Naughty But Nice
As I read Naughty But Nice, I realized I was going to have trouble determining a grade for it. That happens sometimes, and I’ve learned that my true feelings about a book will usually surface when I’m writing the review, for it’s then my mind chooses what to say about a book based on lingering impressions. I guess you can tell by the B- grade what my mind finally decided.
The story begins with a brief prologue during which we see our heroine, Cassie Tremaine Montgomery, on prom night. She’s looks hot, although she’s really not. Her mother is the town slut and Cassie has learned the only way to fight fire is with fire of her own. Her drunken date is a grasping buffoon that she has no intention of sleeping with. As she fights him off, her troubles increase when the local sheriff approaches. Cassie thinks she is saved, for Richard Taggart is probably the only man in town who hasn’t slept wit her mother. But Taggart proves no better than the rest when he tries to corner Cassie. He threatens her sexually, and at seventeen, she is traumatized by the event for years to come.
Ten years later, Cassie has blown that popsicle stand to become a world renown lingerie model. She has money and status and the only reason she returns to Pleasantville is to open her mother’s house and take care of some unfinished business. Her cousin Kate is Cassie’s only emotional support since they were both Tremaines, a term synonymous in Pleasantville with trailer park trash.
The first thing that happens to Cassie upon her return is to be pulled over by the local sheriff, Sean Taggart, Richard’s son. Tag was a few years ahead of Cassie in school and never met her, but he knew her by reputation. He felt her reputation was probably exaggerated, but now he has a chance to find out for himself. He’s immediately attracted to the tall, leggy, busty, blonde with a body to die for, but more than that, he senses a vulnerability in her that she refuses to show to anyone.
Tag and his father don’t get along, never have. Tag’s an honest man, a good cop, and a guy on the lookout for a wife – somebody nice and sweet, who would have dinner ready for him when he gets home at night. Though he’s attracted to Cassie, she is most definitely not the kind of woman he had in mind. She’s smart and sassy, but whenever he approaches her while he’s in uniform, she freaks out. He figures out why, he just doesn’t figure out who, and when he does, he determines to change Cassie’s mind about men in uniform.
Cassie stays in Pleasantville, determined to show “the whole town” just how far she’s come. She plans to shock them, too, by opening a ladies only shop. One of her first encounters with Tag is when she’s alone in the shop trying on a nipple ring. She’s surrounded by battery-operated dildos and transparent lingerie, a sight which nearly brings Tag to his knees. This is a Blaze, and by definition, is “hotter” than just hot and there are parts of the story that do burn. I was uncomfortable with this, frankly. Not so much with what the couple did, but by some of the language. Guess I’m too old fashioned to get into the idea of a “clit ring” (Ouch!!). But if these elements are not a problem for you, then the sex in Naughty But Nice may ring your bell.
Having said that, Naughty But Nice is actually a cut above most of the Blaze titles I’ve come across. It’s well written and the hero is a nice guy. He’s not on the prowl, but he’s looking for a nice woman to marry. The heroine’s backstory is a sympathetic one. Cassie and her cousin had – when they were teenagers – made a list of things they wanted to accomplish one day. One-by-one, Cassie meets her goals, but while she does so, she realizes that not everybody in town hated her, that some people even liked her but she was so standoffish she never saw past her own pain. In other words, Cassie evolves.
There is a suspense sub-plot involving a nutso photographer named Pete that Cassie rejected romantically. He stalked her in New York and she fears may have followed her to Pleasantville. While she should have been totally up front with Tag about this, he practically has to drag it out of her. This resistance didn’t make sense to me, and neither did the stalker thing since it never really gets off the ground. The story had enough going for it that it really didn’t need the stalker sub-plot at all. Cousin Kate apparently gets a boyfriend named Jack, but we know absolutely nothing about him (which is an obvious set up for Kate’s story), but I’d rather Jack hadn’t been mentioned at all since no storyline for Kate and Jack ever develop in this book.
Tag and Cassie make a very handsome couple. The unfortunate part of that was, I couldn’t identify with Cassie at all. She’s tall, perfect, and is a lingerie supermodel – not a heroine most readers will be able to identify with. She dresses like she’s always ready for a photo shoot, and she defensive with nearly everyone. While I understood why she did this, it began to grate on me after a while. She does eventually loosen up a little bit, but not on purpose.
I flirted with grading this story a C+, but after finishing the review, I realized that I liked it better than I’d originally thought. Blaze stories are not exactly great literature anyway, so given the usual Blaze fare (which have most often read to me as sex scenes connected by a bit of plot), this one is definitely a cut above. The title sums it up perfectly – naughty, but nice. Yeah, actually, it is.