Wild And Wicked by Joanne Rock

wild and wickedTitle: Wild And Wicked

Author: Joanne Rock

Mills & Boon imprint: Blaze

Year of publication: 2003

The heroine: Horse trainer Kyra Stafford

The hero: Custom house builder Jesse Chandler

The blurb: Kyra Stafford is tired of being overlooked by her best friend and local bad boy Jesse Chandler. She needs to get him out of her system so that she can move on. And burning up the sheets for a night…or two…should do the trick. Since he’s not noticing her subtle seduction, she’s getting obvious. Capturing him at a local festival and making him trade sensual favours for his freedom should convince him to get a little wild with her.

Jesse may have earned his bad boy reputation but he’s proud of one thing – he’s never seduced Kyra. Then again, she’s never abducted him before. When she states the terms for his release, he can’t see past her sexy self to resist. By the time their steamy night is over, Jesse just can’t let her go. Too bad she’s not listening to any talk about commitment. Looks like he’s going to have to use a little wicked persuasion…

Standalone or series: This is the sequel to Wild And Willing, which features Jesse’s brother, Seth.

The review: I think I’ve mentioned previously that best friends to lovers is my favourite romance trope, hands down. All I have to do is read that the hero and heroine are best friends and I’m in. So I wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. I didn’t really feel that Jesse and Kyra were best friends for a number of reasons. Normally, a difference in age doesn’t bother me, but Jesse is five years older than Kyra and she was ten when they first became friends, which would have made Jesse fifteen – and I honestly feel that kind of age gap at those ages would have been too much.

Kyra is a horse trainer and Jesse is a partner in the ranch; he played minor league baseball, so is financially comfortable. Kyra is now twenty four and wants to buy Jesse out, which suits him fine because he’s starting his own business building custom homes. Kyra just needs to sell a horse with behavioural issues and she’ll have the money to be the controlling partner, so she hires a man named Clint, another rancher who’s known as a horse whisperer, to help settle the horse so she can sell him and buy Jesse out.

Kyra has had a thing for Jesse for years, but he’s never looked twice at her in that way; he values her friendship too much. All of a sudden, Kyra decides she must have Jesse pronto, so she uses a local festival to ‘kidnap’ him and have her wicked way with him. Jesse has a problem in the form of a fling named Greta, a German model who has it in her head that she’s the woman who’s going to get Jesse to settle down into marriage and a house with a white picket fence. Greta also happens to be nuttier than a fruitcake, so she has no qualms in warning Kyra away.

Kyra knows Jesse well enough to know he won’t commit to her, so she decides she’ll settle for letting him take her virginity (he’s her best friend, but didn’t know she’s a virgin until after they had sex? Uh, okay). However, somewhere in the mix, Jesse suddenly decides he’s ready to settle down, and it’s going to be with Kyra. She’s not interested in commitment, so he has to convince her.

I wish I’d felt more convinced by their relationship as best friends, because I would have enjoyed their romance more. There was also a subplot with Greta and Clint, in which she agreed to pretend to date Clint to make Jesse jealous and see sense, but then Clint really fell for Greta. They have sex near an airport under a runway and Clint manages to convince Greta to move to his ranch in Alabama. I could have lived without the whole subplot, because I wasn’t reading the book for Greta and Clint – it was supposed to be about Kyra and Jesse, and I felt this detracted from their story. I’m bummed I didn’t enjoy this more.