I think this is the first time I review one of Cara McKenna’s book, but it’s certainly not the first time I read one. And it was about time I told you about this fantastic author. If you like Erotic Romance and Erotica, you should be reading McKenna’s books. She pushes boundaries, deals with realistic characters and situations, and writes about a variety of relationships and sex.
In After Hours we meet Erin. Circumstances forced her into a caregiver position, and she took that experience and ended up becoming a nurse. When her sister gets in trouble, she is, once again, forced into the position of having to take care of someone. So she moves to a new town and gets a job at the local psychiatric hospital where she meets Kelly, one of the handlers.
Erin finds Kelly equal parts intimidating and arousing. He’s way too big, scarred, blunt, and very clear when he tells Erin about his needs to be in control and dominate. But unlike Erin, Kelly is an extreme caregiver by choice. And she finds the idea of letting go very appealing, while at the same time feeling appalled by the fact that she’s attracted to a man who wants to control and order her around.
However, the temptation to let someone else be in charge is too strong to resist, and soon they start a sexual relationship that will affect her deeply.
This story was an interesting character study and a very effective erotic romance. It’s set in the psychiatric hospital of an impoverished town, and even if these places only serve as a background, they felt like another character. They give the book an authentic, honest and almost bleak tone. It’s not a happy book, but it’s quite hopeful and real.
The star of the book is Erin, and to a lesser degree, Kelly. She’s in a constant power struggle and negotiation with herself. And letting go of a control that she doesn’t want, yet doesn’t know how to live without, is her biggest challenge. It’s also was draws her to him as well as the main source of conflict.
Kelly, on the other hand, is quite straightforward and knows himself well. There’s also a certain vulnerability to him that comes from his honesty and from past traumas, but he deals with his secret pains by acknowledging them and admitting the role they played in shaping the person he is.
There are minor BDSM elements in the story, but they relate to the characters’ needs and personalities, instead of to the need to write a book that fits the latest trend. And because of the themes of the story, these elements feel organic and right.
After Hours is the best Erotic Romance I’ve read this year, and the only thing that keeps it from being a 5-star read is that Kelly sounds and acts very similar the hero of Willing Victim, one of McKenna’s previous books. It was more than a vague sense of recognition; it was full-on flashbacks. But this becomes a minor complaint in light of how well the rest of the book worked for me. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.
Review by Brie
A dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man…
Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.
Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.
What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
Intermix. April 16, 2013.