Welcome to the blog tour for Smolder by Karen Erickson! This is book two of the Wildwood series. I didn't read Ignite (book one), but I really liked Smolder! Find out why below!
Smolder by Karen Erickson
Book Two of the Wildwood series
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Lane Gallagher wants Delilah Moore—bad.
He’s imagined the sexy brunette in his bed more times than he can count.
She’s everything he’s ever wanted, but the only problem is . . .
She’s his brother’s ex.
For years, the stoic sheriff’s deputy has fantasized about the sweet, bubbly dance teacher who stirs his deepest desires. But Lane’s too loyal to ever move in on forbidden territory and he knows that while he can look, he definitely can’t touch. Fighting his attraction to Delilah is nearly impossible, but the infuriating—and incredibly sexy—woman seems determined to drive him crazy.
And she’s bringing him to his knees. One smoldering kiss at a time.
What I Liked:
I liked several of Karen Erickson's Brazen novels (specifically, the Game For It series), and I've read some of her books under her pseudonym, Monica Murphy. So when I was presented the opportunity to help reveal the cover of Smolder, I jumped at the chance, and found that I was also interested in reading the book. Usually I do not read books in which we're dealing with a girl who dated one brother and is interested in another brother. But that aspect bothered me a lot less than I expected, and I really liked the book as a whole.
Delilah has been throwing hints - and herself - at Lane Gallagher for quite some time now. Both of them are really attracted to each other, but Lane won't make a move. Part of it is because she used to date West, Lane's younger brother. But there is so much more, and Delilah wants to be there for Lane, if he'll let her.
The synopsis of this book makes it seem like Lane is holding out on Delilah (and himself, and all of Wildwood) because Delilah used to date West, Lane's younger brother, and Lane wouldn't dare date a girl his brother used to date. That's actually not really the case - well, it's not as bad and as big as the synopsis makes it. YES, Lane doesn't want to make a move on Delilah, out of brotherly loyalty and his gentlemanly values (seriously, Lane is quite the gentleman). But there is more to it - Lane has commitment issues that go back to his childhood.
Usually I don't go near books that involve a girl and two brothers, even if it's one brother dated in the past, one now. And let's be real, the synopsis of this book makes it seem like the whole Delilah-dated-West thing is a deal-breaker in this book. It's not, and here's why: Delilah and West dated in high school, when they were young teens. They never had sex, they never had butterflies or cute feelings, or anything like that. Delilah was interested in Lane even then, and she and West didn't date for long at all. And it was during high school.
So, you see why I was fine with the past brother dating thing. Because it was a lot less of a thing than the synopsis made it out to be. Phew!
Lane, oh Lane. He reminded me of Cal, from Megan Erickson's Dirty Thoughts (no, the authors are not related). Lane is irritable and grumpy, a bit of a loner, though a sexy one. He's the oldest of four siblings (three boys and a girl), and he's the one who takes care of everyone else. When they need comfort, support, financial help, advice... Lane is there. The Gallagher parents have a terrible relationship, and Lane holds it down for his siblings. He's also a workaholic; as a deputy sheriff, he is protective of Wildwood, and wants to do his job more than well. Lane is out saving the world... but no one is really there to take care of Lane!
Delilah has been half in love with Lane since they were really young. Even when "dating" West (I put that in quotes, because they never really had feelings for each other, never had sex, barely made it to second base... and this was years ago), Delilah was more intrigued by Lane. Years later, she's thrown herself at him so many times, but he won't act on them. I love that Delilah steps up and persists, every time Lane makes an excuse or turns tail or sends mixed signals. I love that she fights for herself, for him, and never gives them up. I love that she took initiative and never gave up, when it came to Lane. Delilah has got to be one of my favorite heroines, for this.
The romance is pretty steamy! We go into this book knowing that Lane and Delilah are really attracted to each other and have feelings for each other, but they haven't acted on these feelings nor have the told each other. But when Lane finally caves... *fans self* Under all that protective alpha gentleman, Lane is a dirty-talking, dominant alpha. And Delilah, as accommodating and eager to please as she is, is no shrinking violet. The pair in bed together is hot!
I like how little drama there was in this book! Even the climax scene was pretty drama-free. Lane has a lot to work through, with his mother's health up in the air, and an arsonist on the loose, and his own personal problems. But in the end, he is brave. *happy sigh*
This was a fairly quick (but not short), sizzling, and sweet read! I don't think I'll be reading Ignite but I definitely want to continue the series and read Torch. These men in uniform are totally my type!
What I Did Not Like:
Oh, you know, the usual "it could have been longer", "there could have been more sex scenes" <- things you'll usually hear from me, when it comes to romance novels. This book felt fairly short, probably around 250 pages in a print book? And I think there were only two written sex scenes (one or two more may have been implied). *stares at author*
Would I Recommend It:
If you like adult contemporary romance, especially involving men in uniform, this is a series for you! I have a soft spot for men in uniform, which is nothing new. This was an impulse read for me, and I'm glad I liked it as much as I did!
4 stars. Torch is the next book, featuring Tate, one of Lane's friends, and Wren, Lane's little sister. I'm curious about Tate! He wasn't really in Smolder, but Wren was big-time. Squee!
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About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author KAREN ERICKSON writes what she loves to read - sexy contemporary romance. Published since 2006, she’s a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children. She also writes as NYT and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy.
Lane drove the streets of Wildwood in his deputy patrol car just under the speed limit, his gaze everywhere, his mind focused on only one thing:
Making sure his little hometown was safe.
Safe from crime, safe from reckless teenagers, safe from careless tourists, and safe from a ruthless arsonist who seemed hell-bent on destroying Wildwood, one little annoying fire after another.
He frowned. Had to take back that last remark. The restaurant fire could’ve been a tragedy. So many people had been in there when the fire started. Eyewitness accounts mentioned just how chaotic it had become when everyone tried to escape at once. His sister had been in there, as well as her friend Harper. And . . .
Now he flat-out scowled, wishing Delilah wouldn’t creep into his thoughts. She was always there, sitting in the back of his mind, taunting him.
He’d stopped by her dance studio like he couldn’t help himself. He’d known Wren wasn’t there, but Delilah’s car had been parked out front. He’d walked in like a man possessed, needing just a glimpse after not having seen her since the day of the restaurant fire.
When he held her in his arms, relieved to find her safe.
When he’d been so damn close to kissing her.
When he’d shoved her away with a curt, “Glad you’re okay,” and gone about his business, reminding himself over and over he shouldn’t want her.
But he did.
Avoiding her never worked. He’d catch glimpses of her here and there—the town was too small and their circle of friends too tight—but he’d tried his best. Focused on work, which was his first true love. The fact that she distracted him so wholly scared the hell out of him most of the time.
And then there were the other times when all he could think about was seeing her. Making her smile or even making her mad, it didn’t matter. As long as he could stare at her, even for just a little bit, that was all that mattered.
He’d entered the dance studio and her scent lingered in the air, making his body stiffen. Hearing her voice call out had made him close his eyes so he could savor it and he’d turned around, not wanting her to see his face when she finally came out to greet him. Still wasn’t prepared when he turned and saw her.
That little bra top thing she wore hid nothing. So much skin on display, though he was sort of mad her legs were covered up. They were her best asset, and he’d imagined those long, lean legs of hers wrapped around his hips more than once. It had taken everything in him to keep his gaze glued on her pretty, pissed-off face and not blatantly check her out like he wanted.
She was angry with him because he wouldn’t make a move, but he couldn’t. She’d been with West a long time ago and he didn’t poach off his brothers. Yeah, yeah, West had moved on with Harper and they made a perfect couple. They seemed perfectly in love. Perfectly happy. He knew West wouldn’t give a shit if he made a move on Delilah.
But there was something about the woman that flat out scared him. She was—intense. Sexy. Smart as hell. Funny. She had no qualms showing her feelings. Meaning that most of the time she was a stressed-out, sexually frustrated woman with a grudge when they were around each other. Not that he could blame her.
She made him feel all kinds of sexually frustrated too. He hadn’t been this well acquainted with his hand since he was a teenager . . .
Pushing all thoughts of Delilah out of his brain as best he could, he refocused on his drive as he headed toward the outskirts of town, near the north end of Wildwood Lake. Spots of the mountainous landscape had been left scorched and black, a result of the latest fire set by the arsonist.
He was ramping up his activity, and the townspeople were starting to notice.
And damn it, Lane wished he could make the fires stop. But he couldn’t. Worse, he couldn’t wrap his head around the arsonist’s motives. Why was this happening?
Did arson ever make sense though? Was there ever a rational reason that made people go, “Oh, I get why he burned the entire town down”?
That would be a no. He could wrap his head around an owner burning his building down for insurance purposes. It was a bad idea, and an illegal one too, but still. He got it.
But burning down random buildings and pieces of land just for the hell of it? That made zero sense. He didn’t like it. Made him feel like he was at war with an anonymous enemy. Meaning he could trust no one.
It could be someone he knew.
Someone he liked.
Someone he trusted.
And that possibility really pissed him off.