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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One-Two Punch by Katie Allen

One-Two Punch by Katie Allen
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Spanking
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Beth is willing to do almost anything to meet her dream man—including taking boxing lessons. She passes Harry’s gym for weeks before mustering up the nerve to walk in and talk to the gorgeous owner. Once she does, sparks fly as well as punches.

Their budding relationship is tested with the arrival of Ky, Harry’s old Army buddy. After years of frustrated longing for his fellow soldier, Ky is hoping that he can win Harry’s heart. He hadn’t planned on Beth, however—or the scorching desire she inspires.

As the trio struggle to accept their feelings for each other, a menacing figure stalks Beth, watching, waiting—and preparing to snatch her away from the two men she’s grown to love.

One-Two Punch hits all my happy buttons, strums all my emotional strings and fires up the lust-o-meter to dizzying heights. The book had me laughing so hard, I fell in love with the heroine.

Beth, the intrepid, hapless, hilarious sweetheart of a heroine was a pleasure to get to know. The one thing she is not, is helpless. She’s also a bit of a klutz and her exploits tickled my funny bone. Her dialogue was sunshine and sauce, practical and passionate as well as right from her heart. I could relate to her getting up the courage enough to step through the doors of the gym to meet her dream man. The fast beating heart, the insecurity and the ultimate satisfaction of self when she finally does it – those are all scenarios that every reader can relate to. You know, that first exciting meeting with the person who makes your dreams too hot to sleep through? And then, what? That’s when things get even more fascinating, sizzling and just plain fun.

One of my favorite parts - of which there are a ton - is when her glowing references to Mr. Dreamy turn into something else less than complimentary. I’m grinning as I write this. Just the memory of that part and what comes next brings out the cheerful puppy inside me. I cracked up with her internal recriminations at parts too. She’s a delight. Beth is tough as well. When the external conflict gets kicked up a notch, she’s a perfect balance of realistic terror and mad woman. She has no delusions about herself, loves life and is content. But not too content to ignore exploring the possibilities of love times two.

Harry. Her man Harry is a handful. Harry is very human, not perfect and yet, is totally perfect for Beth. He’s ex-military, from an injury I assume, and it makes him all the more approachable and believable. Ms. Allen had the psyche of a military man down pretty well, in my civilian estimation. He’s a leader, a protector and a very passionate man. Nothing illustrates that more than many of the extremely well written and sensually explosive scenes between him and Beth. For readers who enjoy steamy encounters which focus not only on scorching and exciting sex but the emotions behind it, they will be pleased with the balance. Harry is very virile – despite his handicap. He also doesn’t shy away from exploring his own sensuality even though it is most likely considered atypical at best.

The sensual tension and tease comes from Ty. Now here’s a tortured hero. Yes, another hero for Beth. I absolutely adored his resistance to loving Beth. The interplay between the two, the gradual warming up to her and the sheer terror he had to have felt when the conflict burst open his demons and one of his worst nightmares seemed to be coming true totally hooked me on his character. He fought his hopes and his desires because he really believed that they could not be returned. Ty just about made my heart bleed. He’s so sweet, like a prickly pear. And if that’s not enough, he’s hurting because his own father turned against him. I wanted to hug Ty. Then again, he is in very good hands - and the arms of Beth and Harry -and I enjoyed every page of it. Oh, and his nickname is cute too. Love the one-liners it invokes.

I mentioned the conflict and it’s one that has been done before but Ms. Allen put her own mark of creepy on it. The guy is a sick and warped whacko and a reader doesn’t understand the scope and horror of what he is capable of until the resolution.

The secondary characters are awesome. True, that is a very general term but whether it is Dominic, who liked to razz Harry; or Hammer, who is a fascinating and dangerous sounding man; or Sheri, Beth’s BFF, they all contributed to the atmosphere, feel and tone of the story. Even Ty’s dad played a key role in helping understand Ty a bit better as well as provide profound moments of sentimental and possible tear invoking scenes.

One-Two Punch is going on my keeper shelves to be enjoyed again and again. The humor, the love and the dynamics of their triangle of love are so well done, it stays with you even after you’ve read the last page. I intend to find other books by this talented author because I liked her voice, her style and her perception of the human condition. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes their romance to touch their heart with a smile.

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