When Navy pilot, Ethan Parker falls for the woman he met at a coffee shop, he knows she’s the one he’s waited his entire life for. She’s sensual, sassy and smart. What he doesn’t know is she’s also in the Navy, and her enlisted rank means a relationship with her could potentially get him discharged from military service.
While on leave from teaching at a top Naval facility, Layla Matthews tumbles head-over-heels for the sexiest man she’s encountered in a long time. The fact that he can hold an intelligent conversation is an added bonus. Her world is turned upside down when she later discovers he’s a Navy lieutenant. A senior officer. Her new boss. Definitely off-limits.
Continuing their relationship could ruin their military careers. Ending it would break both their hearts. Do they end their sizzling romance or keep it a secret… and pray no one finds out?
Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars
Forbidden Kisses by Sha Renée
A romance of pure indulgence is the only way to describe this introductory novel by Sha Renée. It definitely sets the stage for more to come with two hard core military protagonists who surrender to a soft spot for each other. Ethan and Layla serendipitously meet at a coffee shop and get swept away into a one-night stand that soon turns into their worst nightmare.
They both happen to be stationed at the same naval base and he is her superior officer — meaning any fraternization between them is strictly forbidden and could lead to serious repercussions, including his court marshal and dishonorable discharge. But despite their loyalty to their military careers, they can’t keep their hands off each other. This is a romance novel, after all. So, our fearless duo opts for a compromise in the hope time will work on their side, so long as they can keep their relationship under wraps until they can find a more workable solution or Layla achieves CO ranking, thus putting them on equal footing.
But of course, they can’t. As luck would have it, an idle oversight outs their relationship when a forgotten photo booth snapshot falls out of Layla’s purse at an inopportune time. With the stakes now raised, Ethan and Layla race to find a solution before its too late. A sweet and simple tale that should resonate well with modern romance readers, Forbidden Kisses was a fast-moving easy read, if a bit clunky in prose. But the few oversights, such as overstated sex scenes and choppy dialogue, were easily overlooked in the vibrant and diverse characters.
The military angle was a different take for me and made the story a pleasant diversion. I enjoyed reading about these two strong characters and their sense of duty and responsibility while also being very human in their need for each other. Told in two alternating first person points of view, the reader is privy to both Ethan and Layla’s thoughts. However, I found Layla’s a bit more compelling and believable and the story might have done better with her telling the story. Ethan’s view was not distinct enough on its own to sound like a man and military officer. Rather it comes off more as a fantasy of what a woman might want a man to be thinking, which is one of my pet peeves about reading romances. He seemed unable or unwilling to compartmentalize and at one point was more willing to continue the relationship at all cost than Layla was. I just can’t see that happening in the type of man Ethan seemed to be.
At just under 200 pages, this is a rather short novel that easily sewed up loose ends with hints at more to come. I wonder if allowing more meat to this novel might have done more service to the story overall rather than being a teaser trailer of things to come. I would have liked to see more of the military angle played up with details of daily military life and compounding stresses. Instead it seemed almost a vague afterthought and made me wonder how well versed the author is in military life, or worried it would bore the average romance reader.
Perhaps that’s fodder for future stories in this series, which I will give another chance to, hopefully to see more of the setting and characters expanded upon. If it weren’t for those few things I found lacking, this novel would have easily received a perfect score of 5 stars. Instead, it could have used a good content edit and more fleshing out to not feel so rushed and cursory in its overall delivery.
Pascale Kavanagh’s Review: 4.5 stars
This novella packs a lot of emotional punch in a small container. It opens with the hints of a familial tragedy, moves to deep desire (in a laugh out loud meet-cute) and the fulfillment of a shared affection, then shocks the reader with the relationship’s central conflict.
The sex scenes are scorching, the military setup rings true, and the impossibility of their relationship lingers just long enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. A clever resolution gets them past the original obstacle, but leaves enough at stake to pull me into the next story in the series.
This was an enjoyable read of an endearing love story.
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