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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ARC Review: High Seduction by Vivian Arend

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from HIGH SEDUCTION, the third book in Vivian Arend’s Adrenaline Search and Rescue started-off-as-kind-of-romantic-suspense-but-is-now-really-straight-light-erotic-contemporary series: I’d really enjoyed the first book in the series but had some issues with the second and had no real sense of where the third would go. In the end, I found it to be vintage Vivian Arend—a great character-driven erotic romance about accepting one’s sexuality and kinks, with Ms. Arend’s trademark quality writing and heat—but, like with the previous entry, think it would’ve benefitted from being a straight-up contemporary rather than trying to incorporate a very light mystery subplot that did nothing for the story and felt incongruous and forced.

HIGH SEDUCTION tells the story of Lifeline Search and Rescue’s kick-ass, take-no-shit female helicopter pilot Erin Tate, who was probably my favourite member of the Lifeline team in previous books. HIGH SEDUCTION is a standalone story, but since the Lifeline team members and their relationship dynamics are introduced and built on throughout the previous two novels, readers will get a better sense of the Lifeline world and characters from reading the series in order. Unlike its predecessors, HIGH SEDUCTION is SLOW: with the exception of a couple of pulse-pounding rescues early on, nothing much happens plotwise. But that works, because it’s first and foremost a reunion romance and the focus should be (and is) on the (re)developing relationship between the hero and heroine. Erin and SAR paramedic Tim Dextor had a serious thing going out in Newfoundland until something (which we’re kept guessing about for most of the book, though it ends up not being quite the juicy reveal I was expecting) happened seven years ago and Erin up and left and moved to Banff to work with Lifeline. Now an older and wiser Tim is looking for a job with Lifeline and determined to win Erin back. Control is the name of the game and the underlying source of the characters’ emotional conflict, especially Erin’s. On the one hand, she’s used to being in command when she’s in the cockpit or on a rescue; on the other, she enjoys being dominated in the bedroom and feels like she can’t reconcile the two sides of herself. Her biggest fear is that her need for sexual submission will spill over into all other areas of her life and she’ll (willingly) give up her free will to her partner. Ms. Arend does a great job taking Erin on a sensual journey that culminates with her realisation that she can be both strong & independent AND let someone else control her sexual pleasure.

Tim is a great hero, and I really liked him—at least in his grown-up form! He knows exactly what he wants in and out of the bedroom and is determined to have Erin back in his life and have forever after with her. I especially loved how, despite wanting nothing more than to make Erin his again (and forever this time), he’s incredibly patient with her and her new self-imposed boundaries to keep her edgier desires at bay. I loved how he gently coaxed her past all her barriers to what he knew she truly wanted and helped her fully accept her sexuality, giving her the time and space she needed. I don’t actively seek out BDSM, voyeurism, or ménage elements in my romance, but the light touches of all three in HIGH SEDUCTION work beautifully for two characters who thrive on exploring and expanding their sexual boundaries—and make for some pretty steamy love scenes! [Avid readers of any or all three of those tropes beware: this novel only dips its toes into the edgier side of romance]

HIGH SEDUCTION is a solid addition to the series and is a great read for anyone looking for something a bit more sensual and edgy than a mainstream romance but not ready to delve into hardcore erotica. I truly enjoyed the characters, the buildup and execution of the romantic relationship, and the writing. My only gripe is the mediocre suspense/mystery subplot that feels thrown in there because some editor or publisher decided to pitch this series as ‘romantic suspense’: it shows up twice throughout the novel and each time feels jarring and unnecessary. I look forward to seeing if there will be any more entries in this series, now that the principal Lifeline members have all had their stories told!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | The Book Depository |


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