Book Review: Follow Me Darkly
I reviewed this book which was provided for free by the publisher. However, I do not receive any compensation for reviews. All book reviews are My personal and subjective opinion.
When I initially received Follow Me Darkly by Helen Hardt I was prepared for an uneventful bodice-ripper with unfortunate depictions of BDSM. Oh, how wrong I was! I may have sat down with the novel somewhat begrudgingly, but soon found myself immersed in a rich world with dimensional characters. What was going to be "just a quick chapter before bed" on Friday night turned into a couple hours and ended with devouring the story over the weekend.
I was promptly taken in by the adventures of Skye Manning as she navigates dealings with upper crust Bostonians while attempting to follow her dreams. An everywoman character, Skye is completely relatable as she undertakes the challenge of making it on your own in a big city. Skye's realistic reactions to the situations she encounters and the missteps she takes make her absolutely endearing. Never hearing the internal monologue of the other characters, the reader is completely in Skye's shoes on her journey of life, love, and the elusive orgasm.
When Braden Black enters Skye's life we are suddenly taken on an exciting roller-coaster ride of will-they-or-won't-they with all the butterflies and pitfalls of new courtship. Interwoven with delicious scenes dripping lust and desire, Helen Hardt leaves readers begging for more. The power struggles and sexual exploits of Braden and Skye are just beginning with this promising first book in the Follow Me trilogy. For more of my thoughts on Follow Me Darkly stay tuned for my interview with Helen Hardt! Until then, Entangled Publishing was kind enough to allow me to share an excerpt with you from Chapter 2.
“Good evening,” a deep and husky voice says.
The deep and husky voice belongs to Braden Black.
Braden Black is standing in Addison’s office, right in front of me. I gulp, stand, walk out from behind my desk... and unceremoniously drop my purse. Its contents spill over the marble floor.
Kill me now.
Front and center is a condom.
So I’m ready for anything. Good policy, right? Still, my cheeks warm. “I’m sorry. I was just leaving for the day.” I kneel and begin to gather the items. Should I take the condom first? Or would that just draw attention to it?
My humiliation is complete when Braden Black kneels down across from me. “Let me help.”
I meet his searing blue gaze, wishing I were invisible.
“That’s kind of you, but I’ve got it.” I grab the condom along with a tube of lip gloss and shove them back into my purse.
Then I gather the rest and rise.
He’s standing again. He’s nearly a foot taller than I am, with shoulders so broad, I could get lost in them. He seems to darken the room—not in a bad way, though.
I force out a laugh. “That was embarrassing. Would you believe I meant to do that so you’d know I’m not hiding a knife in my purse?”
“Do you really think whether you’re hiding a knife—or anything else dangerous—would be my first thought when looking at you?”
His voice. Shivers crawl up my spine. “What woman doesn’t want to appear a little dangerous?”
“You don’t seem dangerous so much as someone who likes to be in charge.”
His lips quiver. Just a touch, but I notice. How can I not notice every little thing about him? He fills up the room.
“I guess it depends on whether you’re horizontal,” he replies.
Warmth gushes through me. I must be red as a beet. And I thought dropping my purse was embarrassing? I’m hardly the type to be engaging in sexual banter with a billionaire. I’m intrigued, though. More than intrigued. Already my body is responding. To him or to his dark manner? I’m not sure.
I draw in a deep breath and clear my throat. “What can I help you with?”
“I’m Braden Black. I’m here to see Addison.”
“She’s in her office. Did you have an appointment?”
I know very well he doesn’t have an appointment. I keep Addison’s calendar. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not fooling him by the sly half smile he gives me.
“No. She’s an old friend.”
“Of course. I’ll tell her you’re here.”
“No need.” He cocks his head toward her closed door.
“She in there?”
I nod. “Yeah.”
He walks toward Addison’s private office.
“You can’t,” I say.
“Sure I can. Watch me.”
Before he knocks, however, the door opens.
“Skye, can you—” Addison’s lips curve downward into an angry frown. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Thought I’d come over to tell you if you ever bully my receptionist again, I’ll make sure every one of your followers knows the truth about you.”
“Truth about me? Are you kidding? I’m not the one with something to hide, Braden.”
“You have a lot more to hide than a hatred of coffee,” he says.
“And what about you? You want your business associates to know—”
Braden Black’s voice booms through the office, making me shiver. I swear the walls vibrate and shrink back against the darkness exuding from him.
I wait for Addison to say more, to mention what he’s hiding. She doesn’t. His command seems to stop her.
Oddly, I understand. I stop what I’m doing as well. Something about the ominous tone in his voice makes me want to obey without question.
Which isn’t like me at all. Finally, Addison says simply, “Stay off my Instagram.”
“I’m not sure you should be telling me what to do,” Braden says, “but I’ll play it your way for now.”
“Good.” Addison stomps back into her office and slams the door.
He stands still for a moment and stares at her closed door, running his fingers through his hair. What is he thinking? I have no idea...until he turns around and meets my gaze.
“She hasn’t changed,” he says.
Am I supposed to respond? “You mean she’s slammed a door in your face before?”
“Many people have.”
I smile. I can’t help it. His tone is so nonchalant. Clearly he doesn’t care who slams a door on him, and I like that. It speaks to me in a way, shows me how I want to be. “I suppose it’s better than someone being nice to your face and then stabbing you in the back.”
“I get my share of that, too,” he says. “And I agree. It’s always better to know where you stand.” He stares at me then. Really stares, as if he’s starving and I’m the special of the day.
I look down at my feet and then catch myself. Yeah, I was a klutz a minute ago, and he saw my condom. So what? It happens. At least that’s what I want to think. I’m actually still kind of mortified, but I look back up and meet his gaze.
“I guess you know where you stand with Addie,” I say. “Pretty much everyone does.”
His lips bend ever so slightly upward. I suppress a shiver. The subtle smile is a flash of light in his ominous demeanor. It’s suddenly chilly in the heated room.
“I couldn’t help myself,” he says. “She hates coffee.”
I smile, forgetting for a second that this man just saw me pick up a condom. “I know. She threw out the latte after the shoot. Perfectly good and hot. I’d have happily drunk it.”
“You’re a coffee drinker, then?”
I nod. “Absolutely.”
“Me too.” He stares at me again, seeming to zero in on my mouth. “Care to go for a cup...”
This time I can’t stop my eyes. They widen. Is Braden Black asking me out?
He looks toward my desk where my nameplate sits.
Say something, Skye. For God’s sake!
“It’s almost six.”
Every nerve in my body jumps. I mean really jumps.
Braden Black, the most eligible bachelor in Boston—hell, in the country—just asked me to dinner.
About the Author
#1 New York Times, #1 USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Helen Hardt’s passion for the written word began with the books her mother read to her at bedtime. She wrote her first story at age six and hasn’t stopped since. In addition to being an award-winning author of romantic fiction, she’s a mother, an attorney, a black belt in Taekwondo, a grammar geek, an appreciator of fine red wine, and a lover of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. She writes from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her family. Helen loves to hear from readers.