A Review of J. Kenner’s Second-Chance Romance, Wicked Grind

A Review of J. Kenner’s Second-Chance Romance, Wicked Grind

3.5 Stars

Photographer Wyatt Royce’s career is on the verge of exploding. All he needs is one perfect model to be the centerpiece of his sexy, controversial show. Find her, and Wyatt is sure to have a winner.

Then Kelsey Draper walks in. Stunning. Vibrant. And far too fragile for a project like this. Wyatt should know—after all, he remembers only too well how their relationship ended all those years ago.

Desperate for cash and frustrated with her good girl persona, Kelsey sets her sights on Wyatt’s show. But only the show. Because she knows too well that Wyatt Royce is a danger to her heart.

But when Wyatt agrees to give her the job only if he has complete control—on camera and in his bed—Kelsey can’t help but wonder if she’s in too deep. Because how can a good girl like her ever be enough for a man like Wyatt?

 

Kenner certainly knows to strike an emotional chord. I found myself tearing up many times while reading Wicked Grind, the first book in Kenner’s Wicked series. This second-chance romance about two people doing their best to emerge from the shadows of their families is both poignant and relatable.

Told in alternating points of view with a few flashback chapters, Wicked Grind takes its readers on a journey of discovery. I loved the layers to this story:

  • Kelsey’s battle to find her way out of the box she’s metaphorically lived in after an emotionally abusive childhood and a tragedy that changed her life.
  • Wyatt’s need to be seen as separate from his successful family and not follow the path his father took.
  • And, Wyatt’s erotic and sensual photo exhibit that is the setting for the story and an allegory for the journey that Kelsey takes and how Wyatt wanted to help her find her way.

Truthfully, it took me a bit of time to settle into the story as I didn’t allow myself to see into its heart. Kenner slowly reveals the past through flashbacks and, by extension, the characters’ reasons for their (at the time) annoying behavior. After I rolled my eyes one too many times at Kelsey’s flip-flopping, I took a break, then came back with fresh eyes and an open mind. I’m really glad I did because Kelsey’s story was something that I could easily relate to. While the term is never used, Kelsey has some OCD tendencies that have shaped her life. She shows such great strength as she fights against her fears and allows herself to finally live the life she’s wanted.

While I liked Wyatt, I didn’t love him. I loved how his vision for his photo exhibit was really a reflection of the love he carried in his heart for 12 years. I didn’t like how pushy he was. There were moments I was truly uncomfortable with the pressure he puts on Kelsey to step out of her comfort zone. Kenner does a nice job of bringing his photography to life. I could easily picture (pun intended) what he was trying to accomplish with his photographs and was sad that I wouldn’t actually get to see it.

Surprisingly, despite the overwhelming erotic theme to this story there is very little sex between the characters and it happens late into the book with few details. Truthfully, the sex was almost unnecessary because, in particular, Kelsey’s path to owning her sexuality was more emotional than physical. Great concept!!

3.5 stars for Wicked Grind. Heat level: 3

I received a copy of Wicked Grind from NetGalley and InkSlingerPR in exchange for honest feedback.

Wicked Grind was published in July 2017 by Martini & Olive.

Wicked Grind


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy,  and paranormal mommy lit.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.

Her books have sold over three million  copies and are published in over twenty languages.

In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas.  She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.

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