A successful Las Vegas real estate executive, Melanie Leon, 37 and single, witnesses a tragic accident as a sedan kills an infant in a baby carriage. James Perolo, a “brutally handsome” detective with the Las Vegas Police Department, interviews Melanie as he investigates the incident. With 20 years on the force, James, 42, has given up on making a difference on the street and just wants to make sergeant and advance his career. Along the way, he’s enjoyed the company of numerous women whom he could dominate and control, indulging his appetite for rough sex. As Melanie walks away from him after their interview, James hungrily watches her “calves flex and her backside move with a gentle switch.” Three weeks later, they’re in bed together, and Melanie soon discovers a liking for hard spanking and kinky visits to the Green Door, a local sex club. Outside of their torrid trysts, though, James struggles with the legacy of having a crack-addicted prostitute mother, and Melanie deals with emotional scars from her father’s death when she was 9. Mistrusting love, they both hedge their bets with other sex partners on the side—Melanie with schoolteacher-artist Derek, James with random hookups. As they struggle to commit, both confront childhood demons and brutal truths that will keep many romance fans hooked to the end. Some readers, however, may wish that both characters elicited more empathy. As the lovers betray each other casually and repeatedly, they grow harder to like, and at times readers’ disapproval will dilute their sympathy for them. Even so, James’ blue-collar animalism ignites satisfyingly when it mixes with Melanie’s white-collar lifestyle, and Pace’s sex scenes—particularly those set at the Green Door club—always sizzle.
A volcanic mix of kinky intimacy, casual hookups, and emotionally crippled lovers make this a memorable read.