Make You Mine
by Jackie Ashenden
Alex St. James was left with a choice. Pick up the dice and find where they lead, or walk away. Choosing to see where the snake-eyes go, Alex plays in a poker game run by the devil who haunts his past. He will risk everything to find answers—that is, until his alluring, enigmatic bodyguard, Katya, becomes someone he cannot risk losing…
Katya is fiercely conflicted. Aching to break free from Alex to track down her former lover, Katya agrees to one last job—to protect her dangerously sexy boss as he gambles his future in exchange for clarity about his past. As the stakes are raised, Katya’s loyalty shifts from the man she loved to the man she swore to protect. But in order to get what she wants, Katya will have to go all in…
* ARC provided by publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review *
I loved this book! It has a fantastic opening, with rich detail and deep characterization. The writing is crisp, clear, and makes readers feel something, drawing them in and holding on tight. This is exactly the kind of book I love to read. The kind that envelopes readers in the story world and takes them on a journey with the characters, however dark and treacherous that journey may be.
Alex St. James is every bit the alpha male, and yet, beneath the surface, there are cracks in his steel-like armor. He wears an uncaring mask for most of the world, but that’s not all there is to him and Katya Ivanova, the Russian bodyguard hired to protect him, knows it. Katya is intrigued by the opposites and contradictions in Alex, even though she tries very hard to be professional and unemotional around him. Though she has her doubts about pretending to be Alex’s lover at his high stakes poker game, Katya cannot deny she likes the sudden power she has over him. Neither can she deny she holds an attraction to the man, despite how fiercely she tries to do just that. Alex is a temptation Katya has yet to encounter and one she she needs to avoid, but he’s currently her employer, and she knows she needs him if she is to mount a rescue mission for the man others swore was dead.
There is a dark, sensuality to this book that I absolutely loved. Alex is strategically observant and oozes sex. He’s not afraid to state his desires or push limits, though he keeps his darkest secrets, his deepest wounds, carefully hidden. He’s very much a charismatic and flawed hero, but it’s easy to see why he is the way he is. What makes him tick. He’s a hero I more than wanted to root for and see succeed in his goals.
As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that Katya is very attuned to Alex, but not as much with herself. Of course, through Alex, that slowly begins to change. And because of Katya and his fascination with her, Alex begins to change as well. They both learn things about themselves and the past traumas they’ve suffered. They really are perfect for each other, both a challenge and a complement, a detriment and a saving grace.
This was such an amazing read, hot and steamy, with lots of excellent character insights and hard fought personal growths. Make You Mine is the second book in the Nine Circles series, and though I haven’t read the first book, I am still going to recommend reading the entire series due to the superb writing skill of the author. Jackie Ashenden is definitely going on my auto-buy list.
If you want to give the Nine Circles series a try for yourself, here’s a full list of the books as it stands right now:
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, and their two kids and two cats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband. Jackie writes dark, sexy contemporary romance for St Martin’s Press, including the New York Billionaires Club series of novellas.
If you want to know more about the inspiration behind Make You Mine, you can visit the author’s pinterest board for the book here