4 star book review for The Hierarchy of Needs, Rebecca Grace Allen’s latest contemporary romance novel (now available at bookstores and retailers). Plus enter to win an e-book copy today!
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rebecca Grace Allen is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary romance authors! I fell in love with her first novel/la The Duality Principle back in January… I mean, who doesn’t enjoy intelligent discourse between the leading characters coupled with some sexy, sexy kink? Gabriella and Connor definitely embody that delicious combination. In the midst of watching that love story, we’re also introduced to Jamie (Gabriella’s bestie) and Dean (Connor’s best bud), a couple of fun-loving Portland, Maine natives. I really enjoy meeting these two secondary characters in The Duality Principle, and when I found out that Rebecca Grace would be exploring their relationship in The Hierarchy of Needs, I knew I needed to get my hands on it ASAP.
The Hierarchy of Needs (book 2 in the Portland Rebels series) presents a sweet and slightly complex friends-to-lovers story. Once again, Rebecca Grace builds a narrative around a prominent academic theory in an entertaining, accessible, and creative way. This novel has all the things I like in my contemporary romance: wit, humor, a bit of drama, and whole lot of sexy times. Trust me, this is a great book for a delicious summer read and you’ll want to get your hands on The Hierarchy of Needs immediately.
We begin with Jamie Matthews and she isn’t having a very good day. For the most part she loves her life; after achieving local acclaim as a champion swimmer and heading to college on scholarship, she’s back home in Portland. Sure, she’s living with her parents, but she has a teaching/coaching job at the community center that she enjoys. And in her spare time, she gets to binge all things fashion and hang out with long-time buddies.
But something about having her three older brothers back at home makes her feel like the family failure. While they’re all doctors, following in their father’s illustrious footsteps, Jamie’s still trying to carve out her career path. Now that everyone’s home for her oldest brother’s wedding, she’s feeling overwhelmed and desperate to escape. Lucky for Jamie, her friend Dean is always up for some carefree fun. In addition to being Jamie’s closest friend, Dean Trescott is also the town playboy. While they did hook up once in high school, Jamie and Dean decide it’s best to remain just friends. However, since they first met during detention in 10th grade, there’s been an undercurrent of attraction. And when they finally decide to give into the passion again, we see that going back to their normal, fun-loving friendship might no longer be a sustainable status-quo.
Jamie is definitely a heroine that I would want in my friendship squad! She’s just effervescent…a fun-loving practical jokester who’s keen on taking life in stride. With that said, Jamie is sensitive and has her share of insecurities, especially when it comes to her place in her family. Interestingly, Jamie shares these qualities with Dean. He’s all about accepting life as it is and enjoying what you can (as opposed to miserably striving for some unattainable goal). Unfortunately, this includes the possibility of any romantic relationship with Jamie. As Dean sees it, he’s going nowhere fast and has no intention of trapping Jamie in a life that would eventually lead to a bitter, resentful end.
But one kiss won’t hurt…right? When that kiss turns into a couple of super hot make-out sessions, it’s still all good, no?:
Her wrists were small enough to fit in one hand, so he skirted his other one up her back and drove his fingers into her hair, fisting tight. She gasped when he pulled her head back. Dean hummed, loving the intensity of her reaction…
And why not just scratch the itch with one kink-filled, sensuous weekend?
“I know what flips your switch, Jamie, and I’m going to trip it over and over again. I’m going to find all those spots I found years ago, and watch you shiver when I touch them. Kiss them. Lick them. I’m going to make you come so hard you forget your own goddamn name…I can’t wait to taste you. To fuck you.”
And let me tell you, Dean delivers, 100%! In fact:
It was too much, too fast. She’d never come so quickly before, but he was a magician with his mouth. Gentle suction and flicks of his tongue combined with deep strokes over her G-spot drew her so swiftly to orgasm she barely had time to curse in surprise. Her back arched…she thrashed, body rolling with the force of all that pleasure.
LAWD, two nights certainly can’t be enough!
Unfortunately, when Jamie broaches the subject of taking things to the next level , Dean shuts her down. After all:
“Starting anything with Jamie wasn’t fair to her…He couldn’t give anything to anyone, least of all Jamie. Especially Jamie…”
No spoilers, but there is a sweet, fulfilling, full-circle HEA. What’s even better is that Dean and Jamie both figure out how to start making their individual dreams a reality…and being with one another is a lovely part of those dreams.
I recommend The Hierarchy of Needs to readers who enjoy contemporary romance, especially a story featuring a charming bad boy with a strong sense of responsibility and the spirited, fashion-forward leading lady who he loves too much to keep (or so he says…).
Thanks to Rebecca Grace, we one e-copy of the novel from the e-retailer of the winner’s choosing. Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter and make sure to read an excerpt from The Hierarchy of Needs below!
Dean whirled around. Sean hadn’t followed them. He wasn’t afraid of Jamie’s brother, but he didn’t want to have to take the guy out at his own wedding either.
“I think we’re safe,” he said. Jamie was too busy laughing to hear him. She fell into a rounded booth in the corner and swung her legs up onto the middle of the cushion, her hands on her stomach as if it hurt to laugh. Her dress had inched up her thighs, the fabric clinging to her hips.
Hunger clawed at Dean at the sight of her body sprawled out like that. With her legs up on the seat, her head tossed back and her smile wide, she looked so relaxed. So free. So Jamie. He stopped at the edge of the table and stared at her legs, wanting so badly to be trapped between them, to finally be buried inside her, to feel her heat and watch her mouth drop open in pleasure.
What was he thinking? She was his friend. His friend. When was he going to get that through his skull?
Jamie finally stopped laughing. She sighed and smiled. “That. Was. Awesome.”
“Yeah, you’re pretty damn funny when you want to be.”
Another giggle fizzled out of her. She looked ridiculously pleased with herself.
“We should probably lay low for a few,” she said. “Until the rage gets out of Sean’s system.”
“Why do you do it?” he asked. “The jokes on your brothers.” He’d always found her prankster nature amusing, but never understood why she did it.
She shrugged. “Someone’s gotta take them down a peg or two. Make them feel less like the gods they think they are.”
There was more she was covering up, something other than sibling rivalry, but he couldn’t get a handle on what it was.
“Are you just gonna stand there?” She patted the spot next to her. “Sit.”
She lowered her legs and scooted over so he could join her. Dean held himself still, tension like a live wire inside him. It was as if every bone, every fiber in his body was dragging him forward, a magnet being pulled toward true north.
It wasn’t a good idea, not only because she’d been drinking. It was because he felt it again—that fuse that always simmered beneath the surface between them, waiting for a spark. It was a dangerous feeling. Dean didn’t know if he had the power to resist it. He sat down anyway. Jamie turned to face him, one elbow balanced on top of the seat cushion, her hand propping up her head. The motion put the soft, full curve of her breast into full view. Dean clenched his jaw and clasped his hands together on his lap.
“Thank you for helping out today,” she said.
“No problem. I had fun.” His mouth went dry. He swallowed. “Thank you for hiring me.”
She grinned, her eyes drifting closed for a second, and Dean jumped at the chance to take her in. The rounded apples of her cheeks. Her neck and collarbones and the flat of her stomach. Her legs, curled up and pressed together beneath her. He wondered if she still tasted the same.
“I didn’t hire you, silly. I bribed you with food and beer, which I hope you enjoyed.”
He didn’t answer, too distracted when she turned to the side and toed off her heels, then got back into the same position. She’d moved closer to him while she did it, or maybe he’d been the one to move, he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he could feel the heat radiating off her, her body so close, all that gorgeous hair tumbling down over her shoulders.
He had to tighten his clasped fingers to the point of pain to stop himself from touching her. God, when had he started wanting her this badly?
His voice came out gritty when he said, “I had a good time anyway.”
“I’m glad.” Her eyes fell on his collar. “You look good in a suit.”
Dean’s pulse ratcheted up to full throttle. She brought a hand up to trace the edge of his neckline. Soft fingers stroked his neck.
He hissed in a breath. “Jamie.”
It came out sounding like he was trying to stop her, like he realized what was about to happen and the mistake they were about to make all over again. A war raged between his head and his body, between the right thing to do and what he wanted, but Dean’s ability to reason was hanging by a thread, and he couldn’t make himself sure this was a mistake anymore.
Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy.