Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Devil's Kiss: Ella Frank

DevilsKiss-AMAZONDevil's Kiss (Sunset Cove #2)
Ella Frank
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Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 24, 2016
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What do you do when the one you least expect to matter… Ends up mattering the most? 

Derek Pearson likes to think he’s an easygoing guy. Uncomplicated, upfront, and unapologetic with what he wants. His what you see is what you get attitude is on prominent display for anyone who cares to look, and his foul mouth is right there to back it up should you miss the point.

However, what you see isn’t always what you get, and only a select few have ever glimpsed the real man under the brash exterior.
 Among them?

Professor Jordan Devaney. Complicated, high-maintenance, and vibrant, he’s Derek’s opposite in every way. From the moment they saw each other, a love-hate relationship began.

But what happens when one person wants more?

  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00007]   
Cover Designer: Jay Aheer of Simply Defined Art
Front Cover Photographer: Eric Battershell of Eric Battershell Photography
Back Cover Photographer: Wander Aguiar of Wander Aguiar Photography
Cover Model: Jason Dickson
Cover Model: Ryan VanDyke

"One of these days, we will get this right."

We met Derek and Jordan in Finley.  But we only got a hint that they were hiding something. But oh my, they were hiding so much! Now we get the full story and what a story it is!

This story is told in past and present with both points of view so we see what happens between these two over a period of years. Initially, Derek Pearson is a student making it through college on a scholarship. His home life is horrible and he is taunted for being gay. His best friend, Finn does his best to help him, but Derek is proud and does not like to take advantage. He's lost, hurt, and broken, but hides it under a tough facade of attitude and a bad-boy image. But deep down he is vulnerable, floundering, and needs an anchor.

Professor Jordan Devaney is not much older than his students. He's a genius, dramatic, vibrant, sarcastic, and arrogant. He's led a privileged life and is used to being self absorbed. He is new to teaching and right from the start, Derek becomes a challenge and he really does not know what to do about him.

These two seem like complete opposites, but they have a way of getting under each other's skin with veiled sexual innuendo and their forbidden attraction. They challenge, spar, and push each other's buttons. Jordan struggles to maintain professionalism, and Derek just struggles with his life and making it through his classes. But later when Derek needs his help, Jordan can't let him down. But even when they are no longer teacher and student, there are still barriers up.

I was entranced at how their back story developed in various stages. From antagonism, forbidden desire, protection, friendship, support, and true need and longing. It was a slow build of a strong connection that they kept hidden. Some of Derek's circumstances broke my heart. His pride, pain, and need to be truly loved and valued really got to me. Jordan's kindness touched me. As much as I wanted to see things occur differently, I understood their hesitations and motivations. But the way Jordan was always there for him when Derek called...seriously gave me chills. Their connection that always seemed to be stopped from fully developing was still so intense and could be called upon when truly needed.

I enjoyed understanding their past and was glad that it was told chronologically versus intermittent flashbacks.  But I was also highly anticipating getting back to the present, while at the same time I also did not want to miss one significant scene between them. The time jumps helped move the story along, but at times made me sad because it meant they still had distance between them. These two had a hold of my heart and I was so full of tension as I learned what they were going through. 

The men were both unique and so interesting. Derek was tall, strong, musclebound, unfiltered, and brash. But underneath he was  vulnerable and in need of love, support, and respect. Sometimes he just needed someone to take control and tell him it was all okay. And Jordan was less physically imposing and more high maintenance, but was also a firecracker. He did things his own way and was not afraid to be pushy, bossy, and demanding...in and out of the bedroom. I loved how she flipped the switch on how I expected that  these two would act in more intimate scenes. They had a rapport that could swing from sexually charged to sarcastic, and the ways they tried to one-up each other at times kept it interesting.

Their story was angsty, emotional, heartbreaking, and passionate. But there was also fun banter and humor mixed in. They had so many obstacles, missed opportunities, episodes of bad timing, avoidance, and miscommunication. At times they were both confused or stubborn. I could feel the tension, disappointment, need, and bond between them as they would collide then break apart again.
There was such a push and pull between them. They were intense and volatile, but could be tender and understanding. Jordan was truly Derek's lifeline when needed. But they both had issues to work through. Derek had demons to face and Jordan had his own reservations. They had to find a way to feel like they were on equal footing despite all of  their differences. 

Their best  friends, Finn and Brantley are back in this one. I thought it was wonderful how the author was able to weave this story so seamlessly into the same time line as Finley and make it work. There was so much more going on under the surface than we knew. Scenes from the first book, became so much clearer as we got Derek and Jordan's points of view. We also got to know Derek's room mate Dylan Prescott and I am hoping that we might see him return in a future book. 

I loved everything about this second chance M/M romance. I was put through so many emotions and was so completely invested that I hated to put it down. I adored the two very different, complex, likable leading men. I enjoyed the tension and sizzling chemistry that ran throughout and finding out their secrets. But most of all I was completely sold on this couple and their true connection that built over time, but became so significant, passionate and soul-deep. Derek and Jordan's story totally exceeded my high expectations.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

After my mixed experience of reading Finley, I admit I was a little on the fence about reading its sequel, Devil’s Kiss, but there was one scene in Finley involving the two characters who star in Devil’s Kiss that piqued my curiosity so much, I didn’t have a choice. I’m glad for that too, as it turns out my second experience of reading a book by Ella Frank turned out much better than the first. I still have some issues, but nothing like those of the first book.

Derek Pearson has had a difficult life, growing up gay with a raging homophobe and alcoholic for a father. His family has always been the social pariah of the neighborhood, but somehow he’s managed to become better, but he deals with his upbringing by presenting a brash and tough bad-boy image to the world to cover his pain and damage. His saving grace is a scholarship to attend the local university with his friend, Finn. Jordan Devaney is used to an opulent lifestyle, never wanting for money, attention, or support from his family. As a result, he does what he wants when and how he wants to do it. He’s over-the-top in almost every way. But he’s also a genius who completed his Ph.D. before he turned twenty-one, and underneath all this, he’s got a heart of gold. Even though he doesn’t need to work, he’s also about to start teaching as a history professor, where on day one, he meets Derek and knows the man will be trouble, but when Derek desperately needs help, Jordan cannot turn him away.

Just like in Finley, the story in Devil’s Kiss covers over a decade of time, just about identical to the timeframe found in the previous book. Unlike its predecessor, however, the past events are not handled with flashbacks—I can’t tell you how thankful I am about that. Read my review of Finley, and you’ll understand why this fact makes me so happy. Roughly two-thirds of the book chronicles the development of Derek and Jordan’s relationship up to the present. It’s an interesting ride because they are opposites in so many ways, and there is a lot of sexual tension because the attraction is forbidden, at least at the start, with Jordan being Derek’s professor. But even when that isn’t an obstacle any longer, they both keep walls up, refusing to get closer even though they both recognize their attraction.

The timeline of the story jumps ahead in large increments during the retelling of their past, detailing the important events in their lives. Each episode builds the tension and establishes the tenor of their very on-again/off-again…existence—I know that’s an odd word choice, but there isn’t really a single word to describe their bond and their dynamic completely. Everything between them is a battle of push and pull. This fact gives both the story a level of intensity that kept me turning pages. I admit, though, part of it was that I was impatiently waiting to find out what had happened to make Derek and Jordan behave the way they did outside the club in the scene from Finley. And boy howdy, do we find out.

When the story gets back to the present, for some reason, something about it didn’t hold my interest for about the next 15% of the book. Even when I reread the section, I’m not sure what it was exactly. I think at that point I figured out that I had some expectations going into the book, both from the way Derek and Jordan were represented in the previous book and from the blurb on this one. I was fine with Jordan, but Derek didn’t strike me so much as how he was advertised, not the brash fuck-you sort of guy I was expecting. Honestly, that trait was what I was looking forward to seeing the most when I started the book. Eventually, I came to the realization that he did behave this way in interactions with other people. The book doesn’t focus on this, nor should it really, because Jordan and Derek’s past has plenty to keep it interesting by itself. So I got over it, even though I still wanted it. Fortunately, the big climax of their conflict was right around the corner, and at that, I got to see both of them in a whole new light, the one that I had been waiting for. It’s amazing what characters pulling their heads out of their asses will do. *grin*

I could make a couple of fussy complaints about Ella Frank’s writing style, but honestly, there’s no reason to. Devil’s Kiss, its pairing, and its plotline all worked for me in ways that the previous book did not. And for that I’m very happy, because I wasn’t ready to write her off over my one “meh” experience. So thank you, Ms. Frank. Let’s do that again sometime, please?

The author generously provided me a copy of Devil's Kiss in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Present Day

DEREK PEARSON PUSHED open the door of Leighton, Finley & Associates, and stepped out on the paved sidewalk. It was the first day of August, and if the sweltering Floridian sun was any indication, today was going to be hotter than hell’s waiting room.

As he strolled toward the curb, he pulled a pack of Marlboros from the pocket of his shorts and flipped open the top. He needed a fucking cigarette after watching Daniel Finley and his damn professor get all sappy and shit. That was gonna get old real quick if he had to stomach their nauseating displays of I love yous longer than the fifteen minutes he’d been in there. But he’d known he had to make an appearance sooner or later; otherwise Danny boy would’ve shown up asking questions. Questions he wasn’t ready to answer.

There’d been a reason he hadn’t come around to see Finn when he first moved back from Chicago two months ago, but it wasn’t something he was in the mood to talk about yet, even if he was one of the two people on the planet who would get all the shit he’d been dealing with. 

Yeah… He just wasn’t ready to go there.

With a smoke between his lips, he lit up, then shoved the pack back in his shorts. He was so damn antsy lately, and for that he could thank his brother, Alan. 

He walked around to the side of his Jeep and pulled open the door. After climbing inside, he grabbed his cell phone and stared at the dark screen, contemplating his next move. 

Am I really planning to do this? 

Fuck, it seemed that he was, even when he knew better. 

If he did this, it would be nothing more than a Band-Aid over the real problem. A shot to numb the more painful issues he was dealing with right now. He would be slipping back into a pattern he had pulled himself out of. An addiction he’d broken free from. But he was also aware that if he didn’t do it, the alternative would be to spiral out of control, and solitude was no longer helping his fucked-up nerves.

He brought the phone to his ear and waited. The phone rang and rang, and fucking rang, until he was close to hanging up—and then it connected.

“You free?” were the only two words out of his mouth. He waited, not caring to pursue small talk. That wasn’t what this was about. All he cared about in that moment was getting what he needed.

When an affirmative came through the phone, he hung up, tossed it on the dashboard, and brought the Jeep to life. As he sped across town, he white-knuckled the steering wheel and didn’t allow himself to think about the consequences of what he was about to do. 

It took him less than ten minutes to pull into the underground parking garage of The Palisades and take the elevator up to where his drug of choice waited for him. He glanced up into the camera in the corner of his metallic confines and stared boldly into the face of the one who was waiting at the other end of this ride. 

Yeah, he was about to fall off the fucking wagon big time. Was about to slide back into the one place he promised himself he wouldn’t go again. Yet as the elevator came to a halt and the doors opened, there was no denying this was exactly what he wanted.

“I have thirty minutes,” were the words that greeted him. 

Derek walked off the elevator and over to the naked man waiting for him. He took the haughty chin between his thumb and forefinger and promised in a voice thick with arousal, “I only need ten. Take me to your room, Jordan. Time’s a wasting.”

Ella Frank
Copyright © 2016 Ella Frank
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Kim's 4.5+ star review and Jay's 3.5 star review

It's time to come home, Finn.  

It’s been seven years since Daniel Finley left his hometown in Florida for the hustle and bustle of Chicago’s city life.  

Since then, he’s worked hard for his position at the prestigious law firm Leighton & Associates, even when it’s caused distance and isolation from his family and friends. But that’s all about to change.  

On his thirtieth birthday, he receives the one thing he never dared hope for. Something that was promised to him years earlier—a note. One simple sentence from the man he’s never been able to forget.

Six words will forever change the course of their lives.  

Brantley Hayes has it all. Or so he thinks. When he first made the decision to take a job down in Florida, his family thought he was crazy. But, after years of living in the quiet beach town, he finally feels a sense of community. He’s surrounded himself with friends who are like family, has a job he loves, and owns a spectacular beachfront property that is his sanctuary.  

Yet he still feels unfulfilled, as if a piece of the puzzle is missing, and he knows exactly which piece it is. On an impulse, he follows through with a promise he made years earlier. A promise to call home the one he sent away.  

Nothing is as simple as it seems.  

After years of separation, the former lovers are reunited, but Brantley wasn’t expecting to encounter the high walls now guarding Daniel’s heart.  

Daniel may not be the same person he was when he left, but he knows that the first step to healing is the note in his hand.

***A spin-off from the Temptation Series***
EllaElla Frank

Ella Frank is the author of the #1 Bestselling Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite erotic serial, A Desperate Man. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”  

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction and lives with her husband in Portland, OR. You can reach her on the web at www.ellafrank.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ella.frank.author  

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.  

Books by Ella Frank

Sunset Cove Series
Temptation Series

The Exquisite Series

Masters Among Monsters


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