Held back by the Past, Freed by Love: The Expert’s Guide to Driving a Man Wild

The Expert’s Guide to Driving a Man Wild


Experts Guide to Driving a Man WIldA Bluebonnet Novel
by Jessica Clare
PENGUIN GROUP Berkley January 7, 2014
ISBN 9780425262368
Mass Market Paperback/ebook 320 pages
E-Galley provided by publisher via NetGalley.com. No Remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

Being out of control…

The product of a rigid upbringing, Brenna has grown into a sexy free spirit who does things her way. No possessions, no debt, no man, and no rules to tie her down. And if she has to work, what better way than as assistant in a wilderness expedition team? So many opportunities to go wild.

…can be risky when you’re falling in love.

One person who doesn’t “get” Brenna is her boss, Grant. He prefers order and emotions kept in check, which means Brenna loves to push his boundaries. He’d be impossible to work for if he wasn’t so infuriatingly hot. But when his overbearing, matchmaking mother arrives in town, Brenna volunteers to be Grant’s pretend girlfriend. After all, it’s the perfect opportunity to drive Grant crazy at every turn.

Brenna’s just a little surprised when Grant agrees to her wild, impulsive schemes. And she’s more than a little surprised when their games take them to the bedroom…  Penguin’s Book Page

Contemorary Romance Reading ChallengeErotic Romance Challenge

My Take!

The title was what attracted me to this story.  It reminds me of books like Sex and the Single Girl and plays  like How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying from the “Swinging” 1960s.

I was immediately intrigued by the unique and amusing characters and set-ups in this story.  It’s cute, fresh, unusual and fun and definitely a case of opposites attracting.  Brenna is a strange young-woman and Grant is sort of a stick in the mud with that stick extending directly up his backside.

The “official description” above is a little off.  Brenna’s upbringing isn’t so much “rigid” as tragic and bizarre.  And, she’s not as surprised about the “games” taking “them to the bedroom” as her boss. This is probably a case where the description was written from the author’s synopsis.

At first Brenna’s character is portrayed as simply weird, callous and lazy. Then we begin to understand she has a past that has turned her into a free spirit but a free spirit bound by her past.  Grant also has a tragic relationship in his past and it influenced him deeply. I liked the incongruity of the ideas Brenna expresses about freedom and how that her past binds her into a life just as limiting as what she struggles against.

There is a lot of steamy sex and language.  I was amused by the word “dicking,” used by Brenna to describe coitus.  I had never heard that but it is actually in my computer’s dictionary.  The language is somewhat crude.

This  is really Contemporary New Adult Erotic  Romance. If there were less character drawing or plot it would be erotica instead.

But there is story, and it uses the tragic widower and the woman-with-a-past tropes. I thought the way Brenna’s secret was revealed was clever and surprising. Grant’s reaction is a little bit “sit-com.” It has the feel of a comic TV show with a quirky, “Zoey Deschanel” type woman and a really straight guy, maybe like the “Allan” character from “Two and A Half Men.” There are several moments of emotional dramatic relief to bring some of the more silly parts of the story down to earth and give the characters a bit more depth.

On both sides of the relationship Clare does a good job explaining the characters’ issues and makes them feel somewhat real and justified.  The story is edgy, so it stays fresh and unusual throughout. While the couple has known, and irritated, each other for a while, the change in their relationship is quite fast.

There were some discontinuities in my E-Galley and I really can’t confirm they are gone but if you’ve read it and note clothing changing mid-scene or something like that then they have not changed. Even with these few things that were probably edited out, and with a couple of events where I felt both characters were taken just a little too far in attitudes or behavior, I really enjoyed he story a lot.  It could have been a little bit deeper but overall the writer did a good job with a fresh approach and unusual characters and situations. It gets my “Recommend” if you like lighthearted erotic romance.


Relevant LinksBook Page at Penguin Jessica Clare/Jill Myles

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