With Strings Attached by Kelly Jamieson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: Full Length (310 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Dahlia
The melting point is where it all comes together…or makes a big mess.
San Amaro Singles, Book 1
Corey Fenwick keeps her bitter past as hidden as the sweet centers inside the handmade chocolates she sells to a growing list of upscale customers. Experience has taught her the only person she can rely on is herself, so her best-friends-with-benefits relationship with Matt is perfect—no strings attached.
After his last girlfriend deemed him “boring”, Matt Ferber watched her ride off on the back of a Harley with a rock musician. Figuring he’s doomed to “let’s just be friends” with the women he cares about, the arrangement with Corey suits him fine too. Until his old friend Dylan Schell rolls into town to hang out while recovering from a surfing injury.
The sexy bad boy makes Corey’s mouth water, and she figures a harmless fling won’t hurt, especially when Dylan suggests she come between him and Matt—in bed.
It’s a win-win-win situation…until somehow there are strings attached. And too late they realize they’re getting all tangled up.
This time the ‘good guy’ may not finish last. As each strives to make their professional dreams come true, the future of their personal relationships is uncertain. Love is blind and for these three it is also self sacrificing.
Corey’s life is filled with chocolate and helping others. She is content in her friends-with-benefits relationship with long time best friend, Matt, and in mentoring a young girl who’s family is dealing with mental illness. Corey’s past struggles in life are her inspiration and her caring personality is shown by her actions. She really gives a lot of herself, but continues to remain guarded in getting too close to anyone for fear of becoming dependent on someone even just a friend. Her stubbornness has made her a stronger person and contributed to a budding, lucrative chocolate business, but it has also harmed her emotionally with that ever present fear of abandonment. When Matt's other best friend comes to town, Corey's life takes an unexpected turn and suddenly it's not so clear if there is such a thing as friend-with-benefits.
Matt is tired of being the ‘good guy’. After his last relationship ended badly neither he nor Corey wanted anything serious. His friend-with-benefits relationship with Corey gives him the best of both worlds – someone to talk to about anything and hot sex. No strings... until now. When Dylan enters the picture, Matt has never been more aware or confused by his growing feelings of jealousy and arousal at the site of Dylan and Corey together. He’s torn between his two best friends and their instant attraction. Matt has no claim on Corey, but he won’t let Dylan’s player ways hurt her. So he steps up and he steps up big, showing a surprised Dylan and Corey that he’s not the ‘good guy’ everyone perceives him to be and sometimes when the mood strikes he can be bad too.
Dylan’s at his lowest point in his career. His passion for surfing and women got left behind, after a traumatizing accident while on a surf tour, Dylan thought some rest and relaxation at his best friend’s house would be just the ticket to healing his bum leg. He just never expected to meet and fall for a girl while there. When Corey enters his world, Dylan begins to question his decisions in life and realizes he may just be missing out on something. He wastes no time in charming Corey while she brings some much needed light to his battling some inner demons. He can't afford to get too close to Corey though since his visit is only temporary, but each encounter with her only leaves him wanting more of what he can't have.
I was pleasantly surprised at how this story turned out. It really wasn't all that predictable and all three main characters really made me care about them. They are all considerate of each other and don’t want to do anything to ruin any of the friendships amongst them. Lots of unexpected personal drama, so there is a fair amount inner monologue where you really get to know the mind and true feelings of each character. The author does a splendid job of making sure to balance three POV’s too.
I found it interesting that as the sexy times and story intensifies so do the descriptions of the characters. It was like they finally noticed each other beyond the sex once emotion got involved. While there is a spanking scene and even some talk of BDSM it never went too far. I believe it was used more for one of the male leads to assert his dominance and I can definitely appreciate a guy who has a need and love of foreplay. And from the sounds of it sex wasn't the only thing orgasmic in this story – chocolate body paint anyone?
Like Corey or Matt would say this story is “so good”. And believe me they say that a lot especially in the heat of the moment. I am curious to see where this series will take us next and hope there will be catch-up of the characters from this one. This is only my second read from this author and I am already looking forward to the next.