Welcome to the blog tour for Taking the Score by Kate Meader! Book one, Even the Score, is one of my favorite Brazen novels ever. This sequel, featuring Emma and Brody, does not disappoint. Check out my thoughts below, and enter a wonderful giveaway to go with the tour!
Taking the Score by Kate Meader
Book Two of the Tall, Dark, and Texan series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 15, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
His office temptation is now his full-blown fantasy…
Paying down her sister’s debts has left Emma Strickland with little more than the thrift store suit on her back. And as if the suckfest couldn’t get worse, she’s forced to moonlight as a waitress to support herself and her cat. At a strip club. Her uptight, sexy-as-hell boss Brody Kane can never find out.
Texas property tycoon Brody Kane hired Emma for her spreadsheet skills, but her prim and proper demeanor sealed the deal. There’s no room in his life for a sexy distraction … and yet, he can’t stop lusting after the delicious Ms. Strickland. And then he takes an important client to a Chicago strip club and gets the worst lap dance in adult entertainment history. From Emma.
Now that he knows his office good girl has a naughty streak, Brody makes it his mission to uncover her secrets, one steamy, illicit, over-the-desk encounter at a time. But Emma is hiding more than her side job, and her final secret could end up destroying them both.
What I Liked:
I didn't love this one as much as I loved Even the Score - that is pretty difficult - but I enjoyed this addition to the series. I don't think I've read a single book with a stripper as a protagonist, so this was a bit different. And yet, the book had the same magnetic quality that Meader's books have. It was fiery hot and well-developed and hilarious. Brody and Emma are such a great pair!
Brody Kane is a rich and very successful property tycoon, working with two close friends and fellow Texans. Part of his success is due to his excessively organized secretary/assistance, Emma. Emma dresses like an old lady and doesn't ooze sex appeal, which is why Brody hired her. But some part of him has been attracted to her, and he wants to know why. Emma has good reason for dressing the way she does - she works at a strip club, as a waitress, to help pay for her younger sister's debt with the strip club's owner. But the owner thinks she isn't making enough as a waitress, and so one night, she decides that she'll have to swallow the revulsion and try something new. The night just happened to be the night that Brody takes a sleazy client to the strip; circumstances have Emma giving Brody her first - and worst - lap dance. Brody knows Emma's secret now, and there is one thing he's certain of - she is never working at the strip club again. Brody takes her in (she's a bit homeless), despite knowing that she has more secrets besides working at a strip club. But will those secrets destroy their budding relationship?
So I guess you could say this book isn't quite about a stripper - Emma works as a waitress in the strip club, but she isn't really a stripper. She's never worked a pole or given a lap dance for anyone. Her first (and only) lap dance was for Brody. And after that disaster, she never does anything in the strip club - she never goes back. Brody is furious that she works there, so he "buys" her - offers the owner several grand for Emma to do private things with him, outside of the strip club. And when Brody finds out that she's homeless, he takes her in (his penthouse is enormous and has at least five guestrooms).
I love how dominant and alpha Brody is. He's an alpha male in every way, but he's also very professional and sweet too. He's commanding and muscled and HOT, but kind and thoughtful and always trying to help. What really got me going? He's a huge science fiction nerd. He loves comics and Star Wars and it's adorable! An alpha male who is really into basketball and Star Wars - winning combination!
Emma is working at the strip club as part of an agreement she made with the strip club's owner. Her younger sister owns the owner thousands of dollars, so Emma is working at the strip club while Daisy is in rehab. Emma hates that Brody throws a bunch of money at the owner and "buys" her, but he doesn't do it to be sleazy, and he doesn't even fire her (remember, she's his PA by day). And letting her stay with him while she finds a place to live? Emma has a lot of pride, but even she knows a kind man and sweet offer when she sees one.
Still, her pride and stubbornness makes nothing easy for the two of them. They are like fire and ice (although I'm not sure who the ice would be, in this example). They clash over many things (her night job, her living with him, him paying the owner), but one thing they both agree on - their fiery chemistry.
I love hot these two are together! Maybe not as hot as Tess and Hunter in Even the Score, but there were a lot of steamy scenes in this book. I think the book could have benefited from one or two more, but then, I pretty much always say that, with most Brazen novels. They're so short!
The conflict revolves around Emma's sister's debt, as well as Brody and Emma's relationship. I like how they work things out! It takes a lot for Emma to truly accept Brody's help, and the insight of a very wise friend helps Emma see that Brody does what he does not to try and own her, but because he cares about her and wants to help her. Nevertheless, I really liked watching the pair bump heads and slowly trust each other (on both sides).
Overall, a good companion sequel to the series. I am very excited to read Flynn's book (and I so hope his lady is going to be who I think it is)!
What I Did Not Like:
The premise of the book really threw me, in terms of Emma and her sister's debt. I was pretty infuriated that Emma would start working a second job in a STRIP CLUB to pay for her sister's debt (which Daisy accrued because of her drug addiction). And then the owner tells Emma she needs to bring in more money, which is how Emma ended up giving Brody a (terrible) lap dance - that is awful. I love my own sister, but I don't stripping is what I do to pay her debt. Especially since Emma is swallowing bile as she considers stripping and giving lap dances. Not. Okay.
Not to mention the sister is doing NOTHING to help pay her own debt. Sure, she's in rehab, but this is her 3584395843095th time in rehab. Selfish. So selfish. Meanwhile, Emma is working two jobs, she's hopeless, and she hasn't slept more than two hours per night over the last three months.
If you can get past this, the book is great (which was the case for me). But it's hard not to want to launch the book far away and through a window when you read about Emma's sister and this whole debt thing to start with. Stripping? Seriously? By any means necessarily is too demeaning for Emma - she doesn't want to do it. It's not empowering to her.
Sigh. The book was lovely, except it's backstory with Emma's sister, which is basically the premise for the book.
Would I Recommend It:
I love Kate Meader's books, and I do really like this one! I much more recommend Even the Score, but this one is good, a quick and steamy read. I like this series, and this book doesn't disappoint. I wasn't sure I'd like it (like I said, I don't really read books involving a stripper as a protagonist), but Meader is pretty much an auto-read author for me!
3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. This one was good, maybe not a favorite Brazen, but part of a series that I recommend. I can't wait to read Flynn's book. Hot Texan businessmen for the win!
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About the Author:
Originally from Ireland, Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boon thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.
A growl erupted from his throat, an unabashed display of possessiveness that even he found to be clichéd. But it drew the perfect reaction. Her teeth snagged on the pillow of her lower lip and emerged moist. Her nipples budded against the thin fabric of his tee.
Ms. Strickland likes it when you growl.
He closed the gap between them, gratified when she stepped back against the counter.
“Admit you’re jealous, Emma.”
“Never,” she said defiantly.
“Just your nipples then. They’re pouting.” He inclined his head. “And these earlobes have a greenish tinge to them.” He brushed his lips across the delicate shell of her ear. “And this spot where your neck meets your shoulder”—he inhaled her scent and placed the lightest kiss at that sensitive patch of skin—“the most jealous of all. And you in that tee is not helpin’ anyone, baby.”
“Are you telling me your engine gets all revved up when you see an old tee?” Fake bravado trilled through her voice. She pulled at the hem of the shirt. It fell to midthigh, but her drawing attention to it stirred his blood into a cauldron of need.
“When I see you in it. Because now it’s going to smell of you.” Reaching behind her, he bunched the material so it shaped to her perky breasts. “I know it brushed your skin, rubbed your nipples, that you were wearing it when I fucked you to paradise on my bedroom floor. Maybe you hitched it up to your hips while you thought about me and stroked yourself last night.”
He gave her a moment to pull out of his grasp, and when she didn’t, he hiked the tee higher, up past her ass. A wisp of lace crashed into his vision field as she parted her legs on a moan.
“You have other clothes. Ones I bought you. You don’t have to wear this, so why are you tormenting me?”
Her breathing came in short tugs, her breasts straining against the fabric he held taut against her body. Every part of him howled to be completed by her surrender. He could dip his head and suck her stiff nipple, but she had to ask for it. Beg for it. Last time, he took.
“Why are you wearing it?” he repeated.
“Be-because it’s soft.”
Not satisfied with that answer, he nudged his knee between her legs. Her lips parted to reveal all that wet, succulent pink, mimicking the pliant heat he longed to plant his cock into over and over. “And?”
“It smells of you.” In a surprise move, she put him on the back foot by leaning in and inhaling from his neck. “But it’s a ghost of your scent and can’t possibly compete with the real thing. God, you smell so good. It was the first thing I noticed about you when I interviewed. You shook my hand and I walked out of there on a contact high. No one should smell that good or look that hot. And in glasses, too, you fucking dick.”
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