May 28, 2010

Back Cover:
Uncovering the truth is her specialty
As a forensic accountant, Mia Sauter could usually tell when people had something to hide. She made her living exposing secrets while concealing her own. Then, in Vegas, she met a clever, ruthless man who called himself Addison Foster. One year later, she’s still haunted by his betrayal.

He’s a natural born liar
The truth of him had long ago been buried. Foster was only one name of many; he’d been so many men, he’d lost count. Reinvented as Thomas Strong and hell-bent on revenge, his mission is about to be compromised by the one woman capable of exposing him…

Reunited, they confront the explosive chemistry still crackling between them. But their chance meeting will have consequences, for a ruthless madman has his own deadly agenda. The question is—if they survive the fallout, will he choose love over vengeance?

This review may contain some spoilers for those who have not read SKIN GAME (book 1) yet, so proceed at your own risk…and if you haven’t read SKIN GAME what ARE you waiting for?

Before I talk about SKIN TIGHT let’s go back to SKIN GAME. When I read it I immediately fell for Foster. Even before his true role was revealed, I knew he was not who he was made out to be in the beginning. That famous prostitute scene put Foster on my radar and he almost took over SKIN GAME for me. I say almost, because Kyra and Reyes took back the reigns and set me straight fairy quickly. After reading SKIN GAME I found out that Foster was dubbed BatPunisherMan. I did not get why but now having read SKIN TIGHT I do.

One more thing before I treat you all to my thoughts about SKIN TIGHT: Though Foster’s wonderful real name is revealed in a memorable scene that’s one of my favorites of the book, I will keep referring to him as Foster in my review because I want readers to experience that revelation first hand and not through my review. Also though I know his true name now, to me he’ll always be Foster.

A year after their first encounter Mia Sauter and Addison Foster meet again when Mia is hired to ferret out who is misappropriating company funds at Micor Technologies and Foster has taken on the persona of Micor’s HR director, Thomas Strong. Of course he is not there because he’s such a good HR director, he has a very strong motive to take on that position within the company. Because of Foster’s gift people see in him what they expect to see and that way he can take on any identity he wants without being recognized. Until Mia, the moment she spots him at Micor Technologies, she immediately sees the man who betrayed her one year ago.

Foster is not your typical romance hero. Yes he is dark and brooding and tortured but he’s also manipulative and will go to any length to get what he’s after. He has a goal and he lives for achieving it. Everything he’s done has been leading up to this one objective of destroying the ones responsible for destroying his happiness and therefore him.

The humor in Foster is subtle but it’s definitely there. He is something else. I thought I had him figured out after reading SKIN GAME but it was all blown out of the water very soon. Every page I turned provided me with more insight and more questions at the same time. Foster is definitely going on my favorite heroes list (and if you’re curious to know his real name, you’ll find it there). I knew from the moment he entered SKIN GAME that Foster was going to be an awesome hero. And he definitely was. Foster is the detached, distant iceman, but not with Mia, she breaks through his defenses. Ava Gray managed to make him vulnerable without losing the deadly focus, loosened him up a bit without losing the intensity he oozes, made him open up without losing the mystery and she made him sensitive and gentle without losing his edge.

Mia isn’t your typical romance heroine either. She’s a forensic accountant who normally has the best interest of her clients at heart but sometimes she goes vigilante on them. She needs to be in control and she’s scarily intelligent. She’s a strong woman who hates to be vulnerable or helpless and deep down, she’s a romantic at heart. Because of the way she grew up Mia doesn’t form friendships or bond with people easily, yet she yearns for that connection. Her friendship with Kyra and some of her actions in SKIN TIGHT, showcase that beautifully.

In the beginning of the book I wasn’t able to grasp the extent of Foster’s ability and it was as elusive an element as Kyra’s was in SKIN GAME. However, contrary to that first book in the series, Ava Gray offered much more background to where these abilities come from and the how and why of them. It was something I missed in the previous book and I was very happy to see in this one.

Both Mia and Foster want the same: acceptance of what and who they are, love and a family. I loved the chemistry between them. It was intense and subtle at the same time. Always there, simmering and sizzling. They’re both so cunningly smart they keep each other on their toes constantly, which created a great type of tension between them. With every chapter Foster and Mia got further under my skin and I must admit Foster stole the show, all the way (Surprise huh?) but I already suspected that he would and it still didn’t take away from Mia being an amazing heroine, but still…Foster…wow! His gentleness with Mia truly undid me. Little by little he is partially forced to drop his protective shell and the man behind it shows himself, taking pleasure in the littlest things.

As with SKIN GAME I had the honor of reading and reviewing SKIN TIGHT early as I received a digital review copy from Ann Aguirre (aka Ava Gray) and the day my request was granted I literally jumped up and down and danced around the room. People, who know me, know I am not that type of person so that said a lot about my expectations of this book.

Ava Gray immediately sucked me in with this book. Her writing is compelling and addictive. The way she sets up the stories is brilliant. Little by little and slowly you get the pieces to the puzzle. However, don’t confuse this excellent gradual build-up with slow pace. SKIN TIGHT is definitely a fast-paced book that kept me on the edge, waiting for every next development in the plot with abated breath. And let’s talk sex scenes for a bit. From SKIN GAME I knew Ava Gray could write some steamy scenes and the ones in this book were so unbelievably hot! Ava Gray proves that erotic and hot doesn’t need explicitness and two people with an intense connection can set the pages on fire.

This book, Mia, Foster, their story…it all broke my heart. There’s so much behind the characters and Ava Gray knows how to get to the bottom of them, letting the reader peel of layer after layer until they lay open and vulnerable on the pages. I honestly couldn’t stop reading this book and finished it in 24 hours. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it for me. Everything was right: the suspense plot, Foster, Mia, their romance, the secondary characters, everything!

Speaking of secondary characters, Ava Gray did it again! She has me pining for a future hero as much as I was for Foster! She introduced Taye to me. I cannot say too much about him but suffice to say that his attitude and defiance alone made me crave his story and I was over the moon when I heard his book (SKIN DIVE) is in the making. I look forward to it with the same anticipation as I did SKIN TIGHT!

You may have noticed that I haven’t spoken about the suspense plot of this book and I am not going to either except to say that it was excellently set up. As with the revelation Foster’s real name it is something I think readers should experience for themselves without knowing stuff in advance. I do want to say that Ava Gray writes the most sick, creepy and yet fascinating villains I’ve ever read. This man was truly delusional and yet his intelligence and ruthlessness fascinated me. I repeatedly wished the one in SKIN TIGHT a painful, slow and horrible end and suffice to say that even there Ava Gray did not disappoint me.

Every bit of information, no matter how small, is significant and ties up somewhere in the story. I love that doesn’t waste pages and time in extensive info-dumps and still gets everything across you need to grasp the world and plot. She just excels in giving you everything you need to sort out the plot and get to know the characters thoroughly without overwhelming back-story or storytelling. This makes her a top-notch favorite on my shelves.

A smile built; he loved when seemingly disparate parts came together to form a diabolically clever whole.
This quote by Foster sums up exactly how I felt about SKIN TIGHT (and it made me think of the A-Team's Hannibal's expression: "I love it when a plan comes together!")

The end of SKIN TIGHT brought it all together. I couldn’t have wished for a more wonderful ending to this amazing book. There was one thing keeping me from giving this book the highest rating and that was that no matter how much I was impressed by the characters, the romance and the plot, it hadn’t touched me in the heartbreaking emotional way that my perfect reads all have done. And then came the end…and I bawled, I cried quietly and I smiled through the tears because of what Foster had to do and because of what Mia did for Foster. With this ending Ava Gray earned herself that extra point to make it a perfect 10 read because she outdid herself. SKIN GAME was great but SKIN TIGHT was mind-blowing. So far it’s number 1 on my 2010 favorite books list and I wonder if she can top it with any of the next books in the series and I honestly think she will because this series just keeps getting better and better.

SKIN TIGHT is all about deception, appearances, loneliness, alliances and secret agendas. Reading SKIN TIGHT is like opening a present wrapped in multiple layers of wrapping paper. Every time you peel away one layer another, prettier one, appears and when you’re done what remains is a heartfelt, endearing, intricate story laid bare for you to enjoy.

So if you like romantic suspense with paranormal elements, with amazing characters and an author that knows how to write it all, SKIN TIGHT is a book that can’t be missing in you TBR-pile or on your shelves!

She liked his hands. Bony wrists flared to broad palms topped with long, tapered fingers. Hands like that would feel good on a woman’s body, full of strength and assurance. A shiver rolled through her, and with effort, she forced herself to look away and open her menu.

“No wonder my curse cannot keep you. I should take you home with me, for who could match a man without a heart better than the woman who cannot dream?”

He was the most broken man she’d ever met, like a diamond improperly cut, so only when you held it to the light a certain way could you see the brilliance within.

He lifted up, rubbing against her heated flesh in long strokes. “Now. Take me, nothing between us this time.” It was both a plea and a demand. “You’re mine, and I’m yours. I won’t lose you again. Oh, God, Mia, you’re my breath and bone. You’re the song I sing.”

10 out of 10!

Because I loved this book so much I am giving it away next week on release day, so make sure you come back on Tuesday, June 1st for an author-interview with Ava Gray (aka Ann Aguirre) and for a chance to add this book to your shelves. 


Leontine said...

Hot damn girl, I was already looking forward to reading SKIN TIGHT but with a review like this I'm practically salivating now!! You're definitely blown away I would say *wink* So I'm going to be there June 1st reading the interview and taking a chance for the giveaway!!

Leontine said...

OMG, those last few quotes *sigh* "You're the song I sing", oh that makes a woman go weak in the knees!!

Ann Aguirre said...

Thanks so much for having me! I hope everyone enjoys "Foster" as much as Pearl did.

Nice to meet you!

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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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Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

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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