WICKED AS SEDUCTION
BRAND-NEW RELEASE FROM AUTHOR SHAYLA BLACK
Wicked as Seduction is the fifth book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shayla Black’s Wicked and Devoted series, but the first full-length book in Trees and Laila’s story.
I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book from the author, publisher, or publicist. The receipt of this ARC did not influence my choice to review the book on this site. It also did not influence how I felt about the book or its characters, storyline, and overall feel. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. As such, they only deal with what is written on the pages of the book and how what is written and otherwise presented made me feel during and after my reading of the book.
Wicked as Seduction by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #5
Published by Self-Published on March 15, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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He’ll protect her…even if he has to take her captive to save her.
Tech wiz and former elite soldier Forest “Trees” Scott had one mission: Rescue the woman being hunted by a vicious cartel and get her to safety. It should have been simple…but the minute he sees the wary beauty with haunted eyes, his desire for her complicates everything. So does her stubborn refusal to trust him. When Trees is forced to abduct her, she vows to hate him—even as he finds himself falling in love…
For six years, Laila Torres has known nothing but brutality at the hands of men, so when the massive stranger with the forbidding mien kidnaps her, she’s frightened—and furious. But the giant’s protective care shocks her. With every word, he proves steadfast. With every forbidden touch, he awakens the woman in her. Soon, she’s facing the terrifying realization that he’s also dangerously close to capturing her heart.
But their ruthless enemies are closing in, threatening everything Laila holds dear. When she’s forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice, will she trust Trees and their love to save her?
This is my first read in Shayla Black’s Wicked and Devoted series, so I’m coming at this a little differently than someone who has read all the books in this series. However, despite the presence of past characters and storyline references, this book can still be read as a standalone read, as it is the first book in a planned trilogy with these same characters. Readers who have read the prior books will no doubt enjoy this read and understand it a little bit more than those who haven’t read the previous books, so that is something to keep in mind as well. All the books have their own plotlines but also an overarching plotline, and they each intersect at different intervals from what I understand.
Essentially this story is about a woman, her sister, and her sister’s son in jeopardy from a drug cartel and the security outfit they hired doing whatever they can to keep them safe. There seems to be a mole that keeps giving up the sisters’ locations, which prompts the security company to take more drastic measures to protect them, including separating them to make them harder to targets to apprehend.
Trees is the security agent charged with protecting Laila, and she is a spitfire who firmly believes she is better off on her own. Which means she doesn’t trust him to protect her and isn’t shy about letting him know it. And she will do whatever it takes to escape him, just as he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.
Laila has been through a lot because of the cartel. She has deep internal wounds that drive her to act out of fear of it happening again. Even when away from them, she is hypervigilant and in constant survival mode, which means she isn’t thinking clearly or rationally and is willing to do whatever she has to do to gain her freedom and safety. She isn’t in a good headspace for any kind of romantic relationship, but I completely understand the rationale behind her actions and thought processes in the book. Fight, flight, or freeze, Laila is in that mode, and she is moving on instinct that has been molded a certain way because of what she has suffered in her past.
Trees is a man who sees the beautiful, strong woman Laila is, but he doesn’t fully understand what she has been through at first. So, he doesn’t react as he might have had he been a little more aware of her situation. Because he wasn’t fully aware, or rather cognizant of why she was behaving as she did, his actions conflicted with her needs at times. It made for an interesting, albeit uncomfortable, dynamic, particularly in the first half of the book. But once he realized what she went through and after she told him more, he took the ultimate care to make sure Laila knew that she was safe from him and anyone else who would do her harm.
I really liked Trees and Laila. They didn’t have an easy time learning to trust each other and their attraction to each other made things even more complicated, but it was interesting to see how they handled all of that. The author did a good job of both relaying Laila’s past and making sure Trees honored her fear and survivor’s instincts while still trying to keep her safe from the men who want to harm her.
Since this is part of a trilogy series featuring the same couple, this book does end on a cliffhanger. It was expected but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to know what happens next.
All in all, I like this read and the characters. Laila and Trees tug at your heartstrings, for vastly different reasons, and while there is a bit of instalove in this, there is also hard-won trust and communication. I appreciated that and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.
CW: sexual assault (off-page), attempted sexual assault (briefly on-page), dubious consent, kidnapping, violence
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