Devil's Playground, Book 1 in Devil's Playthings
By Laura Oliva
Synopsis: Professional burlesque dancer Francesca "Frankie" Strong has learned the hard way: on San Francisco's cutthroat party circuit, crime has a way of going unnoticed. When her best friend is brutally attacked, she's determined not to let the case fall through the cracks, even if that means crawling through every alley and back room in San Francisco to find the truth.
Undercover cop Johnny Marsden is in desperate need of a win. His career on the rocks, he's infiltrated the
infamous nightclub Cafe Outré, rumored front for San Francisco's Chinatown mafia. Johnny has never seen anything like the glitter-and-sin-encrusted world he's now a part of. He's certainly never met anyone like Frankie Strong.
Realizing they'll get farther together than on their own, Frankie and Johnny forge an uneasy partnership. Neither expects the heat that flares between them. Neither is ready for what it could mean. Together, they run down a trail that leads directly to Chinatown, and a faceless terror its residents refuse to name.
Frankie's only interest is in protecting her friend, and she's willing to make a deal with the devil to do it. But Johnny suspects the attack was part of something larger, something darker... and he's right
Review: I have to say that this book kind of hit my funny bone a bit. It felt a little like Janet Evanovich mixed with something a little more erotic...that I can't put my finger on. This isn't a bad thing at all. What we have here is an amateur sleuth in the way of Frankie Strong and a down on his luck detective. The storyline caught my interest in a way that I hadn't expected, but it really picked up about half way through. The only gripe I have is with one scene that I could barely suspend my disbelief with, though the reader in me thinks that there was a reason for the out of character (for the villain) move. I'm hoping that I will see it addressed in the next book as it is a series. Ms. Oliva does a wonderful job spinning her characters and their backgrounds and give us just enough to be hooked. I can't wait to find out more about Frankie's past an who this 'her' is that Johnny keeps referring to.
As for the sex in this it's hot, but, even though there is a lot of sexual tension there is no actual sex between the two main characters. It read more as a suspense, or mystery, vs a romance because of that. I understand not wanting to give characters a HEA in the first book, but I do feel like I was cheated with that. Do I think I'll read the next book in the series? The answer is simple, yes! Ms. Oliva takes us to the heart of San Fran and her writing is fantastic when it comes to giving those ground details that are a most for readers. You can see the club in your head, the city, The Pass, and many other places the characters take you on. If you like some amateur sleuthing, a bit of suspense, some hot sex this book is for you!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 Stars
Heat Rating: Spicy
(mild, medium, hot, spicy, scorching)