Title: Layers (Stark, #1)
Authors: Sigal Ehrlich
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 10 2013
According to Hayley love is a subject of ridicule, a myth created by hopeless romantics.
When Hayley makes a resolution to declare her loose lifestyle era R.I.P, it’s all good in theory…
That is until she meets Daniel Stark, a well-respected, mid-thirties business man who is known for his short temper, lack of steady relationships as well as his strict preserve of his private life.
Opinionated, sharp tongued Hayley accidently steps into his office leaving Daniel resolved to put Hayley in her place and have her in his bed.
Both Hayley and Daniel can’t avoid the immediate instigation of the attraction between them.
In a unanimously agreed upon verdict by Hayley and her two best friends, Ian the gay self-absorb, aspiring model and Natasha the witty, borderline neurotic soul mate, Daniel Stark is to be Hayley’s pure physical attraction, emotions aside era closure.
Will it indeed be a closure, or a beginning to something neither Hayley nor Daniel ever bargained for…
Daniel sighs. “Well, tell him he’ll have to wait.” His shirt is wide open now. He unbuckles his belt, looking at me with a predator’s glee.
My insides tighten and I swallow hard, murmuring, “What are you doing, Daniel?”
This is another one of those really intense romances which completely consume me. I will say that for the first 10% or so I didn’t fully connect. It felt a little too reminiscent of Fifty Shades and Daniel Stark’s name a little too close to Damien Stark and I feared that we were about to embark on a well worn and rather too familiar path but all of sudden it just seemed to click and the author really got into her stride and owned the story. Daniel and Hayley came vividly to life and I slipped comfortably into their story and just lost myself.
Daniel Stark is our mercurial billionaire – he’s searing and intense, very short-tempered with his staff, an absolute perfectionist. He’s a self-made software billionaire, a workaholic and his wealth and past experiences have led him to trust no one and not to allow anyone to get close. His ‘relationships’ have mostly been a series of very expensive call girls and he has pretty much decided that he’ll never fall in love. Until, one day, Hayley barges into his life muttering expletives as she spills coffee down her shirt.
“Why me then?” I ask in a small voice.
“Because it’s you.” He smiles, his eyes narrowing tenderly as he kisses me again, more profoundly. “Because you’re simply you, and there’s no one else I want.”
Hayley –well. I really loved her. She’s a college graduate just about ready to embark on her career in fashion journalism and she’s not about to be treated like a doormat by Daniel Stark. She’s feisty and she knows her own mind but she’s about to be swept away by Daniel Stark and there’s very little she can do about it. She’s got some great friends – Tasha and Ian and they lend some wonderful humour to the novel and Ian, her gay male model friend, really does have the best lines.
“Biatches,” Ian murmurs, smiling. Turning to face me he declares, “I’ve missed you lately, gorgeous, with you being Danielized and all. Come over and give me some of you.”
I cheerfully bend to smack a kiss on his mouth. Yes, I have to agree with that. I have been completely Danielized.
Both Hayley and Daniel at the beginning are fairly closed books to us – we don’t understand the way that they behave but, as the titles imply, layers are slowly peeled back to reveal the inner core and, gradually, we get to know these two pretty well. There’s still some mystery here – definitely only half a story is told so far to all be concluded in Inner Core. I think Sigal Ehrlich did a fantastic job of really showing a couple gradually falling in love – the way they move from intense yet fairly unemotional sexual hookups to something far deeper, much more personal was beautifully done. I really felt their growing connection, how much Daniel couldn’t bear to be parted from his Hayley and how much she grew to rely on him and need him.
When I come up for air after a few extended moments I manage to finally say what was processing at the back of my mind throughout the day. “I can’t believe how much I love you.” His embrace tightens and I rest my head on his shoulder whispering, “I love you so much, Daniel.”
It’s probably fair to place this one in the adult contemporary genre rather than erotic romance – sure there are sex scenes and they are hot but they’re not pages long, not huge on details and a few of them are fade to black. This novel is all about the intensity – the power of the love this rather dysfunctional couple feel for each other. Of course, there is the ubiquitous cliffhanger – things do not end well for Hayley and Daniel but, thankfully, book 2 was released just a few days ago.
So, if you enjoy a sexy, brooding billionaire having his emotional defences torn down by the girl he didn’t know he needed or wanted then I think this one will definitely work for you. I read it in one sitting – once I connected with this couple, I found it really hard to put down and am going to embark on Book 2 straight away.
4 soulful stars
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