Tempting the Player by Kat Latham
Winter Rain (Love in the Rain Book 2)

Gentleman In The Street by Alisha Rai

I usually avoid romances featuring billionaires, but I made an exception for Rai because it is not everyday you see abrasive self-made billionaire heroines. You can find heroes fitting that description all the time, but not heroines, and she isn't simply an alpahole in drag.

Akira is the driven & hardworking head of a multi-national entertainment chain having turned her youthful sexcapdes, family notoriety and a small trust fund from her grandmother into a launchpad for her company. Akira is angrily and reluctantly grieving her distant and disapproving mother Mei and trying to avoid her father, the dissolute heir to a hotel fortune, who now lives his life for TV ratings on a Kardashian-like reality show with his latest wife and her children. Mei, Akira's mother, had long withheld one of Akiras's most beloved objects, a puzzle box that her grandmother had left for her, as incentive for Akira to submit to making occasional appearances at her charity events. But when her mother passed away the box is nowhere to be found, and Akira needs to find it. After exhausting all other options Akira turns up at Jacob's door. Jacob was briefly her step-brother over a dozen of years ago but unlike Akira he and his siblings stayed close to Mei till the end and are the most likeliest people Mei would have entrusted with the box.

Jacob is a writer who has dedicated the last decade & half of his life to raising his siblings, fully taking over after his father's unexpected death. Jacob is incredibly unhappy to see Akira, but not for all the reasons she thinks he is. Akira is sure that straight-laced Jacob shares her mother's low opinion of her. Their encounters have long been combustible, their relationship adversarial, Akira teasing and blatantly challenging him at every opportunity, in order to get any reaction from him, even a negative one. He has never taken her up on her invitations, doubting their sincerity instead making an art of avoiding her. Jacob standoffishness is not out of lack of interest but out of self-preservation and self-denial. Jacob is convinced that he can't indulge in admitting his attraction Akira. She has come to stand in his mind as incarnation of the temptation & invitation to obssesion. He dedicated all his energy into his family, he can't imagine a way she could fit into his life. He sends her away empty-handed and disappointed but for the first time aware that Akira might not be as invulnerable as she appears.

When Jacob discovers he does in fact have what Akira has been seeking, and painfully confronts his sister over it, he finally begins to admit to himself that he does want Akira, and he might need more in his life than his siblings.

There is a lot of sex in the book, an orgy even, but with the exception of a couple scenes at the orgy not directly involving Jacob or Akira, I think the sex was scorching hot and essential to the development of the romance, building on and complicating their intimacy.

The romance was great, both Jacob and Akira pushing and pulling, running hot and cold. They both have a lot of baggage to work through & lives that invite complication, so their relationship does not progress smoothly. Jacob has to work hard to seduce Akira into wanting him for more than a fling.

Because of their history Akira needs Jacob to fully understand and accept her sexually, rightfully unwilling to compromise that part of herself in order to be accepted. Jacob is undeterred even if he is occasionally overwhelmed and confused by his feelings and reactions. I think Rai did a wonderful job creating a complex and unusual heroine. I liked how unapologetic she is about her sexuality, even if it is clearly an area of vulnerability. She knows the world judges her for it and while she trades on it, she is doesn't want to be rejected by Jacob for it. It thought that was a really difficult but real situation to portray. Jacob has to do some major work on himself, be willing to expose his own vulnerabilities to her, before he can earn her trust. And that he recognizes that her trust, her heart, are worth fighting for.

Rai's Gentleman in the Street is well worth reading.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author.
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