BLOG REVIEW: Reckless Games by MJ Lowell

Playing the violin used to be the passion of 21y.o heroine.
But it's been recently overtaken by her interest in 28y.o. famous tech-wiz playboy Hero,
who she's been stalking in her free time, 
believing him to be involved in her father's supposed suicide death a few weeks ago. A freak coincidence has her save him from hired assassins by pretending to be his current lover with the exotic name, Tuesday Granite.
It sets off Hero's unusual interest in someone like her
who's very different than his usual fare.
Heroine grabs this opportunity to find out his connection to her father's probable murder. But she quickly realizes how much more is at stake.
And she agrees to it.
She soon finds out that she may be in over her head.
But her father's restitution keeps her from walking away
as well as her increasing fascination with him.
Hero, however, seems to have no problems sticking to his rules and walking away from her each time.
The more time she spends with him, the clearer his link is to her father.
Will this be enough to break his hold over her? 

Mixed ratings for this book. The writing was technically quite good, especially for a 1st book by Lowell.  I liked the mystery-suspense part the best.  It had a smooth & fast pace, with some unpredictable twists and turns. I went back and forth in guessing who the culprit(s) were. The mystery of who killed heroine's father and why kept me on the edge of my seat. The ending may not be as tightly-written as the previous suspense parts (see SPOILERS below) but, overall, the action-suspense part of the book was exciting and reason enough to read this book, if you like some light mystery-suspense. 

What disappointed me was the romance and character development in this book. The 1st 30% of the book introduced the Hero and heroine's characters and made them intriguing to get to know. Heroine was an average young woman who was on her last year of music school. She had insecurities, hopes, and dreams like many college-aged women. She'd experienced heartache from a failed relationship 8 months ago. It still bothered her but she'd moved on with her life with work, school, and good friends. Hero was a successful tech genius and famous playboy, linked with different women. His exploits & career were well-publicized but there was a lot about him that was a mystery. Including his connection to heroine's father. Hero and heroine's romance was also off to a great start. Their 1st meeting was awkward, funny, and scary. Both their romance and character portrayal progressed up to a certain point then halted. At a point that wasn't satisfactory for me. Heroine's character only progressed to her sexual awakening and adventurousness.  Aside from her better sexual confidence, her insecurities about her self-worth, her career aspirations, and being loved by a man remained the same. At the end, I had no clue if she was going back to music school or not. If she got her desire and capability to play her violin or not. At the end, she may have figured out what truly happened between her and her ex-boyfriend in the beginning of their dysfunctional romance but the issue of why she stayed with someone like him that long and why she was even taken by him was never addressed. It piggy-backed on the questions I had of why she was so taken by Hero in the first place. Why was she drawn to him, aside from his physical attributes and his questionable link to her father? I didn't understand what their "connection" was about. They didn't know each other much at all. They'd limited themselves to their sexual games. I wondered if heroine was entangled in another strange romance like the one with her ex. 

What we knew of Hero was based on what heroine found from researching him and her observing him and the little that he let slip about his past. It didn't help that she presented him with her conclusions about him instead of asking him and/or hearing from his directly about his past. Hero was very guarded and controlled. After their sexual interludes, he'd take off immediately. Mostly for days. Sometimes for weeks on end, where heroine would see magazine pictures of him out with different glamorous women.  It made me wonder how strongly and why was he so attracted to heroine? What was it about her that made him want to break his 4 affair rules? I still don't know. Moreover, I didn't feel like I really knew him by the end. His character was still a mystery. His declaration of his feelings for heroine at the end didn't really fit what I knew of his character. It brought me more questions than answers.  Other parts of the book's ending also left me with some questions.

-----------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details----------------

Mystery-suspense:
1. How did Hero find heroine's whereabouts at the end? 

She ran away from his driver and went to her father's workplace. How did Hero get there & at just the right time too? Did he have her investigated or followed previously by his trusty driver? If he did, did he do so because his growing feelings for her drove him to want to know about her? Or was it because he was suspicious of her?

2. What happened to the culprit? 

Did the authorities catch him or did he manage to get away? Will heroine's father get justice for his stolen invention? 

3. Who was "Emmy"?

Was Emmy really 1 of Hero's conniving lovers as heroine assumed? If so, why the cryptic phone call about asking about Emmy? Who made the phone call & why the need to ask about Emmy? There was no mention of this Emmy person at the end.

4. What happens to Hero's brother?

Was his physical appearance in the book just to elicit sympathy and a point of similarity between Hero and heroine? He's another character whose mysterious identity doesn't get wrapped up at the end.

Romance:
1. Heroine's friend made a big deal about heroine's significance to Hero he's never been seen with the same woman twice. And he was planning to take heroine out 3 days in a row.

This was a hole in this plot line because Hero has at least 2 women he rotates as his lovers. I guess, in between his multiple new lovers. Others knew about his 2 regular lovers such as 1 of the women's husband. These 2 women also know about each other & didn't seem to mind sharing Hero. Maybe even literally. So, the idea that Hero was seeing heroine again 3 times in a row didn't strike me as all that special. She was probably more special than his 1-night-stands but not anymore special than his regular revolving lovers. 

2. Hero declared his love for heroine at the end, including how he didn't want to cause her pain & not be good enough for her. If that's so, then:

     a.) why leave her for days & weeks on end without any other communication aside from a 
     booty call? 

     I understood that part of his reason for doing so was to retain his control of their affair's rules 
    and to resist his strengthening feelings for her. Unfortunately, Hero indirectly implied that he 
    had sex with some(?) of the women he was seen with while not with heroine. Fortunately, she
    didn't seem too heartbroken that he was still a player. Part of it was due to her belief that  
    she's merely 1 of the many women he had quick affairs with and another was due to her 
    insecurity of not being good/attractive enough to be loved by someone as powerful and 
    attractive as he. That's why his love declaration in the end threw me. And her. He didn't 
    seem bothered to be away from her for days and weeks on end and pretty much related to 
    her sexually when with her. Sure, heroine saw quick glimpses of his vulnerability and 
    genuine, uncontrolled affect here and there. He even acted protective over heroine after she 
    told him about her ex-boyfriend. And even possessive, when he'd sometimes ask who she'd 
    been with when they weren't together. But he didn't do more than ask and then control 
    whatever upset him about her seeing other men. These times weren't enough to eradicate 
    the fact that the bulk of their times together was about their sexual games.  He didn't seem to
    miss her and now he's declaring that he'd been in love with her all this time?

     b.) why leave her by herself in a strange room in strange house after an intense sex 
     session? With other people. 

     Really, why share her sexually with other people? I don't understand this sexual-sharing 
     business in romance. In my view, if you're in love with someone (especially if you've never 
     been in love before & you're growing obsessive about your partner), then you become more 
     possessive of your partner. Especially sexually. Sharing your partner sexually is a major 
     conundrum to me.That's why I only like to read romance novels with a monogamous   
     couples.  More than that gives me a headache. 

    Anyway, heroine's experience being sexually shared by Hero with 2 other lovers shocked
    her. Yet she still joined in. That experience seemed akin to her experience waking up the 
    next morning after her 1st date with her ex-boyfriend, naked and unsure of what transpired
    the night before. She was shocked about what had supposedly transpired yet believed and 
    accepted her ex-boyfriend's story. When what she suspected really happened was that
    she was drugged by her ex and date-raped. It was only when Hero believed what she  
    suspected yet denied about her ex all along that she finally trusted herself and resolved to be 
    done with her confused feelings for her ex. But her sex orgy with Hero and 2 others seemed 
    as shocking an experience as the morning after with her ex.  Yet she went along with it since
    Hero was ok with it. She was, once again, relying on a man to affirm that an uncomfortable 
    sexual experience for her was really quite acceptable. She was, once again, disregarding 
    her first instincts and letting a man sweep her sexual discomfort away with his magnetism. 
    Left on her own, she'd have ran for the hills.

--------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS----------------------------------------------------

There was a mismatch between Hero's actions and his love declarations. I didn't sense his love for heroine before his declarations. And his actions told a very different story. It made me wonder if there is more to this story or this was it.

I would classify this book more as an erotic-suspense or erotic-intrigue, if such categories existed. The romance was superseded by Hero and heroine's sexual relationship. Their sexual relationship was not the run-of-the-mill kind you'd see in your average contemporary romance, even the more explicitly sexual ones. I was quite jarred by many of the sex scenes. I had to read some of the foreplay and sex scenes to my husband just to check and see if maybe I was reading it or interpreting it wrong. His eyes just grew large. So, it wasn't just me. A few of the sex scenes were sensual and sexy. Others were a power play and a sexual adventure. Others were just rough and raw. There's a connection to Hero's show of vulnerability and the quality of their sex scenes. I would've liked to see more of his vulnerability. 

I mildly recommend this book.
2.5-star