Reviewed by AllisonIn Tori St. Claire's latest romantic suspense adventure, we find Alexei Nikanova hooking up with the girl of his dreams, Irina...only to drug her & toss her in a van headed to Dubai so she can be sold into slavery via a human trafficking ring Alexei is a part of. When Irina (real name: Sasha Zablosky) wakes up from being knocked out & she finds out what Alexei is involved in...all she asks is that he doesn't dose her with the heroin he's got in his hand because she doesn't want to become addicted.
Even though she was already looking for a way out of Russia, who is okay with being forcibly sent to a sheikh known for taking sick liberties with his women? No one.
BUT, I stuck it out.
We catch up with Sasha two years later as she tells us of her trusted position with another sheikh who has been nothing but wonderful, never made a pass at her, & how she dreams of Alexei & wishes she could tell him that she's glad he stole her away from Russia, from her father who wants to kill her. Little does she know, she'll soon have that chance since Alexei has been hired by MI-6 & a Black Ops team from the CIA called the Black Opals to reunite her with her father, a Russian Nobel Laureate with whom she has some bad history. Alexei has arranged a "meeting" with the sheikh...but really his intention is to break Sasha out, only he doesn't know Sasha is Irina. The "meeting" translates into a threesome between the respectable sheikh, Alexei, & Sasha (blindfolded per Alexei's request). Both Alexei & Sasha spend the entire time wishing it were the other & when Sasha's blindfold slips in the heat of the moment & their fantasy becomes reality, Sasha loses control & utters his name - much to her sheikh's surprise. Alexei knows that the only way out now is to kill him & grab Sasha. So he does. Sasha feels torn because she truly cared about the man who kept her prisoner, as he was her only friend, but her desire to be with Alexei is stronger. So, they book it out of the palace to meet Alexei's partner who awaits them in the getaway car & so begins the race to find out who they can trust, how they get back to England, & how best to keep their secrets safe while discovering each other & their passionate connection.
I think what it really comes down to with this book is while I really enjoyed the plot, the twists & turns, & the action, I wasn't sold simply because I didn't like Alexei & Sasha. Not only did they complain about how the other was totally perfect for them but that they would never deserve the other because of their deep, dark secrets (that took entirely too long to reveal not only to the reader but to each other) but I don't feel that they learned anything through their trials & tribulations. I need solid characters to convince me of what they're feeling, to tell me the story, to steal my attention - but they didn't.
I did appreciate that although the first book is Stripped & the main characters do reappear every now & again, I never felt lost or like I was missing history. And I do fully intend to read Misha's story because he was my favorite, very sexy & mysterious but still managed chivalry.
Rating: C+ because the sex was smokin', the action was great, but I couldn't connect with Alexei & Sasha.
*ARC provided by author for review
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Lie to Meby Tori St. Claire (Claire Ashgrove)Release Date: July 3, 2012Publisher: Berkley