In Ms. Crews’ first book in Harlequin’s new Dare line, American professor Margot Cavendish is a skeptical sex researcher exploring Icelandic attitudes towards sex. Her final point of data collection is at Hotel Viking (a little on the nose there, but I’ll allow it), which is essentially tourist destination for sexual fantasies. Its owner is the enigmatic Thor Ragnarsson, who is intrigued by the straight-laced Margot. When a snowstorm turns their brief conversation into a forced proximity sexual adventure, Margot and Thor both have to confront their stereotypes about each other before they commit to their happily ever after.
As with other Dare line books, you don’t really have to know more than that premise to know if you’re interested. The tropes are straight forward – take prim lady and wild dude, add forced proximity and creativity, and voila – and the execution of it is fun. This is the third book of the new line that I’ve read and it is, to me, the most successful. I think the main reason for this is that Crews’ skill at Presents books lends itself to this new format. She can develop characters quickly, and get from the introductions to the sex without too much plot and yet makes the encounters seem genuine. These books are, essentially, erotic novellas and this one does what it says on the tin.
I did particularly enjoy the conversations about sexual behaviors in different cultures, and how Thor analyzed the American relationship with our Puritanical cultural origins. There were some holes in his logic, of course, and I was frustrated with Margot’s counter-arguments as they were all a bit shallow. Their happily ever after was a bit more tell than show, but overall, Unleashed is a sexy, engrossing read that fits within the stated purpose of the line and is good few-hundred-page escape from reality. Recommended for fans of forced proximity for sure.