen battle and lived to tell about it. On the inside, however, Ryan is a festering mess of conflicted feelings, desires, and needs.
Cass was positively brilliant. When challenged, she proved herself to be up for anything. She was a heroine that I could get behind and cheer for. What I found most interesting about her character was her background and family. Her family is wonderful and amazing, but very smothering and insistent that she helps with the family business. You get to see the way she feels pulled in separate directions – one for her passion of art and the other to support her family – and it’s not until Ryan’s influence that she begins to see herself as the independent woman she really is. Her character flowered spectacularly. There were no abrupt changes of heart or sudden decisions, but a gradual bloom that seemed real and earnest. When her heart is breaking, her chin is held high and her belief in herself keeps her from accepting anything less than everything she deserves. For that reason alone, Cass has become one of my new favorite female characters.
Secondary characters include Cass’ parents, her sister, brother-in-law and niece and Ryan’s fellow Air Force pilots. Cass’ parents are the overbearing sort that expect their children to be happy living the dreams of their parents and not their own. Their tour company is in trouble and the guilt comes out in buckets when Cass tries to improve her position at an art gallery so she can do what she loves for a living. I loved to see her take her own life by the horns and make a stand for herself. It’s one thing for a woman to stand up to a man about what she will and will not tolerate in a relationship, but it’s an entirely different, earth-shattering thing for a woman to stand up to the people who raised her and do her own thing. Ryan’s two pilot friends, Tin Tin and Princess, are colorful and fun. Tin Tin comes from money and comes across as an arrogant pretty-boy that would toss a girl aside when he’s done with her. While it may be true in some ways, he shows his true nature when he stands by Princess’ side while she’s heaving up her drinks in the bathroom. Now, who doesn’t want a guy like that? And as for Princess, she’s got some serious issues. Wound as tight as a spring, she seems to have no off-switch, flipping from calm and controlled to wild and berserk with no stops in between. Both characters have their own stories in this series, and I think their characters are well worth looking into and deserve their own stories.
I can’t review the book without talking about the sex. Holy role-playing Batman! This book is just packed full of fantastic sex. Each scene is unique as they move forward in their relationship, switching between sweet vanilla sex and kinky sex, initiated most often by Cass. Cass has an internal radar that seems to sense whenever Ryan is turned on by something, and she turns the tables on him as often as she can. Ryan struggles internally throughout the role-playing. Like a dieter who eats a big piece of cake, he loves it at the time and hates himself afterwards, afraid that if Cass would find out the depths of his desire for role-playing that she would walk out on him. I can’t even tell you the crazy things that they do without giving up too much of the story, but suffice it to say that although the book starts off with a bang (literally), the characters and the storyline don’t suffer for the attention to sexy details. Well balanced, the loving is exactly what the story needed to ratchet it up a few million notches, from a romance about a pilot and a waitress to a sizzling story about just how much fun two consenting adults can have when they open their minds to the possibilities.
When I first began reading the story, I wasn’t really prepared for how much I would like the characters and become invested in their lives. The story grips you by the neck and doesn’t let go, while you watch the lovers dance. This story has got so much going for it, between the role-playing, the family issues, and the characters coming to terms with what they want in their lives, this book is full to the brim with heat and passion. Unlike other stories in this vein that might focus solely on the sex, Porter broadens the scope to share the life-altering decisions that both Cass and Ryan make as they explore the kinkier, darker side of pleasure.
Nice review. I really like it when secondary characters in a series get their own books. That’s one of the reasons I like reading series, we get to know the characters better. Sounds like a good read.
I agree, Mary. The secondary characters were written into the story well enough that it would be hard not to be curious about both Tin Tin & Princess. I’m looking forward to their books. 🙂
I heard great things about this book a while a go and have had it preordered for a couple of months. Great review! Can’t wait to open up my e-reader and have it on there.
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