Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine year old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control… and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.
Twenty-two-year old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her doesn’t need to complicate her life with romance.
Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.
“…the depths to which a woman could fall for Cain are endless. To a deep, dark, infinite pit with no ladders to get away, no cushions to soften the impact. No safety net. No escape.”
There is nothing more delicious to me than a book that is so addictive that even when dawn is on the horizon and I haven’t slept a wink, I’m still unable to put it down. Equally emotional but significantly edgier than its prequels, Four Seconds to Lose changes the tone of the series by stepping out of its ‘vanilla’ comfort zone and delving into darker sides of human nature. While the previous two instalments in the series, Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie, are all-time favourites of mine, I must admit that this book is now my top pick of the lot.
As the owner of a popular strip club and a former underground fighting champion, Cain Ford could have easily adopted a seedy lifestyle as many others in that industry have, but Cain is no stereotype. He has fought all his life to escape his past and gain independence by becoming his own boss, his club now giving a chance to women who choose stripping as a way of making ends meet to do it safely and without being exploited. His professional life constantly dangling on the precipice of morality, Cain’s chosen line of work is a source of both comfort as well as torment for him.
“All I see are girls who need a second chance. Girls who need someone to protect them because no one ever has.”
Charlie is no stereotypical heroine either. The stepchild of an organised crime boss, her relatively happy childhood came to an end when her now only parent decided to taint her innocence by coercing her into participating in his drug trafficking transactions. When suddenly forced to leave her real identity behind and adopt a new one in a brand new city, Charlie starts slowly planning her escape from being under her stepfather’s thumb. Her young age and lack of work experience leave her very few profitable employment options, stripping being on top of an already very limited list. When she steps into Cain’s club, the last thing she expects is a protective boss who treats her with respect and colleagues who immediately want to befriend her.
“I’m living a life where safety is a luxury, where the only family I have risks my well-being without thinking twice. Yet it took this man – a stranger – mere seconds to decide that he would protect me.”
But from the moment Cain lays eyes on Charlie, she manages to shake all his resolves and make him act out of character. He watches her shows night after night, the two of them playing an open flirting game that only leaves them even more conflicted and aching for one another. Both having valid reasons for staying away from each other, they fight the attraction as stubbornly as they can, but when two lonely souls find each other and each stolen moment, each furtive touch becomes a moment of indescribable happiness, eventually their bodies cannot but succumb to the pull as well. As Charlie’s real life starts looming more and more over her new made-up one with Cain, staying together becomes the only risk she cannot take.
“I’ll take one night with him, with whatever he’s willing to give me, to earn myself memories that I can hold on to.”
This was a truly exceptional story of putting one’s past behind and seizing the moment that could change your entire life. It’s a story that explores morality’s many different shades of grey, it shows that no man is a saint and that one should be judged by what is in their heart, not by what they had to do in order to survive. In so many ways, this is also a story of redemption, of forgiving others for their mistakes, as well as forgiving oneself.
“I don’t care what you’ve done, Charlie… Your slate is clean with me.”
I loved every part of this book – I loved Ms Tucker’s sophisticated and truly engaging way of storytelling, I loved the chemistry and emotional connection between the main characters, I loved all the secondary characters, old and new, and the way their humorous contributions ‘lightened’ the storyline, I loved that I could not and would not put this book down even for a minute, real life be damned. The only slight weakness that I felt in the story were the ‘fade to black’ moments during a few potentially sizzling scenes between Cain and Charlie. I did not expect explicit details, but I felt that further attention to those scenes would have only communicated even more the overwhelming attraction between these characters. I felt that this story would have allowed it, it would have made sense to push those boundaries a step further, and it would have been ‘truer’ to the edgier nature of the storyline. But, my smutty brain put aside, this is a stellar must read, no other way to put it.
“I’m hanging from a pendulum as it swings back and forth between a nightmare and a dream. Only the nightmare is real!”
✤ ✤ ✤
Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
Ten Tiny Breaths: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks
One Tiny Lie: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks
Four Seconds to Lose: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks (10 Feb 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.
To win a signed paperback set of Ten Tiny Breaths, One Tiny Lie and a Four Seconds to Lose galley, please enter below. This contest is administered by InkSlinger PR and it is open internationally.