Shayla Black's Mine to Hold is the sixth book in her Wicked Lovers series, described as "[d]ark, dangerous, beyond sexy erotic romances about high-octane men and the daring women they will risk all for, even their hearts." The series or individual books in the series were recommended as readalikes for 50 Shades of Grey in more than 30% of the sources I reviewed, and Mine to Hold was the book that arrived first through the interlibrary loan lottery. Major spoilers ahoy!
Extremely poor decision-making and alcohol leads temporarily disabled LA detective Eric Catalano to encourage his wife Delaney to have sex with his partner Tyler. With Eric watching, Tyler and Delaney experience extreme (dare I say, unlikely) amounts of sexual gratification--leading to emotional chaos and Tyler's self-imposed exile to Louisiana. Two years later, Delaney shows up on Tyler's doorstep with their child. Yes, the condom broke at some point during those 5+ orgasms--and Delaney and Eric are now divorced. Delaney wants Tyler's help watching their son while she writes an exposé on the corrupt LA assistant district attorney who's been trying to kill her.
Rather than stay home to babysit the son he didn't knew he had but loves instantly, Tyler informs Delaney that this time they're going to do it "his way"--with the help of his new friends (protagonists of other books in the Wicked Lovers series). Tyler's way includes breaking down all the barriers that Delaney might have to a relationship between them, nevermind the fact that Tyler has apparently been having sex nonstop with other women since he left LA; the fact that she's recently divorced and someone has tried to kill her several times and situations with heightened stress levels are always the best time to begin relationships; and the fact that she said "no" and "don't" when he kissed her...
After a long, sexual tension- and then sex-filled road trip to Los Angeles, Tyler and Delaney arrive and then, after finding out that there's a time limit on their mission to expose the ADA, have a lot more sex before accomplishing anything. But in the process, they establish that Delaney is finding it difficult to trust Tyler because of his sexual history and that he's hoping that she'll get pregnant again as soon as possible so they can have more kids. So. Some things happen, including her ex-husband handcuffing Tyler to a fridge and attempting to rape Delaney in front of him. Also: anal sex! Things like that. I confess, there were many times I almost stopped reading this book, but I persevered for you, dear reader. And in the end, we all lived happily ever after.
This book: not my cup of tea.
My first reaction is that Mine to Hold has a lot more in common with Lora Leigh's Forbidden Pleasure than anything by E.L. James. There's an improbable cop/thriller plot and a man who has trouble understanding the word "no" from the woman he's attracted to. While this may be compelling for some readers, it certainly wasn't for me, and I'm not sure it aligns well with the relationship that James depicts. There are numerous references to Tyler as a "caveman," but no implication that there's anything too far out of line in his approach. By contrast, Leigh's Keiley and James's Ana have their many moments of understanding how impossible and overbearing their male counterparts can be. I would definitely recommend it to Lora Leigh fans, however!
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