Annaliese Harper knows that one tiny mistake can jeopardize a career before it’s even begun. Letting your boss find the extensive collection of porn on your personal laptop is one way. Sleeping with him is another. Liese manages to do both.
As the new librarian at a prestigious small-town private high school, Liese is drawn to her sexy, charismatic principal, Ryder Whitehall—an attraction she refuses to acknowledge given their relationship and her recent liberation from a delusional ex-boyfriend.
Liese is certain Ryder’s flirtation is the product of her sex-deprived imagination—until he discovers her digital porn stash during working hours and demands a private meeting. Behind closed doors, their attraction explodes into a dangerous, passionate affair that not only threatens their jobs and reputations, but most of all, their hearts.
She swallowed thickly as he stopped in front of her. Even at his most relaxed, she found his presence intimidating, but the way he loomed over her now made her weak in the knees. The notion their relationship could be anything more than professional should never have entered her mind, no matter the temptation.
“I can explain.” Her eyes darted around the room in search of an escape she knew didn’t exist.
“Your office. Now,” he ordered, grabbing her laptop in one hand and her wrist with the other.
Even though she was horrified, his warm fingers wrapped around her wrist thrilled her. The pull she fought ignited, flashing across her skin like fire. And then she remembered this might be the end of her career. He propelled her into the library office and dropped the laptop on her desk. He released her wrist and shut the door, turning the lock.
“Do you have any idea—” His eyes blazed, the words cut short as he tugged at his tie. Liese watched nervously as he paced the room, his head down, fingers gripping the back of his neck, jaw working as he ground his teeth together. She couldn’t begin to imagine what he would do if he saw some of the other images she’d saved.
He gestured to the laptop. “What the hell was that?”
Liese jumped, a squeaky sound came out of her, and she clapped a hand over her mouth. Ryder rarely raised his voice.
It would be in her best interest not to reveal that her best friend had created a series of photoshopped pictures of the two of them in compromising positions. She also thought it wise not to say anything about the folder she’d created to store them, or how they fed her unhealthy infatuation with him. Or how they functioned as her primary source of masturbatory material.
“It was mostly a joke,” she mumbled.
“Do you think this is funny?” He looked incredulous as he towered over her, but his voice was smooth silk. Livid though he was, the tension between them pulsed like shock waves through the air.
“Not particularly, no,” Liese replied, refusing to look away for fear of appearing weak, or guilty. If she could maintain a facade of self-righteous indignation, maybe he wouldn’t touch her laptop again. In her peripheral vision, Liese noted the way his hands continued to clench and unclench at his sides.
“Where did that picture come from? Are there more?”
Much to her dismay, his palm settled on the laptop.
“I really wouldn’t—”
Ryder ignored her half-made request and flipped it open. It only took a few seconds for the screen to flicker to life and the advertisement to pop up. The gif played in a loop, the vigorous pumping continuing endlessly.
Liese sighed. “I don’t think there’s a way to explain this without it sounding incredibly bad.”
She buried her face in her hands and wished she could disappear as Ryder began to inspect the advertisement. Liese peeked through her fingers to watch him lean forward, hands splayed on either side of the laptop. Ryder squinted at the image, and then looked her over. His eyes moved down her body and back up, tracking her with an expression that bordered on predatory. Satisfied fascination knotted Liese’s stomach as the change took place: the undeniable draw she’d kept in check all this time echoed in his eyes. Some invisible line had been crossed, and Liese doubted she’d be able to return to the safety of the other side—the side where she pretended the attraction was all in her head.
“Please tell me that’s not you.” A note of aggression lent a sharp and bitter tang to the words. His fingers flexed against the desk, the tips turning white with pressure.
“It’s not my body,” Liese whispered, shaking her head.
“You’re quite sure about that?”
“Is that so?” He quirked an eyebrow, relief relaxed the tense line of his jaw. Ryder inspected the scene, apparently no longer fazed by the naked, gyrating bodies now that he knew she hadn’t made a porno and pasted his head on her previous partner. Ryder minimized the picture, allowing a series of folders to pop up on the screen.
Any time Helena Hunting announces a new book, you can bet I’ll be there. This story tests her mettle in a different direction from her previous publications. It’s somewhat fluffy and laugh out loud funny but has some serious threads, too.
Annaliese Harper is a new hire at the school where Ryder Whitehall serves as principal. She likely regrets telling her best friend, Marisa, about her crush on him, considering that the woman is a Photoshop ninja. Before she knows it, Annaliese’s inbox is flooded with porn that features her face and that of her boss. Does she delete it? Of course not! One guess as to who finds her tantalizing stash.
Will she be fired? Um, no, because Ryder has *cough* an unanticipated reaction to her shocking collection of smut.
When Ryder meets her parents? Classic. Just for that moment, you should read this book.
I really liked Ryder. He’s smoother around the edges than most of Helena’s male leads, but he’s not soft. When he gets flustered, it’s a scream. That said, I kept expecting the floggers and ropes to come out. It’s a lighter book than I anticipated, but it definitely hit the spot as I wanted something cheery and sweet to read over the holidays.
Definitely glad I met Ryder. Four stars.