My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3 1/2 stars
I'm going to date myself here, but this book reminded me of that TV show from the 80s, The Love Boat. Obviously, it wasn't quite the same - the crew of The Love Boat wasn't required to work almost naked - and sometimes completely naked - as the crew of The Lust Boat was, the passengers of The Love Boat
Ryan Callahan and his longtime friend and business partner Richard Wolfe are the owners of the Lothario, a cruise ship that offers a unique type of entertainment. Quoting Ryan, "Anything goes on the Lothario. Rape and violence of any kind are not permitted, but consensual sexual play of all persuasions is permitted, encouraged. The ship is designed to stimulate and facilitate sexual exploration and expression." Oh-kaaay...
As a young, good-looking and wealthy man, Ryan should be taking advantage of the "benefits" that come with running the Lothario - namely, indulging in all kinds of play with the more than willing sex-crazed passengers - but he's no longer interested in no-strings sex. Unfortunately, the Lothario is the last place to find someone who's interested in settling down and playing house with him - or so he thinks.
Candace Williams is a schoolteacher who's been dumped by her fiancé only a few days before the wedding. Feeling insecure after hearing him say she was too frigid and naïve to satisfy him, she lets her friends convince her to go on a cruise to get over him and regain her self-confidence. What her friends don't tell her is what to expect when she sets her feet upon the Lothario...
Ryan is attracted to Candace the minute he sees her, noticing she seems a bit lost and isn't as uninhibited as the Lothario's usual passengers. Feeling unexpectedly possessive about her, he decides he'll be the one to show her the various delights the ship has to offer. Only, he won't tell her who he is, because he knows from experience how his name and bank balance could change everything. He just needs to find the right moment to tell her the truth - and hope that she forgives his deception...
This was a fun read. As expected, there was a lot of sex in this book, but not all the sex scenes involved Ryan and Candace - at least, not as active participants. I didn't care much for those sex scenes where Ryan and Candace were mere voyeurs, because sex for the sake of sex does nothing to me, but they served a purpose: to build up the sexual tension between Ryan and Candace. When they finally got together, the wait was definitely worth it.
One of my favorite moments in the book was the scene where Ryan and Candace take a massage class. Here's Ryan on the massage table, waiting for Candace to practice her newly learned massage skills on him:
Holy hotness, Batman! I wouldn't mind rubbing oil all over his body and helping him relax. *fans herself*
Ryan and Candace had great chemistry and their love scenes were scorchingly hot. I thought he fell in love with her too quickly, though. With the word "lust" hovering over the pages, it was hard to believe he was in love with someone he'd just met. Candace took more time to return Ryan's feelings, and that made more sense to me. On the bright side, I liked how he wasn't afraid to tell her how he felt, because those stoic heroes who refuse to acknowledge their feelings can be tiresome.
I didn't like Ryan's deception. Not because I dislike deception as a rule, but because I didn't understand why he kept it for so long. He should have come clean about it when he realized he was in love with Candace. What was he waiting for? The end of the cruise? Why? It wouldn't make any difference. As it was, his deception ended up being just a plot device to add a predictable conflict to the story.
All in all, I thought Ms. Lee's debut book was promising. Her writing was engaging and I'm curious to see what else she can come up with.
Note: I received this eARC from Red Sage via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.
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