Title: First Touch by Laurelin Paige
First and Last Series Book One
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Mystery
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.
Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?
The first installment in Laurelin Paige’s First and Last duology, First Touch is a sexually explicit and boundary pushing exploration of lead protagonist Emily Wayborn’s long dormant submissive desires.
Emily Wayborn’s friendship with Amber Pries ended six years earlier but when she receives a message in which Amber uses their distress signal, Emily drops everything to look into her disappearance. Although she hires a private investigator to help find Amber, Emily begins her own investigation which leads straight to Amber’s former lover, wealthy resort owner Reeve Sallis. Despite the sinister rumors swirling around Reeve, he immediately awakens the dark and dangerous urges that Emily has tried to ignore and her investigation into Amber’s disappearance soon takes a backseat to her progressively dangerous and erotically charged sexual encounters with Reeve.
At first, Emily seems like a self-confident and self-assured woman who is comfortable with her sexuality. Since hitting rock bottom six years earlier, her acting career has taken off and she has a starring role in a popular sitcom. Mainly concentrating on her career, Emily no longer craves or desires the types of relationships she was in during her friendship with Amber. But right from her first meeting with Reeve, she easily slips back into the habit of using her generously endowed curves to garner his attention. Once she captures his interest, she finds herself fully captivated by his need to take control and she soon becomes needy, jealous and insecure and it is rather troubling how easily Emily capitulates to his destructive dominance both in and out of the bedroom.
Reeve is the typical bad boy billionaire with a dark and mysterious past. There is little factual information available about him or his family but rumor, innuendo and gossip fill in some of the blanks. Reeve is domineering, controlling and possessive and he makes no effort to hide these aspects of his personality. These very traits appeal to Emily’s need to submit but even she is ill-prepared for the heavy kink that he introduces to their sexual encounters.
Emily’s quest to find Amber is quickly lost in her increasingly dangerous and toxic relationship with Reeve. He demands complete control of their sex life and her consent becomes dubious since she is such a people pleaser and so submissive that she has refuses to say no to anything he asks of her. There are no safe words and absolutely nothing is off limits. Their relationship is purely sexual and neither of them make any attempt to disguise this fact. The sexual element of the storyline is sometimes unsettling as their explorations delve into the darker side of dominant/submissive erotica and their encounters are sometimes disturbing.
While Emily’s investigation into Amber’s disappearance is mainly overshadowed by her disquieting relationship with Reeve, she does make a few half-hearted attempts to find out what happened to her friend. However, for the most part, Emily uses her “investigation” as an excuse to continue seeing Reeve and her continued efforts to investigate seem a little ridiculous under the circumstances. Emily is eventually so blinded by lust and desire that she makes foolhardy decisions that could literally jeopardize her life.
This first installment in Laurelin Paige’s First and Last series is a well-written, highly erotic novel that is not for the sexually faint of heart. While not much progress is made in learning the truth about what happened to Amber, First Touch ends with a shocking cliffhanger that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the release of final book in this two book series.