Lauren Dane comforts me.
When I’m stressed (which is often) or tired (ditto), I turn to Dane’s books. I think it’s a combination of factors: a) she was one of the first romance/erotica authors I got into (after buying Coming Undone at a Barnes & Noble on my lunch break), b) her dialogue and descriptions have such a beautiful, easy rhythm, and c) her characters are such warm, awesome folks.
Oh, and d) hot dudes, e) having hot sex.
So I was pleased as horny punch to receive an ARC of Dane’s latest, Lush. Whoever does her cover art deserves a Medal of Hottie Honor:
Lush is the latest in Dane’s Delicious series, a spin-off of the Brown Family books that follows the friends of Adrian Brown’s wife Gillian. (Note: if you haven’t read any Delicious or Brown Family series, you can pretty much start anywhere and catch up, as I did. Read my review of Tart here.)
Superstar chef Mary Whaley and hard rocker Damien Hurley hook up at an engagement party, but of course it doesn’t end there. Damien’s put his bad-boy ways behind him and is ready to settle down. Mary, not so much. Her career’s on the rise, she has an amazing support system, and she loves her life on Bainbridge Island. Yeah, the sex is great, but she’s not sure she wants to deal with dating a celebrity and former womanizer. Will love prevail?
If you’ve read any romance, erotica or romantica, you can probably guess the answer. But that’s a big part of why those genres are so popular: you know what you get, but it doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable – especially if the writing’s as lovely as Dane’s. Not only that, the hero and heroine are good people. The importance of family – biological and chosen – is a running theme through the Brown and Delicious books (as well as the Petal, Georgia series).
I’ve always loved that about Dane: sex and romance are the focus, but the characters have other priorities as well: family, friends and work. Because Mary lives to cook, there are plenty of mouthwatering food descriptions to sustain you between the sex scenes. And Damien is in a band with his brothers. Here’s who I pictured as Damien’s bro Paddy.
I grow tired of books and movies where romance takes place at the expense of everything else. In Lush, that’s never the case: if anything, it’s the source of conflict. Damien and Mary live in two different places, metaphorically and physically, and as they grow more serious, that separation becomes more of an issue. Which leads to the one big problem I had with the book: I won’t spoil anything (especially because the book’s not out until April 2), but I wasn’t sure Mary would have made some of the decisions she did. I loved how from the beginning, she was the one resisting a relationship – because she already felt complete. Damien gives and compromises plenty, but by the end, I wanted him to give a little more.
That issue aside, Lush is definitely worth it. Tattooed rockers who love their mama, a colorful group of family and friends, and yummy food and sex? Hello, no-brainer. Take a load off and find some comfort in Lauren Dane. It’s lovely there.