The Romance Reviews made it a top pick and gave it a five-star rating.
Book Reviewed by Rho (reviewer)
[ Review Posted: Oct 07, 2011 ] - See all my reviews
|Sherri Desbois has penned another fantastic read in ESSENCE OF COMPETITION. With a unique take on menage romance, she's given us characters we care about but at the same time gives the sensuality and romance that curls my toes and melts my kindle!|
Check out what else Rho had to say about Essence of Competition HERE
With too many relationships ending in heartache under her belt, the new and improved Symone Adams is loud, proud and on the prowl. She has removed the heart she's normally worn on her sleeve and tucked it safely behind lock and key. What she wants now is to explore the appeal of meaningless, mind-blowing sex. After six months of self-imposed celibacy hell, she heads to Menjo's and directly into the path of two very determined players.
Zandros and Marco are pros when it comes to seduction, yet each has grown bored with the conquests. When these two strangers set their sights on the same stunning beauty, the competition is on. Both embark on a full balls-to-the-wall effort to win, not only Symone's body, but her heart as well.
“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch and what make you go beyond the norm.” ~ Author Unknown
Dog may be a man’s best friend, but a cute salesman standing behind the counter in the shoe department at Massey’s was Symone’s. At least for today. Add in an additional twenty percent off coupon to her final bill solidified him as her favorite new BFF.
A new happily colored top revived her and the irresistible strappy heels in red were too hard to pass. It was as if through shopping, she found a new focus and it lifted her mood. When real life sucked, or was too hard to figure out, retail therapy was the best way to solve it.
Ha! Let’s see a dog do all that!
With their mountain of purchases from a very productive morning at the Waterview Mall, Symone followed her best friend, Sedesa, to her little Dodge Neon. After dropping off their packages, they headed to an outdoor café within walking distance.
“I have to admit you were right,” Symone acknowledged as she sat at a small bistro table across from Sedesa. “I feel much better. My credit card hates you, but I thank you.”
“How long have you known me? You should know by now that I’m always right,” Sedesa responded without looking up from her menu.
“Figures you’d keep your head down when you said that. No way could you have done it with a straight face, otherwise.”
“Shut up,” her friend teased playfully with a flip of her hand. “I’m going to have the Berry Delicious Summer Salad, what about you?”
“Cheeseburger and fries,” Symone said without picking up the menu.
“Have I ever told you how much I hate your metabolism?”
“No you don’t, you envy it. Besides, I’ll eat something light for dinner. I’m starving.”
“Skipped the late dinner and went right to dessert, did ya?” Sedesa waggled her brows suggestively.
“No! Travis got tied up in a meeting last night so I skipped dinner in favor of a bag of natural popcorn, mineral water and old Three’s Company reruns.”
Travis, as a new financial advisor with MET Life, couldn’t turn down clients. He was still working to build a solid client base and over the last couple of months, he’d been swamped. Feast or famine, she supposed. She just wished he were home more in the evenings. He’d apologized, but assured her it was for their future.
Instead of whining, she needed to be supportive, but dammit, she missed him. She pushed the sadness she’d been wallowing in this morning that threatened to come back to the surface where it belonged. It was a gorgeous day. She’d spent time with her closest friend and had some sweet new clothes and shoes.
“You should have called me, we could’ve hung out,” Sedesa commented before taking a sip of her water.
“I thought you had a date last night?”
Sedesa wrinkled her nose. “He didn’t make it to dessert.” She waved off any more on that subject. “People must have money to burn again, invest or whatever. That’s like what, the fourth time Travis has cancelled on dinner this month?”
Fifth, but she wasn’t counting or anything.
“He’s been really lucky. A lot of the other advisers are struggling, but Travis has a way with people. He’s really good at his job.” The waitress came and filled their glasses and took their order.
Symone tried not to think about how many dinners he’d missed lately. The weird tightening in her gut was getting annoying and she didn’t want to deal with it today. “So how many pairs of shoes does that make now?”
“Forty-two and counting,” Sedesa beamed.
Over lunch, Symone kept the conversation away from her and Travis and focused on Sedesa. Keeping her friend distracted was easy, all she had to do was ask about the men she’d dated, those that had caught her eye or the ones she planned to go out with in the future. If by chance that topic got slow, there were always shoes.
After paying for lunch, Sedesa suggested they check out a new boutique in Clover. Squeezing into the packed Neon, they headed toward Glitz & Glamour Boutique to check it out.
Symone was staring out the window, watching the buildings pass in a blur of color and shape when Sedesa screeched. “Dammit!”
Jerking, she turned toward her friends whose face was bright red, her jaw tight. “God dammit I hate construction. Are detours really necessary?”
A neon orange “Roads Closed” sign flashed its lights stated the obvious. “Wasn’t it you who has been complaining for the last few months that they needed to fix this stretch of road? You got your wish, what’s the problem?”
“The problem is,” Sedesa huffed, tapping the steering wheel, “is the fucking detour. I hate detours. They never make them clear and I end up getting lost. Hold on,” she ordered and gunned the engine, whipping the wheel to the right and turning.
Symone slammed into the passenger door, her arms taking the brunt of it and pain radiating up to her neck. “Christ, Mario Andretti, slow down and warn me next time.” She rubbed the throbbing muscles. “No one gets lost in Wakulla so untwist your panties.”
“Sorry, detours are just a pain in the ass,” Sedesa apologized and eased off the gas pedal.
They had only made it a couple of blocks when Symone spotted a familiar vehicle parked, partially obscured from an overpass. “Hey, that’s Travis’s car. Pull over, he must have broken down.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, it has the same broken taillight. Just turn there,” she pointed to a driveway to turn in to. “Pull around next to it.”
Sedesa eased the Neon up beside Travis’s car. Her eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing but in her mind she wasn’t surprised.
Fate had intervened, sending them on such a detour. Instead of arriving at a cute little shop browsing through aisles of smelly soap and candles, she was sitting in her best friend’s car looking at her boyfriend’s exposed ass bob up and down between spread legs.
In that moment, something shifted deep within Symone. Growing up in a quiet suburb of Detroit, she’d had the fairytale childhood. Her parents had not only been devoted to their children, but to each other as well. There was the white picket fence, a soccer Mom van in the driveway and ballet classes on Saturday morning. Symone had rarely broken a rule. Not against her parents, teachers or pastors. She tried to please everyone. In high school it was much the same, she kept her grades on the honor roll, did community service, participated in after school activities and sports. She was the all-around good girl.
Sitting there watching Travis’s ass as he pounded into some unseen woman, Symone felt numb. He was just another in a series of men who had taken advantage of her wholesome good nature. It was the same with her first high school boyfriend then her college sweetheart and now Travis.
While her goodie-two-shoes-ass sat home, crying her eyes out, the naughty women of the world were out having one hell of a good time with the men she was home waiting for. The bad girls didn’t wait for men to throw them a few scraps once in a while. They went out and made their own fun.
Sitting in the quiet car, the only sound was a low melody playing from the car stereo, Symone watched as Travis threw his head back, his face slack, his lips parted, and felt nothing. She continued to watch as he jerked with the aftershocks of his orgasm and for a moment, the world stopped when he opened his eyes and his gaze met hers. In that split second, it all became perfectly clear.
A sly smile curled her lips and she winked at the horror-stricken expression on Travis’s face, before turning to Sedesa. “Let’s go shopping. I saw a pair of stilettos that would be perfect to add to my collection.”
The six-month mourning period was over.
Symone wasn’t sure it should be called mourning, since that would imply there was something sad about the end of her year-long relationship with Travis.
Well, there was the fact that she would miss Lily. The little pug had grown on her, but she wouldn’t miss the chewed shoes or the bark at five a.m. that screamed let-me-out-now. The loss of Lily sure as hell wasn’t enough to want to stay.
She wouldn’t miss the sorry I got tied up excuses, the strange calls from random females on nights she stayed at his apartment and certainly not the Oh, she’s just a client. Really, because if that’s how it worked, her financial advisor was doing it all wrong. Mr. Crompton never once took her out and plied her with drinks at a dance club just to get a look at her portfolio.
Yeah, there wasn’t much about Travis’s sorry, cheating ass to mourn. She should rename it grace period. Six months to get her thoughts collected. Six months of being completely selfish, thinking of her own wants, needs and no one else.
Her greatest downfall had always been wearing her heart on her sleeve. Giving her love away without question had gotten her heart shredded more than once. But not anymore. If men could go out on the prowl with only one intention in mind, why couldn’t she? Emotions were staying safely tucked away at home tonight. Tonight was for her and her alone. It was her coming back to the living celebration.
Stepping through the door of Menjo’s, Symone tried to hide the smirk at the heads that snapped in her direction. She knew she looked good. Damn good.
She had dressed the part of seductress to perfection. Tight black leggings molded her body like a second glove. The silk, button-up midriff baring top was the perfect match for her eyes. Maybe a tad revealing, but that’s what she was going for wasn’t it? At five-foot-six, one hundred-thirty pounds she was average, but she knew how to work what the good Lord gave her.
The three-inch stilettos just assisted in what he had forgotten to bless her with. She could forgive him for the slight error since he’d given her thick auburn hair that didn’t require much beyond a wash and an occasional trim. She wore it free, the tips of it tickling the flesh of her exposed lower back. He’d also graced her with chartreuse green eyes and a clear olive complexion. As more than one man turned in her direction, eyes wide, the average stature and small B cup size of her breasts was all but forgiven.
Making her way toward the back of the club, hips swaying to the beat of the pounding techno music, she caught sight of Sedesa at a small table near the back. She waved and headed towards her.
Ignored the wolf whistles, attempted gropes and invites of nights of pleasure, she took the seat across from her best friend. “Jesus. The dogs are out in full force tonight.”
“Woof, woof. You know what they say about the big dogs don’t you?”
“Do you see me sitting on a porch?”
“Oh I wasn’t referring to that quote.” Sedesa took a sip of her drink, a sly smile on her lips. “I was referring to the one about unleashing the beast, and honey, that outfit has unleashed a whole club full of beasts.”
“This old thing,” Symone drawled in her best Violet Bick impersonation. “Why, I only wear it when I don't care how I look.”
Sedesa rolled her eyes. She waited until the waitress came and took their drink orders before continuing. “Honestly, you look amazing tonight. I feel sorry for any chick that sets her sights on the same man you do. Except me of course. You see that blond guy at the end of the bar? He is off limits to you.”
Symone turned and looked in the direction Sedesa pointed. Leaning against the end of the bar was a tall, blond-haired, mountain of a man. He was dressed in tight leather pants and pale blue shirt. He was gorgeous and dressed like he knew it. Though handsome, the way he moved, the cockiness in his stance did nothing to peak Symone’s interest.
So not my type. “You have nothing to worry about.” Her gaze returned to the dark-haired man standing next to the one who had captured Sedesa’s interest.
Oh, yes, just my type.
He was tall, his dark hair just long enough that it curled up against the collar of his pale dress shirt. The hint of a dark shadow was prominent on his strong chin and jaw. He wasn’t overly muscular but the way he filled out his tight dress slacks and stretched the seams of his shirt, he was definitely built to Symone’s exact specifications.
All lean muscle rather than bulk. He had the kind of body that was tone, tight and made for endurance. A tingle raced down her spine as she took in the glorious sight of such perfect man flesh. Warmth spread out across each nerve ending, merging as a sweet ache between her thighs.
The ache intensified as his gaze settled on hers, a slight smile curling the edge of his full lips as he winked. She couldn’t look away, enraptured by the sensual current that pulled her toward him.
A slap to her arm snapped her attention back to Sedesa. “Ow! What the hell was that for?” she rubbed at the sting in her arm.
“I told you to keep your sights off.”
“I told you, you don’t have to worry about me going for Mr. Cocky. I was checking out Mr. Tall Dark and Delicious.”
“Oops, my bad,” Not sounding the least bit sorry, Sedesa turned to study the men. When she turned back, she had a dreamy look in her eyes. “Yeah he’s delish all right. But you know me. I keep hoping to find a big dumb blond that will sweep me off my feet and doesn’t mind that I prefer smut over literature.”
“Or that you can’t cook, don’t clean and your monthly shoe allowance is more than most people’s mortgage.”
Sedesa waved a hand flippantly. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Telling Sedesa her opinion was interrupted when a drink was set down in front of each of them, “Compliments of the gentleman at the bar.”
Symone looked up, praying it was the dark haired hottie but the waitress was pointing in the opposite direction. Pouting, she picked up the drink intending to play uninterested, but gracious recipient.
When Symone raised her glass in thanks, her breath caught. Sitting with his back toward the bar was another oh-so-my-type God. He was the light to the dark haired man she’d noticed just moments before. His wheat blond hair was thick, just touching the tops of his wide shoulders. The shape of his face was pure masculine strength beneath golden skin. Strong square jaw, a cleft chin that just begged to be kissed, licked and explored. His wide shoulders tapered down from a broad chest to a lean waist. Symone’s heart skipped a beat when he raised his glass in response. A shy, sensual smile bloomed across his face, showing perfect white teeth.
“Oh my fucking Gods, are you not perfection,” she mumbled as she raised the glass and gave a slight nod.
Her six months of self-imposed celibacy was making itself painfully known. Symone tried not to squirm in her seat, but the throbbing ache radiating up from between her legs made it nearly impossible to keep still. She literally vibrated with arousal. She forced herself to look away before she made a complete fool of herself. If she stared any longer, her panting tongue would roll out of her mouth. A drooling puddle of goo was so not an attractive first impression.
“Compliments of the gentleman at the other end of the bar,” the waitress drawled with barely controlled disgust, as she set a second drink down in front of her on the table.
The waitress pointed toward the bar again. This time she pointed in the direction where the dark haired man stood. “You’re quite the popular girl, aren’t you?” She set another drink in front of Sedesa, whirled on her heels and was gone in a streak of bleach blonde hair and attitude.
Symone ignored Sedesa’s giggling and once again looked toward the opposite end of the bar. She met his gaze, his dark brow creased into a deep frown. Oops. She picked up the newest glass and raised it in his direction. She gave a small, embarrassed shrug at being caught ogling the blond man and mouthed, “Thank you,” she turned away as her cheeks heated.
“Don’t even say it.” She glared at her best friend.
Sedesa laughed and arranged the drinks that had been set in front of her. “At least their polite and didn’t leave me out. Bat your lashes at a few more dogs and we’ll be knee walking without spending a dime.”
“Shut up. It’s not funny.” Symone complained.
“You’re right. It’s fucking hilarious and I for one am enjoying the shit out of your discomfort.” Sedesa snorted.
Symone took a sip of her drink. There was no way in hell could she keep up if the drinks kept coming at this rate, not without making an ass of herself anyway.
“I’m glad you’re having so much fun at my expense. Remind me again why the hell you’re still my friend?”
“Oh God I love this song!” Sedesa screamed, ignoring her as she jumped to her feet and grabbed Symone’s hand. “C’mon.”
She allowed herself to be pulled into the wave of bodies scrambling to the dance floor as Taio Cruz belted out “Dynamite” throughout the club.
Sedesa and Symone sung at the tops of their lungs as they let go and gave in to the music.
The rhythm moved through her. Muscles released hidden tension as she swayed and thrust her hips to the sensual beat. The press of bodies was a heady intoxicant. They danced suggestively against one another. They moved in close, bodies bumping and grinding against each other, spinning away before it became too overheated or X-rated. Giggling into the other’s ear as men stopped their gyrations and openly gawked. It was a powerful rush, to elicit such lust in others with just the movement of her body.
Though surrounded by willing, glorious male flesh, she found herself searching the crowd for both men who had sent her a drink. As the song changed, she didn’t let the disappointment at not encountering either of them ruin the moment.
She loved to dance. She felt alive. The flex and roll of her muscles, the way perspiration trickled down her spine and the light-headedness sent a rush of arousal across her skin. For the first time in so very long, since first meeting Travis over a year and a half ago, she felt beautiful and desired.
Both she and Sedesa continued to tease and taunt with their bodies. They shook their asses wantonly, thrusting their hips in an effort to make the natives restless. It had obviously been quite successful as the music morphed into a slower, lover’s tempo, she was inundated with offers to dance. She waved each of them off with a devious smile and maybe next time as she made her way back to her table.
There was no sense burning any bridges. When she reached the table, a strong hand grabbed hers, stopping her in her tracks. She turned, intending to decline the offer of dance yet again, but the words died in her throat. She looked up into the deep brown eyes of her dark stranger.
“Can I have this dance?”
His voice was like soft velvet against her sensitive skin. Goosebumps erupted from her flesh and a jolt of lust surged throughout her system. With her free hand, she reached for one of the drinks on the table. Without breaking eye contact, she threw back the warm drink, forcing down the lump that had formed in her dry throat. She returned the empty glass to the table, nodded and followed him onto the dance floor.
“I’m Zandros,” he said as he pulled her into his arms.
“Symone,” she replied in a breathless voice.
The heat of his body, the taut muscles rippling and flexing against hers as they began to sway was short-circuiting her brain. The rich, spicy scent of his skin and rough stubble against her cheek as he nuzzled against her conspired against her. Her legs felt as if they wouldn’t be able to hold her and she clung to his strength and lost herself in the touch, smell and sight of Zandros.
They moved well together. Symone easily followed his lead as they glided across the crowded dance floor. The volume of the music made small talk impossible without screaming, so they let their bodies and hands say hello, nice to meet you. And it was very, very nice to meet Zandros. His body was just as hard as it had appeared from across the room.
Thank God! Her hands roamed down the sinew of muscle along his back, exhilarated in the way it twitched in response to her touch. From across the room he had been magnificent, but up close with his spicy musk scent enveloping her, he was glorious.
As the song continued, Symone’s long-denied body responded to the press of his body against hers. His fingertips at the nape of her neck and the exposed skin of her back sent waves of sensation to dance along her nerve endings. The well-built thigh wedged between hers sent a detonation of desire to burst from her core in jolting contractions and moisture to seep from the walls of her sex.
Zandros whispered something indistinguishable against her ear. Dazed, she nodded and tipped her head further to the side, giving him plenty of room to work.
I have no idea what you’re saying, but if it includes you, me and your lips, I’m all for it.
She loved how the heat and hum of his lips vibrated against her skin.
Symone was easily losing herself in Zandros right there on the dance floor. She marveled in the delight of all that was pure male and sweet arousal. All too soon, the song came to an end, changing to a more upbeat tempo and Symone was snapped from her contentment when a heavy hand landed on her shoulder.
“Mind if I cut in?” The deep baritone voice forced her to pry herself away from Zandros and peek over her shoulder.
Standing behind her was the blond Adonis who had also bought her a drink. To say she was a little giddy at the idea of the two most gorgeous men she’d ever seen battling for her attentions was an understatement. It was pure fucking heaven. She didn’t know either man and certainly didn’t owe either of them anything just because they had bought her a drink. There was also no way in hell could she choose between them.
She shrugged eased out of Zandros’s arms. “I have all night. What the hell.” A huge smile stretched across her face. She tried hard not to bat her lashes at him, but pretty sure she failed.
He held out his hand and Symone placed hers in his. “I’m Marco.”
“I’m Symone and this here is Zandros.” She yelled over the blaring music and nodded toward Zandros. “Pleased to meet you.”
Zandros and Marco sized each other up. The look on their faces was more a bearing of teeth than a smile. The testosterone was so thick in the air it made her stomach roll. For a moment, Symone held her breath, watching to see how this battle would play out. She half expected the dogs to cock their legs and mark their territory. Intense silence threaded between them. Zandros graciously conceded first.
Zandros took her free hand in his and placed a small kiss to the back of it. The soft slide of his lips caused her breath to catch. He stood and moved in close to her ear. “He can have the fast beats. The next slow dance is mine.” He stepped back, without even acknowledging the way Marco glared at him, but the slightly cocky smile assured her that he hadn’t missed it.
Symone couldn’t tear her eyes from him as he sauntered across the floor, in the direction of the bar. Lord have mercy. That is one sweet ass. She watched in awe at the way his slacks stretched across that perfect ass with each step, until he was out of sight.
She turned her attention back to Marco. “Shall we?”
I hope you enjoyed the Blurb and Excerpt from Essence of Competition and are having a good time on the blog hop. Good luck and hope you win lots of fun prizes!!