Series: Dirty Money #2
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on February 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Crime, Romance
Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in Damage Control, the smoldering, scorching next novel in the explosively sexy Dirty Money series.
The only thing more dangerous than a dark secret is a damaged heart…
Shane Brandon has been pushed to the brink, torn between his corrupt family and his explosive, all-consuming desire for Emily Stevens, who he now knows is not who, and what, she seems. Has he trusted the wrong person? Will she, not his brother Derek, be the ultimate destruction of his family Empire?
Emily tries to run from Shane, but he will stop her, confront her, force her to reveal all — one hot touch and kiss at a time, under every intimate detail of who this woman is, and what she wants, is exposed. But as he tears away the dangers of the unknowns with the woman in his bed, and in his heart, The Martina Cartel has set their sights on his company, his family, and the one piece of leverage they believe he won’t gamble with: Emily.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant when first opening Damage Control because for the life of me, I couldn’t remember some of the details in Hard Rules. It had just been too long since I had read the first book! I felt awful and was trying to figure out how I could schedule in a reread during my hectic life and was getting a little flustered. I figured, ‘what the heck? I’ll just start reading and see how it goes.’ THANK YOU LISA! At the beginning of Damage Control, there’s not only a brief recap of the important details from Hard Rules, but there’s also a list of the major players and descriptions of each. This was a lifesaver and you guys have no idea how appreciative I was. What an amazing idea. From here on, I could jump right into the story and not wonder if I was missing any info.
Let me hold on to you, Emily. I’ll protect you.”
“Remember when I said I don’t need a hero?”
“But do you want one?”
“Who doesn’t want a hero?” She laughs. “Especially one like you.”
“Then let me—”
“You don’t need someone else to save from themselves. You have your brother. But thank you, Shane. For hearing me out. For being a friend. I know you will think this is crazy, but you were fast becoming my best friend.”
“Then come back to me.”
Right off the bat, Damage Control starts right where Hard Rules left off. If you remember, Shane and Emily were left in a bit of a predicament at the end of book one, so immediately you’re sucked back into their story. From the first page, the author takes you on a fast paced journey full of mystery, deceit and masterful manipulation. I can’t stress how incredible this was! I had so many questions, but as soon as one was partially answered another came up. Lisa Renee Jones hooked me from the first page until the last.
“Lies destroy, but I fear the truth is worse.”
Not only is this book fast paced, but there’s a lot of information floating back and forth so be prepared to pay attention. I really liked how there are different conflicts that this couple needs to address as well. Both Emily and Shane have their own individual conflicts (but working together as a team to kick butt!) and they also have a big problem when it comes to the future of Brandon Enterprises. These three issues are sure to keep the reader guessing and intrigued all the way through.
One of my issues in Hard Rules was that while we got a lot of information, there were no answers. I had lists and lists of questions or concerns but nothing was addressed. I’m happy to report back and tell you that this is different in book number two! Not all of my questions were answered (because where’s the fun in that?), but just enough to keep me satisfied while wanting more. More Shane. More Emily. More Brandon Senior, Maggie, and Derek. More Seth and Nick and Adrian. It’s an exciting, gripping, compelling read.
You will never trust me again. Not when everyone around you lies and cheats, and cuts each other’s throats just to watch the other bleed.”
“I’d bleed for you.”
I am a huge fan of the fact that most of this novel takes place over a very short time frame – only a few days, to be more exact. It gives this story more of a genuine feeling, letting the reader feel more concern for the characters and their situation while experiencing each of the steps they went through to try and uncover the betrayals and lies. It honestly feels like watching a crime show. I would totally watch this if it ever became optioned for a TV Drama! Move over CSI, I’d watch Dirty Money.
Now, enough about all of that mumbo-jumbo, let’s talk about the romance. Oh Shane and Emily… Emily and Shane. Their relationship really took a big step in this book and it was palpable. The relationship grew so much in such a short amount of time, I could practically see it getting deeper and deeper. When these two express their feelings, I believed it every single time. Trust was also a major player in the relationship between these two and I love how this issue is addressed so pointedly. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to Shane Brandon, ladies, he is something else entirely.
“Shane,” she whispers. “You don’t understand what you’re dealing with.”
I reach around her, cupping her backside and pulling her to me. “I’ve got you,” I say, and her hand settles on my cheek.
“But who has you, Shane? That’s what I’m worried about.”
“You. More than you know.”
I was truly loving all of the twists and turns in this book. So refreshing and different while not feeling agressive and pushy. Even when you think things are starting to calm down, don’t believe it! This book was like a roller coaster for our characters and I wouldn’t have it any other way. <3
“His demons and mine are alive and well, two poison kisses, which could too easily turn our sweet hello into a brutal good-bye.”
After finishing Damage Control, I’m getting a much better sense for the series as a whole. I think I even mentioned it in my last review, but Hard Rules feels more like the foundation of a house (or an empire, if you will 😉 ). It’s strong, it’s solid and though at times dense, important for building an unshakable base. In the same sense, Damage Control becomes the building blocks of the same structure. This home is starting to take shape. Let’s even call it the framing. Yes, there’s still some holes, all of our questions aren’t answered yet, but we’re getting there. We can see the outlines and have an idea of what the finished product might look like. The rest of the build? Who knows! Anything could happen in those last two books of the series, but I for one can’t wait to find out!
Sort of along the same lines, I think the two books so far in the series were excellently and strategically split. It was a clever spot to separate them and gives the reader plenty of drama right off the bat in the second book. But more so as a whole, I’m loving the way that the stories are progressing with each book and growing. This is an interesting couple and an anything but average situation, I can’t see what they come up with to get out of these situations!
So until then, I’ll just be sitting over here, twiddling my thumbs, waiting until someone can say Checkmate.
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.
“You make me remember I need to be good and right in my choices.”
“Do you ever question doing what is good and right?”
“There have been times when I felt like my hand was forced.”
“When you were a lawyer?”
“No,” I say. “I manipulated the law, as does every attorney, but I never broke it. I’m talking about when I’m with my family.”
“Did you go where they lead?”
“Not so far.”
“That sounds like you might.”
“I don’t want to be them.”
“You aren’t them. You don’t have to be them.”
“I know that,” I say. “But you just keep telling me so I don’t forget.” Her legs hit the bed frame and she grips my arms.
I lean into a kiss and she pulls back, her hand pressing on my chest. “Wait. Now it’s my turn to say talk to me. Are you okay?”
“Death happened. The one thing I can’t control. It’s not the night to push me to stop protecting you. Not tonight. Can you do that?”
“Yes. We can.”
“We,” I repeat, “and that word sounds as good on my tongue as I know you’re going to taste. I’m going to make love to you properly. The way I plan to many times in our future.” I reach down and untie her robe, letting it fall open; my fingers sliding underneath just far enough to tease her nipples. They pucker beneath my touch, and her lashes flutter, settling on her cheeks. “But when it’s over, I’m going to fuck you hard and fast again.”
I tug gently on her nipples and she bites her lips. “Look at me,” I order gently.
She opens her eyes, and there is desire in their depths, but there are shadows there too,. I do not think she intends for me to see doubt or uncertainty that wasn’t there before. That I do not like or wish to know ever again. I want it gone. Now. Tomorrow. Forever. I reach up and rip the silk tie from her robe, wrapping it around my hand, before I reach up and caress the robe off her shoulder, letting it tumble to the ground.
“Give me your hands,” I order, but it’s really a question: Does she still trust me?
She studies me for several beats, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly, and I do not know what she sees in mine, but she offers me her hands. I wrap the silk around her wrists then lean in close to her, my cheek against her cheek, my body touching her nowhere else. “Now you’re at my mercy.”
“Yes,” she agrees. “I am.”
“How do you feel about that?”
My lips curve with the answer that is every bit the combination of sweet sexy honesty I’ve come to expect from her. “I’m going to make you warmer.”
I go still with that question, which on the surface is innocent, but I wonder if it truly is or if it’s about those shadows in her eyes. “I promise,” I say. “And you know, I never—”
“Make a promise you don’t keep.”
“Exactly,” I say, and her reference to my previous words tells me that I am not the only one on a mission of trust, and I intend to deserve hers.
I bring my hands to just above her shoulders, letting them lightly touch her before beginning a slow caress downward. She makes a soft little sound that has my cock thickening and my blood running hot, but I won’t rush this. My lips follow, tracing a line down one of her arms, then the other. I lean and caress my lips over hers, a feather light touch that teases me, if not her.
I take her hands in mine, pressing them behind her head. “Hold them there, for me, so I can see all of you. Understand?”
“You intend to tease me incessantly,” she says, without so much as a hint of hesitation. “Yes. I understand.”
I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her naked body against me, my free hand on hers above her head, our mouths a breath apart. “I intend to lick every part of you, and then do it again, so yes. If that’s the definition of incessant teasing, then yes. I am going to tease you incessantly.” I close my mouth down on hers, my tongue licking into her mouth, a deep, hungry tasting I force myself to end far too quickly. “That was the beginning. Should I could continue?”
“Please,” I say. “I like that.”