Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: One Naughty Night by Laurel McKee


Lily St. Claire has dreamed of getting the starring role in one of her family's plays and finally becoming a "true St. Claire" -- but a disastrous debut on stage prompts Lily to rethink her future and her place in her adoptive family.

Feeling sorry for herself, she does not notice the gentleman sharing the same back alley as she.

Aidan Huntington has never enjoyed being the second son of a duke. He has only felt the burden of it. Eager to escape the stifling atmosphere of London society, he plans to travel to the West Indies.

He sees the lonely, angry girl in the alley and can't help but respond.

Sparks fly, a kiss is shared and hasty goodbyes are made -- Lily and Aidan move on but never forget that one magical night.

Then it is three years later and Lily, now a widow, is helping out her brothers in their new business venture, a club called the Devil's Fancy. Aidan has also recently returned from his trip abroad and his father is asking him to look into a potential new investment.

When Lily spots Aidan form across the room, it is a bittersweet moment for her -- now she has discovered his true identity and he happens to be a Huntington, her family's most-hated enemy. Loyalty demands that Lily stay away but her heart tells her otherwise.

This story starts out really well. I loved the scene after Lily's debut as lead actress -- I love the instant chemistry between her and Aidan. That scene is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet's first meeting -- with the terrible discovery for Lily and Aidan delayed to three years later.

I am a bit confused about the conflict. McKee seems to have cast Lily and Aidan as "Romeo-and-Juliet/star-crossed lovers" and it surprised me to read that the Huntingtons don't feel the same enmity or rivalry towards the St. Claires!

Dominic caught her arm and gave her a little shake. "Just being a Huntington makes him trouble! They are all liars and cheats who care for nothing but their own lofty titles. They utterly ruined us once before -- they would o it again without so much as a blink."
- pp. 20-21

Throughout the story, it seemed a bit ridiculous when one of the St. Claires would remind Lily of the anger between their families and then to have the Huntingtons so blissfully unaware of this. (See pp 25-26 when Aidan and his father are talking about the gaming club and the impression I get is that they are not very well acquainted with the St. Claires.)

Lily seemed to have undergone a massive transformation in three years (and not for the better) -- in the prologue, she's young and carefree and eager to be on stage -- then is daring enough to share one kiss with a virtual stranger in the back alley -- years later, she is haunted, untrusting, world-weary and afraid of her "dark side" --

I couldn't connect with the hero and heroine's journey to love -- didn't see the deepening of the relationship. Their encounters were all a bit formulaic: reveal a bit about themselves, then have sex. (At this point, I have to mention that their encounters have very light BDSM elements as this is part of Lily's "dark" past.)

I wasn't so convinced of the "I Love You" at the end -- I didn't think Aidan and Lily had a lot in common outside of bed.

He hadn't come up here with the intention of having sex, but once they were alone in the darkness, once he touched her, kissed her, the need to have her overwhelmed everything else. When Lily was near him, all he could see, all he wanted, was her. She made him feel like a mere Neanderthal, dragging his woman back to his cave by her hair to drive himself into her again and again.
- p. 207

The story is too Lily-centric and Lily is a heroine with a lot of baggage:
1. Despite all evidence (and we see it in the story), Lily isn't convinced that she belongs in her adoptive family, the St. Claires. This really struck me as odd because all of her siblings love her and treat her well.

2. She is running from her "darkness" which she thinks she inherited from her mother, who was a whore in a "specialty" house which dealt with SM.

3. Then there's Handsome Tom Beaumont who "kidnapped" Lily after she ran away from the house of ill-repute and set her to work as a thief. Lily believes Tom's been dead all this while, so why does she see glimpses of him everywhere she looks?

Aidan and Lily are both kept busy dealing with Lily's problems that Aidan's own story isn't as well-fleshed out. There's a sweet moment between the two when Aidan reveals his hidden talent and passion (See Chapter 21) and I felt that was one true intimate moment between our hero and heroine -- but the next time his talent is highlighted is in the epilogue.

One Naughty Night is the first book in Laurel McKee's The Scandalous St. Claires series. The next book, Two Sinful Secrets will be released this December 2012.

To find out more about the author and her works, visit her website. She's also on Facebook (as her other writing persona, Amanda McCabe.)

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