A new series from Lisa Renee Jones is available now! Highlighting the Brandon Empire in Denver, the Dirty Money series dives right into the action from the start. Please read on for my review and an excerpt. Then, thanks to St. Martin’s Publishing – I have paperback copy of the title to give away to one lucky US winner!
Starting with the short glimpse into a behind closed door dirty deal, one of the two sides of this story coin gives readers a chance to dip a toe into the dangers to come. From there, with no real sense of how much time has elapsed, we are thrust into the world and challenges of Emily and Shane, and the dance between attraction, trust, power and secrets.
Shane is the ONLY person in his family with a moral compass, even if he battles with his own memories of the family he wants with the family he has. And OH what a complete spider web mess his family is: a father who is grasping, controlling and not above blackmail to achieve his goals; a mother who will manipulate situations and people around her to gain ‘insight’ and knowledge; a brother who is consumed with power, money and his ‘use one to get more’ attitude. I’m not a huge fan of the family he’s been saddled with, and can empathize with his own struggles with loyalty, trust and wanting their approval and love.
Emily arrives as a bit of a question, her own identity is a new one, she has secrets that could destroy her and those around her. I’ve got my suspicions about just ‘who’ she really is: but her ability to empathize with Shane from an “I’ve been there” angle is intriguing. She’s multi-faceted with each facet opening to the light as she and Shane get closer physically. What intrigues me most about these two is their similarities that fuel their connection. And they are electric, with Emily able to provide Shane with something to chase even as he wants to push her off to save her from the ticking bomb that is his family.
Told in alternating first person, I wanted a bit more from Emily. While this story carries much of the feel that I had in the Inside Out series, Emily is a different sort of girl altogether. She’s not innocent and untried like Sara, she understands the manipulations and machinations of family and she’s also hiding several secrets, many not as well as she thinks. Shane is so focused on making Brandon Enterprises a name to be reckoned with in all the best ways, something he’s got to rebuild after keeping his father out of jail after a federal investigation. I loved his passion and determination to grow the company and his role, while trying to manage and protect his family members- a full time job plus with that group. Fortunately he’s got dedicated and loyal people on his side – from his assistant Jennifer: who takes zero guff, speaks honestly and openly and always has his back to his own personal security/pi guru in Seth.
Overall, there’s a sense of having seen the relationship trajectory between Emily and Shane before, and while that’s not a huge issue, I hoped for a bit more between them. This does end on a cliffhanger that may bring Emily to the forefront of suspicion and revelation in the next book, these characters, the Brandons and their twisted manipulating ways demand you read on. Sure to please fans of the Inside Out series, this is a great start to a new series that is unconnected to that world, and the perfect option for readers who want to try the work of Lisa Renee Jones.
Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.
How bad do you want it?
The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family's business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.
Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Read an Excerpt
“I understand the Lost and Found is locked up for the night,” I say to the stoic, gray-haired guard behind the security desk. “But surely you can make an exception for a cellphone. I’m expecting a very important call. I can’t be without my phone.”
“I understand, miss, but there are rules.”
Rules. There’s a concept that hits a raw nerve. “Fine,” I concede. “I’ll come back. How early can I be here?”
“Seven in the morning.”
“Six forty-five it is,” I say, rotating to depart, yelping as I smack into a hard body, and a pair of large, manly hands settles on my waist, steadying me. “I’m sorry,” I say, glancing up in shock to realize the hot man from the coffee shop is standing in front of me and my palms have landed on his incredibly hard, broad chest.
“We meet again,” he says, his voice a soft purr of seduction, and his eyes are still a perfect steel gray, just like the tie that matches his suit.
“Yes, I…” I swallow hard. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”
“I’m not sorry and I did see you.”
“You…what?” I step back, his hands falling from my waist. Mine slide away from his chest, where I wouldn’t have minded them lingering a little longer, but that would be bad. And inappropriate, which is exactly what I’m trying never to be again.
He glances at the guard. “Is there a problem, Ralph?” he asks, and good gosh, no wonder I ended up in that exchange with him this morning. The man defines the term, “tall, dark and handsome.”
“The lady is looking for her cellphone,” Ralph explains, “and Lost and Found is closed for the night.”
Shane arches a brow at the man. “Closed? How does Lost and Found close?”
My thoughts exactly, but I bite my tongue, considering “Ralph” had actually displayed quite a lot of patience with me, considering I’d asked the same question in a far more pushy way. And Ralph is actually looking quite uncomfortable, his reaction indicating that Shane is more than a random hot guy in this building who likes his coffee ridiculously strong.
“I’m the only guard on duty,” Ralph explains. “I can’t leave the desk.”
“I’ll watch it for you,” Shane states, and it’s not an offer. It’s an expectation. Everything about this man is a smooth command that manages to be sexy, not obnoxious. A rare skill few men, or women, successfully harness, though I’ve known many who tried, and failed.
“Yes, sir,” Ralph says. “I’ll be back in five minutes.”
The guard rushes away, leaving me stunned at his quick departure while Shane rests an arm on the counter and faces me. “You ran away today.”
My eyes go wide. “That’s the way to get right to the point. And for your information, I had someplace to be.”
“You didn’t even take your coffee with you.”
“I didn’t have time to drink it,” I say quickly, no stranger to thinking on my feet.
“You ran,” he repeats.
“You’re kind of intimidating,” I counter.
Amusement lights his gray eyes. “You aren’t intimidated by me.”
“Are you saying you are intidimating to others?” I challenge.
“To some I am, but not to you.”
“You base this assessment on what, exactly?”
“Anyone intimidated wouldn’t be brave enough to say they are.” He closes the distance between us, the scent of him, autumn leaves and spice, teasing my nostrils. “Are you intimidated now?” he asks, the heat in his eyes blistering hot.
“No,” I say, suddenly warm all over, when lately, everything has made me cold. “I’m not intimated.”
“Good news,” the guard announces, jolting me back to a reality that does not include hot strangers who could find out more than I want them to know, and I quickly take a broad step backward, distancing myself from Shane to face Ralph.
“You found my phone?” I ask hopefully.
“I found a phone,” he confirms. “I need you to confirm the first number in the auto-dial.”
I hesitate, but having no other option, admit, “There are no numbers in my phone at all.”
“You are correct,” the guard says, sliding the phone onto the counter. “I’ve never known anyone to have no contacts in their phone.”
“It’s new,” I explain, picking it up and slipping it inside my purse, and realizing it’s a lame excuse, I add, “I need to sync my numbers. “Thank you.” I rotate to face Shane to find him staring at me with the kind of interest and curiosity I’m not in a position to invite. “And thank you,” I add, motioning toward the door. “I should go.”
“I was about to go grab dinner and a drink at one of the restaurants nearby. Join me.”
“I really should get home,” I say, trying not to sound as regretful as I am. I’m flattered, but then, what woman wouldn’t be with this man?
“I won’t keep you long.”
“I have plans in the morning,” I counter, and it’s true. I’ll be waiting for the phone to ring and thinking about how much I wish I’d said yes to this man.
He glances at the guard, who quickly takes a hint and murmurs, “Good evening,” before stepping back behind his post and busying himself.
The instant he’s gone, Shane once again closes the space between us, this time bringing us intimately close, and I think he might touch me. I want him to touch me. “Here’s how I see us meeting again. The odds are next to zero. That means you have to have dinner with me.”
“Have to? Is that some rule or something?”
“Not just a rule. A hard rule I just made up.”
“Does making up rules work often?”
“Yes. Is it working now?”
Yes, I think, but instead, I say, “I wish I could.”
“You can. Just say yes, Emily.”
Emily. I hate that name, but he has somehow not only remembered it, but made it silk and seduction. He is silk and seduction, a magnificent man who no doubt has so many women lining up that I am a mere flicker on the screen. And actually, that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s freedom. This is about tonight. Just tonight. He won’t want to know my past or my future. He’s looking for a diversion, and the truth is, if I spend one more night alone, trapped in guilt, worry, and my fast-looping replay of how I got to this point, I might go insane.
“Emily,” he prods, using that name again, my name, and I swallow hard. “Say—”
“Yes,” I supply. “Yes, I’ll have dinner and drinks with you.”
Satisfaction fills his eyes and he waves the guard forward, handing the man his bag. “I’ll pick it up on my way out,” he tells him. The other man nods, and a moment later, Shane’s full attention shifts back to me, and I’m jolted by the way I feel the impact, or rather, I feel him, a warm spot forming in my chest and spreading low into my belly. He offers me his arm. “Shall we?”
I hesitate a few beats, reminding myself that “alone” promises safety, but I can’t live that way forever. This dinner with this man is a no harm, no foul way to practice being the new me. I accept his arm.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series, which is now in development for a television show to be produced by Suzanne Todd of Team Todd (Alice in Wonderland). Suzanne Todd on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with. I’m thrilled to develop a television show that will tell Sara’s whole story – her life, her work, her friends, and her sexuality.
In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin’s Press.
Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.