A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
If you read my reviews with any regularity or follow me on Twitter, you’ve already heard how I’ve soured on most serial romance novels, especially when some seem to go on forever, with a total cost well beyond the price of a comparable full-length novel. But as with so many other romance trends I claim to dislike, there is always another writer out there who can prove me wrong and make me love the thing I’m convinced is no longer for me. Today that writer is Shelly Bell and the romance serial in question is WHITE COLLARED.
Nothing I hate about most serials is here, as Shelly Bell and her publisher have done everything right. There are only four parts to this romantic suspense story. They have been released only a week apart. And each only costs 99 cents in the US. Normally I try not to let cost influence the content of my reviews (because hello, I’m often fortunate enough to get an Advance Review Copy) but when the entire story can be purchased within one month’s time for under $5 USD, I think it’s notable enough to include here as another point in its favor.
Still, just because it’s affordable and a reasonable length and you don’t have to wait months for a conclusion doesn’t mean you should go out and read it all yourself. What does mean you should go out and read WHITE COLLARED is that it’s an amazingly addictive erotic romance between two characters from entirely different worlds who meet under terrible circumstances and then must track down an unknown killer so they can live long enough to find their HEA. And when I say it’s amazingly addictive, I mean exactly that. I was given the opportunity to read the first part before deciding to review the entire story, and was hooked so completely that it was all I could do not to jump up and down until I received the other three parts the next day.
Kate Martin is a determined young lawyer with a secret past she thought she’d buried for good. She may be crushing on her handsome boss, Nick Trenton, but they both need to keep clear heads if they’re going to exonerate Nick’s good friend, Jaxon Deveroux. Jaxon’s wife has been found tortured to death in their mansion while he’s allegedly been out of town on business, so naturally he’s the only suspect. Kate first meets her new client as he’s being interrogated by the police, and he soon has her head in a spin. It’s wrong that Kate is so attracted to a man being accused of the worst sort of murder, and yet it’s all too obvious that the feeling is mutual. She knows Jaxon can’t be guilty, but if it wasn’t him, then who did it? Their deepening attraction could be as potentially fatal to Kate as the danger that threatens to engulf them both. But who wanted Jaxon’s wife dead, and why does this person seem to know so much about what Kate would like to keep hidden forever?
I’m always a bit skittish about romantic suspense stories, if only on account of so many misplacing the romance along the way, but also because I don’t have a particularly strong stomach for excessive violence. So i was even more wary about WHITE COLLARED, until I read the scene where Kate meets Jaxon in the police station. From that point on, until the very last page of Part 4, I was gone – hook, line, and sinker. Every moment, every flashback, every interaction down to the most seemingly innocuous detail is essential to the story. It seemed like both Kate and I were over our heads at first, but as she did her best to juggle her desire for Jaxon with her still-active attraction to Nick, all while working to find the real killer, I just let myself sit back and enjoy the ride. Even when I was sure I’d figured out whodunit, WHITE COLLARED wasn’t content to let me gloat in comfort, throwing a few last curve balls near the end that almost made me change my mind more than once. Best of all, when the murder mystery is solved, it still isn’t all neat and tidy, as there are more than a few villains in this story, and only one of them murdered Jaxon’s wife. WHITE COLLARED reminded me of the Glenn Close / Jeff Bridges movie “Jagged Edge” but with an entirely different sort of ending, and I loved every minute I spent reading it.
I will warn readers that there is some hardcore BDSM in this story, and a few scenes between the hero and heroine that may appear to flirt with dubious consent. But it is not torture porn by any stretch, and Kate’s consent was made obvious at least to my own satisfaction as the story progressed. If such themes are not what you prefer in your romance reading, then you should probably pass. But if you enjoy seeing good defeat evil in the middle of a white-hot sexually charged romance between a perfectly matched Dom and sub, then WHITE-COLLARED is the story for you. I hope you enjoying inhaling it in large satisfying gulps as much as I did. 5 stars for all four parts.