April 3, 2018
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
The Last King, a romantic-erotic-suspense utilizing the enemies to lovers trope, is the first novel in Katee Robert’s The Kings series.
Right up front I’m going to tell you that I really disliked the opening scene of The Last King. With little fanfare, Beckett King walks into a bar in Norway where he’s just beaten his rival, Samara (yes, the same name as the little girl from The Ring, and yes, I had an immediate “eek” thought!) Mallick for a contract and then they proceed to have “hate-sex.”
I stopped reading, and later that evening I watched an episode of Jessica Jones in which something similar almost happens between Jessica and Oscar. (The following is not verbatim because my memory just ain’t that good.) He stops her and says: “30 minutes ago you hated me.” Jessica says, “30 minutes ago you were trying to have me evicted.” He says: “This is not normal.” And that’s how I felt about the opening scene of The Last King.
In the first few chapters, I have to admit that Becket was the only reason why I kept reading. He’s a decent sort. A man who lost his beloved mother too early and whose father became closed-off and mean. Becket decided to take the other path. And I think nice guys are sexy as hell.
Samara, however, takes awhile to warm up to. It also seems as if it takes awhile for her loyalty to catch up to her knowledge. Despite being obviously different from her mother (who made some bad decisions), she tends to approach relationship situations as if she were her mother.
The suspense story is excellent, however. After the death of Becket’s father, someone is trying to take down the family business and perhaps even Becket and then Samara by extension. This is definite page-turning stuff.
There were several explicit sex scenes, two of which seemed replicated with just a change in locale. When I find myself skimming sex scenes, I think we are definitely in the less is more situation. Or maybe it’s because when you take away the opportunity for anticipation or swoon it becomes shrug-worthy. Sex without sexy. Bang the gong, get it on.
Roundup: Excellent suspense story, excellent Becket, excellent writing, initially unlikable Samara, lots-o-sex.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies.
The Last King
Copyright © 2018 Katee Robert
Heaven was Samara in a little green dress.
Beckett watched her walk across the lobby, her mile-long legs eating up the distance with ease. That glimpse of wildness she’d given him last night was in full effect today, her hair a mass of black waves that seemed to curl and snap around her shoulders with each step. Her dress fitted her like a second skin, sloping down over her breasts, her stomach, to her hips and thighs.
But it was her dark eyes that drew and held him. Anger and desire and something like guilt lingered there, and she held his gaze as she stopped in front of him. “Do I meet your expectation?”
She arched a single eyebrow. “I know.”
That surprised a laugh out of him. Beckett turned to the elevator bank and offered his elbow. The gentlemanly move was over-the-top for their current circumstances, but he couldn’t be this close to her without touching her. Kissing her now, here, was a terrible damn idea, so he’d settle for the small touch. “No false modesty. I like that.”
“I think we’ve established that I don’t operate based on what you like.” Despite her words, amusement pulled at the edges of her lips, and she set her hand carefully on his forearm. “Every time I think I have your number down, you surprise me. Most guys get pissy pants if a woman doesn’t fall at their feet when they call her beautiful.”
“I’m not most guys.” He waited for the elevator door to open and led her onto it. “You can’t fit me into a box and write me off, Samara.”
“I’m beginning to see that.” She shook her head, her hair brushing against his shoulder. “My life would be a whole lot easier if I could.”
He couldn’t argue that, so he didn’t bother. Beckett took them up to the executive level. He noted the way she studied everything, obviously filing away every bit of information she could lay her eyes on. “What does Lydia pay you these days?”
She dropped her arm and stepped back. “Oh no. I don’t think so.” She pointed at him. “We went over this last night. I’m not for sale.”
“It’s an innocent question.”
“It is most definitely not an innocent question.” She looked like she wanted to take off her shoe and throw it at his head. “I don’t care what issue you and your aunt have. I’m not part of it. You don’t get to use me as leverage. I’m not a pawn for either of you to sacrifice in this pissing match you have going on.”
Shame tried to take hold, but he wouldn’t let it. Samara knew the game, no matter how much it apparently offended her. “I’m the bad guy for trying to offer you a job, but I’m sure you agreed to show up here solely out of the goodness of your heart.” He pretended to think about it. “Wait, no you didn’t—which you already admitted. You’re here because Lydia wants to do whatever it takes to sink Morningstar. Full stop.” He motioned at the offices behind him. “Wake up, Samara. I’m only playing the game she made the rules for.”
She took in the empty COO office on the other side of the glass wall. “She poached your employees.”
“Convenient timing, don’t you think?”
“You’re not still harping on that paranoid talk about Lydia meeting Nathaniel.” Samara hesitated and then moved to stand in front of him. She pressed her lips together and then very gently said, “Do you think maybe it’s a good idea for you to talk to someone?”
Beckett jerked back. “What?”
There was nothing but sympathy in her dark eyes. “I’m serious, Beckett. I’ve known you a long time, at least by reputation, and this delusion you have going isn’t like you. Is it possible that Nathaniel’s death is hitting you harder than you realize? That you’re fixating on Lydia instead of your own grief because it’s easier to deal with an enemy than face the fact you can never make things right with your father?”
Every word flayed him, cutting to the quick. Beckett gritted his teeth against the need to tell Samara that she was the one who wasn’t thinking clearly. To yell. To expel some of the ugliness that had been brewing in him for a very, very long time. “I didn’t call you here to offer you a job, and I sure as hell don’t need a shrink.”
She stood her ground as he advanced. Her heels put them at the same height and she still managed to look down her nose at him. “Then why did you call me here?”
Because I can’t spend another moment alone without going out of my mind.
He didn’t say it. To admit how long it had been since he’d felt a connection with another person was to hand Samara—Lydia—a loaded gun and invite her to point it directly at him. He didn’t answer her verbally at all. Beckett cupped her waist and slowly pulled her against him, giving her plenty of time to register his intentions.
“Beckett.” Despair colored her tone and she gave a desperate laugh. “What are we doing?”
“I don’t know.” Using a hand on the small of her back, he pressed her firmly against him. “I don’t want to stop.”
Samara hesitated, but finally placed her hands gingerly against his chest. He waited, letting her decide. Yes or no. Push or pull. Stay or go. She hitched a breath. “I don’t want to stop, either.”
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About Katee Robert
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it ‘a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension.” When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.