Stark World #1


J. Kenner

✮✮✮ 4.5 STARS ✮✮✮

Wyatt is preparing the show of a lifetime  – a set of one-of-a-kind erotic photography. With is project he wants to step out of the huge shadow cast by his Hollywood family. All he misses is the centerpiece of his show, a model uniting innocence, sensuality and eroticism. It’s 27 days before opening and he still hasn’t found the perfect model. Until Kelsey Draper walks into his studio.

It was her. The girl who’d filled his mind. The girl who’d haunted his nights. The woman he needed if he was going to pull this exhibit off the way he wanted to.

Kelsey is on a deadline, too. She needs 15 grand to enroll her brother for trials in a new clinical protocol for fourth degree burn victims.  Her well meaning best friend passed on the audition that was meant for Nia and told Kelsey to go. Never in her life did she expect coming face to face with the man who nearly destroyed her twelve years ago. The man who is now staring at her in anger.

He’s not a man, he’s a concept. A talisman. Fantasy mixed with memory and topped with a sprinkle of loss.

Wyatt knows it is a mistake to hire her for his show. The way things ended all those years ago left him with a broken heart. But he wants her, this quiet, shy girl who comes to life when she dances her heart out. He wants her fiercely but how can he trust her not to walk out on him again? So much is riding on this show. Will Kelsey see it through? Can he move past his anger and be professional?

Wyatt is an ambitious young man who wants to find his footing in an industry that is so fake that if you have a famous name attached to you, you are automatically royalty. That’s why he sheds his famous last name and uses a stage name – he wants to be accepted for his work and not because he is related to his famous family.
From the beginning you get the sense that Wyatt is a really good person. Even when he wants to punish Kelsey for hurting him you feel his remorse when he is being a jerk. When they (mostly) move past their painful history Wyatt becomes this sexy, sweet guy you get glimpses of in the flashbacks. I got a teeny bit irritated with him towards the end because he gave up on her so fast, that his show seemed more important than her. Thankfully his grandmother set him right.

Kelsey is a shy woman and has always been that way. Her light starts to shine when she dances – all of a sudden she is a completely different person: vibrant, self confident and sensual. It is the heady combination that made Wyatt fall in love with her twelve years ago and he is still immensely attracted to her, albeit unwillingly.
Since tragedy struck her family twelve years ago she has been playing things safe. Her father extinguished any spontaneity she had when she was a teenager and it is the central theme in this book. As soon as things get a little bit risky, Kelsey runs but Wyatt challenges her to risk things and let the world see the wild underneath all the restraint.

“Listen to your brother. He seems like a smart guy. Go a little wild, Ms. Draper. Cut loose. Take a risk.”
“Is that what you are? A risk?”
“Risk, reward. I’m pretty sure the two are tied together.”

Not only did I love her for owning her sensuality, I adored her for being such an amazing sister and I really hope that Griffin gets his well deserved HEA.

The development of their relationship is fast – granted they have known each other for a long time but didn’t meet again for twelve years. We get to see the sweet story of two teenagers who fall in love for the first time via flashbacks. Back then they knew each other well, and it’s this fact I still puzzle over that Wyatt misjudged the girl he was in love with when he was a teenager, so I would have loved to see a little more depth to the resolution of their problems and them moving past them. But that’s probably me craving a little more grovelling. When all is said and done I fell in love with these two characters, and hard.

“You’re staring,” she said, smiling.
“You’re beautiful.” Her smile widened.
“I think it’s the dress.”
“I know it’s the woman.”

The conclusion?

Enough angst to keep you invested in the story? ✔
Delicious sexual tension? ✔
A sweet second chance love story? ✔

Yup – this story ticks a lot of boxes I’m a sucker for. Right off the bat – this is my first J. Kenner book.

 *ducks to dodge the eggs and tomatoes*

J. Kenner’s writing is modern and flows effortlessly. The dialogues feel very natural. The storyline isn’t innovative, it’s a well-used theme but still effective and I loved the angst that came with it. I don’t even know why I never got around reading Ms. Kenner’s stories but I’ll definitely remedy this oversight. I tasted blood and now I’m hooked!

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