Review: Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn

“I missed you,” she said softly and, though the top of her head only reached his chin, he heard that voice as if it had whispered in his ear. This was right. This was how they should be. He vowed in that moment to never let anyone come between them again. “I missed you, too,” he murmured.

UnleashedAny fans of friends-to-lovers romances out there? If so, this is the book for you! I personally love this type of romance setup, because by default it avoids the immediate-lust trap that I have a strong aversion to in anything other than erotica.

Based on the cover, title, and the Goodreads Genres it’s listed in, I initially thought this book fell into that category. After starting the book, I thought maybe it was romantica instead (i.e. equal parts romance and erotica), but it ended up reading much more like contemporary romance with a little bit of a naughty side. There are explicit words used that you usually don’t see in CRs – and if you do, then not as frequently. Regardless, the relationship between Kelsey and Evan was definitely center stage, with a very nice bonus of great chemistry and some hotly sizzling scenes.

Kelsey and Evan have been best friends ever since they met in college ten years ago. Evan was your standard all-American boy: good-looking, an athlete, smart with good grades, and kind of a player in the serial monogamist sense of the term. Kelsey was the smart sweetheart: everyone’s friend and on the inexperienced and prudish side sexually-speaking. She’s been in love with Evan ever since their friendship first began, but the time never seemed right to say anything and he was always paired up with a different girl. Eventually, Kelsey got swept off her feet by Evan’s best friend, Todd, who showed her the attention she’d always sought from Evan.

Fast forward eight years and Kelsey is now divorced after finding Todd in their bed having sex with Courtney, Evan’s (then) fiancée. Things have been a little awkward she and Evan ever since and when he calls to ask her to join him on what would have been his honeymoon to Hawaii, she eventually gives in, hoping this might get their friendship back on track … And maybe this will finally be the right time for something to happen between them. They’re both available and she realizes now more than ever that Evan is the man who has always been there for her and always held her heart.

For his part, Evan is also hoping that now might be the time for their relationship to move to the next stage. In college, he’d been aware of Kelsey’s feelings, but she was the type of girl you fall in love with – the type you marry – and that had scared him; he wasn’t ready to be tied down yet and was afraid anything else would ruin their friendship. Courtney had by no means been the love of his life and his biggest regret about that entire “incident” is how much it hurt Kelsey. Maybe with this trip she was finally ready to move on though, and maybe her feelings for him in college were still there somewhere, buried underneath all her pain and vulnerability. So both Kelsey and Evan go on this trip thinking the other just sees them as a friend, but hoping to show that they could actually be much more …

It was a very cute and sweet romance, but by no means tame in the chemistry department. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure Lynn had written Kelsey and Evan authentically enough, since I was feeling the awkwardness far more than their apparent close friendship of ten years. That changed by the third chapter (of eleven) and from then on I really enjoyed both their friendship and their romance. Kelsey’s conflicting feelings were at times confusing and I wasn’t always clear as to what it was that was holding her back or that was making her so doubtful. Evan was an absolute sweetheart though and I loved how supportive and loving he was with her.

This is the kind of story that at 140 pages I classify as “novella-ish.” It was long enough that I felt we got to know Kelsey and Evan very well and can believe in their romance and feelings, but short enough that it’s not bogged down by extraneous obstacles. The obstacles they face are in the transition of friendship to lovers, mostly having to do with the uncertainty of whether the other sees the transition as a permanent one. There were no over-the-top ridiculously-drawn-out scenes – if anything, I wish the resolution scene had been a little more dramatic! There’s a great Epilogue at the end that lets the reader finish the book feeling satisfied and in no doubt that the hero and heroine have finally gotten their HEA.

On a formatting note, there were several typos and I was annoyed by missing separator spaces. I read this in eBook form, so I’m not sure what the print version looks like, but it made for the POV and scene transitions awkward to read, because you didn’t realized a switch had been made until a couple of sentences into it.

I’m looking forward to reading Rock Me next, which features the romance between Brian, Evan’s brother and an all-around bad boy – think tattoos, pierced … everything, dyed hair, etc. – and Candace, a sheltered good girl who has been drawn to Brian for several years. Now that he and her cousin are no longer together, maybe it’s time for them to pair up – if they can overcome her family’s strong resistance, that is.

One of My Favorite Quotes:

“Evan …” she murmured, wrapping her soft arms around his neck. Their position had her lips near his ear. She’d lost her headband somewhere. He could smell the strawberry of her shampoo, feel the tickle of her sluggish breath stirring his hair. “Evan.”

“Kelsey. Move over here, lie down.”

She pulled back slightly, her bleary eyes trying to focus on his. The weight of her head still seemed too much for her neck to support and her hair flowed over his arm. “Evan, I always liked you.”

“I always liked you, too, honey.” The way she kept saying his name in that intoxicated purr, savoring the v between her teeth and her bottom lip, was unnerving. Unnerving, hell. It had his dick twitching in his pants. “Come on, girl, you need to sleep it off.”

“I mean I like liked you.”

[…] Her hands caught his face, surprising him. He should have moved away from her long ago, before she could get her hands on him. As it was, he felt like a fly caught in the sticky gossamer of a spider’s den. “Always wanted to fuck you, y’know that? Even when I was a virgin.”

He drew in a breath, exhaled it shakily. So much for prudish.

Note to self: Kelsey now gets unbelievably horny when drunk.

Rating: A-
Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn
April 21, 2009 by Samhain Publishing 
Contemporary Erotic Romance
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  1. says

    Oh this one sounds goods. I love friendship romances. I’m disappointed to hear there are several typos etc. though. We see that so much with ebooks and it seems to get excused because it’s an ebook. Not cool.

    • says

      I think you’ll enjoy it, Sophia. I agree with the typos issue – and if anything, it’s almost MORE annoying with eBooks, because it seems like it would be so much easier to fix!! No reprinting involved.

  2. says

    Darn it Juliana!! I can’t resist your Friends to Lovers reviews. I liked the other one – Claire Matthews?

    This one looks goooood.

    • says

      *rubs hands together* It’s part of my grand-master evil plan, lol. I remember reading your review for Intimate Friends on your site and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I definitely have a soft spot for friends-to-lovers romances – always my favorite setup.

      Hope you enjoy this one as well. I’m looking forward to reading your review for this one … 😉

  3. says

    … the bottomless TBR!!!

    I feel your pain! I’ve been meaning to read the second book for a few weeks now … yeah, hasn’t happened yet.

  4. says

    I’ve read one other book by Cherrie Lynn already. Gave it 5 stars! Why oh why did I wait so long to check out her other work? Thanks for the review :-)
    Happy Friday errr Saturday in Germany!
    _yay_ @ BookthatThing
    A giveaway is going on! Feel free to stop by and enter :-)

    • says

      What was the other book? Was it Rock Me, the follow-up? Eventually, it will make it’s way to the top of TBR pile – who knows when though!