May 20, 2010
The Pagan & The Pen Reviews
Title: The Next Move
Author: Lauren Gallagher
Publisher: Carnal Passions
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Length: 238 pgs.
Other: (light) BDSM, M/F
Reviewed by: Violet Harper
About The Book: After a quiet evening of chess and wine turns into a sizzling hot night in the bedroom, Christian Bailey and Katrina Morgan think they’ve done irreparable damage to their longstanding friendship. When they sit down to talk things over, though, it isn’t long before they’re in bed again. The sexual chemistry is undeniable, but neither wants to risk their friendship with a relationship, so they agree to a casual arrangement as friends with benefits. The rules are simple: No lying, no strings, and nothing more than friends with benefits.
What they don’t realize is that at least one of those rules may be harder to follow than they thought, and Chris and Kat may very well be putting their friendship in checkmate.
The Review: Friends make the best lovers. This is a recurring theme in Ms. Gallagher’s novels, but she treats it differently each time, so it’s not repetitious. There’s nothing worse than reading an author’s second book to find out that only the character’s names are different.
From the first page, The Next Move drew me in. Like a game of chess, Chris and Kat move through their developing relationship going through great lengths to hide their next move. It’s a story that’s been done before, so it ultimately comes down to the writer’s skill. Ms. Gallagher delivers realistic, likeable people whose yearning for one another that they won’t admit out loud creates a tension that carries through the entire novel. They are friends first and lovers second. As I read, that old Gloria Loring/Carl Anderson song, Friends and Lovers, played through my head. Chris and Kat learn that they can be both to each other.
My only criticism is that the story seemed to drag on for too long. I understand that neither of them wanted to admit a deeper emotional involvement because it would violate the terms of their agreement, thus ending their affair. The scenes that hop back and forth from Chris to Kat fall short of furthering the tension in the novel because the reader isn’t allowed to stay with one character long enough to feel their pain. As a reader, I felt short-changed because I was looking forward to feeling that pain with Kat, and then I wanted to experience her joy when things finally worked out. Later, when Chris ends the affair and we see only Kat’s side, this happens.
Overall, I liked the novel and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. I liked the way the metaphor of chess was carried through the entire novel. The sex was hot and erotic, more so as Kat and Chris admitted their feelings for one another to themselves, heightening the emotionality of the scenes. I’m looking forward to reading more from Lauren Gallagher.
Pagan Elements: None
Cover (Rated 1-10): 8-The chess pieces tumbling from the embracing couple catch my eye and make me want to read the book. The come-hither expression on Kat’s face is inviting, but I would have liked to have seen Chris’s eyes.
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