King's Pleasure
by Adrianne Byrd, contemporary (2011)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-53449-4


King's Pleasure is the official final book in Adrianne Byrd's House Of Kings, although there is one more secondary character whose story is clearly next, but don't worry, each book in this series can stand alone very well. You don't have to know anything about the previous books before reading this one, as the secondary characters here bring minimal baggage from their own stories.

Like his other brothers, Jeremy King is the co-owner of the lucrative Dollhouse enterprise - a popular gentlemen's club that offers women to satisfy every man's wildest fantasy, provided that the man in question can cough up the moolah for the pleasure. Previously, Jeremy managed the Dollhouse in Los Angeles, but now that his brothers have sold their shares and turned into respectably shackled dudes, Jeremy and his cousin Quentin run the whole show and the side business, Bachelor Adventures. Jeremy is an even more outrageously slutty version of his brothers, and he's determined to never fall into the same trap that has ensnared his brothers. No offense to ladies who believe in love, but Jeremy is all about sharing and spreading the love to every corner of the world. Ladies, the line starts over there.

Then in walks this woman during one of Jeremy's wild bachelor parties for his client, and soon she's rocking the dance floor like nobody's business. Jeremy is struck by lightning: she is the Baby Girl of his wildest dreams. And lucky for him, she's ready to go. After a spectacular X-rated night that has him convinced that he has met the "queen of Kegel exercises" of his dreams, however, she's gone. Until she shows up later as the fiancée of his best friend, just when he's agreed to be the best man at the wedding. Oh boy.

You know how they always say that the best stories can sometimes go downhill after the first love scene? Here, the story pretty much jumps the shark after the first love scene. This is not because the rest of the story is bad, oh no, it's because this rest of the story can never match the mind-blowingly funny and scorching hot chapters leading to that toe-curling you-know-what ooh-mama scene. Jeremy is already making me laugh with his overblown ego and his belief that every woman will fall for him the moment he beckons at them, so it's even more funny when he's completely knocked over by Leigh Matthews crashing the party to dance away the blues. It's even more hilarious when he wakes up and imagines that she's cooking him a yummy post-shag breakfast like most women who have shared his bed would, when in truth she'd just left a note saying goodbye. This guy spends the rest of his time secretly pining after his missing Baby Girl, that poor baby. The biggest player in the land has just been played.

Seriously, the first 100 or so pages of this book are just too fine for words. Leigh is as hot as firecrackers, just the woman to take down a fellow like Jeremy. If I don't believe that comedy and erotica can go together like fish to water, I'm a new convert after reading these bits of the story.

The rest of the story, alas, is never as outrageously funny or sexy. Still, what I get here is an entertaining take on the usual "slept with the guy during a temporary lapse of my usual good-girl demeanor, and oops, pregnant now" formulaic story line, with many parts that seem to be almost satirical in nature. There are plenty of amusing and playful tongue-in-cheek observations on the ups and downs of courtship and marriage from both the male and female points of view. And yes, the "Oops, pregnant!" thing is dealt with in a manner that is laugh-out-loud funny instead of that "Oh well, here we go again - the same old routine!" kind of tedious. Along the way, the author gives the heroine a realistic and sympathetic justification for wanting to marry the wrong guy, and the author also doesn't allow Jeremy to get away with any nonsense for long. The end result is a refreshing and entertaining take on a familiar story line, made more adorable by the presence of secondary characters that bring on the one-liners like nobody's business.

This rest of the story is a solid read where I am concerned, but as I've said, it doesn't live up to the bar set by the first 100 pages of the story. Still, a great read is still a great read, so here's to King's Pleasure, for delivering the goods and giving me a grand old time in the process.

Rating: 88


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