Mistress At A Price (Harlequin Presents)

Mistress at a Price - Sara Craven Commercial designer has instant mutual attraction with attractive Hero, who she met at the conflict-filled wedding reception of her cousin's, minutes after she made a decision to only have no-strings-attached romantic relationship. His relentless pursuit of her led to a 1-night stand after which she sets the terms of their no-personal-involvement-except-for-sex r/s, which Hero rejects at 1st b/c he wanted more with her. But days later he later accepts her terms with the condition that once she ends it then she'll never see him again. Heroine realizes at the start of their affair the negative consequences of her proposed arrangement but since she fears not ever having him in her life she continues their affair & increasingly despairs at her inability to know more about him & be involved in other parts of his life until the crisis moment comes, which involved someone heroine was close to.

Craven's books are typically a miss for me. So this one was a delightful surprise! Romance was good. Sexual tension & love scenes were hot. Craven wrote this book so well that I found myself increasingly tensing as the pages flew. I can readily feel the angst of the heroine. Although this was written in the heroine's POV, it was easy to discern the hero's emotions about their r/s. I liked the assertive & independent heroine who has major trust & commitment issues b/c of her parent's rocky r/s. It made sense that she would set the pace of her r/s with Hero & later regret it as she becomes more emotionally vulnerable. I like Hero's wanting more from heroine than she was willing to offer but yet succumbing to her r/s terms if it means that's the only way he can be with her. My only beef (thus not a 5-star rating) with this book is the lack of discussion at the very end. It felt like all this great emotional build-up was going to lead to a satisfying conclusion only to have it pop quickly. I felt a bit robbed by the ending, although it at least had a brief epilogue. I wish Craven spent a few pages with H & h openly talking about what happened & how they were feeling. That would've been a much more satisfying read.