ARC Reviews: First Touch & Last Kiss by Laurelin Paige

Last Kiss (First and Last #2)


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"Visceral, enticing, shining with white lies and dark truths, seductive twists and turns, and a love that takes your breath away." – Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author


Emily Wayborn has made a decision.

She might not fully trust handsome and deadly Reeve Sallis, but he is the one person that gives her what she needs. With Reeve she can finally be herself. Submitting to him is the only thing keeping her grounded as the rest of her life falls apart. But the hotelier is a master at keeping secrets and as she continues her quest for answers someone is making sure she doesn’t find them.

Time is running out and she is questioning everything she thought she knew about friendship and love. She must now make an impossible choice that will determine if she will survive with her heart…or at all.

After being at odds with Emily and First Touch, I knew I'd be diving into Last Kiss cautiously, with mistrust and apprehension, especially after that cliffhanger. The thing is, while I wanted more answers to my theories—I didn’t. Honestly, the humdinger of a twist left me not knowing what to expect going into book two or even what I really wanted from Reeve and Emily as a couple. To put it mildly, Laurelin Paige left my thoughts and imagination spinning wildly about in my head. I couldn’t seem to shut down my speculations, leaving me with one hell of a book hangover for a relationship I wasn’t even too sure about. In the end, all I did know for sure was it would be a very long wait until the next release. 

Fast forward to receiving an ARC and finishing Last Kiss… 

I’m actually pretty excited this review will have a much different tone than my previous one (which you can find right underneath). A tone of wonder and awe. A tone of praise for a well-loved author who managed to reel me back in, showing me exactly why I am a fan of the words she puts to paper. Last Kiss met all of my expectations and then some I didn’t even realize I had. Redeeming itself from the brink of abyss. I feared I would be in for a world of turmoil and angst. A world consisting of a constant and unbearable tug of war between two people who barely kept my attention the first time. With the slump I’ve been in, I knew my mind and soul were really not up to going there. I didn’t want to deal with another load of drama, lack of chemistry/connection, and let downs. Therefore, I engaged myself  with a detached precaution, a sense of indifference to the overall outcome. It turned out there was really no need for that. Where I struggled with the first book, I flew through and devoured every last word of its counterpart. 

No lie, Reeve made this book! If you loved him in First Touch you’ll tumble even further for him in Last Kiss. This man set the bar, as far as I am concerned, for Laurelin’s male protagonists, past and present. I utterly and completely adored the charisma and voice she gave him; from his alpha mannerisms, all the way to his patience and everything in between. But what really made me hit the concrete hard was the definitiveness in which Reeve went after what he wanted with a compelling and all-consuming need. His convictions left me breathless and begging for more. 

Emily, on the other hand, still had me wanting to bang my head against the wall—hard. Her character’s voice still echoing that of the woman we met in First Touch. Every action, every word, every response felt so foreseeable. However with that predictability came understanding. I was finally starting to get her. Em’s conformity disciplined her personality, making her actions/reactions seem less about abrasiveness and more about insecurity. What I came to love the most about Emily was the fact that our girl showed a fierce loyalty when it came to those she cared for. If you were a part of her inner circle, she was devoted, obedient, and faithful; even when she wasn’t sure if the other person deserved all that. These traits endeared me to her this round where the initial meeting not so much. Maybe because Ms. Paige provided us with much more insight into Amber and Emily’s relationship and background. It added a depth that wasn’t there, for me, before. Emily's past gave her a richness I had yet to see.

My one, tiny complaint was the twist at the end. The way things were left with one of the main characters. I felt that character took a cop out (even though it was true to her character). it is the main reason I could not rate this five stars. 

With all that said, I am going to end this with a ton of thank yous. Thank you, Laurelin Paige, for not dragging me and my anxiety all through the mud. Thank you for giving me a hero I could hold on to when the going got dicey and fight for! Thank you for providing readers with a “bad boy” who truly does have a heart of gold, even while vividly exhibiting his wicked and deliciously, dark dominate side. Thank you for giving us a deep-seated and immeasurable perception into why our heroine conducts herself the way she does. I know for my own personal reading experience, this changed my initial attitude and exasperation towards her character. 

When I started this book I truly didn't know if I would be able to walk away giving it my support and a recommendation. After going back over their journey I can confidently recommend you one click. 

Thank you, St. Martin's Press, for a complimentary copy of Last Kiss.
First Touch (First and Last #1)


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When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven't spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what's more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she's drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she's forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

This isn’t the type of review I was expecting to write up. It kills me to say that I struggled with this book; dark erotica is one of my favorite genres. The darker the better, in my opinion. I'm also a huge Hudson and Laurelin fan. I honestly thought I would be gushing over Reeve and Emily. But that isn’t the case, somewhere between start and finish something just didn’t jive. 

What was it that didn’t jive? Plain and simple, the protagonists as a couple, mainly the female lead. Reeve and Emily were not the most likable relationship. Their chemistry never felt palpable. Honestly, for me, it never ventured beyond surface level. I couldn't find any common or emotional ground that allowed me the opportunity to connect with them. Actually, when it came straight down to it, they were NOT healthy for each other. I searched long and hard for something, anything that would leave me with some kind of feels, other than disconnect and exasperation. And since all I experienced was a lack thereof, I just couldn’t buy into their attraction or love. Well, let me rephrase that, I couldn’t buy into Emily. Everything about her felt very mechanical and forced until the last ¼. Up until that point, it was all very fleeting. 

I will say, I enjoyed Reeve more than Emily. The way he was written reminded me a lot of the Gideon/Christian type character, except with a darker edge. Due to that darker edge, I found Reeve to be a bit more intriguing. I never knew which way was up or down with him. He even managed to surprise me a few times. FYI ladies, if you love a controlling man, Reeve was sexy as all get out in the bedroom. His commanding presence will send shivers down your spine, making you take immediate notice. I don’t fancy myself being submissive but I’d certainly submit to him. Between that and the suspense surrounding him I couldn’t help but keep reading. 

Due to my strong disconnect with Emily (I couldn’t even remember her name most times), I couldn't find it in me to care one way or another about her outcome. I really wanted to like her but being inside this chicks head drove me straight up the wall. Her flaky and scattered inner dialogues just seemed to drone on and on, becoming monotonous at times. Honestly, I skimmed a bunch when it came to her sections. I definitely wasn’t fond of her “voice.” My heart did hurt for some of the things in her past, but even with that I didn't always understand her need to be treated the way she did. Not to mention, most of her past transgressions were due to her own lack of self survival and preservation. 

Though even with all that said, I will be buying book two. Laurelin left us with one hell of a cliffy and I NEED to know what the hell is going to happen. Soooo many questions are left unanswered. Soooo many theories swirling around in my brain. I’m not sure how I will make it till June of 2016. If you are not a cliffy person I would hold off and read this closer to the release of Last Kiss. And with that ending, I have a strong feeling I will finally be able to fall for this couple as everyone else has. 

Thank you, St. Martin's Press, for a complimentary copy of First Touch.
laurelin paige.jpg
Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She's a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there's kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn't seem to complain, however. When she isn't reading or writing sexy stories, she's probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. 


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