December 24, 2009

Back Cover:

JOURNEY TO AN EROTIC FUTURE UNIVERSE OF PASSION, DANGER, AND DECEIT…

As a lieutenant in the Federation Military Corps, Sera Ayers is more accustomed to giving orders than taking them. Now she must obey the one man she can’t stand—and can’t stop thinking about.

With the enemy Imperialists gaining ground, a new covert team is assembled by Ash Walker. Ten years ago, Sera had lovingly submitted to Ash’s dominance in the bedroom. And when he was forced into a political marriage, she chose to leave him rather than becoming his mistress. But his marriage is now over, and Ash wants Sera on his team—and back in his bed.

The third team member, Brandt Pela, has an elegance to match Ash’s savage sexuality. And when their undercover plan requires Sera to pose as Brandt’s lover, it ignites a passion among the three of them more dangerous than their mission...


When Ash Walker recruits his former lover and the woman he shunned for a political marriage 10 years earlier for his and Brandt Pela's latest undercover Federation op, he has a reunion, rekindling of their past relationship in mind. Sera Ayers, however, initially wants nothing to do with him but she accepts the orders to join his team. Sera has to pose as one of the men's concubine but she adamantly refuses to play Ash's concubine so they agree that she'll pose as Brandt's concubine. The team is sent to scout on Nondal, a ‘Verse suspected to be the starting point of Imperialist attacks on Federation outposts.

Sera is outspoken, direct, doesn't waste time on unimportant issues or take crap from anyone, strong-willed, skilled. Her cover for the op is Sela Carter, concubine. Ash and Brandt are opposites in both appearance and demeanor. Ash is impulsive, explosive, short-fused, and dominant yet gentle and caring. Brandt is diplomatic, a mediator, seductive, and kind yet forceful. Their cover for the op are to form as little of a threat as possible by posing as spoiled, rich, good-for-nothing playboys, caring about nothing but spending money and pursuing their pleasures.

I must honestly admit that, especially in the beginning, I fell for Brandt much harder than I did for Ash because of Brandt's more laid back and mediative character. Ash’s more raw and unapologetic character did give me pause at the start especially where getting back Sera was concerned. Probably because I was relating to Sera's hurt and he sometimes came across as the rich spoiled boy, used to getting his way, he was supposed to portray for their covert op. Ash's actions in the past seem unforgivable to Sera. However, he redeemed himself beautifully in the course of the story. I began to like him more when he decided to take a step back and take it slow with Sera and I really started to melt for him when he showed more gentleness. By the time I’d read the first third of the book, Ash had grown on me and I liked him as much as I did Brandt from the beginning. Pressure from his family and his sense of duty led Ash to marry Brandt’s sister Kira and hurt Sera in the process by turning his back on their love. His deep, almost desperate, love for Sera and the impact of his harsh decision 10 years back made his earlier behavior more acceptable for me.

The balance of the triad was done very well and the three of them are a perfect match. I really liked Sera's character and personality. Even in her role as Sela, the concubine, she didn't lose her strength, fire or independence. Brandt was the connecting element that brought and kept Ash and Sera together. His seductive charm complemented Ash’s rough and raw charisma perfectly. Together they are a force no woman in her right mind could ever fathom to resist. Kudos to Ms. Dane for her characterization skills.

Quote to illustrate Sera's personality:
"I'm well aware as Brandt's best friend, you'll be allowed to show me sexual attention in Nondal. I will tell you right now to keep it to a minimum, or you'll be drawing back a bloody stump. Don't use this to manipulate me."

With an explosive and attention-grabbing start UNDERCOVER is a fascinating, intricate story, fraught with subdued emotions that are bound to come to the surface in an explosive way. The world building is done subtly and almost imperceptible. This is something that is highly appreciated by this reader. Lauren Dane didn't overwhelm me with massive info dumps but gave me relevant bits of information in the appropriate places, nicely mixed with dialogue, action and eroticism. She sets up the world and the plot in a simple and easy to understand manner. It mixes smoothly with the explicit and scorching hot sex she writes so well. The wrap-up of the plot was done nice and clean, just as the plot had been throughout the whole book.

The first sex scene was an m/m scene, which was unexpected but done so tastefully and fitting the characters that it didn’t bother me and the two male characters in this book immediately intrigued me. The sex scenes are very explicit yet done with such refinement they never go too far. The following quote reflects exactly how I feel about the whole m/m thing and why I am more of an m/f/m reader. Thank you Lauren Dane!

Sera: "Look I'm all about the boy-touching, let's make that clear. As long as I'm involved, I can watch, and you can come back to me, I'm on board."

Although this first book in Lauren Dane's Federation Series has a few elements that are situated on the outskirts of my comfort zone: m/m sex scenes and a futuristic setting, it totally worked for me and after just a few pages I was completely taken in by a wonderful story with strong characters, a very well executed plot and some erotic scenes that made my glasses steam up real good. I just couldn't stop reading this book. I had planned to read another book (in a different genre) at the same time and alongside this one but I couldn't. This book took possession of all my attention and left no room for any other book to the point I had to put the other book aside.

After just two books read, Lauren Dane is well on her way to form serious competition for my favorite erotic romance authors, regardless the subgenre (contemporary, paranormal or futuristic) and she is one of the few authors who writes m/m scenes I can really appreciate despite m/m not being one of my favorite tropes. The books by her hand that I have read so far are intense, emotional and scorching hot and with UNDERCOVER she added an intriguing plot arc that holds it ground amongst the avalanche of hotness. She does sexy and emotional in a perfect mix like few authors can.

Lauren Dane sets the pages on fire with this emotional, fast-paced and erotic futuristic ménage story. Her characters are strong, sexy and very well written. If you like scorching hot without pulling punches, a great set of characters and just the right amount of plot to let those characters shine, UNDERCOVER deserves a place on your reading list and on your bookshelves.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

10 comments:

Leontine said...

You make me want to read this novel all over again Pearl. Brand and Ash with their M/M passion got me all hot and bothered for the M/M subgenre. I know it isn't your forte but I am glad LD knew how to pull it off for you. Now with the PHANTOM CORPS making its way in to this series I believe it is even going to be more up your alley. Have fun with RELENTLESS!

LynetteC said...

I read this book after I read an ARC of Coming Undone which I loved. I couldn't get into this as much as her newest release because I couldn't stand Ash. I'm vindictive like that and could never get over how he treated her in the beginning of the book. His abrunt change from pr-ck to hero was a little too abrunt to me. I think she should've if not told him to take a hike and flaunt Brandt (who I loved) in his face at least make him work for it a little more if not sexually (because of the situation they were in) at the very least emotionally. I personally would've loved to have seen her getting closer to Brandt (emotionally) and Ash feeling left out then them eventually coming together (emotionally) as a menage.

Sorry, long post but I just finished this book so it's fresh on my mind.

Pearl said...

HA! You can't read it cuz I got your copy, Leontine! (Am bringing it Wednesday). Seriously I really loved this book and want to devour everything in this series now. LD is awesome! And I am soooo ready for the PHANTOM CORPS mini series...

Silver @ The Raving Readers said...

Sounds interesting! I love undercover spy missions! I currently have two in my TBR--Temperature's Rising (Karen Kelley) and Long, Lean and Lethal (Lorie O'Clare).

Smokinhotbooks said...

Lauren Dane is the only author that makes me close my eyes and picture 2 guys kissing. DO not tell hubs it'll freak him out. She writes the menages really well, I always think her m/m romance is like nutmeg she always puts just a dash in in her stories to spice it up.

Merry Xmas Eve

MarceJ said...

Wow sounds exciting, I don't read erotic books often but when I do I enjoy some BDSM or 3some action. My favourite for the year was The Gift of Shame.

Pearl said...

@LynetteC > I agree with you although I am a less vindictive of a person ;) But I felt exactly how you describe it. Though Ash was an ass for the way he'd treated Sera. However on the other hand, I could also see the pressure and duty stuff, the more Dane set up the world with the Families and how that worked so I didn't express this so vehemently in my review. Reading back the notes I made reading this book, there are multiple mentions like: "Don't like Ash!" "Ash is an ass" and when Sera whacked him in the opening scene I cheered ;)
But as I am very much a "second chance" person and basically a wuss with a tiny, tiny heart I forgave him along with Sera. But I really can relate to your strong feelings towards Ash and would have loved for Sera to make Ash feel left out.

@Silver > I am checking those titles out. Always in for undercover/covert ops/spies. They are my weakness.

@Smokinhotbooks > Oh hon you described it exactly with the nutmeg metaphor. I am soooo stealing that for my next Lauren Dane review LOL

@MarceJ I read quite some erotic romance but as with you threesomes and BDSM top my list and Lauren Dane does them really well, even in a subgenre I am hesitant about...

Razlover's Book Blog said...

Hi Pearl,

Great review and after reading it makes me want to read this even more. I have this in my TBR pile and I also have "Relentless too!

Blodeuedd said...

I do love that she placed it in a futuristic world, that was my fav part..in Relentless that is

Kristie (J) said...

When I read this one, there was no question it was beyond what I'd read before but I ended up liking it - quite a bit in fact. I have the next book - misplaced it, found it again and now I seem to have misplaced it once more. I have a good idea where it is so it won't be hard to find - once I get over my In Death reread-a-thon *g*

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Pearl
Netherlands
39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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On My TBR Shelf

  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

Digital TBR Next

  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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