THE HARD STUFF
A trio of diverse tales offers passionate pairings to spice up readers' nightstands.
Tabke's graphic "Stake Out" finds detective Stevie Cavanaugh surveilling a male escort suspected of serial killings. When her former one-night-stand, special agent Jack Thornton, joins the team, they switch from watch-ing a killer's erotic games to playing their own. This tale is, by far, the most explicit of the trio, trading character development and realism for unrelenting sexual fantasy.
In Edwards' touching standout, "Bodywork," trophy wife and now widow Lisa Delaney hires the best mechanic in town to prep her husband's luxury cars for sale. Too bad he happens to be Tyce Branton, the only man she ever loved. Tyce is just as irresistible to her now as he was when they were a couple of poor kids in love, but is Lisa still in his league? Warm and believable, with good motivation and character depth, Edwards' story boasts as much romance as it does sizzling sensuality.
Rounding out the volume is the action-heavy "Chinatown." New York police officer Lily Huang goes undercover to bust a sex-slave ring, but when another operative's cover is blown while trying to "buy" her, things get awfully hard -- literally. The criminals inject FBI agent Wes with a triple dose of a Viagra-like solution and lock him and Lily, a virgin, in a small room together naked. Lust turns to love in close quarters, but can it last on the outside? Though farfetched, the hot-and-heavy fantasy premise ultimately works, thanks to Sunny's likable leads.
With something for everyone, this is a sexy read that satisfies. (Jan., 304 pp., $12.95)