Stark World – Book 1
By J. Kenner
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Sometimes, it feels so damn good to be bad …
Photographer Wyatt Royce’s career is on the verge of exploding. All he needs is one perfect model to be the centerpiece of his sexy, controversial show. Find her, and Wyatt is sure to have a winner.
Then Kelsey Draper walks in. Stunning. Vibrant. And far too fragile for a project like this. Wyatt should know—after all, he remembers only too well how their relationship ended all those years ago.
Desperate for cash and frustrated with her good girl persona, Kelsey sets her sights on Wyatt’s show. But only the show. Because she knows too well that Wyatt Royce is a danger to her heart.
But when Wyatt agrees to give her the job only if he has complete control—on camera and in his bed—Kelsey can’t help but wonder if she’s in too deep. Because how can a good girl like her ever be enough for a man like Wyatt?
All Wicked novels stand alone
She was driving him crazy.
The way she held his eyes while she moved, so bold and flirtatious, as if she was just daring him to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless.
Daring him? No, strike that. She wasn’t just daring him, she was throwing down a goddamned gauntlet. But was she challenging him to claim her? Or was she goading him that he couldn’t have her?
Damned if he knew. Right then, Wyatt was certain of only one thing—his body was tight, his cock was hard, and he wanted to be somewhere other than here. Someplace without other people.
Someplace with a bed.
It was the dancing that did it. Because Kelsey Draper and her dancing had always been his downfall. After all, that was what had started everything all those years ago. He’d seen her dancing to a bouncy pop song, her interpretation elevating the music and lyrics. He’d seen passion and precision, sensuality and seduction. She’d enchanted him. Cast a spell over him.
He’d seen the magic in her, so much larger than the quiet, subdued girl he’d met before. The Kelsey he’d watched dancing had surprised him. She was vibrant. Alive. Unexpected.
He’d fallen hard, and then she’d broken his heart.
He wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
He might want her—hell, he did want her. For his bed. For his show.
But he damn sure wasn’t going to trust her. He’d already learned that lesson, and he really didn’t need a refresher course.
As he watched, she dropped to the floor, then used one hand to rip open her shirt before letting it fall down her arms. She writhed on stage, her seductive movements making him ache inside, all the more when he imagined taking it further. Her wrists bound not with a tattered blouse, but with silk ropes. And not just her wrists, but her legs as well. Red ropes, the only color in an otherwise black and white image. Her body twisting, and the audience unsure if she was fighting the bonds or reveling in her own rising passion.
She was exactly what he needed for the show. The complete package. Hell, he’d known that from the moment she’d walked into his studio.
So why was he hesitating?
Because he wanted her?
Or was it because he wanted to punish her?
Or maybe it was even more insidious than that. Maybe it came down to how much was riding on this show. It was his shot, after all. The apex of all his work and sacrifice. The chance to escape from under the black cloud his father had left hanging over him.
The chance to prove himself to his family.
To live up to the goddamn Segel name.
But that would only happen if the show was a success.
So maybe that was why he was hesitating. Because the moment he committed was the moment the truth crept toward him on little cat paws, and it would either curl up and purr, or rip his heart out.
On stage, Kelsey rose, then did some sort of pirouette, twirling as she pulled off one of those transparent, colored scarves that served as a barely-there skirt. Wyatt imagined his hands on her waist, the brush of her skin against his palms as she spun. He could imagine her heat. The way she shivered under his touch.
So help him, he wanted that. Wanted to hear her sighs. Those little moans he remembered.
Another scarf went flying, and he straightened so that he was no longer leaning against the pillar. Instead, he shifted his weight from foot to foot as he tried to tamp down the rising lust. The violent need. To not only have her, but to have her in his show.
He wanted her, yes. But she was an indulgence he couldn’t justify. An indulgence and a risk, because he knew damn well that she’d run if things got too intense.
And damn but his show was intense. That was the point, after all.
He couldn’t take a chance on her, no matter how much he might want to. Couldn’t even bring her in only long enough to test her out. Not on such a tight schedule. Not when there was no way to ensure that she wouldn’t bolt.
Kelsey was a risk he simply couldn’t take. He had to get it right. There was too much at stake for him to be wrong about her.
The final scarf fluttered to the ground, and Wyatt’s pulse pounded in his throat as he moved closer, his mouth going dry as she reached for her bra, pulled it over her head, then tossed it aside.
The music faded out, and the dim, colored stage lights made the flesh-colored G-string blend into her pale skin, enhancing the illusion that she now stood before the entire room not just topless, but one hundred percent, birthday-suit naked.
She took a bow as the lights came up, and the men in the audience actually stood to applaud her. She’d blown away the competition, and even though Wyatt wanted to rush the stage and wrap his jacket around her, he couldn’t deny the swell of pride he felt for her victory.
If you are familiar with The Stark Trilogy and The Stark International series you will recognize the name Wyatt Royce. Wyatt has been a part of the Stark world since the beginning. He’s an intriguing photographer that has captured the readers attention in a quiet manner. His character is a bit mysterious but quite likable. He’s finally getting his story told in Wicked Grind by J. Kenner.
Wyatt is working on his first gallery show and wants it to be perfect. The theme of the show is to showcase the erotic beauty of women in every manner, whether it be fully clothed or completely nude. He wants to tease, tantalite, and astonish the viewers with the simple beauty and nature of every woman. He has one woman in mind but hasn’t found her in any of his subjects or models. He’s weeks away from the show opening and getting desperate until Kelsey Draper walks into his study. The last woman he ever expected to see cross his studio doors. Kelsey is the girl from his past that left him completely heartbroken. She was “the one” then and apparently “the one” now. The problem is her heart isn’t into the modeling position even though she desperately needs the money. She has more to lose than her clothing and good reputation. She’s afraid of losing her heart once again.
Like most stories, one should never assume anything. There are always two sides to every story. There are valid explanations and reasons. There are circumstances that teenage hearts can’t comprehend or deal with.
As it turns out… Kelsey is “the only one” for Wyatt. This time he has the choice to control the situation and hang onto what’s his.
I absolutely loved this book because I am a sucker for second chance romances. That’s not the only reason why I loved it. Kelsey and Wyatt’s personalities were captivating and easy to connect with. I also liked that their story could thrive outside of the Stark World. Damien and Nikki Stark didn’t take over or distract the reader from the main characters story. They only made a very brief appearance towards the end. Wyatt and Kelsey were able to stand out on their own merits ( like they wanted to in the book). Their love for one another drove this story. The bonus was this book didn’t end on a cliffhanger. Wyatt and Kelsey got their happily ever after in one novel.
J. Kenner once again gave the readers another sexy, emotional romance. I would highly recommend this book!
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.