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Tuesday, January 12, 2010:
Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry (2010)
Jake Stevens--star reporter and celebrated literary genius--is a snake. How else to explain the way he turns Poppy Birmingham's hero worship into loathing with a single conversation? So what if she's got a lot to learn about journalism? Aren't they coworkers now? On the same team? Jake can take his attitude and...

Then during a job-related road trip, their relationship goes from antagonistic to hedonistic in no time flat. And suddenly Poppy can't think of anything more delicious than having a secret fling with Jake. But with all this intensity, can she really keep it no-strings-attached?

So, this was not my first Sarah Mayberry book. But it had been so long since I'd read a Blaze, and when recent Twitter talk turned to Ms. Mayberry's books, I was curious. And when I saw it at the store, it immediately went into my cart.

Well let's just say that my fellow readers know of what they speak.

Poppy Birmingham is now starting a new career as a sports journalist after an injury forces her to retire from swimming. On her first day at the newspaper, Poppy is nervous but also excited to be meeting Jake Stevens, the writer of one of her favorite books. But the experience is considerably less than stellar when Jake sneers and basically lets it be known he's not too impressed that a former sports star is now one of his writing colleagues. After all, not having attended journalism school nor has any experience, what makes her qualified to work for the paper? Soon Poppy's hero worship turns to disgust. Obviously Jake is a misogynistic jerk with an oversized ego. Who needs him?

When the two attend a sporting event for the paper, they are reluctantly thrown together to make their way back home. As they spend time together, they both discover a similar sense of humor...and a blazing attraction between them that initially neither wishes to act on. But after a bit too much wine and a sensual challenge is issued, it soon becomes impossible NOT to give in. Jake gives Poppy a night she'll never forget, and one that rather surprises him, much to his chagrin. But it's just a one-night stand, nothing to get all worked up over. Right?

My thoughts:

Well, I get it. I get why readers love her books and then tweet about it. For a category romance, it's really very, very good stuff. Ms. Mayberry writes an emotional story, and you know how I just can't resist that in my books. She also writes an incredibly hot love scene. Whoa! Nothing shocking or over-the-top, just a very basic, sexy, blunt scenario that makes some of the erotic romances I've read seem boring by comparison. Poppy was one lucky woman.

Speaking of Poppy, I was relieved beyond belief that she wasn't a whiny, weepy doormat of a heroine. Instead of slinking into a corner when Jake made jeering comments to her, she let him have it and showed him she wasn't intimidated by his status as a star reporter. She stood up to him and even if it didn't change his opinion of her, at least she could hold her head up high and not let him get away with treating her so badly. I really liked that about her.

As for Jake, yes he definitely came across as a jerk, though in his defense, I could understand where he was coming from, even if I didn't agree with his methods. But once he got the taste of Poppy's rebuttals, he soon began to gain some respect for her. And wow, is he ever up for the blatant challenge Poppy issues to him one evening at dinner. Let's just say I bet being proven wrong by a man was never more satisfying.

While on the road, Poppy experiences a tragedy and Jake does his best to be there without giving Poppy the wrong impression. He's not looking for a relationship so he knows that if he gets too close, he runs the risk of giving her the wrong idea. Poppy on the other hand is determined to keep things casual between them, especially considering they have to work together. Their actions were completely believable, and it took awhle for both Poppy and Jake to come to terms with their growing feelings. It didn't just jump from casual to committed in a matter of hours. They both had issues they needed to work through before they were able to move forward. The conclusion was very satisfying, and the book made me realize how much I've enjoyed category romance in the past. Sometimes even these quick reads can really hit the spot and satisfy a reading craving. This book does exactly that. I think I'll be looking out for Ms. Mayberry's backlist.

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****

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  1. Thanks for this review. I have it in my TBR pile. Will have to move it up.

  2. Yay! I'm so happy you liked it. Wasn't Jake just yummy? I love all Sarah's heroes but Jake moved up the list to the top after reading this.


    I can't review her books cause the squee just won't go away and I just go ' I love it!'

  3. I read and enjoyed this book as well. I recommend She's Got it Bad, or A Natural Father from her backlist.

  4. I have this one in my monster TBR pile. Great review, Stacy!

  5. Sounds good I'll have to check this one out. :)

  6. Excellent! I believe this one might just float to the top of the TBR pile. :)

  7. I didn't read the review because this is one of the 14 books I ordered this weekend. I decided I needed to buy it because KMont has such a crush on her. But I did see the grade. Glad to see you enjoyed it. That means I will too!

  8. I haven't heard of this author before-I'm going to have to check her out. She sounds perfect for a couple of challenges I'm in.

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